In 2020, Kia will sell two relatively affordable, long-range electric vehicles (EVs). The first is the Kia Niro EV, which arrived for 2019 and is based on the Niro hybrid. The second is the redesigned Kia Soul EV, which is slated to arrive in dealerships after the first of the year and is based on the latest version of the Soul.
While final prices for the Soul EV are not set, it will no doubt cost more than the previous version. That’s because the estimated driving range leaps from 111 miles to 243 miles. The new Soul EV is also quicker and more technologically sophisticated. None of these improvements are free.
But will Kia position the personality-rich Soul EV slightly below, in the same neighborhood, or slightly higher than the more conservative Niro EV? After all, both of these EVs share electric drivetrain components, make the same power, enjoy the same recharging times, and receive the same warranty.
Therefore, aside from styling, what distinguishes them from one another, and do those unique characteristics make one better than the other?
In many ways, the Niro EV (top) and Soul EV (bottom) are the same. Styling is not one of them. (Photo: Kia)
The best things about the Kia Niro EV
Clearly the more conservative design between the two, the Kia Niro EV is also more traditional on the inside. Consider it the introvert of this duo, its appealing design saving it from invisibility.
If you prefer the Niro EV’s more grown-up look, the car’s more comfortable interior will appeal to you. Both front seats include standard height adjustment, and if you upgrade from standard EX trim to EX Premium trim, the Niro EV features genuine leather upholstery, and heated and ventilated front seats.
In terms of technology, the Niro EV and Soul EV share advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and infotainment systems. The Niro includes standard rather than optional wireless device charging and has a lane following assist function that is unavailable for the Soul EV.
Marketed as an electric crossover SUV, the Niro EV supplies 6.3 inches of ground clearance, which is more than the Soul EV. It might also prove more accommodating of cargo when the rear seat is in use. The Niro EV’s trunk measures 18.5 cubic feet, which is just a smidgeon less than a standard gas-fired Soul. But the way Kia shapes the Niro’s trunk is more useful.
Kia equips the Niro EV (top) with more comfortable seating, while the Soul EV (bottom) has a more sophisticated infotainment system. (Photo: Kia)
The best things about the Kia Soul EV
If the Niro EV is more practical and comfortable for daily driving, the Soul EV has greater overall interior and maximum cargo space due to its boxier styling. With the back seat folded down, the Soul EV can haul 62.1 cu.-ft. of cargo while the Niro EV can handle no more than 53 cu.-ft.
Kia also equips the Soul EV with a more impressive infotainment system. It has a standard 10.25-inch display, a big upgrade over the Niro EV’s available 8-inch screen. Plus, the Soul EV includes a standard navigation system while that feature is an option in the Niro EV.
Because the Soul EV is lighter in terms of overall weight, it accelerates a little faster and can drive a little farther than the Niro EV. According to the EPA, the Soul EV can travel 243 miles on a single battery charge, compared to 239 miles for the Niro EV. The Niro EV accelerates to 60 mph in about 7.7 seconds, according to Kia, while the Soul EV does it in about 7.5 seconds.
Choose a Soul EV in Designer Collection trim, and it has Kia’s Sofino synthetic leather instead of the real deal. This could be a pro or a con, depending on your perspective.
Because the Soul EV (bottom) is shaped like a box on wheels, it offers more maximum cargo space than the Niro EV (top). (Photo: Kia)
Kia Niro EV vs. Kia Soul EV. Which is better?
Choosing between the Kia Niro EV and the Kia Soul EV is a matter of taste.
Do you want a car with a big personality? The Soul EV delivers, inside and out.
Do you want maximum comfort and convenience for the typical daily drive? The Niro EV is likely the better choice, thanks to its useful trunk and more satisfying seating.
Either way, you’ll own one of the better long-range electric cars you can buy for less than $40,000 – before applying for the federal income tax credit and any state or local rebates, of course.