2023 Kia Soul EV Limited
From day one the Kia Soul has stuck by its distinctive design. It’s a little tall, a little boxy, and defiantly perky.
In a parking lot, those looks help it stand out from a sea of sameness.
The Kia Soul EV goes a step forward toward minimalism with a front end that replaces a traditional grille with a plane body panel. There are two slits where the headlights reside, and other than that the car is a smooth as a batch of frosting.
Before I picked up the Soul to test I scanned some reviews. All were favourable with one even calling the Kia Soul EV, “well priced.”
I disagree with that. My Kia Soul Limited was priced at $52,095. For that kind of money I want to really love a car.
What cools the love down is the Soul’s dated interior. There are too many ovals, circles and ellipses bubbling up from the dash, the centre console, and the instrument cluster in front of the driver. It’s a little too cartoonish in my view, considering the price of the vehicle, and the pervasive black interior surfaces are more somber than they need to be.
Factor out the aesthetics though and there’s much to savour about the Soul.
Many will find it ergonomically adorable. It’s easy to get in and out of the Soul, with the seats placed just about hip height, a gesture that should suit a big swatch of the population.
The tall roof height provides abundant headroom, and the big windshield opens up a generous view. Visibility all around is excellent.
The Soul is loaded with features that were once found only in upper echelon cars..heated and cooled seats, heated steering wheel, cruise control, collision avoidance and lane keeping, among other upgrades.
Features are easy to activate through steering wheel controls, or the 10.25-inch touch screen. On screen commands are intuitive and the response is swift to inputs.
My Soul in the Limited trim had a 64-kWh battery pack producing a claimed driving range of 383 kilometres.
My test time with the Soul was shortened by a holiday and impacted by a snow and ice storm. The storm grounded the car for one full day and was followed by two days of slow driving in the city due to piles of icy snow on many roads.
To save battery range one can choose to drive in Eco Mode or Eco + Mode. These modes use more aggressive battery regeneration via downshifting or braking, and limiting heating or cooling functions. I drove nearly 90 percent of the time in Eco Mode and finished the week with almost 50 percent battery range still available.
With 201 horsepower the Soul EV never feels like it need more. It’s forward forceful from a stop and responsive to pedal inputs even in Eco Mode. Steering is light and maybe a bit clinical, but in turns and through lane changes it feels crisp.
For city driving..which in Hamilton means dodging potholes, cracks in paving and general degradation, the Soul is a trusty companion. It soaks up most anything thrown at it.
And of course it’s quiet, save for the odd, otherworldly sound piped through the vehicle to warn pedestrians of its proximity.
I read some complaints about the hardness of the back seats and I would agree they are on the severe side. Also quibbles about cargo space -people wanted more, but maybe the vehicle is not the right choice for moving mountains of stuff.
Driving isn’t much fun anymore, from cratered roads, to careless and angry drivers, one feels on edge most of the time.
So maybe a car like the Soul, with its serene aura is the right choice for today’s transportation.
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