Cute and boxy meets eco-friendly in the 2021 Kia Soul EV—the all-electric version of one of our favorite SUVs. While it might be emissions free, the Soul EV isn't fun-free; its 201-hp electric motor maintains the perkiness we love about the regular Soul and its cheeky exterior makes it just as eye-catching. Lest you think the Soul EV is all style and no substance, Kia has blessed it with a large battery pack that can offer up to 243 miles of driving range on a full charge, making it a legitimate rival to popular EVs such as the Chevrolet Bolt EV, the Hyundai Kona Electric, and the Nissan Leaf Plus.
What's New for 2021?
After taking the 2020 model year off—and being delayed to 2021—the Kia Soul EV is back with bolder styling, better driving range, and spunky acceleration.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
- Soul EV: $35,000 (est.)
- Soul EV Designer Collection: $38,000 (est.)
We're guessing here on pricing and we aren't sure about the Soul EV's full list of standard and optional features, but Kia has told us there will be two distinct trims, with the Designer Collection being the upscale and feature-rich version. We'd recommend that one, since it'll likely offer more creature comforts and still balance things out with a fair price tag.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Under the Soul EV's hood lies a 201-hp electric motor that's hooked up to the front wheels via a single-speed direct-drive transmission—a powertrain we've seen before in Kia's own Niro EV. We were able to take a test drive in a Korean-market example back when the Soul EV was destined to arrive as a 2020 model (the EV model has since been delayed to the 2021 model year due to an issue in the battery supply chain). During the drive, we found the electric motor to be quite peppy and found it takes some skill not to squeal the front tires when taking off from a stop, so buyers will find little to fear about being the slowpoke in the electric car.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The EPA's fuel economy estimates for the Soul EV—127 MPGe city, 101 MPGe highway, and 114 MPGe combined—stack up nicely against the Niro EV, but rivals such as the Bolt EV and the Tesla Model 3 Long Range earn more efficient ratings. When we get a Soul EV to our office for testing, we'll take it on our 200-mile highway fuel economy test and update this story with results.
Range, Charging, and Battery Life
The 2021 Soul EV's battery life is far better than the 2019 model and its carries a range of up to 243 miles per charge. The new model's 64.0-kWh battery can be charged via public charging stations and at home using both 240- and 110-volt power outlets; DC fast-charging capability is also standard.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Inside, the Soul EV looks and feels much like its gasoline-powered counterpart. The cabin is spacious for four adults, material quality is above average, and there's enough luxury and tech features to satisfy mainstream car buyers. Instead of the regular Soul's traditional shift lever, drivers of the Soul EV will control the transmission via a circular knob. We expect sassy colored trim options, adjustable ambient interior lighting, and modern features such as a wireless smartphone charging pad and a head-up display will be offered as options. Cargo space will mirror that of the gas-powered Soul; we fit seven carry-on suitcases behind the rear seat in our testing and a total of 50 cases with the seats folded.
Infotainment and Connectivity
While two different-sized infotainment displays are offered in the regular Soul, we expect the Soul EV will come with the larger 10.3-inch display with navigation as standard. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will surely be included. A six-speaker stereo system is standard but buyers will have the option of upgrading to a Harman/Kardon premium setup.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have tested the electric version of the Soul, but the gasoline powered model earned four stars from NHTSA and landed on IIHS's Top Safety Pick list. Several driver-assistance features are offered as options on the regular gas-powered Soul and we expect the same features to be offered on the Soul EV. Key safety features include:
- Available automated emergency braking with forward collision warning
- Available lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist
- Available adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
- Limited warranty covers 5 years or 60,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 10 years or 100,000 miles
- Battery warranty covers 10 years or 100,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance