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Top 5 electric cars (summer 2013)In this episode of Top 5, Brian Cooley rounds up his favorite electric cars.
Not long ago, if you owned an electric vehicle, you were probably retired, lived in Florida. Not anymore. I'm Brian Cooley with the top five electric vehicles that are ready for primetime. These are EVs from major makers that are all sold in the U.S. Honestly, that mostly means California where the new law requires carmakers sell a certain number of EVs, but that said, these are all well sorted and poised for mainstream success or at least a good shot at it. No golf carts here and the prices I quote are with destination charge but before federal and state tax credits because we're not a tax website. We're gonna rank these guys by their range on a charge and their miles per gallon equivalent that's kind of the MPG rating for an electric car. I would also tell you where they fit on the price scale. Let's go. Number five, the Toyota RAV4 electric. Range, 103 miles, MPGe 76, prices at a little over 50 grand base. Now, this is the new RAV4 electric, not to be confused with that kinda warmed-over one that they did original. It's the only crossover on our list by the way and it's a real fresh entrant on the market. It impresses us as the only non-Tesla product that has a Tesla powertrain. Nice pedigree. Handles well and that range of three digits over 100 miles is the only time you're gonna see that until we get all the way to number one. Especially impressive considering this is also the tallest thing on our list. Number four, the Fiat 500e. Range of 87 miles, MPGe 116, prices at a little over 32 grand. Now, this recent entrant comes in with, as you saw, a great numbers on range, MPGe, and price, a nice trifecta. It's more refined, better handling, and more fun to drive than a standard Fiat 500. Charge time is just four hours or so if you've got a 240 outlet, but I slot the Fiat at number four because, on a 110 outlet, the charge time is glacial, 24 hours for a full battery charge. You'll have taken the bus to a Ford or Nissan dealer and bought something else by then. It's also a little too small for most Americans to take seriously and the same still goes with the Fiat brand at this point. Number three, the Ford Focus electric. Range 76 miles, MPGe 105, prices out just under 40. Now, pushing 40 grand makes you say, "For a Focus?" but the car looks great. It's teched up as Fords often are and leverages the underpinning of what is already a great conventional compact car. Plus, it's got a very sporty demeanor along with its green one and they can do a real fast charge. Full charge in three hours and change on a 240 outlet which can mean hours less on the [unk] than its competitors, the chief one being. Number two, the Nissan Leaf. Range 73 miles, MPGe 115, now pricing at under 30 grand. That's part of why I swapped out the Leaf and the Focus on this list since the last time we did it because of a massive price cut that now makes the Leaf the cheapest EV that seats five. Now, the Leaf still looks like Barney. It's biased toward a smooth ride more than a sporting one and it charges more slowly on 240 than that Focus, but the new lower price, lower cost to charge and run and at least the availability of a 480-volt charge, if you can find one, are all compelling to this market. Before I get to number one, I can tell you it will not be the Chevy Volt or the Fisker Karma. As important of electrified cars as they are, they aren't strictly electric cars. They are range extenders. That's a separate list once there are five to compare. On the next time we do this rundown, the pending Chevy Spark EV may bump somebody off of it. Our number one electric car, hands down, is the Tesla Model S. Range 208 miles, MPGe 89, base price, though, a little over 70 grand. Now, it's the first EV to win car of the year. It's also like the highest rated car Consumer Reports has ever looked at. It looks hot, goes like hell, has great range, and you can even option that range up to 265 miles. Its 17-inch central cabin screen rewrites the rules of cabin tech. On the other hand, the former base model which got about 100 and something miles of range was just killed off. So, now, you start at over 70 grand, and if you want the 265-mile range, you start at a little over 80 grand and up. Still, this car doesn't just accomplish an electric conversion, it converted the market to be ready for an electric car that really aspires. We cover electric and electrified car innovations all the time at cnetoncars.com. I'm Brian Cooley. Thanks for watching.