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2018 kia Soul EV

The Soul EV is Kia's first-ever full-production electric vehicle. Like its gasoline-powered counterpart, the Soul EV stands out from other compacts with a unique look that manages to be both boxy and extremely funky. The hamster-endorsed hatchback also delivers a roomy cabin, ample standard features and numerous optional extras, making it an appealing blend of style and substance.

Recent changes
For the latest model year, Kia updated the Soul EV's battery pack to increase its driving range.

Overview
Based on the second-generation Soul, the Soul EV is distinguished by tapered roofline and a rising beltline that creates a gentle wedge shape. The EV stands out from its gas-burning sibling thanks to a larger grille that accommodates a charging port, model-specific emblems on the fenders and 16-inch alloy wheels wrapped by super low rolling resistance tires.

Kia offers the Soul EV in three distinct, two-tone color palettes: Pearl White lower body with Electronic Blue roof, Caribbean Blue lower body with Clear White roof, and Bright Silver with Clear White roof.

Life aboard
The focus on style continues inside, where a circle-themed design is executed in unusually high-quality materials for the segment. Gray cloth upholstery with blue stitching comes standard, and buyers after a more premium ambiance can order gray leather upholstery at an extra cost.

The battery-powered Soul comes standard with an EV-specific version of Kia's UVO infotainment system. UVO provides Bluetooth-based smartphone integration, streaming audio and voice command functionality for everything from placing calls to changing radio stations. It also includes integrated Pandora radio, vehicle diagnostics info and maintenance reminders, and lets users send Point of Interest info from Google Maps searches on their smartphone to the navigation system.

Soul EV owners can also download a purpose-built application to keep an eye on their car's charging status, get real-time range information, preset the charge time and find the nearest charging station.

Due to the Soul's boxy body and tall roof, interior space is ample for four adults, and the cargo area is sufficient for 24.2 cubic feet of gear - nearly as much as larger, more expensive crossover models.

Under the hood
The Soul EV is powered by an 81.4-kilowatt electric motor rated at 109 horsepower and 210 lb-ft. of torque. A single-speed constant ratio gear reduction transmission transfers power to the front wheels, allowing the electric hatchback to sprint from zero to 62 mph in less than 12 seconds. Top speed is reached at approximately 90 mph.

The electric motor gets juice from a liquid-cooled lithium-ion polymer battery located under the floor. It provides the Soul with a maximum driving range of 111 miles.

It takes 24 hours to charge a completely depleted battery when using a standard 120-volt outlet. That charge time drops to under five hours when using a 240-volt outlet. When using a 50 kW-output charger, Kia says the Soul EV's battery can be charged to 80 percent in just 33 minutes.

The Soul EV is a decent handler because its battery pack is mounted low in the chassis. Additional metal bracing actually improves the hatchback's torsional rigidity by 5.9 percent.

In preparation for upcoming federal guidelines, Kia has equipped the Soul EV with a Virtual Engine Sound System - or VESS - that emits an audible noise below 12 mph or when the vehicle is in reverse to alert pedestrians of the approaching vehicle.

Trim level breakdown
The Soul EV is available in three trim levels: EV-e, EV and EV+.

The EV-e is the base model. It lacks the mid-range EV's climate scheduling, UVO EV services and navigation system, as well as its advanced HVAC.

EV models come standard with a pedestrian warning system, 16-inch wheels, tinted windows, body-colored bumpers, LED tail lights, power windows, navigation with an eight-inch display, a rear-view camera, a six-speaker audio system, a multi-function steering wheel, cloth upholstery, a manually-adjustable driver's seat, a heated steering wheel, heated front seats, power heated door mirrors and Bluetooth connectivity.

Opting for the + trim level brings aero wipers, fog lights, power-folding door mirrors, an electrochromatic rear-view mirror, a luggage net, a cargo screen, a 12-volt power outlet in the trunk, leather upholstery, heated rear seats, ventilated front seats, parking sensors on both ends.

EV+ models are now available with a Sun & Fun package, which adds a panoramic sunroof, LED interior lighting and illuminated speaker surrounds.

The only option available is a battery heating system.

Occupant safety
All Soul EVs come standard with front, side and curtain airbags as well as traction and stability control systems.

Key competitors
Kia only sells the Soul EV in a handful of states including California, Hawaii, Georgia, and New York. Unless style is a priority, buyers in the market for a city-sized electric car are better off looking at a Nissan Leaf. It's available nationwide, it offers more range, and it's cheaper than the Soul.