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Kia’s 1st electric vehicle charges fast, goes distance |

Kia’s 1st electric vehicle charges fast, goes distance

Finally, there is an all-electric car for people who thought they would never want one.

The 2015 Kia Soul EV is a normal-looking Soul with a useful travel range of nearly 100 miles on a single charge, stable ride and handling, generous and flexible cargo space, comfortable seating and fast-charge capability.

Indeed, the built-in, direct-current, fast-charge port in the Soul EV allows for 80 percent of the onboard battery to be recharged from empty in as little as 33 minutes.

Most importantly, the Kia Soul EV, which is rated by the federal government at 105 miles per gallon-equivalent in combined city/highway travel, has a starting manufacturer’s suggested retail price, including destination charge, of $34,500.

This price includes, among other things, standard heated steering wheel, heated front seats and outside mirrors, rear camera, navigation system, AM/FM/Sirius satellite radio, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, six air bags and a five-year subscription to Kia’s UVO online services with EV features.

Kia’s 10-year/100,000-mile limited warranty is included, too.

The Soul EV qualifies for a $7,500 federal government tax credit, so a buyer may reduce his or her income taxes by up to $7,500 for the year that the car is purchased.

This newest electric vehicle — and the first from South Korea’s Kia — is sold in California and will spread to more states in 2015.

It’s in the price range of competitors.

Tesla’s sporty-looking Model S sedan with 208-mile range as a base, 2014 model, has a starting retail price, including destination fee, of $71,070.

The top-selling electric car in the United States — the Nissan Leaf — has an 84-mile travel range on a full charge and carries an MSRP, including destination charge, of $29,860.

The Soul EV rides with more heft than its four-cylinder-engine sibling. The test car effortlessly zipped ahead of other vehicles from stoplights.

Brightly colored gauges encourage fuel-efficient driving, but an “eco” mode can be turned off for a less-resistant feel to the accelerator pedal.

Travel was mostly quiet. A high-pitched, electrical “whir” sound sometimes could be heard, particularly with the windows down, and the low-friction tires conveyed some road noise. Kia engineers installed a subtle, bell-like chime that activates when the Soul is in reverse to alert nearby pedestrians.

The rear camera is a lifesaver, because window pillars at the sides of the rear liftgate window are thick and obscure the view of approaching traffic as the Soul backs up.

The test car was fully charged by a regular, 120-volt outlet in a home garage overnight, and a 240-volt charger at a public parking garage cut the time to less than four hours.

The UVO telematics system lists the locations of 240-volt chargers and fast chargers.

Driving the Soul EV with care and coasting extended the range.

Thoughtful features include big, bright blue lights atop the dashboard that tell if the car is charging or fully charged. They can be seen from all sides of the car.

Ann M. Job is an Associated Press contributor.

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