7 Of The Best Electric Cars
That Will Make Every Mile More Memorable
[And Put Money Back Into Your Pocket]
by Bill Flitter
What’s a gas-guzzling Honda Pilot doing in a blog post about the best electric cars? Well, my research journey to find the best electric cars started because of the Honda Pilot, my family’s beloved SUV, which will soon be enjoying its final road trip with our family. Not only has it given us over 200,000 miles and smiles, but it has been the setting for thousands of unforgettable moments in our family’s life: The two-hour drive to meet our first puppy, and being stopped by the Highway Patrol — going and coming. Annual family pilgrimages to Disneyland. And, of course, the infinite number of drives carting the kids everywhere and back.
A sad farewell…
It is with these assorted memories and fleeting years of togetherness in mind that I prepare to bid farewell to our faithful Pilot. Like most Hondas, she wears her years well, but my wife is itching for something new and fuel-efficient, and my kids, the greatest advocates for the environment in my household, are bugging us to go green.
So, the family decision is to retire our old friend and replace it with a new EV as an investment in the future, the family, and Mother Nature.
But, I had a concern…
I had one concern: Like most families, the majority of our driving is within a radius of less than 40 miles, including to and from school, the supermarket, soccer practice, etc. In this case, an electric car makes economic sense given the number of short trips we take. But my family takes road trips also, so our new car has to be able to get us a decent distance on a charge. I’ve never had to worry about fueling the old Pilot. Turns out, EV range and charging are much less problematic than they were a few short years ago.
So, with my family’s collective criteria in mind, my new car-buying research goal has been to find the best electric cars of 2017. Here’s what I found:
4 Reasons Why Electric Cars Makes Sense Plus 1 Myth Busted
If you’re not convinced that owning one of the best electric cars is right for you and your family, let me offer 4 sound reasons why it’s right for my family and also worth considering for yours:
On a national average, it costs less than half as much to travel the same distance in an EV as a conventional car, which equals about $1.11 gallon according to the US Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Electric vehicles are very efficient. As a matter of fact, up to 80 percent of the energy in the battery is transferred directly to power the car, compared with only 14-26 percent of the energy from gasoline-powered vehicles, reports Energy.Gov.
It costs less than half as much to travel the same distance in an EV as a conventional car.
Good for the Environment
Electric power is cleaner than oil and, even when EVs are powered by dirty coal-burning electric grids, they produce less global-warming pollution than gas-powered cars, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. Their interactive guide compares EVs to gas vehicles according to how electricity is produced by zip code. To point out, conventional vehicles produce twenty pounds of CO2 for every gallon of gas consumed. In contrast, the all-electric Chevy Bolt, even when you consider its manufacturing process, produces about the same amount of CO2 as a vehicle getting 104 miles per gallon!
Gas vehicles produce twenty pounds of CO2 for every gallon of gas consumed!
One feature of all the best electric cars is that they provide a powerful, quiet ride with quick acceleration from full torque without any emissions, as reported in Plug In America. Most of the electricity is produced locally, without dependence on foreign oil.
Generally, the best electric cars have low maintenance costs. They don’t need tune-ups, spark plugs or oil changes. Electric car buyers have noted that franchised car dealers don’t like to sell EVs because they don’t make money on services and parts.
Rebates & Incentives You May Not Have Thought Of
Each individual electric-car model offers features ideal for certain kinds of uses, drivers, and lifestyles, as well as some unique perks. For the most part, electric vehicles qualify for the $7,500 Federal tax credit and there may be additional incentives depending on the state in which you’re driving. Many states offer stickers that allow you to drive solo for free in the HOV (carpool) lane. Some cities even offer free parking for EVs!
The Best Electric Cars Of 2017-18 Worth Considering
The Chevy Bolt has fantastic acceleration that’s far better than gas-powered small hatchbacks, and a 238-mile range that is better than most other electric cars. The interior is replete with high-tech features and a comfort level resembling a sedan. The special “Regen on Demand” paddle slows down the Bolt, regenerating energy and enabling one-pedal driving. The Bolt’s DC Fast Charging powers 90 miles of range in only 30 minutes. Not to mention the back seats fold down for up to 56.6 cubic feet of storage — perfect for Ikea furniture, a Costco shopping run, or a Little League catcher’s gear.
238 mi./ 119 MPGe
- Teen Driver software
- Big center touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- Rear camera mirror
- Available AT&T 4G LTE Wi-Fi Hotspots
- Available Surround Vision
- Free basic remote myChevrolet Mobile App for 5 years
- 5 years or 60,000 miles of 24-hour roadside assistance
- EPA Most Efficient Small Station Wagon with 119 MPGe Popular Mechanics Automotive Excellence Award Car of the Year
- North American Car of the Year for 2017
- 2017 Motor Trend Car of the Year
- AAA Top Green Vehicle Award Best Subcompact Car for 2017
- 2017 Green Car of the Year Awarded by Green Car Journal
I have to admit, I wasn’t a fan of the style of the BMW i3. However, there are plenty of reasons I included it on my ‘best electric cars’ list. It really is the “Ultimate Green Driving Machine” with a unique design surrounding an eco-friendly open interior and sensitive driving modes. The cabin consists of 25% recycled plastic and the body is constructed with light carbon fiber-reinforced plastic. Even the i3’s manufacturing process uses 50% less energy and 70% less water than a conventional similar vehicle. Available wool seats are soft and breathable. Furthermore, the side-panel doors and dash are made from sustainable Kenaf plant fiber and Eucalyptus wood from certified plantations in Europe.
For the 2017 BMW i3, the 94 Ah cells have increased the charge range to 124 miles, which can be extended another 180 miles with the optional gas motor.
124 miles 112 MPGe
- Easy to see display on the dash.
- Two-tone color combos
- Available Sunroof
- Apple Watch, Samsung Watch, iPhone, Android BMW remote apps
- Available range extender
- Sustainable materials
- 4-year unlimited mileage roadside assistance
- EPA Most Efficient Subcompact BMW i3 BEV (60 Amp-hour battery) with 124 MPGe
- Winner of the 2017 World Urban Car award at the New York International Auto Show
The best features of the Fiat 500e are that it’s fun-to-drive, feisty, and super economical. Fiat touts the 500e as having Italian styling and calls it environmentally smart and sexy. Obviously, it’s not the most roomy car on our best electric cars consideration list. Be that as it may, it brings back memories (or daydreams) of driving through the Italian countryside. Because the engine makes no noise, the Audible Pedestrian Warning System warns pedestrians and other drivers. In addition, Hill Start Assist helps maintain brake pressure until you step on the accelerator. Its small size lets you fit into small parking spaces or add it behind the other cars in the driveway.
84 mi./112 MPGe
- Available power sunroof.
- Heated front seats with memory.
- ParkSense Rear Park Assist System.
- GPS Navigation with Voice-Activated Commands.
- Free SiriusXM Satellite Radio with One Year of Service Included.
- 3 years of free remote apps.
- EPA Most Efficient Minicompact with112 MPGe
Ford Focus EV
The Ford Focus is a practical, stylish commuter and family car that has a decidedly American sedan feel to it. With the 2017 model, Ford increased the battery range from 76 to 115 miles and added DC fast-charging. The interior styling is upscale, with the same design as the Focus Titanium. Additionally, the Ford Sync 3 interface will please the family with its easy smartphone connections, voice controls, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay. The liquid-cooled battery pack prevents battery loss even in extremely hot climates.
115 mi/ 107 MPGe
- Energy and Brake Coach software helps you drive more efficiently
- 8” center touchscreen with voice control
- Sony Audio System with 9 speakers
- MyFord Mobile App with remote cabin preconditioning
- Rear windshield wipers
- Hill Start Assist
Kia Soul EV-e EV & EV+
Kia Soul EVs are geared toward young people and families. Ironically its hottest feature may be its available air-cooled seats. As you might know, both heat and air conditioning drain the batteries on all electric cars. Heated and air-cooled seats help reduce the need to turn on the heat or A/C. Furthermore, the Soul EV follows the design of the Kia Soul, with round speakers jutting out of the dashboard. It’s a small crossover but it’s taller and has more cargo space than others in this category. All 2017 models come with heated front seats, folding-back 60/40 split rear seats, and DC fast-charger. For the super eco-conscious, bio-based plastics derived from cellulose and sugarcane are incorporated in the door panels, headliner, seat trim, roof pillars, and carpeting.
93 mi /105 MPGe
- UVO eco app for remote features and charging with available UVO eco system
- Available Navigation, 8″ Color Touch-Screen Display, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, SiriusXM, Traffic and HD Radio, AM/FM/MP3/SiriusXM
- Hill Start Assist
- Covered by Kia Roadside Assistance Program
- Parking assist and parking sensors
- Panoramic sunroof
- Air-cooled seats
2017 Nissan Leaf
The Nissan LEAF is one of the first EVs on the market with a proven track record in which all the major glitches seem to have been worked out. The LEAF is a classic economical electric car, now with improved suspension for a smoother ride and a good high view of the road. The rear seats fold down and (spoiler alert!) the trunk has a handy hidden compartment. Moreover, the LEAF made my best electric car list because a trusted friend has one. Because he does extensive research on every purchase he makes, I’m not ruling it out.
107 mi/112 MPGe
- Free data connectivity for available NissanConnect EV for remote charging with compatible models
- Heated front seats
- Hands-free text messaging assistant
- Charge port located in front, making it easier to charge at stations
- Available: Navigation, heated steering wheel, 7”screen, quick charge and solar panel for the 12-volt battery, LED headlights, Around View Monitor
- No Charge to Charge Program provides two years of unlimited 30-minute free DC Fast charges and 60-minute Level 2 charges at participating stations
It looks like a Golf. It feels like a Golf. And the Volkswagen e-Golf drives just like a gas-powered Golf, even though it runs on electricity. Actually, the 2017 Golf’s exterior is based on the European Golf. The e-Golf is youthful, sporty, responsive, and compact, and it has smartphone integration through CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink. The available SAE “combo” charging connector with Level 2 and 3 capabilities charges faster than most with Level 2 chargers. The 2017 e-Golf goes on sale this Spring.
125 miles/ 119MPGe
- VW Car-Net remote app sets charging, start and unlock from compatible smartphones
- VW-App-Connect head unit compatible with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink
- 12.3″ display
- Faster charger
- Volkswagen Digital Cockpit
- Safety Features: Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking (Front Assist) with Pedestrian Recognition, Blind Spot Monitor Plus, Lane Assist, Park Assist and Light Assist
- Parking Steering Assistant (Park Assist) for parallel parking
- 3 Years/36,000 miles of free roadside assistance
Over to You
I’ll tell you which EV we end up with as soon as I know. In the meantime, I would love to learn from you. Are you going or have you gone electric? What are the best electric cars in your opinion? What’s your biggest concern about owning one?