2020 Kia Soul EV vs. 2019 BMW i3

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Kia Soul EV are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The BMW i3 doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

The Soul EV’s lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane and gently nudges the vehicle back towards its lane. The i3 doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

To help make backing safer, the Soul EV’s cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The i3 doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

The Soul EV’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The i3 doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Soul EV and the i3 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 rear parking sensors.

The Kia Soul EV weighs 437 to 754 pounds more than the BMW i3. The NHTSA advises that heavier vehicles are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.

Warranty

The Soul EV comes with a full 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The i3’s 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 10,000 miles sooner.

Kia’s powertrain warranty covers the Soul EV 6 years and 50,000 miles longer than BMW covers the i3. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the i3 ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

There are over 2 times as many Kia dealers as there are BMW dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Soul EV’s warranty.

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Kia vehicles are better in initial quality than BMW vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia second in initial quality, above the industry average. With 32 more problems per 100 vehicles, BMW is ranked 20th, below the industry average.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Kia vehicles are more reliable than BMW vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Kia 3 places higher in reliability than BMW.

Engine

The Soul EV’s electric motor produces 31 more horsepower (201 vs. 170) and 107 lbs.-ft. more torque (291 vs. 184) than the i3’s standard electric motor. The Soul EV’s electric motor produces 17 more horsepower (201 vs. 184) and 92 lbs.-ft. more torque (291 vs. 199) than the i3s’ standard electric motor.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Soul EV gets better fuel mileage than the i3 running on electricity:

MPGe

Soul EV

Electric Motor

127 city/101 hwy

i3

Electric Motor

124 city/102 hwy

REx Electric Motor

107 city/93 hwy

On the EPA test cycle the Soul EV gets better fuel mileage than the i3 REx running its gasoline range extender (127 city/101 hwy MPGe vs. 30 city/31 hwy).

The Soul EV’s maximum EPA estimated driving range is 243 miles on a full charge, almost 60% further than the i3’s 153-mile range. The i3 REx can only travel about 126 miles before it has to start its internal combustion engine.

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Kia Soul EV higher (10 out of 10) than the BMW i3 (7 to 10). This means the Soul EV produces up to 11.8 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the i3 every 15,000 miles.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Soul EV’s brake rotors are larger than those on the i3:

Soul EV

i3

Front Rotors

12 inches

11 inches

Rear Rotors

11.8 inches

11 inches

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Soul EV has larger tires than the i3 (215/55R17 vs. 155/70R19). The Soul EV’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the i3 (215/55R17 vs. 175/55R20).

The Soul EV’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 55 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the i3’s standard 70 series tires.

Suspension and Handling

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Soul EV’s wheelbase is 1.2 inches longer than on the i3 (102.4 inches vs. 101.2 inches).

Passenger Space

The Soul EV has standard seating for 5 passengers; the i3 can only carry 4.

The Soul EV has 14.4 cubic feet more passenger volume than the i3 (98 vs. 83.6).

The Soul EV has .3 inches more front headroom, .6 inches more front legroom, 1.9 inches more front shoulder room, 2.3 inches more rear headroom, 4.1 inches more rear legroom and 5.5 inches more rear shoulder room than the i3.

Cargo Capacity

The Soul EV has a much larger cargo volume than the i3 with its rear seat up (23 vs. 15.1 cubic feet).

Ergonomics

The Soul EV’s standard power windows have a locking feature to keep children in the rear seat from operating them, but the driver can still raise and lower all of them with the lock engaged. BMW does not offer a locking feature on the i3’s standard power windows.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the Soul EV has a standard rear fixed intermittent wiper with a full on position. The rear wiper standard on the i3 only has an intermittent setting, so in a hard rain visibility isn’t as good.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the Soul EV has standard extendable sun visors. The i3 doesn’t offer extendable visors.

On extremely cold winter days, the Soul EV Designer Collection’s standard heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the vehicle heater warms up. The i3 doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

The Soul EV Designer Collection has a standard center folding armrest for the rear passengers. A center armrest helps make rear passengers more comfortable. The i3 doesn’t offer a rear seat center armrest.

The Soul EV’s standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. The i3 doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Kia Soul EV Designer Collection has a standard wireless phone charging system (Qi) on the dashboard. The i3 doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

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

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