The 2015 Kia Soul Electric has a number of tell-tale visual cues that make it stand out from the every day Soul. It unique 16” wheels, led lighting and specific badges telling the world you drive an Eco-freindly electric car.
There’s a couple two-tone color combinations which include black with a red top, and our Caribbean Blue with a white top. You can also get it in more subdued single shades of Titanium Grey and Clear White.
A unique grill design features an opening door for the charging ports instead of a standard air inlet grille. You simply push a button inside and it opens to reveal both a standard and DC fast charge port.
The interior is also unique from the garden variety Soul, using a good dose of environmentally friendly materials. These start with glossy white accent trims on the center stack and console, instrument panel and door panels colored with BTX-free paint.
Kia also used bio-based organic interior plastics derived from cellulose and sugar cane in several places about the cabin such as the door panels, headliner, seat trims, pillar trims and carpet. These materials span some 19 different interior parts which barely look and feel any different from everyday plastics.
As ours was a Soul+ the seating was leather and featured heating and ventilation for the front seats, and heating for those in the rear. They were just as comfortable as we found them in the Soul before, but are manually adjustable here.
Rear seat passengers do get about 3” less leg room than in the standard Soul as the large lithium-ion battery is mounted below the floor. But you’d hardly notice as there is still plenty of space back here.
Furthermore, unlike some electric cars in which the battery is mounted high into the rear cargo space, you can fold the rear seats down and enjoy a nearly uninterrupted rear cargo space just as you can with the gasoline powered Soul.
The instrument cluster in the Soul electric is unique as expected, giving you a range reading, a power schematic, and Eco operation metrics in addition to your speed. There’s no RPM, temperatures, or pressures here.
Its center stack features the top-line UVO touch-screen navigation system with a very good sound. Menu and touch-screen operations are top of the class as most always in Kia models, easy to use on the go and quick to learn.
It’s 27 kWh lithium-ion battery is rated by the EPA to offer the Soul electric a 93 mile range. It’s also given a 105 MPGe rating combined by the EPA, which factors 120 MPGe city and 92 MPGe highway.
We saw about 105 miles on a charge several days in a row, driving both in town on occasionally on the freeway, which was a pleasant surprise. Whether you look at EPA or our real-world performance, the Soul electric is at the top of its class for this year in compact electric cars, so advantage Kia here.
Motivating it is a 109 horsepower AC synchronous permanent magnet electric motor which has 210 lb.-ft. of torque. When you look under the hood here you what you’re actually seeing with the bright orange high-voltage wires connected is the power control unit.
The motor itself is mounted down low underneath and connected to the front wheels through a single speed gear unit that simply has forward and reverse. Like standard Kia models, it comes with a 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty which also covers the battery.
Kia says it can accelerate from 0-60 in 11.2 seconds and has a computer governed top-speed of 90 mph. While these aren’t stellar numbers, the motors torque and response give it plenty of punch around town and even passing on the freeway.
When it comes to chassis, the Kia Soul electric is identical to a standard gasoline model with MacPherson struts up front with adjustable effort electric power steering. At the rear is a torsion beam axle.
To safety, the battery is mounted low underneath the rear floor just as a gas tank would, so it really brings no additional structural risks. The IIHS has given the gasoline Soul “Good” ratings on its tests including the small-overlap test. While the electric model has not yet been tested, results are likely to be similar.
The 2015 Kia Soul achieved a 5 of 5 star rating, and makes it to our “Id Buy It List” for 2015. This is the first car to make our list this year, and the first ever electric car to win the honor.