Kia is crazy for kWh, as evidenced by its fast-growing fleet of plug-in models, the latest of which is an all-new version of the company's first-ever electric vehicle, the Soul EV.
The 2020 Kia Soul EV shares its squinty styling with this year's also-new gas-powered Soul and introduces a number of powertrain improvements. Base power rises to 134 hp and 291 lb-ft of torque, increases of 35 and 81 respectively. This year brings an optional performance upgrade to 201 hp and 291 lb-ft.
Driving range is also up dramatically. Base trim comes with a 39.2 kWh battery that Natural Resources Canada says is good for 248 km, while a 64 kWh battery bumps that up to 383 km. Even that base figure is a big bump from the 2019 model's 179 km of range.
Energy consumption improves marginally along with the added battery capacity. The 2020 Kia Soul's estimates are 1.8/2.3 Le/100 km (city/highway) with the base battery, and 1.9/2.4 for the extended range model. The outgoing Soul EV's ratings were 1.9/2.5 Le/100 km (city/highway).
The Soul EV follows on the arrival of Kia's Niro EV, the compact wagon/utility that promises a similar 385 km. We'll call it an acknowledgment that as beloved as the Soul seems to be, its quirky shape is not for everyone.
We wish Kia had been more creative with the placement of the EV's charging port, which is front-and-centre in the new design's front bumper. The old car's solid grille insert gave Kia's designers someplace to hide the charge port's cover.
There's more to the 2020 Kia Soul EV's powertrain than more power and range. Kia says it also comes with four drive modes, four levels of regenerative braking and a "smart" regen system that bases braking on the speed of the vehicle in front of the Soul EV. There's also a brake-and-hold feature that can bring the car to a stop using regen braking alone.
Kia offers the 2020 Soul EV in Premium and Limited trims. A selection of the car's standard and optional features includes a rotary transmission shifter, 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen, six-speaker stereo with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a UVO connected car system that provides information like battery and charging status, real-time charging station updates and scheduled charging.
Also available is a suite of active safety aids that includes forward collision warning with automatic braking, lane departure warning with lane keeping assist, driver attention warning, smart cruise control, blind spot warning and rear cross traffic alert.