The Chevy Bolt.
The age of the electric car is closer than you think. This is what the future of driving looks like today
CASEY WILLIAMS | Auto Reviewer
We are living in an increasingly electrified automotive world. GM plans to offer 20 electric vehicles by 2023. Ford expects to offer a 300-mile crossover EV, tentatively called Model E, by 2020. All of Aston Martin’s sexy sleighs will be electrified by the mid-2020s. Volvo’s going there by 2020. The future is electric, but these specimens of modernity are here today.
Chevy Bolt. After an initial roll-out in California earlier this year, the crazy-cool Bolt is now available nationwide. Check its stats: 238 miles all-electric range and 200 horsepower for effortless acceleration. Tall wagon styling gives a look of strength. Available heated seats front/rear, heated steering wheel, Bose audio, navigation, forward collision mitigation braking and lane-keep-assist are all on the menu. Pre-condition the cabin from your smartphone. The Bolt is not just “OK for an electric car;” it’s brilliant because it’s an electric car.
|Base price (incl. credit): $29,995.
Nissan Leaf. All new for 2018, it’s still recognizably a Leaf, but a wider stance and sleeker bod is more muscular. The roomy interior can be equipped with Bose audio, adaptive cruise, blind spot warning and rear cross traffic alert. That’s all great, but the Leaf only sports a 150 mile range — far short of the 200-plus miles that’s becoming expected. Nissan promises a more powerful version with higher battery capacity for 2019. And, we expect a sporty NISMO edition to debut at the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show. Let’s see if the wind blows it in a better direction.
Base price: $29,990.
Tesla Model 3. The sexy smaller Tesla is inciting an Apple-like frenzy. What’s the big deal? The base model offers 220 miles of electric range while a battery-fortified version travels 310 miles per charge. It can be replenished at the rate of 30 miles/hour on 240v or 130 miles in 30 minutes with Tesla’s Supercharger. The dashboard is dominated by a 15-in. tablet-like touchscreen. Standard navigation, Wi-Fi, backup camera and automatic emergency braking accompany options like open pore wood trim and glass roof. Add Autopilot with full self-driving capability for $8,000.
Base price: $35,000.
Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. This beautifully-sculpted people-mover is also one of the most advanced vehicles rolling. Fully charged, the mini-van travels 33 miles on electricity before the 287 horsepower 3.6-liter V6 engine fires up. Re-charge in 2 hours on 240v and expect 84-MPGe in city driving. Pre-condition the inside from your smartphone. The contrasting-color trim can be dressed with soft leather seats, panoramic sunroof, twin rear seat-mounted video screens and built-in vacuum. Chrysler’s infotainment touchscreen is about the world’s easiest to use.
Base price: $41,995.
Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In. Filling Hyundai’s electrified closet is the new plug-in hybrid that depletes its 27 miles all-electric range before the 1.6-liter gasoline engine fires up to complete the journey — up to 650 total miles. Unlike most hybrids, the Ioniq keeps a sporty feel through its 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Beyond the future-tech bodywork and LED headlights, the car is available with leather seats, lane departure warning and lane-keep assist. If you prefer crossovers, a plug-in version of the similar Kia Niro arrives late this year.
Base price (est): $26,000.
Smart ForTwo. Mercedes’ microcar brand no longer sells gas-powered cars in the U.S. Most of you won’t care, but the Smart EV was updated for 2018 and remains a part of its parent’s zero emissions portfolio. Compared to others, it’s a little light in the battery box, providing just 80 horsepower for 58 miles range. Expect 0-60 mph in 11.4s and an 81 mph top speed. Get it as a coupe or a cabrio. As with all Smarts, one buys the EV for a fashion statement or for tight maneuvering, not for its price or performance.
Base price: $25,290.
Ford Fusion Energi. Not all electrified vehicles flaunt the excessive size of their ranges. Some like to measure in Miles per Gallon Equivalent (MPGe). In Ford-speak, “Energi” means plug-in, but this is a hybrid with a gasoline engine and batteries that charge in 2.5 hours (240v). Fully topped, the car achieves 104/91-MPGe city/hwy. Unlike most electrics, the Fusion Energi slips through carparks unnoticed with its handsome European styling. Adaptive cruise with stop-and-go functionality, pedestrian avoidance system and automatic parallel and perpendicular parking enhance technology.
Base price: $31,305.
Mercedes-Benz C350e. This is one of the stealthiest hybrids you’ll ever meet given its traditional Mercedes styling. Charge it up in 2.5 hours (240v) to travel 20 miles without disturbing dead dinos. After that, the turbocharged 4-cylinder engine wakes up to carry on. Given a combined 275 horsepower, it shouldn’t surprise you the ‘Benz of hybrids scoots from 0-60 mph in just 5.8 seconds and to 130 mph. An air suspension, full suite of crash avoidance systems and all of the luxury you expect from a Mercedes seals the deal.
Base price: $47,900.