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Best electric cars in 2020

Best electric cars
Tesla Model 3 (Image credit: Telsa)

The best electric cars can help save the planet, but they can also help you save money over the long haul, as you don’t have to pay for gas. Yes, electric cars cost more than their gas-powered counterparts up front, but electric vehicles tend to cost less to operate and maintain.

With cities planning to ban the use of combustion engine vehicles in the future and climate change looming on the horizon, the electrification of the automobile is an all but a foregone conclusion. So the question is, what kind of an electric vehicle (EV) do you want?

Joining the likes of the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S, there's a raft new electric cars headed our way this year. From one of the most anticipated pickup trucks in decades to British touring brands to Teutonic sports icons, 2020 looks to be the break out year for going electric.

We've chosen the top 10 models for the year, nine of which are pure electric, plus one plug-in hybrid.

The best electric cars you can buy

Best electric cars: Hyundai Kona Electric

Hyundai Kona Electric (Image credit: Hyundai)

1. Hyundai Kona Electric

Price: $36.990 | Range: 258 miles | 0 to 60 mph: 6.4 seconds | Drive: FWD | Availability: Now

Competitive price
Solid range
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support
Adaptive cruise and pedestrian-detection technology only offered on top model

The unprepossessing electric version of Hyundai's tiny crossover, the Kona, has been a surprise hit. It's more comfortable than it deserves to be for its size, and it is a true joy to drive, which is why it’s one of the best electric cars around.

For a modestly priced compact, Hyundai includes some welcome features. There's a more-than-adequate 7-inch center touchscreen,as welll as support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Furthermore, with the 258-mile estimated range, it's just a smidge better than the standard range Tesla Model 3 -- and significantly less money. Of course, you can spend more. The Ultimate version of the Kona includes a 10.3-inch infotainment touchscreen, ventilated leather seats, smart cruise control and rain-sensing wipers and pushes the price north of $45K.

Best electric cars: Porsche Taycan

Porsche Taycan (Image credit: Porsche)

2. Porsche Taycan

Price: $105,150 (starting price) | Range: 201 miles (Turbo) | 0 to 60 mph: 2.4 seconds (Turbo S) | Drive: AWD | Availability: Now

Supercar handling
Superior performance
No Android Auto support
Fully loaded model elicits sticker shock

The Porsche Taycan can claim several firsts. It's the first production EV with a two-speed transmission to boost acceleration. It's also the first production EV with an 800-volt system, which cuts down recharge times. And, of course, it's the first pure-electric production Porsche.

One of the best electric cars, this Porsche sedan boasts supercar features including neck-snapping acceleration, carbon-ceramic brake rotors, active anti-roll bars, air springs, and high-speed rear-wheel steering. And those slots on the front are front brake air ducts that close at highway speeds to improve aerodynamics. While the battery range may look meager compared to others in the price range, in real world tests it has proved comparable to a Tesla S.

With the Porsche handling and emblem come some Porsche prices. While the base model tops out at a few grand over $100K, the one you'll really want, the Turbo S, is $186,350.

Best electric cars: Rivian R1T

Rivian R1T (Image credit: Rivian)

3. Rivian R1T

Price: $69,000 | Range: 400 miles | 0 to 60 mph: 3 seconds | Drive: AWD | Availability: Late 2020

Cutting-edge design
Superior SUV elements
Excellent range
Luxury price tag

Electric sedans are great, but today's automotive market is skewed toward light trucks. Enter Rivian's R1T. It promises to be the first EV pickup on the market this year with design elements that have been wowing auto show visitors for over a year. Hidden storage areas, perfect for glamping and outdoor adventures, are backed up by some impressive specifications.

The R1T is expected to have a 400-mile range, a river-crossing wading depth of 3 feet, all-wheel drive, and a 0 to 60-mph time of just 3 seconds. Rivian also has given its truck a smooth facade and a raft of up-to-date features, like multiple charging stations, numerous storage compartments and touch-screen controls. Backing it all up: Over $1 billion of investment from Amazon and Ford.

Best electric cars: jaguar i-pace

Jaguar I-Pace (Image credit: Jaguar)

4. Jaguar I-Pace

Price: $69,500 | Range: 253 miles | 0 to 60 mph: 4.5 seconds | Drive: AWD | Availability: Now

Excellent handling
Stylish interior
High-fidelity sound
Sensitive brakes

With better handling and better fit and finish to ensconce drivers and passengers, the Jaguar I-Pace nudges out Tesla's Model X as our electric SUV of choice. It's Jaguar's first EV, an AWD-only model that the automaker has been steadily improving. The I-Pace's range, has gone from less than 240 miles to over 250, thanks to better battery management. Furthermore, it is conservatively rated with a 0 to 60 mph time of 4.5 seconds, comparable to the Long Range Plus Tesla Model X (4.4 seconds).

What we really like though -- aside from the smooth-as-silk handling -- are the Jaguar luxury touches, like a Meridian sound system and engineering flourishes like a suspension system that will lower the ride height about half an inch when you exceed 65 mph or raise it 2 inches for rough roadwork. Convenience features abound as well: A Bluetooth key fob switches the car to your personal settings as you approach, and the car will even "learn" preferences in radio stations and climate settings.

Best electric cars: Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3 (Image credit: Telsa)

5. Tesla Model 3

Price: $39,990 | Range: 250 miles | 0 to 60 mph: 5.3 seconds | Drive: RWD | Availability: Now

Forward-looking features
Over-the-air updates
Distracting center-only instrument display
No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto support

No one has done more to make EV's cool than Tesla. And one has to give Elon Musk credit for the Model 3, which dispelled the idea that Teslas were only for 1-percenters.

Designed for the masses, the Tesla Model 3 is the best electric car out there. The Model 3 can now travel up to 250 miles on a single charge (with the standard battery), and while this car is stubbier and plumper than Tesla's Model S, it's about half the price.

While critics point out that Tesla continues to overstate the technical abilities of its driver-assist AutoPilot feature, we think it's still worthwhile, within limits. Software updates offer continual improvements, but if you want more range, better handling AWD, and boosted acceleration, the top-of-the-line Model 3 will set you back $56,990.

Best electric cars: Ford Mustang Mach-E

Ford Mustang Mach-E (Image credit: Ford)

6. Ford Mustang Mach-E

Price: $43,895 | Range: 300 miles | 0 to 60 mph: 3.5 seconds | Drive: AWD or RWD | Availability: Late 2020

Sports car styling
Over-the-air updates
Not really a Mustang

It may be a Mustang in name only, but Ford's Mach-E SUV is a definite statement that the automaker believes EVs are poised to go mainstream.

With raised front fenders and wide haunches, Ford has definitely put a lot of thought into the Mach-E's design. For example, the front trunk, or frunk, has a plastic liner that can easily be cleaned in case you want to use it for serving tailgating potluck dishes. (Why? We don't know.) Inside, there's also plenty of tech to keep drivers happy. A 15.5-inch touchscreen sits in the center of the dash for the infotainment system, and it will support Apple CarPlay as well as Android Auto. Ford also plans to offer a premium Bang & Olufsen sound system.

Overall, the Mustang Mach-E looks to deliver better performance than the Tesla X for roughly half the price, which is why it made our best electric cars list.

Best electric cars: Byton M-Byte

Byton M-Byte (Image credit: Byton)

7. Byton M-Byte

Price: $35,000 | Range: 270 miles | 0 to 60 mph: 5.5 seconds (AWD) | Drive: RWD and AWD | Availability: Late 2020

Revolutionary dashboard
Ready for autonomy
Average performance

While lots of EVs slap iPad-like displays onto the dashboard, Byton is one of the first to take a more intelligent, integrated approach to driver displays. It's all in anticipation of the day when fully autonomous programs are available for this crossover.

With the M-Byte, Byton isn't going for sports car performance or one-upmanship specifications. The company is aiming for the best electric car experience, including software and interior elements that assume that one day in the not-too-distant future drivers can participate in things like social media without worrying about, well, driving. For example, the vehicle includes a screen that stretches across the whole front dashboard, about 49 inches. And while it won't be fully autonomous when it first appears, the car will have all the necessary sensors to make that happen as soon as the software is available.

Best electric cars: Nissan Leaf S Plus

Nissan Leaf S Plus (Image credit: Nissan)

8. Nissan Leaf S Plus

Price: $38,200 | Range: 226 miles | 0 to 60 mph: 6.5 seconds | Drive: FWD | Availability: Now

Proven reliability
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support
Solid safety package
Unexciting handling

What was once the quintessentially dull EV, the Nissan Leaf got a major face-lift and technical update back in 2019. The new Nissan Leaf S Plus model offers more range and Nissan has improved the interior to acknowledge the modern desires of today's drivers.

Nissan has dumped the smaller 5- and 7-inch dashboard displays, for example, in favor of an 8-inch LCD and an infotainment system that supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. (So even if you opt for the shorter-range Leaf, you'll still get the 8-inch display.)

More important is the slew of driving assistance safety features that are now standard on the Nissan Leaf S Plus, including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot warning alerts, rear cross-traffic alerts, reverse automatic braking, and lane departure warning. That combination and Nissan's experience in the EV category make this one of the best electric cars for buyers on a budget.

Best electric cars: 2020 Mini Cooper SE

2020 Mini Cooper SE (Image credit: Mini)

9. 2020 Mini Cooper SE

Price: $30,750 | Range: 110 miles | 0 to 60 mph: 6.9 seconds | Drive: FWD | Availability: March 2020

Fun, fun, fun--to drive
Competent infotainment
Limited range

Some cars scream, “Make me electric!” BMW's Mini is one of those cars. In most respects this finally electrified SE model is similar to a standard Mini Cooper in terms of interior space, weight, and connected technology. For example, it includes niceties like rain-sensing wipers, dual zone climate controls, and an Apple CarPlay compatible infotainment system with a 6.5-inch touchscreen.

Added here is a new traction control and braking system and a total of 181 hp for a 0 to 60 time of about 6.9 seconds. Test drives proved that the Mini Cooper SE's handling was more sprightly than its acceleration rating would suggest, and on a race track it was what Minis have always been, a really fun drive. The one downside to this EV is its relatively short range; a single charge will get you about 110 miles, making it more of an urban commuter than a long-range rural driver.

Best electric cars: Volvo XC60 T8

Volvo XC60 T8 (Image credit: Volvo)

10. Volvo XC60 T8

Price: $69,500 | Range: 25 miles (plug-in hybrid) | 0 to 60 mph: 4.9 seconds | Drive: AWD | Availability: Now

Top safety systems
Luxurious interior
Short electric-only range

The only plug-in hybrid to make our best electric cars list, Volvo's Polestar engineered XC60 T8 is a satisfying combination of performance, luxury, and technology. The crossover has all-wheel drive, a gorgeous 9.3-inch touch-screen control system and some excellent Volvo safety tech, including market-leading semi-autonomous driving features.

If you choose, the Volvo can go up to 25 miles on pure electric, but we preferred letting the car run in auto mode, utilizing both electric and gas supported power plants. And with the XC60's combined 400 horsepower, it can go from 0 to 60 mph in less than 5 seconds. Better still, the plug-in hybrid design means you'll never suffer from range anxiety.

  • wankel77
    Odd that Chevy was excluded. I know 50000 cars sold since 2016 isn't a lot....but it seems weird it wasn't even mentioned.
    Reply
  • scijohn
    I am surprised that the Chevy Bolt EV was passed over as top ten EV's.
    They are are currently selling for less than $30k, have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, thermal battery management which extends cold weather range and they get 259 miles per charge.
    Reply
  • cwwilsonpa
    I can't believe you left out the Chevy Bolt. I have a 2017 BOLT EV Premier and it's efficient, fast and long on utility.
    Reply
  • TheQ42
    Add me to the list of annoyed people. How do you leave the Bolt off the list and have the Leaf (which isn't a bad car, mostly) up there with "proven reliability" as a justification? The Leaf's battery pack is passively conditioned, and thus degrades more quickly than others on your list (and the Bolt).

    This is just incomplete, or John Quain doesn't much like GM.
    Reply
  • TheUserID
    What? The all-battery EV that is actually available in all 50 states and in several other countries around the world, has been around since 2016, and is a SOLID performer with very high quality ratings, great range, and utility... isn't even ON THE LIST? The CHEVY BOLT EV. I've tried almost all the cars on this list, and for the money, utility, egress/ingress, and range the Bolt wins. And why aren't the upcoming VW's on this list? Or the Kona Niro, which is a great car.

    Publishing stuff like this doesn't do you or anyone a service. It's like Fox News. Lies or out of context BS for money.
    Reply