Top 10 Best Electric Vehicles - The Short List
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As long as fuel-cell powertrains and large-scale renewable energy remain on the sidelines, electric vehicles are the future.
Automakers are investing big bucks and loads of engineering talent to bring battery-powered cars and trucks to market. Despite inherent tradeoffs, there are plenty of appealing EVs to choose from today.
More and more electric vehicles are launching as car companies push to reduce fleetwide fuel consumption and comply with government regulations. This is good news for motorists that can live with one, folks that don’t tow heavy trailers or drive great distances. They can take advantage of the many benefits offered by these vehicles, like mechanical simplicity, instant torque and low recharging costs. Of the pure EVs available today, here are 10 of our favorites.
One of the freshest is Hyundai’s Ioniq Electric, part of a three-vehicle family that also includes a hybrid and a plug-in. Arguably, one of this thing’s most appealing attributes is its normal-car styling; it looks more like an Elantra than a spaceship, unlike many other electrics (We’re looking at you, Toyota Prius.). Factor in a 124-mile range as well as a base price around $30,000 and this South Korean four-door is right in the sweet spot.
Smart EQ ForTwo
Ah, the Smart. Has any modern vehicle been as loathed by automotive enthusiasts as this itsy-bitsy runabout? Inherent quirks notwithstanding, it remains an ideal vehicle for residents of densely populated cities thanks to its tiny footprint and insane maneuverability. Smart’s Electric Drive model is best of the bunch – and the sole version offered by the company in America today. Power is provided by a three-phase synchronous motor that’s good for 80 horses. With a battery clocking in at 17.6 kWh, it offers a driving range of 58 miles (93 km).
The modern Fiat 500 isn’t necessarily a great car, but it’s an iconic nameplate with more personality than vehicles twice its size. Giving even the sportiest Abarth model a run for its money is the spunky 500e, a pure-electric that’s surprisingly fun to drive. Offered exclusively to residents of California and Oregon, this car offers an advertised range of 84 miles (135 km).
Kia Soul EV
Blending function and style, the Kia Soul has been incredibly popular since it debuted about a decade ago. Offering urbanites all that plus an estimated driving range of 111 miles (179 km) is the EV model. Funky and useful, it’s a strong offering in the electric-vehicle segment, and one that’s not bad to be seen in, either.
A pioneer of the modern electric movement, Nissan’s Leaf is currently the world’s best-selling EV. Since this nameplate debuted in 2010, the Japanese automaker has delivered well more than 320,000 examples. Reasons for its showroom success include a versatile cabin, decent on-road manners and a not-unreasonable driving range, which is rated by the EPA at 151 miles (243 km). Throw in amenities like ProPILOT Assist, which helps center the vehicle in its lane of travel, and e-Pedal, a feature that enables one-foot driving for both convenience and enhanced regenerative braking, and you have a vehicle that’s unlikely to relinquish its sales crown anytime soon.
Chevrolet Bolt EV
But the bow-tie brand’s Bolt EV trounces the Leaf in advertised driving range, able to go 238 miles (383 km) on a single charge! This impressive figure is provided by a 60-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, one that’s guaranteed for eight years or 100,000 miles. The Bolt also has more horsepower than the Nissan – 200 versus 147 – and more torque – 266 pound-feet compared to 236, however, the Leaf does have one significant advantage: pricing. Before any tax breaks it starts at around $30,000. An entry-level Bolt goes for nearly $7,500 more.
Another impressive electric car is the Volkswagen e-Golf. It offers everything we love about the standard model, including a premium interior, generous cargo space and engaging dynamics, along with a smooth and nearly silent drivetrain. As with other members of the Golf family, plenty of desirable features are available, including advanced driver-assistance technology and Volkswagen’s immersive Digital Cockpit instrument cluster. Driving range is estimated at 125 miles (201 km).
Tesla Model S
But what about Tesla? They hang their hat on EVs. Love ‘em or not, the brand’s Model S luxury sedan is an intriguing option, offering a driving range of nearly 260 miles (417 km) in base, 74D form. Beyond that, it can hit 60 miles an hour in just 4.2 seconds. The pricier, top-shelf P100D can travel 315 miles (507 km) on a single charge and deliver mile-a-minute speed in just 2.5 seconds, which is bonkers.
But what if you want a luxury EV made by a company with a bit more, let’s say pedigree than Tesla? Well, BMW will happily sell you an i3, which is offered in both pure-electric and range-extended forms – basically models with a small engine to keep the battery charged. It may look more Club Car than real car, but even the base i3 should drive reasonably well, being endowed with 180 pound-feet of torque for great scoot around town. Expect its 33 kWh battery to deliver around 114 miles (183 km) of range.
One of the market’s newest – and certainly best – EVs is the Jaguar I-Pace, a handsome crossover with ample interior space and shocking performance. Its twin-motor drivetrain provides nearly 400 horsepower and more than 500 pound-feet of torque, enough oomph to rocket this luxury vehicle to 60 miles an hour in a legitimately fast 4.5 seconds. When its 90-kWh lithium-ion battery pack is topped off with electrons, the I-Pace offers an advertised driving range of 240 miles (386 km). Not only is this an exceptional EV, it’s a great all-around car as well thanks to its luxury amenities and versatility.
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Born and raised in metro Detroit, Craig was steeped in mechanics from childhood. He feels as much at home with a wrench or welding gun in his hand as he does behind the wheel or in front of a camera. Putting his Bachelor's Degree in Journalism to good use, he's always pumping out videos, reviews, and features for AutoGuide.com. When the workday is over, he can be found out driving his fully restored 1936 Ford V8 sedan. Craig has covered the automotive industry full time for more than 10 years and is a member of the Automotive Press Association (APA) and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA).
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