Electric vehicles aren’t new. In fact, when I worked for General Motors in marketing way back in the 1980s, we were already talking about electric vehicles. Eventually GM introduced the EV1, an electric car produced from 1996 to 1999. It was the first mass-produced and purpose-designed electric vehicle of the modern era from a major automaker. Today, EVs compete for market share with traditional fossil fuel models. Thanks largely to Elon Musk of Tesla and major advancements in battery and charging technology, electric cars have quickly become an alternative to gasoline cars.
Today almost every major car manufacturer offers electric vehicles that make a compelling pitch to drivers. EVs are practical, fun to drive, inexpensive to operate, and packed with breakthrough technology. Think of it as you did for the evolution of the telephone. Who could have imagined that Alexander Graham Bell’s invention would be able to turn on lights, start your car and take amazing photos? Shopping for an electric vehicle can really take you out of your comfort zone. Gasoline powered cars can be refueled in just a few minutes, but electric cars take longer to recharge, making them less than ideal for long-range driving. The good news is that rapid charge stations are popping up everywhere and can take as little as 20 minutes to get you back up to a full charge. You need to think about how far you drive in an average day and how often you’d have a chance to charge up. Also consider the fact that you can plug in at home or perhaps even at work, which means you may never have to stop at another gas station again. Got your attention now? EVs are here to stay and could be a great fit for your life.
To simplify your shopping process, our friends at Edmunds have put together a list of the best electric cars on the market right now. The electric-car segment keeps growing, and buyers have more choices than ever. Our list of the best EVs will help you find the electric car that’s right for you.
Best Electric Vehicles for 2020
Edmunds puts every vehicle they rate through a rigorous testing process that involves both objective tests conducted at their test track and a subjective evaluation. Next they assign scores to specific characteristics and features to arrive at an overall rating for the car. The electric cars listed here received the highest marks from their experts. Here’s who they think are the best electric cars you can buy today, and we tend to agree:
Affordable Electric Cars
Kia Niro EV
The Kia Niro EV takes Kia’s almost-an-SUV hatchback and replaces the lackluster hybrid powertrain with strong electric motors, totally transforming the vehicle for the better. Not only do we love how zippy the Niro EV feels on the road, but the clever interior storage solutions and user-friendly infotainment make it easy to live with.
EV range: 239 miles
Hyundai Kona Electric
Since its debut last year, the Kona Electric has taken this segment by storm. Its eye-popping range rivals that of higher-priced luxury models, and its interior is a pleasant place to spend time while you rack up all those miles. For quicker charging between drives, an SAE combo charger is standard on all trims, which allows DC voltage to go directly into the Kona’s large battery.
EV range: 258 miles
Chevrolet Bolt EV
The Chevrolet Bolt hatchback is a surprise in more ways than one. Before the Niro and Kona came along, it was the only non-Tesla to offer an electric driving range in the neighborhood of 250 miles. The Bolt’s claimed cargo space isn’t that impressive, but in the real world we’ve found it more useful than the numbers indicate. The bottom line, though, is that the Bolt delivers downright exceptional all-electric range and performance for the price.
EV range: 259 miles
The Leaf is a significantly better electric vehicle than the previous-generation model. It’s quieter, more comfortable and more rewarding to drive, and it offers plenty of range for almost any commute. The Leaf’s steering wheel doesn’t telescope, making the car less comfortable for taller drivers, and the steering feels artificial. But, overall, the Leaf has far more strengths than weaknesses, especially if you don’t need the chart-topping range offered by the Kona and the Bolt.
EV range: 150-226 miles
The Volkswagen e-Golf is a good little hatchback that just happens to be an EV. Recent updates have increased the e-Golf’s range and added DC fast charging across the lineup, making it a much easier EV to live with than it used to be. Most commuters should be able to complete their daily drive on a charge and recover miles quickly along the way if needed. Smartphone integration is standard, while advanced driver aids are available even on the base trim. The e-Golf’s familiar interior and driving character make it a good option if you’d like to try EV ownership without spending a ton of money.
EV range: 123 miles
Luxury Electric Cars
The BMW i3 has the shortest range of any luxury EV on this list, but it offers the option of a gas-powered range extender, which provides some peace of mind to buyers with range anxiety. The i3 also has one of the best interiors on the road — it’s stylish and modern with novel materials, yet it’s still user-friendly. Furthermore, the i3 drives the way you’d expect a BMW to drive. So if you’re looking for a sporty electric car, the i3 gets extra credit.
EV range: 153 miles (200 miles with gas-powered range extender)
The Audi e-tron hits all the high notes you expect from a five-passenger luxury SUV and adds EV goodness besides. It’s roomy, extremely comfortable and packed with technology, and it rides smoothly on any road. While the e-tron doesn’t hit the highs of some rivals in terms of range and acceleration, Audi has done a lot of work on the battery pack to ensure longevity and consistently speedy charging. If you want a refined SUV, the Audi e-tron offers the best luxury experience of any EV we’ve rated.
EV range: 204 miles
The Jaguar I-Pace offers sleek, futuristic style both outside and in the cabin. Even with the coupe-like roofline, the I-Pace offers good utility, but this Jag makes the cut by virtue of its poise, comfort and sophistication. Immediate acceleration and responsive steering and handling mean the I-Pace is as sporty as it is luxurious. There are some weaknesses: In spite of its relatively strong range, the I-Pace is less efficient than other EVs, so it’ll cost a bit more to keep charged.
EV range: 234 miles
Tesla Model 3
The Tesla Model 3 encountered some early growing pains, but the Model 3 has come into its own as a top-selling luxury car which is unprecedented for an EV. The Model 3 is a remarkably sporty electric car with a healthy amount of space for its small footprint, plus an interior that pushes the definition of “modern.” Its near-complete reliance on the touchscreen interface for vehicle controls is a bit distracting, but the Model 3 came up aces in our testing and continues to win over skeptics once they get a chance to drive it.
EV range: 250-322 miles
Tesla Model S
The Tesla Model S might be the oldest Tesla in production, but it still holds its own among the company’s high-tech offerings. The full-size Model S combines a roomy, attractive cabin with excellent driving dynamics and outstanding range. Depending on how it’s equipped, it can also be staggeringly quick in a straight line. The price tag, however, is equally intimidating. And compared to similarly priced sedans, it feels a bit unpolished.
EV range: 348-373 miles
Tesla Model X
The Tesla Model X is currently the only all-electric vehicle you can get with three seating rows. It also has the most personality of any Tesla, which is a mixed bag. The falcon-wing doors and panoramic windshield set it apart, but these features could also be viewed as gimmicks that don’t add functionality. Either way, the Model X’s firm-to-rough ride doesn’t do it any favors. But there’s no denying that this is one quick SUV — our all-wheel-drive long-term Model X launched to 60 mph in a truly “ludicrous” 3.5 seconds — and you can get all the futuristic tech that makes Tesla models special.
EV range: 305-328 miles
Thanks to our friends at Edmunds.com for their insight into the fast-paced world of electric vehicles. 2020 will see a myriad of even more entries into the EV field, including pickup trucks from Rivan and Tesla not to mention emerging brands from Asia, Europe and beyond. Imagine living in a world where you can say goodbye to the gas pump… I wonder what Henry Ford would say today if he knew that someday cars would drive themselves without using a drop of gasoline? Welcome to the future!