The best electric car on the market is the Tesla Model 3. It’s ahead of the competition in terms of powertrain technology, infotainment technology, and semi-autonomous driving features. It’s seriously quick off the line thanks to the instant torque generated by its electric drivetrain, and Tesla has finally solved the quality problems it experienced early in the car’s production run so it’s relatively well-made.
If the Model 3 isn’t for you, rest assured the list of great alternatives grows on a nearly monthly basis. Digital Trends travels all over the world to drive the newest electric cars, and we’ve selected the best performance EV as well as the best affordable EV, among other segment standouts.
Tesla Model 3
The most exciting vehicle on the market isn’t a million-dollar supercar, a broad-shouldered truck, or a seven-passenger SUV. No, the car the world can’t wait to drive is an all-electric sedan from a small automaker named Tesla.
Modestly stylish on the outside, luxurious on the inside, surprisingly fun to drive, and available with up to 310 miles of range, the Tesla Model 3 checks all the right boxes. But that’s just the beginning. Where the Model 3 truly impresses is its innovative convenience and safety features (including some of the industry’s best semi-autonomous driving aids) and future-proofed technology. Thanks to Tesla’s over-the-air updates, the Model 3 is always improving, and can be reconfigured according to your needs and wants — even after you buy the car.
Tesla may be experiencing the growing pains most mainstream automakers have long overcome, and the Model 3 hasn’t been immune from quality-related problems, but the tech startup has much to teach the automotive industry about how to build a compelling product.
Chevrolet Bolt EV
For years, motorists in the market for an electric car had to choose between a long range or an affordable price. Relatively affordable EVs like the original Nissan Leaf could be procured for under $30,000, but they needed recharging after about 80 miles, which is inconvenient at best. On the other end of the spectrum, luxury EVs like the Tesla Model S could top 300 miles between charges, but their price tags made them an unrealistic option for most.
In 2019, we finally have an electric car for the everyman: the Chevrolet Bolt. Boasting a range of up to 238 miles and priced under $40,000, the crossover-esque Bolt is reshaping the world of EVs by making them accessible to the masses. Consider the glass ceiling broken. Practicality and affordability are just two elements of a good car though, but thankfully, the Bolt has much more up its sleeve. While we prefer the more expensive Model 3, the Bolt is a fantastic alternative.
With a total output of 200 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque, the Bolt is quite zippy. Factor in the low center of gravity afforded by the floor-mounted battery pack, and you have a planted, stable, and surprisingly responsive people-carrier that never needs to visit the gas station. Add in a spacious and comfy cabin, a standard 10.2-inch touchscreen, and DC fast charging options, and you have an industry game-changer you’ll actually want to drive. It’s available in all 50 states, and there’s no waiting time to get one.
Nissan made waves when it introduced the original Leaf in 2010. The UFO-styled hatchback was the first affordable, mass-market electric car of the 21st century. The Japanese firm let it wither on the vine for too long, however, and it undeniably showed its age as it entered its seventh year on the market. We recently drove the brand-new, second-generation model and concluded it was worth the wait.
Not as wild-looking as its predecessor, the new Leaf offers 150 miles of range thanks to a 40-kWh battery pack that feeds a 147-hp electric motor. It still doesn’t qualify for the coveted “long-range” label but it’s a lot more usable than its predecessor. If that’s not enough, Nissan also offers a more expensive model called Leaf e+ with up to 226 miles of range thanks in part to a bigger, 62-kWh battery pack.
The redesign ups the Leaf’s tech quotient, too. It’s now available with ProPilot Assist, which is Nissan-speak for a suit of semi-autonomous driving aids that lets the Leaf accelerate, steer, and brake on its own when the right conditions are met. We tested the system and concluded it’s basically an adaptive cruise control system with added steering assist.