More so than ever, drivers are considering a world powered by electric cars. Now, if you take into account the passion of those who drive traditional vehicles and the powers that be in the oil business, that reality is likely still in the distant future. Especially considering some are more reluctant than others to distance themselves from the comfort zone we know and love. Nevertheless, it’s the future. There continues to be waves of EV vehicles weaving themselves into the fabric of our everyday commutes and road trips. And if 2018 feels like the year that you will take the electric leap, this list is for you. Here are some of the top candidates in the EV department.
5. BMW i3
Disclaimer: As of November 20th, the i3 has been recalled in the US. The i3 failed a crash test with female passengers standing five feet tall and NOT wearing a seat belt. BMW is currently addressing the “compliance issue.”
The BMW i3 is the perfect vehicle to kickoff this list, as it shows that owning an electric vehicle does not have mean living in a colorless Utopian society of lifeless vehicles and people. Sure, the i3 doesn’t have the giddyup of gas-powered Beemer models at 170 horsepower and 93 mph top speed. But if there’s anything BMW knows, its luxury. And the i3 is a middle finger to those who think clean energy has to be boring. This EV has heated front seats, 6-way driver and passenger seats, a leather steering wheel, push-to-start, automatic AC, two-LCD monitors, and the list just goes on.
These specs apply to the 2017 i3, but the 2018 model has been spied and test-driven by a select few. And there could be even more improvements including, hopefully, some to its 97-mile battery range. It’s-already-staggering price tag of $49,295 may see a boost as well.
4. Ford Focus Electric
A name everyone recognizes threw a contemporary spin on a driver favorite with the Ford Focus Electric. For starts, the Focus is super affordable when stacked against most competitors with a $29,995 price tag. Of course, that could be a result of Ford outsourcing electric production to China. But what’s really nifty is that it’s a hatchback, giving it an edge over several other EVs in cargo space. The Focus Electric has 33.2 cubic feet of space without the rear seat that folds down, making it an ideal vehicle for the traveling pair or lone wolf. There’s also still 14.2 cubic feet with the rear seat up, and room for five passengers total.
Though practical, it does have its shortcomings. The Focus Electric only gets 115 miles to the charge, which places it near the lower end for EVs. It’s got a mere 143 horsepower, which, to be honest, approaches the figure most potential buyers envisioned for its “power” anyway. Considering all this, the Focus Electric makes for a good starter car in the EV realm. Plus, there’s no telling what a juggernaut like Ford can do with a better grasp on the EV market in the future.
3. Nissan Leaf
The Nissan Leaf was one of the originators of the EV movement. Thus they’ve been one of the big names in the now not-so-niche market from the beginning. And it appears as though they have no plans of slowing down, either. The Leaf will return in 2018 with its 40 kWhr, Lithium-ion battery and features like an upgraded leather interior. It also has ProPilot Assist (a more accurate cruise control) and remains one of the cheapest EVs available with a base price of $30,875.
However, many will argue that its early breakout into the market and price are all it has. This case can actually be made as the Leaf will compete within a 2018 class of vehicles that appear to be speeding ahead in innovation. The 2018 Leaf’s charge range is 150 miles. The 2017 model had a range of 107 miles. In a vacuum, this is sizeable gain, but with Tesla making models with ranges nearing 300 miles, the Leaf will is forced to play catch up or fold. For now, it remains a pillar of the market for its affordability.
2. Tesla 3
The Tesla Model 3 has been on everyone’s mind, because let’s face it, the company is like the godfather of the movement. In all areas, especially safety, they are the tastemakers because the 3’s AutoPilot feature set the safety mark and remains a crucial selling point. It should be noted, though, that to get AutoPilot, the baseline price of the Model 3 rises from $35,000 to $44,000 in a blink. And the $35K price tag has been outed by several outlets to be a bit of an inaccuracy. This is because the figure applies to a “bare bones” model that the world has yet to see. The production snags haven’t helped either. This minimalist version of the 3 is projected to come at some point in 2018, only available in black, and obviously without the AutoPilot perks. Alternate trims will continue to tack onto the total, too.
But even without AutoPilot feature, the Model 3 has a safety feature most other EVs do not have yet: all-wheel drive (AWD production set for Spring 2018). So if you were to put this vehicle at the top of your 2018 list, no one would bat an eye. Its 220-mile battery range and trusted name say it all.
1. Chevy Bolt
The Chevy Bolt may very well be the electric vehicle to own in 2018 and perhaps the greater foreseeable future. Don’t get it twisted, this thing is a road warrior. It gets 238 miles to the charge. With a 60-kWh lithium ion battery, it’s one of the longest lasting EVs on the market, even outlasting the Tesla 3. A reasonable knock on the Bolt is that like many of its EV contemporaries, it carries a considerable price tag. MSRP starts at $37,495.
However, that can lower to $29,995 after federal tax credit (if eligible and if the credit still exists), potentially putting it in the financial conversation with the likes of the Nissan Leaf. But to get ideal safety features like Driver Assistance, one has to purchase the Premier package. This upgrade runs a little over $40,000. While this is steep, the 2017 Bolt model won IIHS Top Safety Pick when equipped with Driver Assistance, so it’s money well spent indeed. And with performance specs like 266 lb-ft of torque and a 6.5-second zero to sixty to sweeten its already exciting longevity and safety, it’s going to be hard for competitors to put Chevy’s creation into question.
EV Choices Continue to Expand
Again, these vehicles are options for those scouting the automotive landscape. Because though there are rumblings of massive change, the ground hasn’t fully shifted. For many it’s pragmatic. For some, it’s to be on the right side of history. And for some automakers, it’s simply about getting ahead and capitalizing on a fluctuating game. So there’s no shame in being hesitant to join the electric world or unable to afford it. But if you feel it’s time to make the move, or figure it’s something worth trying, even if it’s just once and you go back to combustion engines, know that you still have a choice in what you drive.