1. TESLA MODEL S
A mixture of eco-friendly luxury car and outrageously fast sports car, the Tesla Model S is an impressive vehicle. Equipped with two electric motors, an induction AC motor in the front generating 257 horsepower, and one in the rear generating 257 horsepower; the Tesla Model S has a total output of 329 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque.
All of which is powered by a 70-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The Tesla Model S gets an estimated 240 driving miles off one charge, but results will vary, so it’s best not to try to push it to the limit. An elegant interior gives the feeling of a high class luxury car, with comfortable leather seats and a 17 inch touch screen providing navigation. When it comes to electric cars, Tesla is at the front of the pack with the Model S.
2. HONDA FIT EV
The Honda Fit EV is a retrofitted Honda Fit that has been re-designed to be electric only. The electric drivetrain gives the Honda Fit EV a mpg equivalent of 118 mpg when in Eco mode. Sport mode can be engaged to give the Fit EV more speed at the cost of battery life. The Fit EV chassis was redesigned to accommodate the battery packs, giving it proper weight distribution and lowering the center of gravity. The suspension was upgraded to support the additional weight, allowing the Fit EV to maintain the tight, comfortable ride that its gasoline cousin has. The interior is comfortable and roomy, with plenty of cargo space. The seat covers are made of bio-fabric polyethylene terephthalate, which is derived from renewable sugarcane, giving the Fit EV extra environmentalism points if you’re looking for that kind of thing.
3. NISSAN LEAF
The Nissan Leaf is a small electric car that is great for city or close range driving. The battery packs take an estimated 8 hours to fully charge and have an EPA estimated 102 mpge, which translates to roughly 84 miles of travel. Due to this, the Leaf isn’t built for long range commutes or road trips. The interior is luxurious; with leather seats and a well designed center console. All the displays are digital, and the gear selector is designed similar to a computer mouse. The suspension handles everything thrown at it, absorbing road imperfections like a champion, leading to a smooth ride. The steering is responsive and tight and the braking system stops on a dime.
4. TOYOTA RAV4 EV
The Toyota RAV4 EV was developed by Toyota and Tesla Motors. The RAV4 EV has a combined range of 103 miles and a mpge of 76. The motor is Tesla-designed and is coupled with Toyota’s electric powertrain. Peak power output is 154 horsepower, and there are two driving mode: normal and sport. Normal mode has a maximum speed of 85 mph, while sport tops out at 100 mph. Two charging modes are featured on the RAV4 EV, the standard mode takes 5 hours and has a range of 92 miles, while the extended mode takes 6 hours and delivers a range of 113 miles. The suspension is upgraded to support the extra weight from the batteries and electric motor. With the added weight the RAV4 EV has a heavy feeling ride, but the suspension does a great job of making it smooth.
5. MITSUBISHI I-MIEV
The tiny Mitsubishi i-MiEV feels at home in the city. The i-MiEV isn’t exactly a looker, resembling a computer mouse; but looks aren’t everything. The Mitsubishi i-MiEV has quick, responsive steering and a firm brake pedal. The suspension delivers a comfortable, smooth ride with no body roll. The 66 horsepower engine only has a range of 62 miles, so long commutes are out of the question. With a zero to sixty time of 13 seconds, the i-MiEV won’t be winning any drag races, but that’s not what it was built for. Upscale features like heated seats and air conditioning can be added in to make the i-MiEV more comfortable. If short commutes or trips around town are all you plan to do, the i-MiEV will get the job done beautifully.
6. FORD FOCUS ELECTRIC
The Ford Focus Electric offers a quiet, smooth ride and is unlike most EV vehicles in that it seems like a normal car. The Ford Focus Electric drives a lot like the normal Ford Focus: tight steering, stiff suspension, and responsive motor. The electric motor is estimated to have a range of 76 miles, but the charge time of only 3.5 hours makes up for the lack of distance. The interior is lined with leather, giving it an upscale feel. Two high-res screens surround the speedometer, giving the driver info. A “brake coach” helps stretch the range of the battery if you follow it closely. Of all the EV cars available, the Ford Focus Electric is the best if you want an EV but can’t afford the high price of the Tesla offerings.
7. FIAT 500E
Much like its gasoline powered brother, the Fiat 500e makes for a fine city car. The tiny size and zippy handling allow it to breeze through traffic with ease, and the EPA range of 87 miles will get you where you need to go during your day to day commutes. Oddly the Fiat 500e is quicker, smoother, and quieter than the gas powered version, making it a better vehicle overall. The interior is kind of cramped, so taller drivers may have issues. The back seat doesn’t offer much room either. The permanent-magnet motor generates 111 horsepower, and while not a very fast vehicle, the 30 to 50 mph time is 3.5 seconds, meaning you won’t have to worry about sluggishness should you need to pass or merge with traffic.
8. KIA SOUL EV
The Kia Soul EV offers a 93 mile EPA estimated driving distance with a charging time of 4 to 5 hours on a 240-volt system. The Soul EV has all the features the regular Soul has, wrapped in an electronic package. The suspension is finely tuned, offering a smooth ride, and there is marginal body roll when making turns. The Soul EV is well equipped, including navigation, a rear camera, Bluetooth, and UVO EV services to monitor distance-to-discharged, check battery-charge status, and search for charging stations. The Soul EV might be a little bit pricey (as most EVs are), but as with other EVs, the MSRP can be seriously whittled with government subsidies such as a $7500 federal tax rebate. California also offers a $5000 rebate on the purchase or lease of zero-emissions or plug-in-hybrid vehicles.
9. BMW I3
The BMW i3 is BMWs entry in the EV game. With a 170 horsepower electric motor, the BMW i3 has a range of 81 miles per charge. The optional range extender increases this to 150 miles by adding a 34 horsepower gas engine generator to the vehicle, which removes any anxiety about trips that go beyond the estimated range. The regenerative braking is so well developed, that you can almost drive the vehicle without using the brake pedal, as long as you are attentive to traffic. When you lift off the accelerator, the i3 initiates the regenerative braking scheme that converts kinetic energy into electricity to extend the range. This isn’t much different from other EVs, except that the BMW decelerates so quickly and consistently at all speeds that the regenerative braking can slow the car all the way to a stop. As usual, BMW is doing its best to innovate with each new model it creates.
10. CHEVROLET SPARK EV
The Chevrolet Spark EV improves on the standard gasoline powered Spark. The electric motor and 1-speed direct-drive transmission make a great pair, producing 141 horsepower and an EPA estimated 128 mpge. The range of the Chevrolet Spark EV is estimated at 82 miles for a full charge. The battery packs are well hidden due to Chevy redesigning the structure of the vehicle, so no cargo space is lost to battery packs taking up room in the trunk. Recalibrated springs, dampers, and suspension components strive to make good on Chevy’s promise that the Spark EV is “fun to drive,”which it is. The handling is balanced and responsive, with the steering a little better than its gas powered cousin. The Chevrolet Spark EV is definitely one of the best examples of a gasoline model converted to an EV, and other car manufacturers could learn from Chevy’s success.