The hamsters are back in Kia’s ads for its new Soul EV all-electric hatchback. And while their geeky, sexy, danceable 'science experiment' is definitely memorable, after driving the 2015 Kia Soul EV we have to wonder if perhaps the Energizer Bunny would have been a better cheer-creature.
More than any non-Tesla-badged, all-electric car so far, the Soul EV keeps going, and going, and going. To an EPA-rated 93 miles.
And it has what it takes to ease range-anxiety worries, with a predictable, even-tempered range meter that doesn’t skip a beat.
As we observed, it’s more likely to add a beat here and there, it seems. That EPA number felt quite conservative after several different charges and a total of 388 miles—split over a couple of weeks and urban, suburban, and Interstate highway driving (yes, we’ll get to that).
On the urban and suburban side, we saw 114 miles on a single charge—‘careful’ driving with no use of the main climate-control system, but not hypermiling—before we chickened out and plugged the Soul EV in. And at that point it still indicated a four-percent charge remaining.
As with all electric vehicles, using the climate-control system really chops into your remaining range. Click the system on, and the estimate will suddenly drop by 10 miles or more.
But Kia provides a couple of smart things that make it especially easy to resist the temptation to turn it on, for several good reasons. First, heated and cooled ventilated seats are included, as is a heated steering wheel, and in driving during weather in the 50s (deg F) it kept us perfectly comfortable. Secondly, there’s more flow-through ventilation here than in other models (like the Nissan Leaf, in which we’ve had multiple experiences with fogging up unless the A/C is switched back on), so you don’t have to keep cycling the defog on.
Really, it's a 100-mile electric car, at last
In short, this is a 100-mile electric car, from what we've seen—provided you can keep your driving style in check. If you can limit your driving to lower city speeds, keep your takeoffs and stops relatively smooth and gradual, and limit climate control use, you’ll likely see that or more out of a charge, with some regularity.
Even based on what we saw in highway driving, we’ll venture that if you keep your speed legal, and you use the climate control some, 80 miles is reasonable (and 70 miles is a target free of range-anxiety white knuckles and cold sweats).