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With iconic design cues akin to the visage of a Star Wars storm trooper, the 2015 KIA Soul EV confirms that electric vehicles can be utilitarian, stylish and affordable to consumers not able to fork out Tesla-level money.

Available in Base and Plus model trims, the front-wheel drive Soul EV comes with a fair amount of standard features. Significant Base model amenities include:

  • 8-inch touch screen infotainment/navigation system
  • Bluetooth hands-free phone with streaming audio
  • Leather-wrapped, heated steering wheel
  • Cruise control
  • Heated front seats
  • Rear backup camera

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The Plus model tested in this review adds the following features:

  • Parking assist with front and rear sensors
  • Auto-dimming rear-view mirror
  • Leather seats
  • Ventilated front seats
  • Heated rear seats
  • Leatherette trim on the door cards, armrest and dashboard

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Fully powered by electricity with no combustible engine to speak of, the Soul EV stores its energy in a lithium-ion polymer battery pack. Providing 27 kilowatts per hour of energy―equivalent to 109 horsepower through an AC Synchronous motor― the small CUV generates 210 lb-ft of torque. While the horsepower figure may seem low, it’s that torque figure that makes the Soul surprisingly quick when you need to overtake a lulling tractor-trailer on the highway.

Performance-wise, mashing the go-pedal is a unique experience. When you stomp on it, the vehicle surges forward in unexpected quietness. No drama, no lag―just torque.

Overall, the Soul EV is a quiet vehicle. In addition to its compliant suspension, a fair amount of wind-sensitive exterior sculpting went into its design to make such a hushed experience. Taking corners at speed, you experience little body roll from inside the cabin as a result of the batteries being placed low in the floor of the vehicle. That said, push the car too hard through a bend and you’ll be met with a little bit of understeer as the Super Low Rolling Resistance (SLRR) tires begin to squeal and plow through the apex.

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Shoppers considering the Soul EV will find the pint-sized vehicle’s utility characteristics impressive. The 60/40 split-folding rear seats offer up 49.5 cubic feet of cargo volume with the seats down and 18.8 cubic feet with the rear seats up. While the almost 50 cubic feet of cargo area with the rear seats down is great for mulch bag runs at the nearest landscaping store, young families may find the cargo area behind the rear seats isn’t big enough for some necessary items―like a full-size stroller. Parents will want to get used to stowing a much smaller umbrella stroller for mall and park outings in the luggage area. A nice touch is the hidden under tray in the boot to store the included 120-volt charging cord.

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Speaking of charging, it took about 14 hours to get a full charge (via 120-volt power source) with only 11 miles of range left in the Soul EV. While using this method is slow, the plug-in charging system works well, with three blue lights illuminating once the vehicle is full of electrons.

While we weren’t able to test the 240-volt (4-5 hour charge time) or 480-volt Direct-Current (DC) Fast Charge (80% charge in 30 minutes) options the vehicle is capable of utilizing, we were able to test the free UVO EV Services app on an iPhone 6―and it worked flawlessly. From viewing the vehicle charge status to setting a time for the car to warm up or cool down the interior, the iOS and Android versions of the app have a bunch of helpful, ingenious features.

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The Soul EV has an Environmental Protection Agency-estimated driving range of 93 miles. With an MPGe of 92 miles on the highway and 120 miles in the city (105 miles combined), most owners should be able to get a full day of errands done before having to give the EV an electron top-off.

In real world driving with the tested Plus model, we never achieved the 93 miles of range claimed by the EPA. There are a variety of reasons for this, but one of them probably has more to do with the addictive torque response experienced when the accelerator is mashed to the carpet.

Starting at $26,200 ($33,700 MSRP minus $7,500 federal tax credit) for the Base model and $28,200 ($35,700 MSRP minus $7,500 federal tax credit) for the Plus model, the Soul EV is the result of memorable design coupled with EV performance in a CUV form factor. The first of its type in this segment, the 2015 Soul EV illustrates how affordable EVs can be, while not having to give up technology or luxury as a bargaining point.

So, is the Kia Soul EV a Tesla for the rest of us? Almost. If Kia can double the range of the Soul EV while keeping the cost low, then Tesla should consider itself on notice.

If you like the front-wheel drive Soul EV, how about it in all-wheel drive form? Check out this video short of the Kia Trail'ster Concept All-Wheel Drive EV.