Dana Point, Calif. ? Kia recently invited me to Southern California to sample a couple of their latest not so mainstream vehicles — an electric car and a minivan, which Kia prefers to call a multi-purpose vehicle, which actually makes more sense.
Kia didn?t have a cake or blow out candles, but it was kind of a birthday for them, because they started selling cars in the United States just 20 years ago. In fact, the first four dealerships were practically in my back yard in Portland, Oregon. Since then Kia has had some ups and some downs, but the general trend has been UP! This year they will celebrate selling their five-millionth vehicle in the U.S. and according to Michael Sprague, Kia executive vice president of sales and marketing, 2014 will be the best year ever.
As much as I enjoy electric vehicles I have to admit I?m still afflicted with a bit of ?range anxiety.? For example, my driving partner and friend, Mary, and I were busy enjoying the smooth silent response of the Kia Soul EV and the sights along the Southern California coast a couple of weeks ago. Like often happens to us on these drives, we were having such a great time, we kind of forgot to watch the battery gauge and we ended up far from the charger with a low battery. There are ways to better preserve the battery charge using techniques like coasting and regenerative braking?wish we?d paid better attention. We did make it back with a few amps to spare and smiles on our faces, however.
The 27kWh lithium battery is larger than the competitor batteries which range from 20 to 24kWh. That means better range. The extra battery power gives this new Soul EV an estimated 93 mile range and earns it an EPA MPGe rating of 92 miles highway and 120 miles city, and a combined rating of 105 miles. While that doesn?t cure range anxiety by itself, it helps.
There are a variety of available chargers allowing the owner to plug into a standard 120v outlet, conventional 240v EV charger or a fast charging (480v) port. The connectors are conveniently located behind a sliding door located in the front grille. The charging process can take as long as 24 hours to as little as 33 minutes, depending on the size charger being used.
Soul EV pricing starts at $33,700 plus the destination charge, however when you factor in the $7,500 federal tax credit, the price looks pretty reasonable at $26,200. There is one other trim level which adds $2,000 to price and features like leather seating, parking assist, fog lights, heated and ventilated front seats and power folding outside mirrors.