Carlypso Buyer’s Guide: Electric Vehicle Edition

February 24, 2016

Are you all “charged up” about your next vehicle purchase? If so, you’ll probably want to have a look with us as we dive into some of today’s most popular Plug-In Hybrids and Full Electric Vehicles.

When choosing an EV, it can be easy to get excited over potential gas savings, but there is also the vehicle’s range to consider – both in all-electric mode, and in gas/hybrid mode (if available). Make sure and map out your priorities as well as your commute when choosing an EV and take into consideration things like where you can charge your car and whether it will be used everyday. Once you’ve got those basics sorted out, finding the right car is really about preference and what sort of amenities you want. With all this in mind, here areCarlypso’s favorites of the bunch right now.

Nissan Leaf

Type: All Electric

Range: 73-107 miles (based on battery option)

EPA: 115 MPGe

Charging: 7 hours on 120V or 4 hours on 240V (with 6.6kW onboard charger)

Model Years: 2010-Present

Nissan has sold more Leaf’s than any other electric vehicle, ever. No gasoline, no hybrid technology, nada. It’s got enough lithium-ion power though to make your laptop blush. The styling is polarizing, if not instantly recognizable, and certainly differentiates itself from the other green cars in the group. Nissan has in its own right created an icon in pioneering EV technology in the Leaf, and it’s done so in good stride, with a roomy interior and (mostly) plush materials. The trunk is spacious, thanks to the Leaf being designed around the batteries, and not being an already-manufactured design conformed to electric fittings. Popular amongst those who own them, the Leaf is an acquired taste still. Lengthy down time for charging isn’t a problem if you have a charging station at home and at work, but if you don’t, you probably will either want a second commuter available should batteries deplete themselves, or consider buying a hybrid car instead.

Tesla Model S

Type: All Electric

Range: 208-270 miles (based on battery option)

EPA: 89 MPGe

Charging: 60+ hours on 120V or 10-12 hours on 240V (single 10kW charger)

Model Years: 2012-Present

If you are shopping electric vehicles you already know about Tesla’s Model S. The Model S starts around $70,000 new but can balloon to over $100,000 for the P85D option with huge battery and all-wheel-drive. This puts the Model S in more luxury territory than economy, but Tesla continues to sell a good number of these and used models can now be had in the high $50Ks (still more expensive than any other vehicle on this list). The Model S is the most advanced electric vehicle on the market, with available all-wheel-drive and 85kWh battery pack that extends driving range to 270 miles. Tesla also incldues a variety of charging options to juice up that massive battery quickly. Availabel dual-chargers (20kW) increase charging to 58 miles of range per hour of charge (240V) or if you really want to step it up – use one of the 600 public Tesla Supercharger Stations available to replensish up to 170 miles within 30 minutes.

Toyota Prius Plug-In

Type: Plug-In Hybrid

Range: 11 (all electric) / 540 combined

EPA: 95+MPGe (all electric), or 51/49 MPG (hybrid)

Charging: 3 hours on 120V or 1.5 hours on 240V

Model Years: 2012-2015

Regardless of how you perceive the Prius, Toyota is on a roll with their benchmark green car. A longtime favorite, the Prius Plug-In continues in its family’s footsteps, allowing for serious hyper-miling, but now with a plug-in option to boot. You can average 50+ mpg as usual using gas-hybrid power, but after a full charge, you’re open to shooting for triple digit mileage – assuming you have a short commute. 11 miles is a very limited range, but the mileage you can achieve combined with the fact that the Prius offers more space (including legroom, headroom, and a full, unimpeded trunk) than Ford or Chevy’s offerings make the Prius the Plug-In of choice for many. Still, make sure the range works for you, and that you’re ok with being surrounded by the cheap plastics and hard-touch materials that Toyota is infamous for.

Chevrolet Volt

Type: Plug-In Hybrid

Range: 53 (all electric) / 420 combined

EPA: 106 MPGe (all electric), or 43/42 MPG (hybrid)

Charging: 13 hours on 120V or 4.5 hours on 240V

Model Years: 2010-Present

The Volt is Chevy’s entry into the eco-car segment, and a nicely appointed one too that comes without the conundrum of planning trips based around battery range. It’s a spritely drive, with nice acceleration and a 53-miles worth of all-electric range on a full charge. That range gets even more efficient as you continue since the gasoline motor actively recharges the battery while you drive to take you a combined total of 420 miles. Depending on where you live that’ll likely take you across the state and still leave you with room to pop over to the store!

Ford Fusion Energi

Type: Plug-In Hybrid

Range: 19 miles (all electric) / 550 combined

EPA: 100 MPGe (all electric) or 95/81 (hybrid)

Charging: 7 hours oh 120V or 2.5 hours on 240V

Model Years: 2010-Present

The Fusion is an eco-sedan for the whole family. It’s got all the technology, safety and comfort you’d find in a standard Fusion hybrid but with the added bonus of being able to plug it in to recharge when you want to. It will seat five comfortably, having a spacious backseat for three adults. Where it makes up for interior space though it does lack in its trunk, which is filled with batteries, taking up a good half of the trunk space. It also is notably more expensive than the standard hybrid model, so if you don’t absolutely need a plug in, the Hybrid may be a better option for you. Keep your eyes out for the 2015 model if you’re looking for one of your own, as it includes the rearview camera and rear parking sensors standard.

In the end, when all is plugged and charged, you’ll find a ton of reward in the savings you can get out of any of these EVs. In case the list above didn’t fit your tastes – don’t forget that today’s EV market accommodates more customers than every before. Don’t let cars like the Smart Electric Drive, Fiat 500E, or BMW i3 go under your radar. The market for EV cars is only growing, and that’s good news for everyone, as the infrastructure for charging technology expands. Finally, don’t forget that when shopping for an EV it’s not only about mileage and savings – find the car that you enjoy best, and you’ll be on your way to measuring your smiles per gallon in no time.