Pure Electric Soul: 2020 Kia Soul EV

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy
pure electric soul 2020 kia soul ev

Along with the high-volume version which debuted at the L.A. Auto Show this week, Kia has dropped an all-electric, battery-powered Soul EV.

Compared to the old car, its battery has doubled in capacity, while the electric motor now spits out nearly 300 lb-ft of torque. And, like its conventionally powered brother, the works of it are wrapped up in a snappy new set of duds.

Slung underneath the 2020 Soul EV is a lithium-ion polymer battery that is notably liquid-cooled via a front-mounted rad and the A/C system. It has an energy capacity of 64 kWh, compared to 30 kWh in the 2019 model. Kia is mum on the all-important metric of range, saying it is still being tested by the EPA. The old car was good for just over 100 miles, so logic dictates this new version should crest 200 miles (apparently, the new standard for cars like these).

In addition to stopping for juice less often, it should take less time when they do. A Combined Charging System (CCS) DC fast-charger is on board as standard equipment, so 80 percent refills should be relatively brief – as little as 1 hour on a 100kW charger. Not trumpeted in the bumf but buried in an attached Excel spreadsheet is the statement that it’ll take 59 hours to charge the thing via a 120V household socket. The charge port remains behind the front non-grille.

Power ratings in kilowatts are familiar only to those who have converted the stated units in Forza Horizon or are fans of Mighty Car Mods. An output of 170kW translates to 201 horsepower. Last year’s car was rated at just 90kW. However, torque is a measure we can all understand, and it has risen to 291 lb-ft from the old rating of 210.

Not that most EV drivers will try, but Kia says the 2020 model will top out at 104 mph compared to a can’t-keep-up-on-the-beltway 90 mph in the previous model. Acceleration will be a heckuva lot more snappy as well, with the company listing a 0-62 mph time of 7.6 seconds, about 3.5 seconds quicker than before.

Curb weight is listed at 3,715 lbs for both the EV and fancy-pants EV Designer Collection trims. The 2019 model, without sunroof, is said to weigh 3,289 lbs. The 2020 gasoline-powered Soul checks in at a minimum of 2,802 lbs for a stickshift LX model.

A quintet of drive modes ranging from Eco+ to Sport are said to automatically adjust power output to the traction motor, alter regenerative braking aggressiveness, and tailor the amount of juice hoovered by the climate control systems. That regen braking, by the way, is managed via a set of flappy paddles, meaning the Soul EV is not likely to be capable of one-pedal driving like the Chevy Bolt. We’ll find out more when we test it.

The current (pun intended) Soul EV is priced at $33,950. A fancier version that adds a “+” suffix to the present EV name adds some trimmings and trappings for an extra two grand.

This time around, the two trims on offer will be EV and, ahem, EV Designer Collection. Supporting its super-fancy sounding name, the Designer Collection model gets all the Soul EV goodies while latching onto the increasingly popular two-tone paint movement, 10-speaker Harman/Kardon stereo, and a few other items. Every 2020 Soul EV gets a 10.25-inch infotainment jumbotron, driver assistance nannies, and a revamped telematics system.

Built at the Gwangju plant in Korea, the Soul EV is expected to go on sale next year. Pricing has not been announced.

[Images: Kias Motors]

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3 of 10 comments
  • Bph78660 Bph78660 on Dec 02, 2018

    That's a terrible location for the battery charging port. It's right on the front bumper. What happens when you have a 5 MPH parking lot collision and damage the charging port and can't charge your car?

    • HotPotato HotPotato on Dec 02, 2018

      A lot of fast-charge stations are being equipped with woefully short cords so that the only cars that can reasonably charge there are ones with the port in the grill (or in this case, indistinguishable bumper/grill area). The Kia's driver might be willing to trade possible crash hassles for hassle-free fill-ups.

  • HotPotato HotPotato on Dec 02, 2018

    Congrats to Kia for a massive upgrade in every area but looks. As a fan of microvans and EVs, I look forward to putting one of these in the garage in a couple years' time. No longer slow, short-range, or cursed with an air-cooled battery of dubious longevity, Kia has gotten the Soul EV right this time. Sticklers might want an even bigger battery---the bricklike aero will probably result in the shortest real-world range of all the big-battery EVs---but still plenty for drivers in the few mild-climate states where Kia actually sells the thing. I hope they're not going to limit us to that dismal coal-black interior though. The oyster-gray leather interior of the current model is the best part.

  • Merc190 I would like to show the stylists this new model side by side to a 93 Accord SE in black and point out how the older model looked better in every single detail.
  • Sobhuza Trooper Too many folks need that /sarc/ tag. In my opinion, that tag is the equivalent of a television laugh track. If you need the laugh track to know that last line was supposed to be funny, you're pretty hopeless.
  • Canam23 A fine car, but I still preferred the Mazda 6, very pretty and zoom zoom!
  • Jrhurren As a (non-auto) safety professional, I have serious reservations that humans can stay attentive at scale with partial automation. Our brains naturally offload tasks and, when faced with mostly-reliable technology, happily start paying attention to something else (eg texting while driving). My prediction is that these technologies will not reduce traffic fatalities until we get to Level 5.
  • SilverCoupe Do the real cars self-dent when hit by the virtual ones?