White electric vehicle being charged

Your Complete List of 2019’s Best Electric Cars

The electrification of cars is accelerating at a faster rate every year and with major manufacturers who finally seem to jump on the bandwagon, several new models are expected to be seen on our roads soon. The evolution of car batteries, as well as an adequate charging network, will greatly contribute to the rise in popularity of electric vehicles. To help you find which one is for you, here’s an overview of the best electric cars available on the market as of now and a quick sneak peek of what is coming in the automobile world in the near future.

Nissan LEAF

Starting at: $30,885
Powertrain: FWD
Engine: Electric 100% 110 kW
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Battery: 40 kWh
Power/Torque: 147hp / 236lb-ft
Battery Range: 243 km

Let’s start with the world’s best-selling electric car.

The Nissan LEAF was revamped last year with a renewed design, a more convenient cabin and a more powerful powertrain allowing for better efficiency.

This second generation of the LEAF released last year was disappointing with a somewhat insignificant increase in battery range. We expected more than 243 km from the pioneer manufacturer. Nevertheless, it’s still better than the Hyundai IONIQ (200 km) and the Volkswagen e-Golf (201 km).

Modest design

Nissan has bet on a sober look with less eccentric features in favor of a convenient design that will age well with time. Unfortunately, there is still no sunroof available this year. The LEAF has spacious inside also heaps enough legroom at both the front and back to be acceptable.

The dashboard controls are well defined and easy to use. Everything is accessible at will. In terms of finishes, there is still a lot of plastic trims, but overall, Nissan did a pretty good job.

The trunk is well-designed and ergonomic. Even though the LEAF fails to offer as much cargo space as the Bolt EV, but the opening of the trunk is wider which greatly helps when trying to load larger objects for example.

A pragmatic EV

Practical and economical, the 2019 LEAF remains a well-established car on the market. It will also make you smile every time you drive to go to work without having to stop to gas. Indeed, even if its battery range is fairly limited, studies have shown that the average number of kilometers traveled by car owners to get to work every day is 41 km back and forth. In these cases, 243 km of battery range is more than enough.

Efficient charging system

The 110 kW AC synchronous electric motor is powered by a 40 kWh lithium-ion battery. The power is then transferred to the wheels using a single-speed automatic transmission as most other EVs do. Some could say that a 110kW motor is not that much, but it reacts surprisingly well when solicited. It’s important to understand that the LEAF is lighter compared to other electric cars which help particularly when the vehicle responds under hard acceleration.

Nissan believes it offers the best of both worlds with their 2019 LEAF. Between the Hyundai IONIQ electric offer of a battery range of 200 km at a cheaper price and the more expensive Chevrolet Bolt with a range of 383 km, the Nissan LEAF is a solid competitor!

Its battery range is acceptable, it’s offered at a competitive starting price, it offers a pleasurable drive and an impressive driver assistance system. On the other hand, the absence of a sunroof is deceiving and the basic version of the LEAF is somewhat a little average.

Pros:

  • Good battery range
  • Competitive price
  • Improved performance

Cons:

  • No sunroof option
  • Non-telescopic steering column

Smart Fortwo EQ

Starting at: $29,050
Powertrain: RWD
Engine: Electric 100% 60 kW
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Battery: 17 kWh
Power/Torque: 81 hp / 118lb-ft
Battery Range: 93 km

Here’s the smallest electric car available in the United States. In fact, it’s the smallest car ever! The only disadvantage is that despite its ability to sneak into heavy traffic, the Fortwo’s battery range isn’t ideal. Undeniably, with only 93 km available between recharges, you better keep your outings as short as possible aboard the diminutive vehicle.

A creative manufacturer

Smart has always been a marginal but original sub-brand of Mercedes-Benz with their unique urban mobility solutions. For some time now, Smart has moved into a whole new era of full electrification of its vehicle line-up. Aesthetically, this important decision hasn’t caused any difference except the EQ emblems on the front grill and the trunk. However, even though the appearance stayed pretty much the same, the technology powering Smart cars has changed completely. Under the rear bonnet, the conventional engine gave way to a 60 kW electric motor.

Driving this small silent car down the road is just pure pleasure, especially since the external noise filtration system is extremely effective. After a few kilometers, one simply forgets that the car is actually electric. Only a small digital counter located in the center of the dashboard indicating the energy remaining in the battery reminds us that the fun will be over and you should look for a charging station.

With only 93 km of battery range, anxiety can be real with this one!

The future is electric

With the Smart EQ, nothing stands in the way of a real shift to EVs for urban car owners. Only the high price remains an inconvenient for smaller budgets. Aside from this slight nuisance, there is no reason not to succumb to the charm of the Smart EQ, a vehicle perfectly designed to become the ultimate electric city car.

Pros:

  • Perfect to drive in urban areas
  • Unique and customizable look
  • Amazing turning radius

Cons:

  • Unfavorable price-performance ratio
  • Could be more comfortable

Kia Niro EV

Starting at: $38,500
Powertrain: FWD
Engine: Electric 100% 170kW
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Battery: 64 kWh
Power/Torque: 201 hp / 291 lb-ft
Battery Range: 384 km

The fully electric version of the compact Kia crossover is powered by a 201 hp electric motor, which is in turn driven by a 64 kWh lithium-ion battery pack and can travel a distance of nearly 400 kilometers with a single charge. In comparison, the Chevrolet Bolt EV is equipped with a 60 kWh battery while the Nissan LEAF is fitted with a smaller 40 kWh unit.

The Niro is somehow the Kia equivalent of the Hyundai IONIQ model since it is also available as a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid and, as of summer 2019, as a 100% electric vehicle.

On a level 2 charging station, the 2019 Kia Niro EV can be fully charged in approximately 9.5 hours, while a fast-charging station would replenish the battery to 80% in only 75 minutes. Not bad at all.

To each his driving mode

Four driving modes are offered with the Niro EV, including Eco, Normal, Sport and Eco +, which modify the regenerative braking aggressiveness and the intensity of the air conditioning system to maximize energy efficiency. Moreover, one can manually set the resistance of the regenerative braking using pallets conveniently placed behind the steering wheel.

Enough entertainment for everyone

Standard equipment in the basic model includes a seven-inch touch-screen multimedia system, a six-speaker audio system, Apple CarPlay integration, and Android Auto, as well as a wireless charging zone for your cell phone. The Premium model, on the other hand, features an eight-inch touch screen, eight-speaker Harman/Kardon audio system, a navigation system, sunroof, heated steering wheel, parking sonar and LED headlamps.

Pros:

  • Lots of cargo space
  • Just enough power to be fun to drive
  • Effective in every way

Cons:

  • Very aggressive braking
  • Single pedal driving not available

Volkswagen e-Golf

Starting at: $31,895
Powertrain: FWD
Engine: Electric 100% 100kW
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Battery: 35.8kWh
Power/Torque: 134 hp / 213 lb-ft
Battery Range: 201 km

Volkswagen has always done things a little differently than most other manufacturers. Instead of imitating Chevrolet or Nissan and developing an electric car based on a brand new model, the German manufacturer has decided to design and create a 100% electric variant of its most popular model, the Golf.

And unless you’re a real VW connoisseur, it’s super easy to confuse this EV variant with any other fuel-powered Golf. Electric cars have often been criticized for being too eccentric or futuristic. Volkswagen has clearly understood the message.

Although it’s 100% electric, the e-Golf doesn’t shout it out loud. Aside from the more aerodynamic wheels and a slightly different front bumper, the e-Golf is a Volkswagen like any others.

Of course, once inside, the battery range gauge on the dashboard is there to quickly remind us that we are not sitting in a regular vehicle.

The almighty battery range

With a range of up to 201 kilometers, Volkswagen’s only electric model is not the worst in its class, but it’s not at the top either. The new Nissan Leaf, despite being priced roughly the same, offers 40 km more in total range. If you decide to take the all-American route with the Chevrolet Bolt, you’ll get even more bang for your bucks with an impressive range of 383 km. Both look a lot more like cars from the future and less like a normal sporty hatchback like we’ve been used to drive for the last 20 years, though.

Who said Evs were boring?

I’m still failing to see why but many people blame electric vehicles for being boring. And quite frankly, it’s the opposite.

Yes, the first Honda Insight and Toyota Prius were horrible to drive and to look at, but things have changed. And for the best.

Thanks to the instantly available torque and single-speed transmissions, most electric cars are surprisingly fun to drive. Obviously, the e-Golf doesn’t have the same street cred as the Golf R, but only a select number of lucky car owners will ever be able to get their hands on an R model anyway. Buying a car based on your needs and your budget is often a smarter choice than to go for the flashy sports model. The e-Golf surely won’t make as many heads turn as the Golf R but you’ll thank us when all your friends need to stop at the gas station and you can keep on driving.

Keep in mind that the e-Golf is equipped with the same sports suspension that has made European cars famous and that it is just as pleasant to drive than a standard Golf.

Not an affordable electric car

Unfortunately, at a base price of $31,895, buying an EV like the e-Golf is still hard to justify. You won’t have to pay for gas anymore but knowing that a regular Golf starts at $21,845 with an average fuel consumption of 8.0 L/100 km, you’ll still have to drive a lot before you can justify the purchase of an e-Golf. At this point, it’s more of an environmentally friendly choice than a financial one.

Pros:

  • Practical and ergonomic interior
  • Efficient motorization
  • Surprising handling for an electric car
  • Quality interior finish

Cons:

  • The battery doesn’t live up to its competitors
  • More expensive than its competitors
  • Very limited availability

Chevrolet Bolt

Starting at: $36,620
Powertrain: FWD
Engine: Electric 100% 150 kW
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Battery: 60 kWh
Power/Torque: 200 hp / 266lb-ft
Battery Range: 383 km

Since its debut in 2017, the Chevrolet Bolt has received many thumbs up from the automotive press – although sales were a little slow to take off, especially when compared to the Nissan LEAF, a definitive favorite in the electric car market. It’s smaller than most other EVs and has a less refined interior, but on the other hand, its battery range is greater.

Performance first

The Bolt offers a longer battery life than their competitors and the car is equipped with an electrical motor allowing for very impressive accelerations. The battery pack is placed under the floor of the vehicle which gives the car a very low center of gravity and a more than satisfactory handling.

The flip side with such a philosophy is that the interior is rather sparse, minimalist and mostly made of hard plastic. That said, the seats – and the interior as a whole – is far from uncomfortable although it would have benefited from a slightly more refined design.

While the interior is quite plain, it offers all the basic features that consumers demand. There is the integration of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, accessible via the 10.2-inch touch screen, as well as the contactless key and push-button ignition. A heated steering wheel and seats are even available as options!

Battery range

The 2019 Chevy Bolt offers drivers the same official battery range as the previous model, a more than reasonable 383 km. Regarding this figure, it should be noted that this is an optimal number provided by the manufacturer. In real driving conditions, for example, when temperatures are barely above the freezing point, the range will obviously be lower. Meanwhile, the regenerative braking system of the car works well and helps to extend the battery range when the Bolt is driven in the city.

Price

One must admit that even with all the feature it’s offering, $36,620 is a good amount of money for what is still a small vehicle. However, it is important to remember that the Bolt qualifies for significant tax reductions in both the United States and Canada. Taking into account the money you’ll save on fuel and maintenance over a period of, let’s say, five years, you simply can’t go wrong with this one.

Pros:

  • Spacious interior
  • Impressive acceleration for a small EV
  • Better battery range than most

Cons:

  • Low-quality interior materials
  • Expensive options

Hyundai Kona Electric

Starting at: $36,950
Powertrain: FWD
Engine: Electric 100% 150kW
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Battery: 64 kWh
Power/Torque: 201 hp / 290lb-ft
Battery Range: 400km

The 100% electric version of Hyundai’s small SUV debuts in 2019 with an electric powertrain of 201 horsepower and an estimated range of 400 kilometers on a single charge. Not bad at all.

At the same time, the Kona Electric, despite its urban adventurer look, doesn’t come equipped with a four-wheel-drive powertrain as it is the case with other versions of the gasoline-powered Kona, which is disappointing, to say the least. Also, the electric motor is positioned between the front wheels and there’s no second motor on the rear wheels to increase the total available power as with some more prestigious electric models. Keep in mind that the Kona Electric is still aimed at a wider audience than the Tesla Model S or even the Jaguar I-Pace for example.

It’s more expensive than the Kona 1.6T, but it’s also unexpectedly more powerful. With 201 hp and a torque of 290 lb-ft, the Kona Electric doesn’t fear accelerations or even burnt rubber. The Kona Electric is perfect for burnouts if you feel like it, unlike most other EVs.

A versatile vehicle

The lithium-ion batteries of the Kona Electric come with a capacity of 64 kWh and a theoretical autonomy of 400 km, a statistic which, as mentioned earlier, is greatly reduced in cold weather. Fortunately, when the weather is clement enough, the distance between recharges is more than satisfactory.

As is the case with many electric vehicles on the market, several driving modes are offered to meet the needs of different drivers. Eco mode is of course designed to reduce the performance of the vehicle and extend its battery range as much as possible. Upon starting, Normal mode is selected by default and is suitable for most situations.

Pros:

  • Nice to drive
  • More than satisfactory battery range

Cons:

  • Questionable appearance
  • Limited cargo space
  • Relatively expensive

The luxury EV class

Beyond these models, the next level of electric cars is downright reserved for those enjoying the high-life and a bigger budget with the other two models of Tesla, the Jaguar I-PACE, as well as highly awaited models like the Audi e-Tron, the Mercedes-Benz EQC, and the Porsche Taycan just to name a few. Here is a little taste of what is coming in the world of luxury EVs in a not so distant future.

Audi E-Tron

Starting at: $75,795
Powertrain: Quattro AWD
Engine: Two 100% electric motors 300kW
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Battery: 95 kWh
Power/Torque: 402hp / 490lb-ft
Battery Range: 328 km

Tesla will have to face some serious competition over the next few years in the field of luxury electric vehicles. With the E-Tron, Audi wanted to create a beautiful electric car, not a car with only the battery life as a selling point. Once it’s over-boost mode is engaged, the E-Tron produces a notable 402 hp and 490 lb-ft of torque.

Also worth mentioning, Audi has partnered with Electrify America to expand its network of 150 kW and 350 kW charging stations and offers E-Tron US owners free recharges for up to one year after purchase.

Mercedes EQ C 400 4MATIC

Starting at: around $80,000
Powertrain: AWD
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Battery: 80 kWh
Power/Torque: 402 hp / 564 lb-ft
Battery Range: 354 km

In addition to the Tesla Model X, the Mercedes EQ C is also a strong competitor to the Audi E-Tron. The EQ C is the first model of the EQ family. It was unveiled in Stockholm, Sweden on September 4, 2018, and it’s scheduled for release in 2019.

The vehicle is equipped with two electric motors, one on the front axle and one on the rear axle. This all-wheel-drive configuration delivers nothing less than 402 horsepower and 564 lb-ft of torque. The battery is mounted on the floor to lower the center of gravity and has an estimated range of 450 km.

Not bad at all but definitely not for every budget!

Porsche Taycan Turbo

Starting at: over $130,000
Powertrain: AWD
Engine: Two 100% Electric Motors 160kW (front) 300 kW (rear)
Battery: 96 kWh
Power/Torque: 215 hp / 221 lb-ft (front), 402 hp / 405 lb-ft (rear)
Battery Range: 430 km

Inspired by the Mission E concept, the Taycan Porsche should be available in several variants and will compete with other vehicles in the EV luxury category, including the Tesla Model S.

If the final design is still a mystery, the engine of the Porsche Taycan Turbo is not a surprise anymore. It’s now well-know in the automotive world that the sedan will carry a 100% electric powertrain developing up to 600 hp! Performances like that should enable the Taycan to compete with the Tesla Model S, while its autonomy should reach around 500 km.

According to the first data revealed by the manufacturer, only four minutes will be necessary to recover 100 km thanks to fast charging. In total, no less than 80% of the autonomy could be found in just a quarter of an hour.

More than enough to make it an instant favorite of car enthusiasts.

About Jean-Claude Landry

Jean-Claude has been a certified auto mechanic for the last 15 years, working for various car dealers and specialized repair shops. He turned towards blogging about cars and EVs in the hope of helping and inspiring the next generation of automotive technicians. He also loves cats, Johnny Cash and Subarus.

One comment

  1. Really, not even one Tesla makes your list.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *