I’ve made no secrets about that fateful day two years ago, when I drained the battery of a 2015 Kia Soul EV on Christmas day in sub-freezing temperatures. Well, this year is apparently the second half of that frigid adventures. This is: the 2016 Kia Soul EV vs. Christmas.

I would be traveling from Seattle to the far side of Granite Falls with an all-electric vehicle achieving between 90 and 100 miles per full charge. I’d be going 80 miles, on the dot, from door to door. The catch is most of that was highway speeds on one of the biggest driving days of the year.

In the lead up to Christmas Day’s drive, I charged the EV to full (having discharged most of it around the city). Being lazy, it was off my wall socket and took the better part of a few days. Had I used even a Level 2 charger, this would have been several hours; the only DC Fast Chargers in the area (which charge the Soul to 80% in about 20 minutes) were broken. Handy.

The morning thereof, I kept all items that take electricity off. There were no tunes, no heat, no heated leather seats or steering wheel. I could have ventilated the seats, but I was cold enough already.

It was 35-degrees outside and the 16-inch alloy wheels covered in all-season tires strove for grip on icy roads around Granite Falls. On the inside, I was going around with nothing on inside the vehicle so that all charge saved for the drive out there.

Pulling out of my driveway, I had 102 miles of range. Plenty, right? Around a mile away is the entrance to I-5 at Northgate, at which point the range dropped to 85. Crap.

I have never hypermiled so much in my life; cruising behind semis, big pickups and even SUVs. It was probably the greenest drive I’ve ever completed, given how heavy my right foot usually behaves. I kept the Kia Soul EV around 60 to 65 miles per hour, the few times I dared go above that on the way out I found that my range dipped dangerously low for the distance I had yet to go.

I had to be careful not to discharge the 27kWh lithium-ion battery connected to the 109hp electric motor. There is no lag in the power band, but instant torque pushes you back a bit when accelerating hard. Which is exactly what I did to drain part of the battery pre-Christmas day.

I made it there with 50 miles of range left – leaving me with a 10-mile buffer, not quite the comfort margin I thought I’d have. I plugged the car in at my sister’s house and hoped that the few hours I’d be there would give me enough of bump in charge.

As my mother commented, they look exactly like the ‘Hamster Mobile’ that she drove recently. The looks are the same, except for the front grille

Three and a half hours later, I was unplugging to head home. 58 miles of range available, now, and 40 miles until home.

I put the 2016 Kia Soul EV in to ‘B’ Drive mode for improved battery management. The regenerative braking was more extreme and lifting off the accelerator would put old ladies into back agony, but on my drive home it was necessary to stave off the same side of the road despair I’d felt two years earlier.

Back on the highway and keeping my speeds lower than that of passing traffic whizzing past at 10 miles over the speed limit, the range kept a steady and manageable downward pace.

As the miles ticked lower on the range, so too, did my range anxiety. I soon realized that all my fretting about Christmas Day’s travel was for naught. With 30 miles to go, I had 48 miles of charge and pulled off at a rest stop to end radio silence.

It comes with an 8-inch touchscreen display boasting Kia’s Navigation system, Sirius XM radio, AM/FM radio and Bluetooth connectivity. I popped on my tunes and then headed back onto the road.

I flipped on the Reggae of which I’m fond, flicked on the heated seats and steering wheel and headed back onto I-5. Then turned the heated stuff off again once on the highway because the range dipped below 35 (making me too nervous to continue in heated fashion).

The screen also allows access to the UVO EV services, which I used to calculate how long I had left until I was dead on the side of the road. There was also a second, 3.5-inch OLED screen in the dash cluster displaying information such as range, song, call connection, driving options and more.

The seats were comfortable, though manually positioning (to conserve energy). Even the rear seats were heated, though not ventilated. In the trunk, there’s plenty of room for tons of groceries (or Christmas gifts) and ours even came with a handy stretchy net.

I returned to my driveway with 13 miles of range left. The Kia Soul EV dinged furiously at me to find a charger to replenish its supply, but it had made it. With more than 100 miles of city driving and around 80 miles of highway driving, there’s plenty of range in the 2016 Kia Soul EV for most drivers.

My sins of the past swept away, I crossed the threshold and my home’s heated environment kissed my cold-chapped cheeks. A heavenly hug after 80 heat-less miles. Our most recent trip has amped me up for future EVs, but I’m still wary about them given my previous misadventure with one.

Overall, the 2016 Kia Soul EV is a serious contender for those looking to cut the connection to gas. While the MSRP is $38,025, there is also the $7,500 Federal Tax Rebate that will help drop the initial sting of EV ownership.

To check out the 2016 Kia Soul EV on your own, please visit to www.Kia.com to find your local area dealership.

 

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Deanna Isaacs is a syndicated automotive columnist who graduated from the University of Washington’s Communication department. She enjoys sports cars, two-seaters and long drives where she can annoy the husband.

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