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?
- Best portable chargers and power banks
- I drove Nissan’s e-4ORCE electric car protoytpe
- Fisker’s new all-electric SUV is cheaper than any Tesla
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.