Electric Cars

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Electric vehicles aren't a new phenomenon. In fact, the first fully electric car was developed in the 1830s. What's new is that EVs now compete for market share with traditional fossil-fueled models. Thanks to recent advancements in battery and charging technology, electric cars have finally become a feasible alternative to gasoline cars.

Today's best EVs make a compelling pitch to commuters: They're practical, easy to drive, inexpensive to run and packed with technology. And if the sticker prices look daunting, just remember that tax incentives and rebates can knock thousands off the cost of an EV, whether you're buying or leasing.

But shopping for an electric vehicle requires a different mindset. While a gasoline car can be refueled in just a few minutes, electric cars take longer to recharge, making them less than ideal for long-range driving. The trick is to think about how far you drive in an average day and how often you'd have a chance to charge up. If you can plug in at work or at home, an EV could be a great fit for your life.

To simplify your shopping process, we've 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 2018

At Edmunds, we put every vehicle we rate through a rigorous testing process that involves both objective tests conducted at our test track and a subjective evaluation on our 115-mile real-world testing loop. We then assign scores to specific characteristics and features to arrive at an overall rating for the car. The eight electric cars listed here received the highest marks from our experts. We think these are the best electric cars you can buy today.

It's worth noting that, in our experience, most manufacturers' range estimates are realistic — except in very cold climates (which, for several reasons, decrease range). So even if you drive 100 miles in an average day, the best electric cars will provide more than enough range to get you from charge to charge.

Affordable Electric Cars

Tesla may have captured consumers' imaginations with its futuristic and pricey cars, but mainstream automakers have been trying to crack the electric-car nut for a long time, with increasing success as of late. These affordable EVs have enough range to get most people through their daily commute and all the features you expect from a modern car.

2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Edmunds Rating

The Chevrolet Bolt is a surprise in more ways than one. It boasts the kind of range that was previously the sole domain of Tesla, but it's also zippy and fun to drive. 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. Unfortunately, the front seats are a bit firm and won't be to everyone's liking. The interior's also rather plasticky, and the Bolt's unique infotainment setup is slightly clunkier than Chevy's norm. The bottom line, though, is that the Bolt delivers downright exceptional range and performance for the price. Read Full Review

Starting price (including destination fee): $37,495
EV range: 238 miles

Read Edmunds' long-term test of the Chevrolet Bolt EV

2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV Overview and Pricing

2018 Nissan Leaf

Edmunds Rating

The Leaf was redesigned for 2018, and it's an entirely better electric vehicle than the previous generation. It's quieter, more comfortable and better 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. Read Full Review

Starting price (including destination fee): $30,875
EV range: 151 miles

Read Edmunds' long-term test of the Nissan Leaf

2018 Nissan Leaf Overview and Pricing

2018 Hyundai Ioniq Electric

Edmunds Rating

The Hyundai Ioniq Electric has a low cost of entry, and it offers all the user-friendly tech we expect from a Hyundai. It also has the most efficient electric drivetrain on the market, per the EPA's miles per gallon equivalent (mpge) metric, which means you'll pay less to keep it charged. That said, it's not the best-driving EV, and the rear seat isn't particularly comfortable or roomy. Still, we like the Ioniq Electric for offering a lot of features at an appealing price. Read Full Review

Starting price (including destination fee): $30,385
EV range: 124 miles

2018 Hyundai Ioniq Electric Overview and Pricing

2018 Kia Soul EV

Edmunds Rating

The Kia Soul EV has the shortest electric range of any of the affordable EVs on our list, but it'll still go more than 100 miles on a charge. More than that, though, it makes our list for its quirky personality and abundance of interior room. In many ways, the Soul EV is more reminiscent of a small crossover than a compact car. It's certainly less fun to drive than some competitors, but the additional space will more than compensate for some buyers. Read Full Review

Starting price (including destination fee): $34,845
EV range: 111 miles

2018 Kia Soul EV Overview and Pricing

Compare Affordable Electric Cars

Luxury Electric Cars

Luxury electric cars bring advanced driving dynamics and upscale design to the EV class. Brands such as Jaguar and Audi will be joining the fray soon, but for now, not many luxury manufacturers have fully electric cars on the road. Tesla models dominate with their incredible speed and futuristic technology features.

2018 Tesla Model S

Edmunds Rating

The Tesla Model S might be the oldest Tesla in production, but it's still our favorite of the company's three offerings. It 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 is equally intimidating and, compared to similarly priced sedans, it feels a bit unpolished. Additionally, it lacks some of their luxury features, such as massaging or even just ventilated seats. But if you're after something with a Tesla badge, this is the best of the bunch. Read Full Review

Starting price (including destination fee): $75,700
EV range: 249-335 miles

Read Edmunds' long-term test of the Tesla Model S

2018 Tesla Model S Overview and Pricing

2018 BMW i3

Edmunds Rating

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 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. Read Full Review

Starting price (including destination fee): $45,445
EV range: 114 miles, 180 miles with gas-powered range extender

Read Edmunds' long-term test of the BMW i3

2018 BMW i3 Overview and Pricing

2018 Tesla Model X

Edmunds Rating

The Tesla Model X is currently the only all-electric vehicle you can get with three rows of seating. 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 fast SUV — our 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. Read Full Review

Starting price (including destination fee): $80,700
EV range: 238-295 miles

Read Edmunds' long-term test of the Tesla Model X

2018 Tesla Model X Overview and Pricing

2018 Tesla Model 3

Edmunds Rating

The Tesla Model 3 has encountered some early growing pains. Many buyers are still waiting to take delivery, and Tesla hasn't worked out all the reliability issues yet, as our own long-term Model 3 road test underscores. Some drivers may also find the Model 3's near-complete reliance on the touchscreen interface for vehicle controls a bit distracting. Moreover, the long-awaited $35,000 entry-level model has yet to materialize, as all Model 3s so far have carried the larger battery pack and its attendant price bump. That said, if you can get your hands on one, and you don't mind the teething issues, you'll find a nimble, long-range electric car with a healthy amount of space for its small footprint and an interior that pushes the definition of "modern." The Model 3 performed very well in our testing process, which is why it makes the cut for this list. Read Full Review

Starting price (including destination fee): $50,200
EV range: 310 miles

Read Edmunds' long-term test of the Tesla Model 3

2018 Tesla Model 3 Overview and Pricing

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Best Electric-Car Range

Right now, Tesla is winning the range game. Depending on how they're equipped, Tesla models can cart around a stunning amount of electricity. With new battery technology on the horizon, though, and more automakers joining the EV fray, Tesla may not be able to hold onto the crown forever. The models listed below are the specific versions with the best electric range.

Tesla Model S 100D — 335 miles

Equipped with a massive 100-kWh battery pack, and lacking the extra weight of the Model X, the Tesla Model S 100D boasts the best range of any electric car currently on the market.

Tesla Model 3 Long Range — 310 miles

The only version of the Tesla Model 3 currently for sale, the Long Range comes with a 75-kWh battery pack. It's lighter and more efficient than its siblings, meaning it can go a longer distance with less electricity.

Tesla Model X 100D — 295 miles

The Model X is a heavy vehicle, so even though it uses the same enormous 100-kWh battery pack as the Model S, it can't go quite as far. Still, all that battery means the Model X easily outpaces its nearest non-Tesla competitor.

Chevrolet Bolt EV — 238 miles

With just a 60-kWh battery pack, the Chevrolet Bolt relies on lightness and efficiency to provide its impressive range. The Bolt EV sets a new bar for affordable EVs, providing a lot of electric miles for not a lot of money.

Electric Cars vs. Gas Cars

Gas-powered cars are comforting in their familiarity. With gas stations easily accessible across the country, they provide unparalleled freedom, and in some cases a dramatic exhaust note to boot. Sadly, they also produce a lot of air pollution. EVs are a friendlier alternative and a great match for many drivers' day-to-day needs.

Electric cars drive differently, but not necessarily in a bad way. They provide instant torque, making them feel zippy around town. And with regenerative braking, drivers can practice "one-pedal driving," in which simply lifting off the throttle pedal results in significant deceleration. Electric-car ownership means adopting new habits as a driver and owner. Luckily, one of those habits is never having to visit a gas station. If you can install a charging station at home, or have access to one where you work, there's a strong chance an electric vehicle would make a good commuter for you.

Electric Cars vs. Hybrids

Hybrids use an electric motor to assist a gasoline engine, improving fuel efficiency while maintaining the freedom of a gas-powered car. They're more mechanically complex, but owning and driving a hybrid really aren't much different from owning a traditional gas-powered car, which is definitely part of their appeal.

Some plug-in hybrids can be charged up like an electric car and driven for a short distance on full electric power before switching over to normal hybrid operation. Most plug-in hybrids won't go more than 20 miles or so on electricity, though. An electric car with a range extender, such as the BMW i3, is different from a hybrid in that its gas engine is only used to generate electricity and can't drive the wheels.

Electric Vehicle Benefits

If you can access a charging station at your home or office, you can likely rely on an electric car to replace your gas car for everything but road trips. All you have to do is plug it in at either location, and it'll charge up while you're doing other things. Electricity is also cheaper than gas, meaning you'll save money on energy over the life of the car.

Electric cars also have fewer moving parts that can break. Most maintenance will likely involve wear items such as tires, brakes and windshield wipers. You'll never have to pay for a belt job with an electric car. And there are big tax incentives available, which can help cushion the upfront cost of an electric car. If you lease, you'll see those incentives taken out of your payments right away, saving you some paperwork.

Choosing the Right Electric Car for You

For many households, an electric car makes a lot of sense as a second vehicle. Electric cars provide a clean commuting alternative that requires less maintenance and zero trips to the gas station. The trick will be figuring out where and when you can charge and how many miles you need to be able to drive between charges.

Make sure to check out our 9 Steps to Easier Plug-In Car Shopping to help you take the first steps on your electric-car journey. You may be surprised to find out that an electric car could fit your lifestyle.

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