Four Normal-Looking Electric Cars Worth Considering
The 2013 Nissan LEAF might be the world’s best-selling electric car, but it’s hardly what you’d call a regular-looking car. In fact, with its bulbous headlights and accentuated rear, the LEAF—just like the Mitsubishi i and Toyota Prius—screams for attention as an eco-mobile.
Many electric car drivers—including myself—love the LEAF’s unconventional design. But if you want to drive an electric car that looks "normal" however, consider these four all-electric cars that might even be mistaken for their gas-powered siblings.
2013 Ford Focus EV
Based on the same chassis and body as Ford’s gasoline Focus family, the 2013 Ford Focus EV looks like any other Focus on the road today. Only a few subtle badges, a slightly different nose grille, and a charge port on the nearside front fender give the game away. Inside, there’s the same five-seat interior, easy-to-use display and Ford Sync system.
Availability: EV-Certified Ford Dealers across the U.S.
Price: $39,995 MRSP, before incentives.
Pros: The Focus Electric has a 6.6 kilowatt on-board charger, allowing it to fully refuel in as little as four hours using a compatible Level 2 charging station. It also has a powerful motor, developing 107 kilowatts versus the LEAF’s 80 kilowatts.
Cons: The Focus EV’s battery pack is located behind the rear seats under the load bay floor, resulting in an impractically small trunk for anyone with a young family or regular load-carrying duties. While the Ford Focus EV is nominally available nationwide, only 900 Ford dealers are certified to sell it, meaning you may find yourself searching long and hard for one if you’re out of the usual EV-friendly areas.
2013 Toyota Rav4 EV
Built around the previous-generation Toyota RAV4 Crossover SUV, the 2013 model is the most practical EV on the market today. With seating for five, plus plenty of luggage space, it is suited for everything from the daily commute to weekend getaways. Only its unique grille and EV badge reveals that it’s an electric car, although you’ll find the interior a little different to the gasoline model thanks to a Tesla-engineered console.
Availability: Selected Toyota dealers in parts of California
Price: $49,800 MSRP, before incentives. (Big manufacturer discounts available at some dealerships.)
Pros: You’ll love the Tesla-engineered battery pack, drivetrain and charging system, giving the 2013 RAV4 EV impressive performance for a crossover SUV. In addition, the 10 kilowatt on-board charger makes recharging fast at compatible Level 2 charging stations, and an EPA-approved range of 103 miles.
Cons: Aside from the cost, the Toyota RAV4 EV is only available in California, although some customers have managed to buy one to sneak out-of-state. It will only be built in limited numbers to satisfy California’s zero emissions mandate, a law requiring automakers to manufacture and produce a certain percentage of zero emission cars in California.
2013 Honda Fit EV
Fun, funky and just as regular-looking as the gasoline Honda Fit, the small EV is a spitting image of Honda’s clever subcompact. Available in one color—a special electric blue—the Honda Fit is a fun drive. There’s seating for five, a powerful 92 kW motor, borrowed from the Clarity FCX fuel cell car, and a neat key fob which tells you the battery's state of charge.
Availability: Select West Coast and East Coast markets
Price: $389/month (LEASE ONLY).
Pros: The Honda Fit EV gives a sporty driving experience, and a comfortable, surprisingly spacious interior. Overall, it feels far more sprightly than the LEAF, and looks more conventional too.
Cons: Even with the battery pack located under the floor, the Fit EV doesn’t have quite the same luggage capacity as the gasoline Fit. The battery pack also means no fold-up rear seats, although they fold down just fine.
2013 Fiat 500e
If you like your fun in quart-sized measures, then the Fiat 500e is for you. Wearing the same stylish clothes as the gasoline Fiat 500, the electric 500e is Chrysler-Fiat’s answer to California’s zero emissions mandate. Despite Fiat’s reluctance to make the 500e in the first place, the Fiat 500e is one of the best EVs on the market today in terms of style, performance, and driving pleasure.
Availability: California only for now.
Price: $31,800 before incentives, not including delivery, or lease for $199 per month with $999 down.
Pros: The Fiat 500’s drivability is second to none, plus you’ll love being able to own an all-electric Fiat on lease for the same price as the gasoline version. In addition, rental of a gasoline car is included in the ownership package, meaning you’ll never get range anxiety on that long-distance trip.
Cons: Like the gasoine Fiat 500, the Fiat 500e is a micro-car, without much cargo room.
With limited availability, you may also find it tough to get your hands on one—at least for now.
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