2017 Toyota Prius Prime vs. 2016 Kia Soul EV
John Goreham's picture

2017 Toyota Prius Prime vs. 2016 Kia Soul EV – Which Fits Your Lifestyle Better?

We compare a new EV with an established favorite. Which has the features you would want?

Starting in one month, the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime will return to the market. Toyota has mothballed the prior version of this car, the Prius Plug-In for about the past 18 months. The Prius Prime is the new name for the all-new plug-in Prius, and it comes to market dramatically improved. The Kia Soul is the best battery-electric vehicle in many ways this tester has had the pleasure to review, but it’s limitations are now starting to become highlighted as EVs evolve. Let’s look at these two vehicles and see which has the style of operation and driveability that best suits your needs.

Prius Prime vs. Kia Soul EV – How do they work?
The new Prius Prime is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. It is much like a Prius in almost every way, though this new generation has some differences with the new Prius we will explain. Since it is a plug-in EV, the Prius can, of course, operate on electric power only. In the new 2017 Prius Prime, that range is about 25 miles according to Toyota. The Prime can also operate at up to 84 MPH in EV-only mode. Once the electric power is depleted, it resumes driving in the fashion of a Prius, using its 54 MPG hybrid drivetrain. Using gasoline only, the Prius Prime can go a further 615 miles before refueling.

The Kia Soul EV is all-electric. It has an EPA-estimated range of 93 miles. That is the end of its power, and thus, a driver needs to plan ahead to ensure that he or she has the juice needed to get to the final destination or to charge up along the way. The EPA rates EVs using an “MPGe” rating to give them a comparison to gasoline powered vehicles. The Kia Soul EV has an MPG rating of 105 MPGe, the Prius Prime is expected to earn a rating of 124 MPGe, meaning it is actually more efficient than the Kia.

Prius Prime vs. Kia Soul EV – Charging
As a battery-electric EV, a Kia owner will need to install a charger in their home. The reason they must is that to charge the battery to full on a regular 120-Volt home circuit can take more than 20 hours. We know this from our own testing. On a 240-Volt home charger, the Kia Soul EV can recharge in under five hours. Out on the road, using a DC Quick Charger, the Soul EV can be brought from nearly empty to about 80% full in about a half-hour.

Since its battery is so small (only about 25 miles of range when full) the Prius Prime is much faster to charge up. It takes about five hours to charge to full on a 120-Volt circuit (which should be a dedicated line). If an owner installs a 240-Volt line in their garage, the Prius Prime can recharge in just two hours.

Prius Prime vs. Kia Soul EV – The Drive
Having just driven the Kia Prime for a week, we can attest to its fun. It is sporty and the perfect around-town car. It is smooth over bumps but has crisp handling. The low-speed torque is impressive, and one never feels as if the car is slow or boring. Please keep these comments in perspective. This is an “affordable, compact hatchback.”

The Prius Prime has just been released to the media, and some journalists have had short rides. In his review today on Road Show, tester Wayne Cunningham said of the Prius “Most importantly, the Prius Prime benefits from the new Prius platform, which handles well and drives like a normal car. In fact, I think the Prius feels slightly more engaging than the Camry or Corolla on the road.” He went on to say that “The air conditioning blasting, the Prius Prime accelerated smoothly and efficiently, letting me feel its inexorable electric torque off the line.”

Prius Prime vs. Kia Soul EV – Prices
The Prius Prime will have three trim levels and will range in price before incentives from $28K to $34K. The federal tax deduction is $4,500, and California’s rebate is $1,500 for this vehicle.

The Kia Soul EV we tested recently had a price tag of $38,025 which included the Sun and Fun package (huge moonroof). It has a federal tax deduction of $7,500 and a $2,500 California state rebate. Thus, if an owner could take advantage of the full federal rebate, the base Prius Prime is $6,000 less expensive than the Kia Soul EV, and its top trim is priced the same as the Kia Soul EV.

Conclusion

Both the Kia Soul EV and Prius Prime plug-in hybrid offer buyers a very green alternative to conventional liquid-fueled vehicles. Both also enjoy the HOV lane in California again due to recent changes allowing new plug-ins back in. The choice really comes down to one’s feeling about range and gasoline power. If one needs to have the ability to drive past 93 miles without stopping to recharge, the only answer among these two it the Prius Prime. However, if one is excluding all forms of liquid-fuel transportation, the Kia Soul EV is the only choice between these two.


Sign-up to our email newsletter for daily perspectives on car design, trends, events and news, not found elsewhere.