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Road Test: 2021 Kia Soul EV Limited

As my family strongly considers going electric for our next vehicle purchase, I always welcome the opportunity to test out the latest offerings in the EV sphere.

And while it has been around for a few years, this was my first opportunity to test the Kia Soul EV (2021) and it proved to be a capable everyday driver, but with a few shortcomings.

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2021 Kia Soul EV Limited

The Soul EV is offered in two trims: Premium and Limited, which is the model we tested.

Pricing starts at $44,905 for the Premium trim, while the Limited is $53,905 before any fees or – more importantly – rebates are applied.

Depending on where you live in Canada, buyers can benefit from significant discounts, starting with $5,000 from the federal government. In Quebec, where I reside, that gets topped up with an extra $8,000 from the province.

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2021 Kia Soul EV Limited

Both models are well equipped, with the Limited having a few notable extras like a heads-up display, Harman/Kardon premium sound system, leather seats, heated and cooled front seats, and some nice sound-reactive mood lighting.

Powertrain: The Soul EV features a permanent magnet AC synchronous motor and the Limited trim, with a more powerful setup, delivers 201 horsepower and 291 ft-lb of torque.

And those are really good numbers for a vehicle the size of the Soul, with quick acceleration thanks to that torque. The Soul EV features a single-speed reduction gear, controlled through a simple dial in the centre console.

For those who worry about range on an EV, the Soul offers two battery packs.

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2021 Kia Soul EV Limited

With the smaller battery, the Premium trim (with 134 horsepower) has an estimated range of 248 kilometres on a full charge.

The Limited is estimated at 383 km, but the display indicated 400 km in available range on a full charge during my week with the Soul.

In terms of charge times, Kia estimates that to fully recharge the battery on the Limited trim from empty is 59 hours using a normal house plug, which is not how any buyer would operate.

Most will install a Level 2 charger and that cuts the recharge time down to 9 hours and 35 minutes, or basically overnight. The Soul can also be plugged into a DC fast charge station and get a decent charge in an hour.

The Soul also has regenerative braking, which can be set to different intensities through a paddle shifter. Setting 3, the maximum, is quite aggressive and takes some getting used to, but does yield the best benefit and it’s where I left the setting for most of the week.

Exterior: Styling wise, there’s little difference between the Soul EV and it’s ICE (internal combustion engine) counterpart.

The front fascia is a bit different to accommodate the charge port and, personally, I like the front placement of it. Then there is the electric badge on the rear hatch, but otherwise there is little difference between models.

Our tester was draped in a very nice Neptune Blue premium paint, which is well worth the $250 additional charge.

The exterior also features 17-inch alloy wheels and a whole host of LED lights (headlights, daytime running lights, positioning lights, fog lights and taillights).

Overall, it is a pretty boxy design, especially at the rear, which does have some drawbacks. While far from appealing to everyone, even in my own family, the styling is kind of cute, in its own way.

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2021 Kia Soul EV Limited

Interior: The Soul EVs cabin is nice, but a bit tight for rear occupants.

The cockpit is nicely laid out for the driver, with control buttons and dials neatly organized on the centre stack.

Surrounding that shifter dial in the central console is your start/stop button, as well as buttons for seat temperature controls and drive settings.

The ambient lighting also really makes the textured door handle inserts shine at night, and I like the way their shape blends in nicely with the tall air vents.

The front seas are comfortable and feature accent stitching and the Soul name embossed in the side of them.

That squared off back also means the cargo space is truncated a bit, limiting its usefulness.

While a bit snug in places, the overall cabin design and feel rates highly for me.

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2021 Kia Soul EV Limited

Infotainment: A feature of the interior I really appreciated was the wide-screen format of the 10.25-inch infotainment screen.

Admittedly there are larger screens out there, but unlike some of those, this one just blended in perfectly with the layout.

And it’s a crisp display that can be divided in three to show multiple subsections of information at the same time.

The menus and functions were easy to understand, and response time was quite good.

Featuring integrated navigation and compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, it checks off all the boxes in terms of usability.

With the Harman/Kardon premium sound system added in the tester, it also delivers excellent sound quality all around.

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2021 Kia Soul EV Limited

Drive: In terms of how it drives, the short answer is: Pretty good.

Other than the lack of engine noise, there’s no major differences in how the Soul EV behaves out on the road.

Of course, the acceleration is quicker thanks to the instant torque of an EV. Braking is also different, especially with the maximum setting of the regenerative system. However, at its lowest setting, the feel is much more like an ICE vehicle.

The ride is also not overly rough, and the steering response is excellent.

Conclusion: The Soul EV has the benefit of being one of the first electric crossovers on the market, but it is quickly being joined by some new – and flashier – entrants.

That being said, the Soul EV has some redeeming qualities, including a decent range and a nice passenger cabin.

2021 Kia Soul EV Limited
Price as tested: $54,155.00
Freight: $1,795.00
Configuration: Front engine/Front-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: Permanent magnet AC synchronous motor/ Single-speed reduction gear
Power/torque: 201 horsepower/ 291 ft-lb of torque
Natural Resources Canada fuel economy (Le/100 km): 1.9 city, 2.4 hwy, 2.1 combined
Warranties: 5-years/100,000 km (basic)
Competitors: Chevrolet Bolt, Hyundai Kona, Kia Niro, Nissan LEAF

Link: Kia Canada

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