LeftieBiker
Posts: 7385
Joined: Wed May 22, 2013 3:17 am
Delivery Date: 31 May 2013
Location: Upstate New York, US

Test Drive: Kia Soul EV vs Bolt Premiere vs 2013 Leaf SV

Sun Dec 03, 2017 11:43 pm

Since more than a few of us are going to be faced with some hard choices if the EV tax credit gets axed, I thought I'd post my thoughts about the Kia Soul EV, and directly compare it to my 24kwh Leaf SV. I'll also compare it to the Bolt Premiere I drove recently.

As often happens with test drives, this one was just a little rushed because of the hour, and I didn't think of everything at the time. Still, I did get to walk around the car (tiny truck?), move the seats around, check out the parking sensors, and drive it at 45MPH on a lightly trafficked four lane boulevard.

SIZE: The Soul, like the Bolt, is shorter than my Leaf, and seemed slightly narrower, while being the same height or slightly taller. The rear cargo area is a mixed bag: with the rear seats up, it's fairly tiny, like the Bolt's, and similarly fairly shallow because of the hidden storage compartments under the rear deck. The Leaf's cargo compartment is clearly larger and more useful with the rear seats up. Lower the back seats, though, and the cargo area opens up nicely, with a much larger seeming, squared off area in the center of the car. I've seen photos of the Soul with seats folded, and they seemed flatter than the one I tested, but that have been because the front seats were well back in their tracks. Anyway, the Soul appeared to me to have the most useful cargo area of the three cars in two-seater mode. It would have been hands-down the best if not for the relatively tiny rear hatch, which seems to have been designed more for style than for ease of stowage. As it is there is the same kind of "bottleneck" back there as the Leaf has, in the area of the rear strut towers. It was my impression that the Soul has the lowest liftover height of the three cars, but I'm not certain of that.

Conclusion: none of these cars make great station wagons, but the Soul seems to have the most useful storage with the rear seats down, and the least with them up. The Leaf is the best with the rear seats up, and the Bolt may be the best compromise because of its flatter-folding seats.

DRIVING IMPRESSIONS: The Soul is the most truck-like in the way it seats people, high up with excellent visibility. I hope that the driver's seat can be lowered from where it was, but I didn't try because I didn't realize it was too high until I was on the road. The Bolt, however, is definitely the most truck-like in suspension compliance and road noise. The Soul, like the Leaf, is fairly quiet on the road, and absorbs bumps well without being too soft. I've read complaints about the lack of steering feel, but after four and a half years of driving my Leaf I didn't notice it - I guess that "numb" is "normal" for me now. I didn't do any hard cornering, but I have no reason to doubt accounts of the Soul handling well. Acceleration was bit of a disappointment: I don't know how Nissan managed to make the Leaf so quick off the line with 108HP and 189lb-ft of torque, but even though the Soul has one more HP and something like 21 more lb-ft of torque, the off the line acceleration is adequate, but not thrilling. I'm guessing that mid-range power is better than the Leaf's (and both of course are worse than the Bolt's). Otherwise the slightly faster 0-60 time for the Soul would make no sense. I didn't try to change dash options, but the large digital speed readout on the right side of the dash was OK - no straining to interpret a 19th century dial display. The cruise control is slightly harder to activate than my Leaf's (and similar to the 2018 Leaf's) because you are pressing two buttons out of six or so on a TV remote-style shuttle pad located on the steering wheel. Anyway, the fairly short drive was neither disappointing nor invigorating. The car's Guess O Meter was optimistic, but not as much as the Leaf's GOM. I was told that we were the second test drive since the car was last charged, and it was still reading 85% SOC when I parked it, having blasted the heat in 36F weather for the whole drive. This suggests to me that the Soul really is more efficient than the Leaf, and really does have significantly more range. (The heater is, however, noticeably slower to provide heat. It took about three minutes. I wonder if the heat pump runs alone in mild weather, to save power?)

FEATURES & COMFORT: The Soul comes in two trim levels (three in California), the EV and EV+. As with the Bolt, if you choose the higher trim option you are forced to accept leather seating. This seriously Irks me, because I usually want the higher option level, and have no desire whatsoever to sit on leather. The seats are actually only a little more comfortable than the Bolt's crappy seats, and are also too narrow, although not as much so. I also found the driver's seat too hard. There is a panoramic sunroof available on both trims, IIRC. It doesn't interest me, and the only thing you get bundled with it for about $1k more is pulsating lights on the speakers. Riiight...

I drove an EV+ because I wanted to check out the parking sensor system, which is of course only available on the EV+. It was a big disappointment. I drove the car to a well-lit part of the lot with no cars around, turned the sensors on, and crept towards the 6" curb. Nothing happened. I knew that I was close enough, so the salesman got out and waved me forward. Just about when I expected to hear loud scraping and popping sounds from the nose, the car started beeping hysterically, and the salesman signaled me to stop. I got out, and the front bumper was actually ABOVE THE CURB and several inches in above it at that. There was a light post with a concrete base about 2' behind the curb, and the salesman theorized that the sensor system had focused on that instead of the curb. FAIL. It's a good thing the Soul has plenty of ground clearance.

Conclusion: I'd cheerfully lease an EV trim Soul instead of an EV+ and install aftermarket parking cameras, but naturally the dealership only has EV+ cars left on the lot. The interior wasn't as nice as my Leaf's, at least from my perspective, but it was still less annoying than the Bolt's. The button for the electric parking brake is located down in a well in front of and between the seats with the parking sensor button, and it's both hard to locate and rather indifferent to requests to activate - you have to press it firmly.There is no reason, IMO, to get an EV+ unless you like leather-covered seats with air conditioning channels in them. I did like the energy saving driver-only climate control mode, but didn't test it as I had my housemate along for the ride.

FINANCIALS: The Soul lease is the best buy out there, right now. For $2k down I'd get a 36 month EV+ lease for $173 a month, plus state tax. If they had an EV trim Soul in stock, the lease would have been $157 with the same down payment, again with tax not included. I forgot to ask about the residual, but I've read elsewhere that it's about $11k, making the car affordable to buy when the lease ends. The Bolt is the worst lease deal by far: for the same $2k down I'd be paying $360 a month for a well-optioned Premiere, with a residual North of $25k. Feh. I'm going to get a quote for a well-optioned LT, again having to add my own parking cameras.

I'm not going to get a lease quote for a 2017 Leaf, because the 30kwh packs are so terrible, apparently, that you have to live in the Upper Midwest or Northwest to risk even leasing one...
2013 "Brilliant Silver" SV with Premium Package and no QC, and 2009 Vectrix VX-1 with 18 Leaf cells.

The most offensive, tasteless phrase in use here is "Pulled the trigger." I no longer respond to posts that use it.

booper
Posts: 45
Joined: Sat Jun 29, 2013 12:33 am
Delivery Date: 29 Jun 2013
Location: Seattle, WA

Re: Test Drive: Kia Soul EV vs Bolt Premiere vs 2013 Leaf SV

Mon Dec 11, 2017 6:41 pm

Thanks for the review, very informative. The Soul (at least the ICE version) does score well across the board in safety ratings.

LeftieBiker
Posts: 7385
Joined: Wed May 22, 2013 3:17 am
Delivery Date: 31 May 2013
Location: Upstate New York, US

Re: Test Drive: Kia Soul EV vs Bolt Premiere vs 2013 Leaf SV

Mon Dec 11, 2017 6:58 pm

Alas, I just ruled out the Soul EV because of widespread reports of serous battery degradation, not unlike the 30kwh Leaf. Maybe the 2018 version, with 118 mile range (and hopefully better battery chemistry), will prove better.
2013 "Brilliant Silver" SV with Premium Package and no QC, and 2009 Vectrix VX-1 with 18 Leaf cells.

The most offensive, tasteless phrase in use here is "Pulled the trigger." I no longer respond to posts that use it.

LeftieBiker
Posts: 7385
Joined: Wed May 22, 2013 3:17 am
Delivery Date: 31 May 2013
Location: Upstate New York, US

Re: Test Drive: Kia Soul EV vs Bolt Premiere vs 2013 Leaf SV

Tue Dec 12, 2017 5:55 pm

Assuming I can get a lease quote I don't hate, I'll be putting a "hold" deposit on a loaded 2017 Bolt Premiere in a day or two. The plan is to wait until I either know the federal tax credit is dead, or until the end of the year, and then lease the Premiere unless I'm sure the credit will be retained. I'm also looking into having the dealership either swap seats with an LT or get new cloth "skins" for the seats. I'll let you all know how that goes.

Nissan is going to regret being so late with the Leaf refresh.
2013 "Brilliant Silver" SV with Premium Package and no QC, and 2009 Vectrix VX-1 with 18 Leaf cells.

The most offensive, tasteless phrase in use here is "Pulled the trigger." I no longer respond to posts that use it.

booper
Posts: 45
Joined: Sat Jun 29, 2013 12:33 am
Delivery Date: 29 Jun 2013
Location: Seattle, WA

Re: Test Drive: Kia Soul EV vs Bolt Premiere vs 2013 Leaf SV

Wed Dec 13, 2017 6:26 pm

LeftieBiker wrote: Nissan is going to regret being so late with the Leaf refresh.


Agreed! The legislative risk was a hard one to foresee coming though. Timing is unfortunate for the 2018 Leaf if it goes through.

SageBrush
Posts: 1496
Joined: Sun Mar 06, 2011 2:28 am
Delivery Date: 13 Feb 2017
Location: Colorado

Re: Test Drive: Kia Soul EV vs Bolt Premiere vs 2013 Leaf SV

Wed Dec 13, 2017 8:50 pm

" The Bolt is the worst lease deal by far: for the same $2k down I'd be paying $360 a month for a well-optioned Premiere, with a residual North of $25k. Feh"

You write as if the high residual is a bad thing. It is keeping your Bolt monthly payment below $500.
2013 Model 'S' with QC & rear-view camera
Bought off-lease Jan 2017 from N. California with 63.9 Ahr after 22k miles
Car is now enjoying an easy life in Colorado

LeftieBiker
Posts: 7385
Joined: Wed May 22, 2013 3:17 am
Delivery Date: 31 May 2013
Location: Upstate New York, US

Re: Test Drive: Kia Soul EV vs Bolt Premiere vs 2013 Leaf SV

Wed Dec 13, 2017 9:06 pm

It depends on your reason for leasing. If you want a new car every 3 years, then yes a higher residual is better. If you are more like me and want to lease an EV to use the tax credit, then buy it off lease if you really like it, then it sucks. Just remember, though, that with the Bolt $5k of that higher residual is a tax credit the government was kind of hoping would be passed on to you...
2013 "Brilliant Silver" SV with Premium Package and no QC, and 2009 Vectrix VX-1 with 18 Leaf cells.

The most offensive, tasteless phrase in use here is "Pulled the trigger." I no longer respond to posts that use it.

SageBrush
Posts: 1496
Joined: Sun Mar 06, 2011 2:28 am
Delivery Date: 13 Feb 2017
Location: Colorado

Re: Test Drive: Kia Soul EV vs Bolt Premiere vs 2013 Leaf SV

Wed Dec 13, 2017 9:46 pm

LeftieBiker wrote:It depends on your reason for leasing. If you want a new car every 3 years, then yes a higher residual is better. If you are more like me and want to lease an EV to use the tax credit, then buy it off lease if you really like it, then it sucks.

No

A lower residual would just increase your lease payments. If you buy then overall no gain or loss; if you return the car you lost.

You want a low monthly payment and a low residual but that only happens if the manufacturer has a fire sale on the car via discounts. Expecting that in the first few months of the 2018 LEAF is I think wildly optimistic. After all, Nissan is probably banking on at least a few suckers still around who are unaware of the battery quality problems. And if not, Nissan can start discounting the LEAF in the second half of the year to make their CARB quota, similar to GM and the Bolt this year.

You are much better off having GM (or whomever) set as a high a residual as possible. At end of lease reality sets in and the manufacturer either offers a much lower buyout price or you buy on the secondary market if you want to.

Regardless of the Federal EV tax credit in 2018, I expect Bolt leases to jump in price in January.
2013 Model 'S' with QC & rear-view camera
Bought off-lease Jan 2017 from N. California with 63.9 Ahr after 22k miles
Car is now enjoying an easy life in Colorado

LeftieBiker
Posts: 7385
Joined: Wed May 22, 2013 3:17 am
Delivery Date: 31 May 2013
Location: Upstate New York, US

Re: Test Drive: Kia Soul EV vs Bolt Premiere vs 2013 Leaf SV

Wed Dec 13, 2017 10:42 pm

You are assuming, as would most people, that a high residual means low lease payments. GMAC instead tried out the proposition that a high residual and high monthly payments would be a Big Hit and make them tons on money. It didn't work. The big discounts I'm seeing on Bolts now, after lackluster sales early in the year, are GM's version of Nissan's Big Adjustment after their high 2011-2012 leases lost their novelty appeal. The car that I drive now is a great example of what you seem to think that GMAC is doing (but isn't): it has an astronomical residual but also a very low payment: $149 a month. I have no problem with choosing between good residual and good payment, but when both are high I'm not interested.

Since you seem to want to argue, you are assuming that I expect to be able to lease a Leaf SV for $300 a month in January or February. I don't. I intend to wait until I either get that payment or I run out of time. In either case I'm not choosing the Leaf over the Bolt because of lease prices. I'm choosing the Leaf because I already drive 2/3 of the 2018 Leaf, and except for the faux-analog speedometer and no charge limit, the 2018 appears to be a nice linear improvement over my car. I don't like the Bolts' seats, interior layout, or road noise. I like all of those things about my Leaf, and the extra power and range I wanted will be there in the 2018. If the pack deteriorates like a 30kwh pack I'll still have about 100 miles of range after three or four years, after which I'll turn it in.
2013 "Brilliant Silver" SV with Premium Package and no QC, and 2009 Vectrix VX-1 with 18 Leaf cells.

The most offensive, tasteless phrase in use here is "Pulled the trigger." I no longer respond to posts that use it.

SageBrush
Posts: 1496
Joined: Sun Mar 06, 2011 2:28 am
Delivery Date: 13 Feb 2017
Location: Colorado

Re: Test Drive: Kia Soul EV vs Bolt Premiere vs 2013 Leaf SV

Thu Dec 14, 2017 6:18 am

If you ignore the carrying costs of leases for a moment, this discussion comes down to MSRP, discounts, and depreciation.
Realistic depreciation is at least 50% in 3 years for an EV; anything less is just a manufacturer discount in sheep's clothing.

As I showed you with the Toyota example in the other thread, a $300 monthly payment and a $3000 down payment buys 3 years of renting a $33k car if depreciation is estimated at $10k, or about 33% depreciation. That is not EV territory, so the manufacturer has to chip in the discount to cover the excess depreciation. Another 17% depreciation on a $38k car is $6500.

Your statement that you will lease a 2018 LEAF SV if GM does not meet your terms for a Bolt is at best amusing because it presumes a ~ $6,500 Nissan discount off the MSRP ... in addition to the federal tax credit.
2013 Model 'S' with QC & rear-view camera
Bought off-lease Jan 2017 from N. California with 63.9 Ahr after 22k miles
Car is now enjoying an easy life in Colorado

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