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2015 Kia Soul EV + Long-Term Arrival

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 5/12/2015 Jessica Walker, Kim Reynolds

"So the question is -- what next? I've driven the Tesla for so long that returning to a gas car feels like backward time-travel. Do I say giddyap to these things?"

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2015 Kia Soul EV + Long-Term Arrival That's a line I wrote late in my 38,000-mile odyssey at the wheel of our long-term Model S P85+. Which, when it was recently returned -- rolling silently (and cruelly) away without me in it -- left me feeling as if my beloved starship from the future had abruptly dropped me back in the ordinary-old circa 2015. Plunk, there I am on the ground -- amid a small puff of dust.

And there I bewilderedly sat, an alien from Elon Musk's future returned to the primitive present.

No more giant multi-touch screen? No more magical over-the-air updates? No Superchargers? Back to driving mere ordinary cars? Never!

But even the irrepressible Mr. Toad in me had to face the fact that I needed a way to get around. So I started typing emails.

Research the latest Kia Soul on MSN Autos

2015 Kia Soul EV© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Kia Soul EV

After coming up goose eggs in my attempts to coerce either Hyundai or Toyota into letting me sample their hydrogen fuel cell wares (the first, stymied by internal corporate barriers, the second, just premature timing), I made a list of available battery-electric cars. Based on what? One thing, baby. Range.

My round-trip commute is a minimum of 76 miles (a bit more when the 405 is closed for late-night construction, which it usually is). So, conservatively, let's say its 80. Adding a 10 percent fear factor makes it 88. OK, now let's run through the list of available non-Tesla BEVs out there:

  • Smart ForTwo: 68 miles -- too short.
  • Ford Focus Electric: 76 miles -- nope.
  • BMW i3 BEV: 81 miles -- nope, but cool carbon-fiber tech.
  • Chevrolet Spark EV: 82 miles -- nope.
  • Volkswagen e-Golf: 83 miles -- nope, but certainly fun to drive.
  • Nissan Leaf: 84 miles -- we're inching closer.
  • Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive and Fiat 500e: 87 miles -- ack, short by 1 crummy mile.
  • Kia Soul EV: 93 miles -- eureka!

So the Kia is actually my one and only pure battery-electric choice since Toyota discontinued its slow-selling, 103-mile RAV4 EV ($49,800 -- no wonder). The sole quasi-alternative was the BMW i3 with Extended Range, which would have amusingly punctuated my trips with brief firings of its two-cylinder engine-generator, needing refueling (with gas) every week and a half or so. Unfortunately, our slow-motion BMW-courting hasn't resulted in a date; disappointing, but simplifying things.

Except for color.

2015 Kia Soul EV© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Kia Soul EV

I just caught you looking askance at these pictures. Don't look so askance. Kia offers the Soul EV in four color palettes -- all white (giving it a dignified Frigidaire quality), gray (which I rather like except it's too close to my personality), a cutesy blue-and-white combo I just can't explain why I dislike, and this one, Shadow Black and Inferno Red. Inferno Red -- I like that. And with red lipstick, too, a plus every time. For a while it was a terrible quandary, but my great policy is when in doubt, quiet yourself for a moment and ask your inner Mr. Toad what he would do.

Exactly (he's shouting in my ear). The lipstick one. Can't say that I've seen another one yet, either, though twice I've passed guys who've done double takes and were clearly laughing in my rearview mirror. No one laughs at the Great Toad -- eat my dust!

2015 Kia Soul EV© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Kia Soul EV

Yes, my automotive surroundings have abruptly downgraded since my halcyon Model S P85+ days. But for those of us with electricity in our veins, such is the price of fidelity. And at $36,650 ($26,650 were you to benefit -- as we would -- from the combined $7,500 federal tax credit and $2,500 California tax rebate) it's still just a quarter of that Tesla's price. OK, it's a quarter of the car, too. But critically it has standard Level 3 charging (CHAdeMO), its flat-against-the-floor battery (warrantied for 10 years and 100,000 miles) hardly interferes with the roomy interior, and it's surprisingly cool to drive. An extra two grand for our + version added parking sensors, leather seat surfaces (replacing the Bio-fabric -- don't tell anybody; the fronts are heated and cooled, the rears, heated), auto-dimming mirror, and a cargo cover.

While most short-range BEVs are struggling for sales and slashing prices, Kia has been having trouble keeping up with Soul EV orders. Trust your inner Mr. Toad.

2015 Kia Soul EV +
BASE PRICE$35,825
PRICE AS TESTED$36,650*
VEHICLE LAYOUTFront-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door hatchback
MOTOR109-hp/210-lb-ft, permanent magnet AC synchronous
TRANSMISSION1-speed auto
WHEELBASE101.2 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT163.0 x 70.9 x 63.0 in
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON120/92/105 mpg-e
ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY28/37 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB0.00 lb/mile (at vehicle)
*Before $7,500 federal tax credit; state incentives vary
2015 Kia Soul EV© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Kia Soul EV
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