DEC. 25, 2014
Source: New York Times
The new Kia Soul EV fits right in. Introduced this year, it is on the growing list of affordable electric cars, a group that includes the Fiat 500e, Volkswagen e-Golf, Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Spark EV and Ford Focus Electric. Although it is available only in California, the car’s availability is expected to widen in 2015.
Shaking free of gasoline’s grip satisfies the soul. Electric vehicles are clean, quiet, have good zip, and, when mooching power from outlets at work and free public charge stations as I do, cheap to operate.
What’s more, the electric car community sticks together. A Leaf owner let me use his account at a Blink charge station once I found it wouldn’t take a credit card. I charged much longer than anticipated. Garrett, I owe you a latte.
Stuffing an electric motor and substantial battery into an existing gas-powered car generally obliterates the trunk. But the Soul EV dodges the Frankencar feel by mounting the pack under the cabin floor. The battery cells are encased in protection, stiffening the body structure and actually increasing ground clearance by a half inch over the gas version.
Soul EV packs on an average of 500 pounds, making it one hefty hamster. In corners this mass is felt — generally in a good way — because of a lowered center of gravity. Acceleration is punchy and satisfying in city skirmishes, though over all, Soul EV is not particularly fast. Going from 0 to 60 hovers in the 11-second range. Don’t race a Prius. You will lose.
The downer is range. Most affordable electrics are Environmental Protection Agency rated to travel around 82 miles on a charge. Soul EV scores 93. Still, it’s like having a four-gallon gas tank, one that takes five hours to fill on a 220-volt current.
Prices start at $33,700 before tax credits. With refined dynamics and a save-the-planet ethos, Soul EV delivers good vibes. No mind-altering substances required.