Best Electric Cars of 2018
The battery battles are heating up, but who walks away the winner?by Jonathan Lopez, on
Electric vehicles are becoming more and more popular these days, and manufacturers are responding by pouring in the investment and releasing oodles of new models. As such, competition between EV’s is growing, and 2018 was no exception. But the question is, which of these machines is the “best”? To find out, we lined up the usual suspects up and looked at all the critical specs, including range-per-charge, battery capacity, charge times, interior space, interior tech, and more. Read on to see which EV came out on top!
If we gave an award to the electric vehicle with the most funky-fresh, box-tastic styling out there, the Kia Soul EV would have a whole case of ‘em. Offered as the automaker’s do-it-all battery-powered subcompact crossover, the Kia Soul EV comes with five doors for easy access to all the space inside, which includes 18.8 cubic feet of cargo room with the rear seats up, and 49.5 cubic feet of cargo room rear with the rear seats down. Five passengers are accommodated as well thanks to upwards of 97.1 cubic feet of passenger volume. Standout features include heating and ventilation for the front seats, plus leather upholstery, both of which are offered as an available option.
As for propulsion, the Kia Sould EV was upgraded for the 2018 model year with 11 percent greater battery capacity, now up to 40 Ah out of 42.36 Ah from the previous model’s 37.5 Ah.
This translates into extra miles, and the model is now rated at an EPA-estimated 111 miles from the previous model’s 93 miles. Delivery of those miles is by way of the front wheels, which are driven by 109 horsepower and 210 pound-feet though a lithium-ion battery pack and regenerative braking function. If you drain the packs, plug into a 240-volt charging source, and you’ll be topped off in under 5 hours. Finally, top speed clocks in at 92 mph. Unfortunately, the Kia Soul EV isn’t sold in every state, but if your state is one of the lucky ones, expect pricing to start at $33,950.
Read our full review on the 2018 Kia SOUL EV.
Read our full review of the Kia Soul EV.
When Tesla launched the Model S back in 2012, the California-based automaker essentially “supercharged” EV adoption across the U.S. That’s because the Model S is not your “typical” EV, what with its sultry good looks and mind-bending speed potential. The S is also quite a bit larger than most other EVs, sitting somewhere between the full-size and mid-size classifications. Ingress and egress is assisted thanks to five doors with a liftback rear hatch.
There’s a 17.0-inch touchscreen inside, which acts as the primary user interface for the various controls and features, while upwards of 30 cubic feet of cargo room are offered with the seats up.
A maximum of 5 adults can fit inside, plus an additional 2 children behind the rear bench. Standout features include a heated steering wheel and heated seats throughout the cabin, plus there’s an advanced autonomous driving mode called Autopilot for added convenience. The Model S is quite safe as well, passing all the various standard crash tests with flying colors.
In terms of motivation, the Model S was previously available with RWD, but these days, buyers are only offered the AWD dual-motor configuration. There’s also three options in terms of the powertrain setup, starting with the 75D, which comes with a 75-kWh battery, 259 miles of range, and a 4.2-second 0-to-60 mph time. Then there’s the 100D, which upgrades to a 100-kWh battery, dropping the time to 60 mph to 4.1 seconds and upping range-per-charge to 335 miles. Finally, the top slot belongs to the P100D, which once again comes with a 100-kWh battery, but drops the 0-to-60 mph time to 2.5 seconds.
Meanwhile, estimated range for this wild sports sedan takes a small hit down to 315 miles.
Charging options include a 120-volt plug, a 240-volt plug, or a J1772 public charging plug. Max miles can be had when plugging into Tesla’s Supercharger network, with 170 miles gained in just 30 minutes. However, buyers will most likely depend on the home-oriented 240-volt option, which will yield a full charge in about 8 and a half hours. You can also plug into a standard 110-volt wall plug using the free adapter, but that’ll take upwards of four days to get back to full. Pricing starts at $74,500, which includes 400 kWh of free annual supercharging credits. Note that delivery takes between 1 and 8 weeks.
Read our full review of the 2018 Tesla Model S.
The Kona Electric is a first for Hyundai, and so far, it’s looking like a very solid offering. Making the scene as a four-door hatchback with a compact crossover body style, the electrified Kona brings a few aesthetic updates beyond its internal combustion counterpart, rocking a fresh look thanks to its streamlined, grille-free front nose.
Step into the cabin, and you’ll find space for up to five passengers, plus 11.7 cubic feet of cargo room with the seats up and 39.3 cubic feet with the seats down.
Heated seats keep it comfy, while Apple CarPlay and Android Auto keep it connected. The Kona gets plenty of driving-assist tech as well, with features like Forward Collision Warning, Blind Spot Collision Warning, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, and more.
Making it go is a FWD powertrain with two options for the battery. The first is a 39.2-kWh unit making 132 horsepower and a stout 291 pound-feet of torque, with the run from 0 to 60 mph timed at 9.3 seconds. Range per charge peaks at 186 miles. For those seeking more, there’s also a 64-kWh battery that provides 201 horsepower, 291 pound-feet, and an impressive 292 miles per charge.
The run from 0 to 60 mph in this spec takes 7.6 seconds. Top speed is rated at 104 mph.
Both powertrains connect to an automatic single-speed reduction gear transmission. Regenerative braking helps to keep it topped off, with the driver selecting just how aggressive he or she wants it to decelerate when off throttle. Plug it into a 240-volt source, and you’ll be back to full in about 10 and a half hours. A standard wall plug will take around 33 hours. There’s also DC 100-kW quick charging, which gives 80 percent capacity in about an hour. With a release date scheduled for early 2019, official pricing info has yet to drop, but we expect it to slot in at around $37,000.
Read our full review of the 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric.
Nissan first put the Leaf into production in 2010, managing to sell quite a few both here in the U.S. and overseas. Indeed, the Leaf is one of the first successful mass-produced all-electric highway-capable passenger EVs ever made, and as such, the Japanese manufacturer introduced a fresh second-generation model for the 2018 model year. This time around, the Leaf once again keeps its compact five-door hatchback body style, with a prominent V-shaped front end and sharp styling cues.
Inside, up to five people will enjoy the 92.4 cubic feet of passenger room, while cargo will stow away in 23.6 cubic feet of storage.
Fold the bits and pieces into a flatter configuration, and that space expands to 30 cubic feet of cargo room. Rounding out the interior is tech like ProPilot Assist, which includes adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, and more, all of which Nissan offers as an available option.
Power is sent to the front wheels exclusively. The latest Leaf benefits from a recently upgraded lithium-ion battery pack, which is now rated at 40 kWh. Range per charge comes to 151 miles, with as much as 147 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque available when you put your foot down. The run from 0 to 60 mph takes 7.4 seconds, and top speed is rated at 92 mph.
Nissan included the option for DC quick charging, which gives the Leaf about 90 miles in just 30 minutes.
Owners can also fall back on a regular 120-volt outlet, which yields a full charge in 35 hours, or alternatively, you can charge from a 3-kW outlet in 16 hours and a 6-kW outlet in 8 hours. It’s also worth mentioning that Nissan is promising a new model with more power and more range to arrive sometime next year. That said, if you can’t wait that long, pricing for the current model starts at $29,990.
Read our full review on the 2018 Nissan Leaf.
When it comes to automotive icons, the Volkswagen Golf undoubtedly takes a spot at the top of the pile. The German automaker offers a wide variety of model variants to suite a plethora of buyer needs, with the E-Golf slotting in as a practical, refined compact hatchback running on electrons alone. The first production E-Golf rolled out of the factory in 2015, and since then, it’s received several critical upgrades to the powertrain.
But before we get to that, let’s talk about the interior, which comes with 22.8 cubic feet of cargo room with the rear seats up. Put the rear bench down, and the hatchback can swallow up to 52.7 cubic feet of stuff.
When it comes to moving people, up to five passengers have a spot to sit, and passenger volume is rated at 93.5 cubic feet. Infotainment goodies include an 8.0-inch touchscreen on the center console, plus smartphone support via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There’s also a raft of driver convenience tech, such as parking assist, automatic emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control.
And although it uses an all-electric powertrain for motivation, the E-Golf still offers the same easy-driving characteristics as its gas-driven counterparts. To help motivate the front axle, Volkswagen gave the E-Golf a new battery in 2017, which means the hatch is now powered by a 35.8-kWh lithium-ion unit connected to a 100-kWh electric motor.
The setup comes with an EPA-estimated range of 125 miles, and produces 134 horsepower and 214 pound-feet of torque.
The top speed is rated at 93 mph, while the sprint from 0 to 60 mph takes about 8.5 seconds. To keep the packs topped off, owners can plug into a 120-volt source, which will trickle charge the E-Golf to full in about 26 hours. Alternatively, the E-Golf can plug into a 240-volt source to reach the same level of charge in less than six hours. A 7.2-kW charger is also included as standard. DC fast charging is optional, and will juice the E-Golf to 80 percent in just one hour. Pricing for the E-Golf starts at $30,495.
Read our full review of the 2017 Volkswagen E-Golf.
The Model 3 is looking better and better these days, with sales numbers skyrocketing around the country. Earlier in 2018, this entry-level electric actually managed to outsell the entirety of BMW’s vehicle lineup in a monthly comparison, which is no small feat, especially for a new battery-driven sedan. It all starts with the exterior styling, which harkens back to the more-expensive Model S. Additional S cues are found inside with the simple, streamlined cabin design, the large 15.0-inch infotainment touchscreen, and the generously proportioned Glass Roof above.
In terms of space, cargo room is rated 15 cubic feet, while seating is available for five passengers with 97 cubic feet of passenger room overall.
Standout features include five heated seats and dual climate control, while Tesla’s advanced autopilot system adds convenience to a very crash-worthy underlying structure.
Tesla is offering the Model 3 with a trio of powertrain options, starting with the Standard model, which can be had with either RWD or AWD. Specs on the Standard include upwards of 220 miles per charge, and a 0-to-60 mph time in the low-5-second range. Next up is the Long Range model, which also comes with either RWD or AWD, but ups the battery spec for 310 miles per charge and a 0-to-60 mph time in the high-4-second range. Output also jumps to 271 horsepower and 307 pound-feet of torque. Finally, there’s the Performance model, which matches the Long Range model with 310 miles per charge, but lowers the 0-to-60 mph time to a very impressive 3.5 seconds.
The Performance model comes exclusively with a dual-motor AWD powertrain setup. Plug the 3 into a 240-volt source, and you’ll accrue 30 to 37 miles per hour.
Buyers are also granted access to Tesla’s Supercharger network for even faster charge times, with 170 miles added in about 30 minutes. Pricing for the Tesla Model 3 starts at around $35,000, although availability for the Standard model won’t open up for another 3 to 6 months. If you want yours sooner, you’ll need to opt into the Long Range model (starting at $49,000) or Performance model (starting at $64,000), and delivery will take approximately 4 weeks.
Read our full review on the 2018 Tesla Model 3.
First revealed in 2016, the Hyundai Ioniq is the South Korean brand’s entry into the green and eco-conscious market, and includes options for a hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and all-electric powertrain. Beyond what’s under the hood, the Ioniq is more or less identical across the range, and comes with a compact five-door liftback body style.
Inside, there’s seating for up to five passengers and 96.2 cubic feet of passenger volume, while cargo room is rated at 23 cubic feet.
A 60/40 split for the rear bench helps expand on this, while total interior volume is rated at 119.2 cubic feet. On the infotainment front, the Ioniq Electric comes standard with a 7.0-inch infotainment screen, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support. Buyers have two models to choose from, including the base trim level and the Limited, with the latter adding in an 8.0-inch infotainment screen, leather seating, and Automatic Emergency Braking.
Providing the go is a lithium polymer battery pack rated at 28 kWh. With juice sent to a front-mounted electric motor, the Hyundai Ioniq Electric makes 118 horsepower and 215 pound-feet of torque.
Range is rated at 124 miles per charge, although a long range model with 200 miles per charge is expected soon.
Drivers can adjust the regenerative braking function to best suit their driving style, while plugging into a 120-volt source yields a full charge in 24 hours. Plug it into a 240-volt source, and you’ll fill top off the batteries in 4 hours. There’s also the option for DC quick charging, which will refill the battery in 30 minutes. Unfortunately, the Hyundai Ioniq Electric is only offered in California, but if you live in the Golden State and want one for your own, pricing starts at $29,500.
Read our full review on the 2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric.
Chevrolet is big in this space as well, most notably with its Bolt EV, a subcompact five-door hatchback that first hit production in 2016. With seating for up to five passengers and a total passenger volume rated at 94 cubic feet, the Bolt can transport up to 16.9 cubic feet of stuff in the rear hatch with the rear seats up.
Total interior volume is rated at a little less than 130 cubic feet.
When it comes to interior goodies, drivers will undoubtedly enjoy the 10.2-inch touchscreen, as well as the 8.0-inch digital gauge cluster. Final touches include standard stuff like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for seamless smartphone integration, while 4G LTE Wi-Fi is offered as an available option. Multiple trim levels are on hand for buyers who desire more equipment and nicer materials.
As for the powertrain spec, the Bolt EV mounts a 60-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which sends juice to a single electric motor, producing an impressive 200 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque in the process.
It’s enough to catapult the hatch from 0 to 60 mph in about 6.5 seconds, with top speed clocking in at 93 mph.
A single-speed transmission and differential sends power to the front wheels exclusively. All told, the Bolt will returns an EPA-estimated range-per-charge of 238 miles. Regenerative braking is on hand to keep the electrons flowing, while a plug-in session at a 120-volt outlet charges it to full in about 26 hours. Alternatively, you can plug it into a 240-volt source for a full charge in 8 hours. DC quick charging is another option, which Chevy offers for an extra $750, reducing the charge-up time to about 75 minutes. Pricing for the Chevrolet Bolt EV starts at $36,620.
Read our full review on the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV.
First introduced in 2013 for the 2014 model year, the BMW i3 takes its cues from Bimmer’s sporty hybrid cousin, the i8, and despite its tall, boxy, hatchback exterior, the i3 is undeniably infused with a dash of Bavarian-style techno gloss and premium feel. It’s also quite small, offering dimensions more in line with a traditional city car than your standard modern compact.
The i3 is made from high-tech materials as well, like carbon fiber-reinforced plastic, or CFRP.
Step inside, and you’ll find a rather handsome interior spec, with a nice variety of materials and trims to choose from. Apple CarPlay is optional. Just four passengers will find a spot to sit, although cargo volume is rated at a healthy 15.1 cubic feet with the seats up, and 36.9 cubic feet with the seats down.
Unsurprisingly, the i3 offers a novel powertrain layout to go with the funky exterior. Making it go is a single electric motor, which is mounted in the transverse rear position to drive the rear wheels exclusively through a single-speed transmission. Electrons are sourced from a lithium-ion battery pack, which BMW offers in two capacities, starting with a standard 170-horsepower configuration and topped by the 184-horsepower i3s. Torque is rated at 184 pound-feet for the standard model, and 199 pound-feet for the s.
Range per charge comes to 114 miles for the standard model, and 107 miles for the s.
Buyers can also get theirs with a two-cylinder “range extender” internal combustion engine, but that would make it a hybrid and ineligible for a spot on this list. Back to the pure EV’s, if you go for the optional BMW i Wallbox package, you’ll be able to charge yours at home with about 112 miles in less than 3 hours, which is fives times quicker than you get from a standard 120-volt plug-in session. DC quick charging is also available, and will net you a full battery pack in 45 minutes. Pricing for the BMW i3 starts at $44,450.
Read our full review on the 2018 BMW i3.
The Jaguar I-Pace stands out for a number of reasons. To begin, it’s one of the newer entries on this list, with Jag officially dropping the nameplate earlier in 2018. It’s also one of the few compact luxury SUV’s out there offering a fully electric powertrain, and it comes with a simply gorgeous exterior style courtesy of the very talented Ian Callum. Things are equally nice inside, where the cabin spec looks to match the good looks seen outside with sumptuous space for up to five passengers. As expected, the I-Pace comes loaded with nice luxury features, such as 4G Wi-Fi access, a heated steering wheel, and 18-way adjustable heated and cooled sports seats.
Cargo room is rated at 25.3 cubic feet with the rear bench in an upright position, and 51.95 cubic feet with the rear bench folded down.
Motivation is drawn from a dual-motor setup providing AWD grip, and comes complemented by adaptive suspension pieces. Each of the motors produce 150 kW, or about 197 horsepower, plus 257 pound-feet of torque, bringing the grand total to 395 horsepower and 513 pound-feet of torque. Electricity is sourced from a 90-kWh lithium-ion battery. All together, the powertrain provides up to 240 miles per charge and a 0-to-60 mph time of 4.7 seconds. Top speed electronically limited at 124 mph. More miles can be had by way of an AC wall box, which rated at 7 kW can charge the pack to 80 percent in 10 hours.
Meanwhile, a 240-volt source will charge the pack to full in about 13 hours.
Finally, DC quick charging will yield an 80-percent charge level in 45 minutes. Pricing for the Jaguar I-Pace starts at $69,500.
Read our full review on the 2019 Jaguar I-Pace.
Our Best All-Electric Pick For 2018
Looking over this list, its evident that electric vehicle technology has come a long way in the last few years.
With more range, more performance, more style, and more luxury at just about every turn, the segment is definitely heating up. No matter what body style you’re after, be it an SUV, sedan, or hatchback, there are plenty of options to choose from.
For us, though, there’s one very clear winner - the Tesla Model 3.
Combining sexy good looks, a minimalistic interior packed with luxury and tech, and some serious performance potential under the hood, not to mention a reasonable price tag, the Model 3 looks to do it all. Granted, pricing does go up significantly with the higher trims, but for the money, you get industry-leading range and speed, both of which make it well worth the money.
The only real issue as of this writing has to be Tesla’s delivery times. The California-based automaker is currently undergoing rapid expansion in terms of production and logistics, which combined with exploding demand, it makes for some rather lengthy wait times for all those eager customers out there. That said, if you’re patient, the Model 3 is the best all-around all-electric vehicle on the market right now.
Which begs the question - which of the above vehicles would you rather have?