2015 Kia Soul EV vs. 2015 Nissan LEAF

An Electrifying Battle

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2015 Kia Soul EV vs. 2015 Nissan LEAF

Kia did its homework on the Nissan LEAF, mimicking many of the EV’s specifications.

Using an electric motor, the Soul EV makes 109 HP and 210 lb-ft of torque. That’s a slight increase over the LEAF that makes 107 HP and 187 lb-ft of torque. Both vehicles use a single speed transmission and send power to the front wheels. Weighing 3,289 lbs., the Soul is roughly the same weight as a mid-level LEAF SV, although slightly lighter and heavier versions of the Nissan do exist.

2015-Kia-Soul-EV-vs-2015-Nissan-Leaf-95

SEE ALSO: 2013 Nissan LEAF Review

With a better power-to-torque ratio, the Soul feels quicker off the line. The LEAF doesn’t exactly struggle to build speed, but compared to the Soul, more throttle input is required to get up and moving. Once you reach highway speeds, the LEAF’s superior aerodynamics take over and require less input to maintain momentum. Both vehicles have more than enough power and torque to climb steep hills, but tapping into all the power does hurt efficiency as well as range.

2015-Kia-Soul-EV-vs-2015-Nissan-Leaf-900

Additional Sophistication

I’ve always been impressed with how easy and smooth the LEAF is to drive, but the Soul EV takes things up a notch. Whatever I’m trying to do with my right foot–accelerate or brake–the Soul responds predictably. Kia has achieved the goal of making the EV drive like a regular Soul, or at least one with much more torque.

T2015-Kia-Soul-EV-vs-2015-Nissan-Leaf-90here’s a more sophisticated, almost premium feel to the Kia. Part of this may be due to the fact it was built as a regular vehicle first and then converted to an electric model. So some of the areas where the LEAF may have compromised for optimal efficiency, like sound deadening and suspension set-up, the Soul has not.

Batteries, Range and Efficiency

2015-Kia-Soul-EV-vs-2015-Nissan-Leaf-94Batteries are where the two vehicles begin to differ a bit. The LEAF uses a 24 kWh pack while the Soul EV has a larger 27 kWh setup. This allows the Soul to have an official range of 93 miles compared to the LEAF’s 84 mile range despite making more power. Officially consumption ratings favour the LEAF with 126 MPGe city and 101 MPGe highway while the Soul is rated at 120 MPGe city, 92 MPGe highway. During my real world testing, I was able to achieve 107.9 MPGe in the Nissan and 98.8 MPGe in the Kia.

With its larger battery back, the Soul EV takes a little longer to charge. Using a 6.6 kW onboard charger, Kia claims the EV can be recharged in 24 hours using a regular 110v outlet or 4-5 hours with a stage 2 240v charger. The LEAF is also available with 6.6 kW onboard charger (base models use a 3.6 kW charger) that can refill the Nissan with electric goodness in 21 hours using a 110v plug or 5 hours with a less potent 220v stage two charger.

2015-Kia-Soul-EV-vs-2015-Nissan-Leaf-93Size and Storage

Although it may be hard to believe, the Nissan LEAF is actually much bigger than the Soul EV. With an overall length of 175 inches, the Nissan is a foot longer than the Kia. The Soul is two-inches taller though and the boxy shape lends itself to the illusion that it is the larger vehicle out of the two.

Compare Specs

2015 Kia Soul EV
vs
2015 Nissan Leaf
Vehicle 2015 Kia Soul EV Advantage 2015 Nissan Leaf
Engine Electric Motor - Electric Motor
Horsepower 109 HP Soul EV 107 HP
Torque 210 lb-ft. Soul EV 187 lb-ft.
Transmission Single-Speed - Single Speed
Battery Size 27 kW Soul EV 24 kW
Charge Time 5 hours (240v) LEAF 5 hours (220v)
Weight 3,289 lbs. - 3,243-3,328 lbs.
Rear Legroom 36.0-inches Soul EV 33.3-inches
Cargo Space 18.8 cubic feet LEAF 24.0 cubic feet
Fuel Economy (US) 120 MPGe city, 92 MPGe hwy LEAF 126 MPGe city, 101 MPGe hwy
Fuel Economy (CDN) 2.0 L/100 km city, 2.6 L/100 km hwy LEAF 1.9 L/100 km city, 2.3 L/100 km hwy
Observed Fuel Economy 98.8 MPGe LEAF 107.9 MPGe
Single Charge Range 93 miles Soul EV 84 miles
Starting Price(US) $34,525 LEAF $29,860
Starting Price(CDN) $36,710 LEAF $33,788
Top Trim Price(US) $36,525 Soul EV $37,935
Top Trim Price(CDN) $39,710 Soul EV $40,838

The longer length of the Nissan should lead to a larger interior, but it doesn’t entirely. Both vehicles are engineered with a flat battery pack under the floor to avoid hindering cargo and passenger space. The longer LEAF does hold the storage edge offering 24 cubic feet of space compared to the Soul EV’s 18.8 cubic feet. Fold the rear seats down and the advantage swings back to the Kia with 49.5 cubic feet total space vs. the Nissan’s 30 cubic feet.

Compare Specs

2015 Kia Soul EV
vs
2015 Nissan Leaf
Vehicle 2015 Kia Soul EV Advantage 2015 Nissan Leaf
Engine Electric Motor - Electric Motor
Horsepower 109 HP Soul EV 107 HP
Torque 210 lb-ft. Soul EV 187 lb-ft.
Transmission Single-Speed - Single Speed
Battery Size 27 kW Soul EV 24 kW
Charge Time 5 hours (240v) LEAF 5 hours (220v)
Weight 3,289 lbs. - 3,243-3,328 lbs.
Rear Legroom 36.0-inches Soul EV 33.3-inches
Cargo Space 18.8 cubic feet LEAF 24.0 cubic feet
Fuel Economy (US) 120 MPGe city, 92 MPGe hwy LEAF 126 MPGe city, 101 MPGe hwy
Fuel Economy (CDN) 2.0 L/100 km city, 2.6 L/100 km hwy LEAF 1.9 L/100 km city, 2.3 L/100 km hwy
Observed Fuel Economy 98.8 MPGe LEAF 107.9 MPGe
Single Charge Range 93 miles Soul EV 84 miles
Starting Price(US) $34,525 LEAF $29,860
Starting Price(CDN) $36,710 LEAF $33,788
Top Trim Price(US) $36,525 Soul EV $37,935
Top Trim Price(CDN) $39,710 Soul EV $40,838

Comfort and Price

Rear seat passengers will have a better time in the Soul. With a lower placed seat cushion, the Soul offers 39.5-inches of rear headroom that allows six-foot tall adults to fit, while the LEAF’s 37.3 inches of headroom does not. Legroom also favors the Soul EV with an extra 2.7 inches of cramp reducing stretch-out space.

SEE ALSO: Kia Soul EV Heading to Five New States

2015-Kia-Soul-EV-vs-2015-Nissan-Leaf-99Up front, the Soul offers more comfort. Although the driving position in the LEAF is good, it’s not as favorable as the Soul EV’s. Even with the seat in its lowest position, I still sit too high, like I’m on top of the LEAF instead of inside it. And a big pet peeve of mine, the Nissan lacks the Kia’s telescopic steering wheel. Plus, as a bonus, the Soul EV retains the adjustable force steering found in regular Souls. Pricing for LEAF begins at just $29,860 after destination charges, while the Soul EV carries a much higher $34,525 base price.

2015-Kia-Soul-EV-vs-2015-Nissan-Leaf-901For that money, the LEAF lacks the more powerful 6.6 kW onboard charger and some of the features you will find in the Soul. Load both vehicles up and pricing becomes much closer as the $36,525 Soul EV + actually undercuts the $37,935 LEAF SV with the premium package and pearl paint.

The Verdict:

The Nissan LEAF was one of the first vehicles to bring all electric motoring to the masses at a reasonable price. But over the past few years, EVs have evolved at a rapid rate. The Soul EV offers more power, a better passenger experience and higher sophistication. A second generation LEAF should be just around the corner and it will be interesting to see how Nissan responds to well executed competitors like the Kia Soul EV.

2015 Nissan LEAF

2015 Kia Soul EV

  • DeaneG

    There is a misstatement in the article: The Leaf’s usable battery capacity is only 21kWh, with a total battery capacity of 24kWh. The Soul EV’s usable battery capacity is 27kWh, with a total capacity in the 30+ kWh range.

  • Guest

    fhgh

  • natty

    No mention of rapid charging here? Both cars can be charged to 80% capacity in half an hour, using DC rapid chargers.

  • danwat1234

    The 2011 and 2012 Leaf has 207 foot pounds of torque versus 187 of 2013+ Leafs. So the 2011 and 2012 Leafs are quicker off the line but not quite as fast at accelerating at higher speeds (I don’t believe).
    Google “2013 Nissan LEAF Dials Down EV Torque”

    Perhaps it would be a bit faster than the Kia Soul EV off the line in versions (if any) that weighed a bit less.

    It’s unfortunate they don’t tap into the full output of the battery when you floor it. Do they purposefully limit the motor power? I know the Volt does at low speeds and so does the 2013+ Leafs (I believe). Does it cost that much more to make it go 0-60 in 7 seconds?

  • evcharger

    Yes that appears to be correct. Per wikipedia, Kia Soul ev has 30.5 KWH battery pack with 27 KWH usable:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kia_Soul_EV

    If Nissan upgraded leaf to have 30 KWH battery, leaf would hit 100 mile range easily under normal daily use.

  • Daniel Song

    Why does the Soul have the rear seats as both a pro and a con?

  • James Haskins

    The comparison is fine for those purchasing or leasing a new vehicle, however, if you compare the price of purchasing a 2011 Kia Soul EV to a 2011 Leaf…oh wait, you can’t. Nor can you compare a 2012, 2013 or 2014 since the Soul ev did not come out until 2015 (o.k., technically it came out in very late 2014 I suppose). Point being, I purchased a 2013 Nissan Leaf SV with QC for under $12k. I could not do that with a Kia as there was really no other comparison. At least for my next ev (that will also be purchased two or three years used), I will have some options.

  • Rob Kay

    They have done just that, so a new comparison would help