Eco-karma with electric soul: Kia’s 2016 Soul EV is a funky box on wheels with lots of fans, proving style and practicality can go hand in hand

Nov 08, 2016

One thing you can say for sure about the 2016 Kia Soul: its square shape provides an abundance of head and seat space, with room for five passengers. Behind the rear setbacks you’ll get 19 cubic feet of cargo space, which expands to an expansive 61 cubic feet when both sections of the rear 60/40 split seats are folded down. This is far greater than many of Soul’s competitors, such as the Leaf and Volt.

Having won the popularity contest with the departed Honda Element, Scion xB and Nissan Cube – the three main “boxies” it competed with before Kia decided to make a pure electric version of Soul – this whimsical, funky-looking, hampster-endorsed hatchback has a style that’s hard to categorize. Few other cars in its box-wagon class can match its bold appeal and personality. And as EVs go, its 93 mile all-electric range shows it’s got the chops to compete with the most popular EVs on the market.

The 2016 Soul EV comes with a 27 kWh lithium ion polymer battery pack contained in an 8.5 cubic foot package neatly fitted under the car, and a 6.6-kw onboard charger with ports for 120/240-volt and 480-volt fast chargers. A full charge at 240-volts will take 3 to 4 hours. Soul’s synchronous electric motor is rated at 109 horsepower and provides 210 pounds-feet of torque. Slightly slow on the uptake, it gets to 60 mph in around 11.2 seconds and has a top speed of 90 mph.

The 2016 Kia Soul EV’s interior is considered stylish by many reviewers. In an effort to be Eco-conscious, Kia has used bio-based materials in over 50 pounds of the interior’s parts. Many of the plastics used for items like line trim panels, carpeting, the headliner and seat trim, are derived from cellulose and sugar cane.

Soul comes with a special electric vehicle version of Kia’s UVO eServices. With built-in connectivity from Verizon and an app installed on their phone, drivers can obtain real-time battery status and can remotely start and stop charging, heating and air-conditioning. The standard navigation system finds all nearby charging stations. Soul provides UVO services and a Sirius TravelLink subscription for 5 years for free.

Standard Soul EV features include a push button start, a USB port, a six-speaker audio system, satellite radio and Bluetooth. It comes with a panoramic sunroof, a rearview camera, an Infinity audio system, HD Radio, leather seats, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats, ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel and heated rear seats. Forward collision warning and lane departure warning are new options for 2016.

The Soul EV is available with a long list of high-end features. The dashboard controls are simple to use; the navigation system responds instantly to driver inputs; and Soul’s UVO infotainment system is easy to use with a smartphone. “Gauges and controls are logically located and intuitive to use, and using the UVO interface to control your smartphone is a snap,” says Edmunds.

Kelley Blue Book says about the 2016 Kia Soul EV: “Beyond its hip good looks and catchy ad campaign (we know you’ve seen the dancing hamsters by now), the Soul offers solid affordable transportation with an amazing 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.”

At present, the Kia Soul EV-e is available only in California. The other two trims: the EV ands EV+, are available in a few selected states. No word when Kia’s South Korean manufacturer will make them available in all states.