Electric vehicles aren’t a new phenomenon. In fact, the first all-electric car was developed in the 1830s. What’s new is that EVs now compete for market share with traditional fossil-fuel 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. 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 2020
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 120-mile real-world testing loop. We then 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 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 on 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, along with all the features you expect from a modern car.
2019 Kia Niro EV – Front Exterior
2019 Kia Niro EV – Rear Exterior
2019 Kia Niro EV – Dash
2019 Kia Niro EV – Rear Exterior
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. The standard SAE combo charger means faster charge times, so you spend less time plugged in. It’s no surprise that the Niro EV has quickly become one of our top-rated electric vehicles. See the Kona Electric in our EV rankings
Starting price (including destination fee): $39,545
EV range: 239 miles
2020 Hyundai Kona Electric – Front Exterior
2020 Hyundai Kona Electric – Dash
2020 Hyundai Kona Electric – Seats
20202 Hyundai Kona Electric – Rear Exterior
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. The Kona EV also has adjustable regenerative braking, though you can’t drive with one pedal as you can in the Bolt or the Leaf. Throw in rapid acceleration and a generous roster of features, and you’ve got one of the best all-around EVs on the market. See the Kona Electric in our EV rankings
Starting price (including destination fee): $38,085
EV range: 258 miles
2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV – Front Exterior
2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV – Front Exterior
2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV- Dash
2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV – Detail
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. 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 all-electric range and performance for the price. See the Bolt in our EV rankings
Starting price (including destination fee): $37,890
EV range: 259 miles
Best Electic Cars – 2019 Nissan Leaf
2019 Nissan Leaf – Rear Exterior
2019 Nissan Leaf – Interior
2019 Nissan Leaf – Front Interior
The Leaf was redesigned last year, and it’s 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. And if you do, consider that the Leaf Plus variant cranks up the range to a competitive 226 miles. See the Leaf in our EV rankings
Starting price (including destination fee): $30,915
EV range: 150-226 miles
2019 Volkswagen e-Golf – Front Exterior
2019 Volkswagen e-Golf – Rear Exterior
2019 Volkswagen e-Golf – Dash
2019 Volkswagen e-Golf – Seats
We’ve always admired the Volkswagen e-Golf for being 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. See the e-Golf in our EV rankings
Starting price (including destination fee): $32,790
EV range: 123 miles
Compare Affordable Electric Cars
Luxury Electric Cars
Luxury electric cars bring advanced driving dynamics and upscale design to the EV class. For now, not many luxury manufacturers have fully electric cars on the road, but that’s set to change in the years to come. Although Tesla models dominate today’s market with their incredible speed and futuristic technology features, stiffer competition is right around the corner.
2019 Tesla Model 3 – Profile
2019 Tesla Model 3 – Action Front Exterior
2019 Tesla Model 3 – Dash
2019 Tesla Model 3 – Front Interior
The Tesla Model 3 encountered some early growing pains, as our own long-term Model 3 road test underscores. Moreover, the elusive $35,000 model didn’t exactly materialize as promised. But the Model 3 has come into its own as a top-selling luxury car, period, which is unprecedented for an EV. The 2019 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. See the Model 3 in our EV rankings
Starting price (including destination fee): $40,690
EV range: 250-322 miles
Best Electic Cars – 2019 Audi e-tron
2019 Audi e-tron – Rear Exterior
2019 Audi e-tron – Interior
2019 Audi e-tron – Front Interior
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. See the e-tron in our EV rankings
Starting price (including destination fee): $75,795
EV range: 204 miles
2020 Jaguar I-Pace – Front Exterior
2020 Jaguar I-Pace – Rear Exterior
2020 Jaguar I-Pace – Interior
2020 Jaguar I-Pace – Interior
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. The brakes are also a bit grabby, the only real dynamic weakness of the I-Pace. See the I-Pace in our EV rankings
Starting price (including destination fee): $70,845
EV range: 234 miles
Best Electic Cars – 2019 Tesla Model S
2019 Tesla Model S – Rear Exterior
2019 Tesla Model S – Center Console
2019 Tesla Model S – Steering Wheel
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. Additionally, it lacks some of their luxury features, such as massaging seats. But if you’re after something with a Tesla badge, the S is a strong move. See the Model S in our EV rankings
Starting price (including destination fee): $79,990
EV range: 348-373 miles
2019 BMW i3 – Front Exterior
2019 BMW i3 – Profile
2019 BMW i3 – Interior
2019 BMW i3 – Action Profile
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. See the i3 in our EV rankings
Starting price (including destination fee): $45,445
EV range: 153 miles (200 miles with gas-powered range extender)
2019 Tesla Model X – Profile
2019 Tesla Model X – Rear Exterior
2019 Tesla Model X – Front Interior
2019 Tesla Model X – Seats
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. See the Model X in our EV rankings
Starting price (including destination fee): $86,190
EV range: 305-328 miles
Compare Luxury Electric Cars
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 Long Range — 373 miles
Equipped with a massive 100-kWh battery pack and lacking the extra weight of the Model X, the Tesla Model S Long Range boasts the best range of any electric car currently on the market.
Tesla Model X Long Range — 328 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.
Tesla Model 3 Long Range — 322 miles
The Tesla Model 3 Long Range comes with a 75-kWh battery pack and is lighter and more efficient than its siblings, which means this Tesla can go a longer distance with a smaller battery pack.
Chevrolet Bolt — 259 miles
For 2020, Chevrolet rejiggered the Bolt’s battery chemistry, eking out extra range to beat out all of its mainstream competition (even if only by a single mile).
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 an environmentally 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 isn’t much different from owning a traditional gas-powered car, which is definitely part of the appeal.
Plug-in hybrids can be charged up like an all-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. (The outgoing Chevrolet Volt is a shining exception with its electric range of 50-plus miles.) 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. For more details, check out our “The True Cost of Powering an Electric Car.”
Cars that are all-electric 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, requiring 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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