We’re all big fans of electric cars here at Gas 2, of course. I was a fan “in theory”, at least, but my own experience with EVs had been limited to carefully managed press drives or manufacturer-hosted events. No one had ever tossed me the keys to an EV and invited me to “have at it” for a week or so, and certainly no one had ever done so in the middle of a cold and blustery Chicago winter.
2015 Kia Soul EV | First Impressions
Would the Kia be able to handle a 50-mile round trip with the heater on, the Pandora playing, and a driver with a heavy right foot behind the wheel? When the car arrived, I had my doubts. “It says it’s got about 50 miles left,” explained the delivery driver as he handed me the keys. “If you turn the heat on, that’ll drop to 45 right away, and it’ll keep dropping while you’re sitting still.”
Not exactly a confidence-booster, that guy.
Still, it was a single-digit February day in Chicago’s suburbs, and my usual “first impressions”drive route isn’t more than 10-15 miles. With that thought in mind, I turned on the little Kia Soul’s electric heater and saw the “range” drop steadily (but quickly) from 51 miles to 47 over the course of about two block.
“Holy $#!7,” I thought to myself as I watched it happen, “range anxiety is a real thing!”
I’ve made fun of EV critics who talk range anxiety in the past. I’ve been the first (and, often, loudest and rudest) comment-er to say things like, “Americans only drive an average of 30-40 miles per day, so an 80 mile range is plenty!” Here I was, however, sitting in west-bound traffic on the I-290, watching the range drop slowly as the Kia Soul EV inched along … and I was terrified.
2015 Kia Soul EV | Getting Over It
After a full night’s charge in my garage, the Kia showed a 68 mile range on the dash. More than enough to make the 52 mile round trip I had planned for the day, but Chicago’s traffic (especially in the winter) can be pretty unpredictable. Would I get stuck in traffic and be unable to find a place to charge the car “in the wild”?
Of course, I shouldn’t have worried. The Kia Soul EV’s digital “distance to empty” display was incredibly pessimistic, and I was showing 28 miles worth of driving left “in the tank” when I plugged in at the end of the day. More than enough range, in other words, for the Kia to take me on a quick grocery run or drive my kids to the ER if fate demanded it.
Real life was proving to be no problem for the Kia Soul EV during bitterly cold (but, otherwise, normal) driving conditions, then. The next morning, however, was a problem.
There was some snow. Not the blizzard that that dumped nearly 18″ of snow across most of the Great Lakes and New England regions, just a few inches of wet slush. It was enough, however, to light up the Kia Soul’s traction control warning light just about every time I put any pressure the accelerator. Having 100% of your available torque ready from 0 rpm is definitely fun in the summer on dry pavement, but on icy roads it was a bit unsettling- even with traction control.
2015 Kia Soul EV | Final Thoughts
At the end of my week with the 2015 Kia Soul EV, I learned a few things. First, a lot of people think the little Kia is “gay”. I’m not sure how an inanimate object could be gay or straight or both or neither, but I was assured that the electric blue Kia with a white roof and off-white interior was “at least as gay as a Volkswagen Cabrio”, which was also confusing. I also learned that the Kia Soul EV is deceptively quick, and a lot more nimble than its tallish proportions would suggest.
So, the 2015 Kia Soul EV is a fast, fun, and friendly little conveyance that is more than up to the task of everyday commuting. Granted, it’s not totally at home in winter driving, but the same could be said of any number of cars (electric or otherwise), and it wasn’t completely useless in the white stuff. Still, with a starting price of $35,700 for the Kia Soul EV “+” and a range that, while useful, limits me to borrowing the wife’s Volvo for long road trips, I don’t think it’s for me- especially considering that most of what makes the Kia Soul EV cool is available for $10K less, with a better sound system, in the ICE version.
It sure is fun to drive, though- and it does kinda winter!
Original content from Gas 2.