2019 BMW i3 vs. 2019 Kia Soul EV

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The i3 offers optional Collision Mitigation, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The Soul EV doesn't offer collision warning or crash mitigation brakes.

Both the i3 and the Soul EV have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras and available front parking sensors.

Warranty

The i3’s corrosion warranty is 7 years and unlimited miles longer than the Soul EV’s (12/unlimited vs. 5/100,000).

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the i3 for 3 years and 36,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Kia doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Soul EV.

Engine

The i3 REx’s standard electric motor produces 61 more horsepower (170 vs. 109) than the Soul EV’s electric motor. The i3s REx’s standard electric motor produces 72 more horsepower (181 vs. 109) than the Soul EV’s electric motor. The i3s’ standard electric motor produces 75 more horsepower (184 vs. 109) than the Soul EV’s electric motor.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the i3 gets better fuel mileage than the Soul EV (124 city/102 hwy vs. 124 city/93 hwy MPGe).

The i3 REx’s maximum driving range in pure electric mode is 126 miles, 14% further than the Soul EV’s 111-mile range. After it exhausts its pure electric range, the i3 REx can then continue for 71 more miles on its internal combustion engine, while the Soul EV has to recharge for 43 minutes for only a 94% charge at a specially configured quick charge station not available in most areas. A full recharge at a conventional charging station can take up to 24 hours.

The i3’s maximum driving range in pure electric mode is 153 miles, 38% further than the Soul EV’s 111-mile range.

Brakes and Stopping

The i3’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Soul EV are solid, not vented.

The i3 stops much shorter than the Soul EV:

 

i3

Soul EV

 

60 to 0 MPH

108 feet

126 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

The i3s’ 175/55R20 front and 195/50R20 rear tires provide better handling because they have a lower 55 series front and 50 series rear profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Soul EV’s 60 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the i3 has standard 19-inch wheels. Only 16-inch wheels are available on the Soul EV. The i3 offers optional 20-inch wheels.

Suspension and Handling

For superior ride and handling, the BMW i3 has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The Kia Soul EV has a rear torsion beam axle, with a semi-independent rear suspension.

For better maneuverability, the i3’s turning circle is 2.6 feet tighter than the Soul EV’s (32.4 feet vs. 35 feet). The i3s’ turning circle is 1.2 feet tighter than the Soul EV’s (33.8 feet vs. 35 feet).

Chassis

The BMW i3 may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs up to about 350 pounds less than the Kia Soul EV.

The i3s is 4.9 inches shorter than the Soul EV, making the i3 easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Servicing Ease

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that BMW service is better than Kia. J.D. Power ranks BMW 8th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 31% lower rating, Kia is ranked 18th.

Ergonomics

When two different drivers share the i3, the memory system makes it convenient for both. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position, outside mirror angle, climate settings and radio stations. The Soul EV doesn’t offer a memory system.

If the windows are left open on the i3 the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Soul EV can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The i3’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Soul EV’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the i3 has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The Soul EV doesn’t offer cornering lights.

The i3 has standard automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Soul EV offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the i3 offers an optional Active Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The Soul EV doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

The i3’s optional Parking Assistant can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Soul EV doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the BMW i3, based on reliability, safety and performance.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the i3 third among small premium cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The Soul EV isn’t in the top three.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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