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Model X 75D vs Kia Soul EV+ Owner Review

Discussion in 'Electric Vehicles' started by abikepeddler, Jan 15, 2017.

  1. abikepeddler

    abikepeddler Member

    Feb 13, 2016
    Del Mar, CA
    Our recent delivery of our Tesla Model X has given me a week of fun and enjoyment as we got to know the car. Discovered it's in's and out's. It's quirks. But before we decided to commit to buying a car of this expense we decided to lease a 2016 Kia Soul EV to see if we really wanted to join the electric fray. Friends of mine scoffed at me for doing so as they know the dye'd in the wool car fanatic that I am. My friend Jerry: "I give you and Lisa (wife) 2 months before you start regretting that purchase". Well as it turned out, Jerry was wrong. Within a few days of daily driving the Kia Soul EV around we were both fighting over it. It is just such a spectacular thing. The calming nature of the car in and of itself is worth the extra cost over not only a gas powered Soul but, well, over just about anything! But what happens when you compare a $37,000 Kia Soul EV to a car costing nearly 3 times as much? What happens when you compare it to the Model X...

    Keep in mind, I am no fanboy when it comes to any car manufacturer. I do not have a tattoo anywhere pledging my allegiance to any make or model. All cars have faults. Some you struggle to live with and some are endearing. Both the Model X and the Soul EV have pros and cons but you might be surprised just how these cars stack up against one another.

    Both the Tesla and the Kia were designed from the ground up to be electric cars. But from a driving standpoint the Tesla's power tends to overwhelm any comparison as obviously the Kia's 107hp pales to the Teslas 328hp. But where the Kia really fights back is in terms of it urban guerrilla demeanor. The Soul is short. Really short. At 163 inches long it is 3 FEET shorter then a Model X. It's 201 ft/lbs of instant torque has to contend with 1750lbs less mass then the Model X 75D and thus it can slice and dice tight urban traffic as well as anything short of a motor scooter. And the short front and rear overhangs making parking it a breeze. The Kia's rear view camera has terrible image quality especially when compared to the NASA like display in the Model X but the parking sensors work equally well on both cars. Steering is very good on both cars but the KIA's low rolling resistance tires give up the ghost early in aggressive cornering, something the Model X excels at, especially as the speeds rise and the driving environment opens up. The Tesla is certainly more of a long distance cruise missile where as the Soul EV is a down and dirty street brawler.. The Kia is almost certainly more "fun" to drive (assuming an electric car can even be fun to drive) then the Tesla simply because the Tesla is so big, serious and fast. You have to be paying great attention when piloting the Tesla around. The Kia just sort of goes about it's merry way with lower limits. You can spend more time approaching those limits without fear of losing your license.

    Interior Sound Volume: When I first test drove a Tesla Model S 90D I was amazed at just how silent the car seemed. Eerily quiet from the drivers seat. I also sat in the back seat on that same test drive as my wife drove the car and the road noise in the back was much more pronounced but still, overall the Model S was about as quiet as anything short of a Lexus LS430, a Rolls or a Mercedes S-Class. But when I test drove the Kia Soul EV it was in a whole different league. And now that I own a Model X I stand by that statement. It is noticeable just how much quieter the Soul is then, well, anything I have ever been in. Using a decibel meter app on my phone I did a test of these two cars the other day just to try and verify that I was not crazy in my claim that the silly little Kia Soul is in fact quieter then cars costing many times more. And sure enough, driving on a calm day, on a deserted stretch of road of average pavement at the posted 45mph speed limit I recorded a scarcely believable 60db in the Kia and 64db in the Model X. Admittedly this is not a scientifically accurate test. A phone app is never going to be your best measuring device but it does record an average over that 45 second pass so I do think it shows a significant sound level difference between the two cars. Another good test is that I can listen to music in the Kia at the lowest levels while hurdling down the highway while I have to turn it up in the Tesla. I believe the reason for this incredible sound performance in the Kia is that it has much less glass, narrower tires, a single drive motor and a smaller cabin which means less sound bounding around inside. Like the Tesla, the Kia has fabric lined wheel wells which is a real key to low interior sound.

    Visibility out of the Kia is not exceptional due to the thick A, B and C pillars but the Tesla really is no better. Rear ward visibility of both suffers greatly mainly due to design aesthetic over function mentality that is so prevalent in today's car designs. At least when you look in the rear view camera of the Kia you see both rear corners of the back bumper, something you cannot say of the camera on the model X.
    Cargo capacity: I have to transport large boxes (packed bicycles) regularly. These boxes are 54" L x 29"H x 8" W. The Kia can carry 3 of said boxes with seats folded while the Model X, with it's non-folding second row can fit 2 if I lower the third row and slide one of the second row seats all the way forward. The Kia has better located cup holders up front but the Tesla has more center console storage. Both cars under floor battery arrangement impede somewhat on interior volume but the Kia's cuts into passenger space more, enough that in a regular gas powered Soul I can fit a 4th bike box if not for the raised floor required by the EV battery. Still, a car the size of the Tesla should be able to match the Kia in terms of this sort of test and yet, that sloping roof just kills it's utility not to mention visibility out the back.
    Range Anxiety: This is where the Kia trounces the Tesla. The way that Hyundia/Kia estimates range is I think the reverse of how Tesla does it. Kia simply tells you how many miles per Kilowatt you are averaging and the estimated range left is so dead on accurate that I am completely comfortable pushing it's limits to the razor edge. For instance if the range indicator says I have 12 miles left and I have a 12 mile trip, I have no problem jumping in the Kia and making the journey. But other electric cars such as the Ford Focus Electric and the Tesla Model X do not instill such confidence. The Kia doesn't hit you over the head with a PowerPoint like display with graphs and ever changing numbers. Obviously the 230+ mile range of the Tesla and its Supercharger network makes the Tesla the obvious choice for distance travel but I have pushed the Kia way past it's 93mile EPA range into the 113 mile territory. That has been enough to wander pretty far from our fox den. I most certainly have some range anxiety with the Tesla... but none with the Kia.

    Comfort and Convenience: This is where things get really interesting between two cars on such opposite ends of the spectrum. While the Kia cannot Autopilot itself around and does not have the bonkers doors that the Model X has it can go toe to toe with the Tesla in so many surprising other ways. The top of the line Kia Soul EV+ we leased has perforated leather seating with heated front and REAR seats. Front seats are also cooled! Since I did not pop for the Premium interior on the Tesla we do not have cooled, perforated seats but we do have heated thanks to the $1000 winter package. Both cars have heated steering wheels and both cars have slick navigation with traffic. Both cars have steering adjustability (Sport, Comfort etc...) The Kia even has an updatable user interface similar to the Tesla over the air updating. Both cars have multi-teir regenerative braking and both cars have slick digital driver displays. I think the Kia's energy management information screens are much easier to navigate and use but the Tesla wins on the ease of it's charge scheduling. The Kia is a bit more tricky to schedule charging then the Tesla but the Kia allows you to individually pick the exact times you want to charge on each and every day if you want. And you can schedule charging via Kia's phone App. I do not believe I can do that on the Tesla app at this time. But that will change I am sure.
    Build Quality: Tesla has had some significant and well documented build quality issues but our car came January 7th and is just excellent. Only a misaligned drivers sun visor was to be found upon delivery. All interior materials of the Model X are very good with soft touch plastics, incredibly soft and comfy white vinyl seating surfaces and beautiful matte wood surfaces. The Kia is a smaller driving environment with everything about 20% smaller inside. But the materials are of such a high quality and everything is so well screwed together that I honestly can find no divide between the two cars. Granted we only have 600 miles on the Tesla but we do have 13,000 on the Kia Soul and still, no rattles, brake squeal or loose bits or pieces. Approaching nearly $40,000 for a Kia Soul you'd certainly expect it to be well built but I am surprised at just how well assembled it is. All the buttons (and there is a LOT of them!) have a nice tactile feel although they are spread out all over the place. So it takes some time to figure out where everything is. The Tesla however is a bit more intuitive. It only took me a couple hours with the car to figure out where 90% of the features are located.

    Performance: In every way the Tesla trounces the little Kia. Straightline performance, cornering grip, at the limit handling behavior, braking. The Tesla is a electrified egg on steroids where as the Kia is an expensive commuter box. Because the Tesla is so new to us I gravitate towards driving it every chance I get. But as the newness of it wears off, and knowing my proclivities towards cars, I have a feeling I will end up driving the Kia much more then my wife's Model X. It just comes down to the environment we live in here in busy Southern California. Traffic, tight parking, and my needs to move cargo sort of leave the Model X in no mans land. Still, I do believe it is the greatest value in a car in nearly a century thanks to it's combination of being the best at so many performance benchmarks. Best fuel economy (MPGe) of any current SUV. Quickest accelerating SUV in history. Only SUV that auto updates from the manufacture allowing it to become an ever changing car to it's owner. Oh, and it offers the capability to drive itself, park itself, and, in the future do ride sharing, summon itself and likely make you a cappuccino as well. It is a remarkable thing the Model X. Is it worth 3 times the cost of a lesser electric car? That really depends upon your needs but do not be fooled into thinking that just because it says "Tesla" on the tailgate, that it is the very best in all categories. Scary thing is, The Korean auto manufacturer is putting 10 BILLION dollars into electric drivetrain development and will be introducing autonomous capabilities in the next few years. A Korean Tesla is right around the corner and based on the excellent first attempt that is the Kia Soul EV it should be very impressive.
    • Informative x 7
  2. TLej

    TLej Little-Known Member

    Dec 29, 2015
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    Thanks for an interesting and honest review. More competitors in the EV world is great for everyone, especially if they are putting out quality products that will help others see EVs as viable alternatives to the ICE.
  3. MasterT

    MasterT Member

    Dec 19, 2016
    Nice review, thank you

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