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  • Writer's pictureAlain Kuhn Von Kuhnenfeld

2021 KIA Soul EV

This week we are reviewing the 2021 KIA Soul EV. Our vehicle was assembled at the Gwangju plant in South Korea and has an MSRP of 53805.00 CAD before incentives.

2021 KIA Soul EV

Fun Factor: 8

Can it Family: 4

Fuel-Friendly: 10

HWY-warrior: 4

Karaoke-Friendly: 8

Baby-Friendly: 6

City Cruising: 10

Last year, we tested the 3rd generation of the KIA Soul in its internal combustion variant, and we were longing to try its EV counterpart. The EV variant's exterior doesn't change too much except for the missing grill due to its engine's not requiring cooling. You have to look under the hood to see the difference; the 201hp electric engine propels the Soul from a standstill to 100 km/h in 6.3 seconds using winter tires in our real-life acceleration test thanks to its astonishing 291 lb-ft of torque. The Soul EV's suspension is a lot softer compared to its gasoline counterpart, losing some of its sportier feeling around corners, however gaining a smoother ride in return.

The Soul EV makes the most of its compact exterior by taking full advantage of its interior space; this helps it as a city family hauler. Our 3 kids were pretty snug in the back, with our son being in a booster car seat. It would be more suitable for 2 passengers. The bolstering of the outer seats is comfortable and heated, a rare feature in this category. We tried the Limited variant and benefited from leather seats; heated and cooled front seats. The trunk is small; when carrying a stroller, even a small one eats up a lot of the space.

EVs' electric consumption is affected by cold weather, which was no different from the KIA Soul EV during our test. With several countries phasing out internal combustion vehicles, we decided to push test the Soul's EV range limits and do without recharging for as long as possible during the week we had it. We wanted to see if we could do our regular errands and drives even if we didn't charge it daily. When the weather dipped below -10c, the Soul EV's electric consumption was 23.3 kWh/100km on the Hwy, and in the city, the electric consumption was 19.9 kWh/100km. We were lucky enough to have warmer weather (+10c) during our test and immediately noticed that the electric consumption lowered to 18.8 kWh/100km on the Hwy and 15.7 kWh/100 in the city. The main factor differentiating and affecting electric consumption is heating. Finally, the 64 kWh battery was sufficient for all our weekly and weekend needs. We only recharged the vehicle on our last day to return the car fully charged, and this was possible overnight using a level 2 charger.

Now that the Soul EV Limited is equipped with a heat pump, longer routes in colder weather are easier to manage. This type of heating system consumes a lot less electricity than traditional heating systems found in older EVs. With an announced range of 383km, it is easy to travel to the cabin and back to the city without having any range anxiety even in the winter months. During our test, the 383km range was easily attainable on the Hwy by maintaining speeds between 105-110km/h; this seems to be a sweet spot for the Soul EV. Like gas-powered vehicles, the faster you drive, the more juice the car consumes; it's no different here.

The premium Harman Kardon® sound system is stellar sounding; if the sound isn't enough to get you jamming, you can adjust the vehicle's interior ambient mood lighting to make you feel like in a club. The interesting part is the system is set up to work while at a stop; hence it doesn't become a distraction while driving. The infotainment's 10.25-inch multimedia system is easy to operate and integrates Apple Car Play and Android Auto. Thanks to the massive screen, you can set up a portion of it to see your radio station without needing to flip out of smartphone mirroring.

Car seat installation was a little more complicated as the ISOFIX ports are hidden underneath the seats and required us to play around with the latches to get them attached. Additionally, with the cold weather, the leather hardened and made the task even more difficult. You'll find 2 of these ports on the rear bench, making it possible to install 2 car seats. On the other hand, there are 3 rear anchor tethers available, and these are easily accessible. Toddlers can open the car doors without any help; they are light and open with ease. It will also be easy for them to enter the vehicle, and once inside, the belt buckles are only a grab away.

Naturally, like most EVs, they shine in the city while everyone is burning fuel stuck in traffic with vibrations from the engine; the Soul EV is calming and quiet. We noticed that if we were in a gasoline-powered vehicle, it would be frustrating to be stuck in traffic. On the other hand, it felt satisfying to know that by accelerating and letting the vehicle regenerate either by coasting to a stop or braking, the power needed to accelerate again is recouped thanks to the regenerative braking. The Soul's compact size makes it easy to navigate in smaller streets. Parking is often a joy as it will fit pretty much anywhere with the added benefits that most city centers now have dedicated parking spots where you can charge your EV while shopping.

Why would we buy the KIA Soul EV, or what we liked about it? The standard warranty on the battery is 8 years/150 000km in Canada, quiet and relaxing drive; it can quickly recharge to 80%, quirky look, comfortable ride, ideal for small families or families who no longer need to bring a stroller.

Why would we not buy the KIA Soul EV, or what we did not like about it? Small trunk, ISOFIX ports are hidden, might work well as a second vehicle for larger families; otherwise, the KIA Niro would be more appropriate. The variant with the bigger battery only comes in the Limited trim hence missing out on features such as the heat pump.

KIA has lent us this vehicle one week as a press vehicle. We have no affiliation with KIA Canada. The above is a recollection of our personal opinion of the car referred above.

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