2016 Hyundai Elantra GT

Fun, quality, affordable hatchback with excellent safety ratings.

2016 Kia Soul EV+

The 2016 Kia Soul EV is the electric version of Kia’s popular Soul, the compact crossover that’s been a massive hit with young car buyers and made stars out of hiphop hamsters. I’m no furry rodent, but I do enjoy the Soul, a fun, boxy five-seat hatchback with a cool vibe and impressive tech features. The EV retains most of the great Soul features inside with a 100% electric drive train.

The front-wheel drive Soul EV is powered by a 109-horsepower (81.4kW) electric motor that produces 210 lb.-ft. of almost-instantaneous torque. Kia estimates the EV goes 0-60 mph in less than 12 seconds, and top speed is electronically limited to roughly 90 MPH. Kia improved the aerodynamics of the Soul EV over the gasoline version which helps with the overall performance of the EV’s electric motor.

The slick-looking interior has ample technological gadgetry, including a UVO infotainment system with touchscreen and thumping Infinity sound system with illuminated LED door speakers. The door panels incorporate sculpted circles, while air vents and speaker grilles bookend the dashboard like turrets. A 3.5-inch OLED instrument cluster shows the vehicle’s energy flow, charging time, ECO driving level and energy economy. A three-stage State of Charge alert tells the driver how much battery power is left – and this is an important to watch carefully.

The EV comes standard with the new UVO EV Services remote smartphone app, which provides real-time battery-level status, distance to discharge, and the ability to search for nearby charging stations. It can also be used to preset charging time and charging level ratios, preheat or cool the cabin, and get updates on CO2 savings.

How do you charge the Kia Soul EV? The EV features two charging ports: one for home AC charging and a second port for fast charging. Recharging the 27kWh lithium battery using a standard 120-volt outlet can take more than 24 hours when fully depleted. If you can access a 240-volt outlet, you can charge it in roughly 5 hours. With a fast charger, it can be charged to 80 percent in about a half hour. Kia estimates the range is 93 miles – so calculate your trips carefully. That range potential (second only to that of the Tesla Model S among current electrics, according to Kia) is attributable to the energy density of its lithium-ion-polymer battery pack – that weighs a whopping 620-pounds.

Summary: In the compact crossover segment, the Soul EV occupies a unique niche – appealing to eco-green buyers looking for a fun, trendy vehicle. The Base trim has an MSRP of $33,700 and the Plus is $35,700, which is significantly higher than the gas version. While I love the EV for its technological and design breakthroughs, it can be a chore to constantly map your miles for the day and stick to that plan.

Price as tested: $36,625

2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

Energy efficient version of the excellent midsize sedan.

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2016 Hyundai Genesis 5.0

The big and beautiful Genesis is loaded with power and luxury.

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