In life, there are a number of things that can be counted on, among them death, taxes, and wide fluctuations in fuel prices. Currently, gasoline and diesel prices may be low, but sooner or later, they’ll spike, sending more consumers to an ever-growing field of electric vehicle (EV) options.
Although EVs and plug-in hybrids (PHEV) still comprise less than 2% of the overall market for passenger vehicles in the United States, their volume has grown dramatically over the past few years. As places like California, Canada, and the European Union compel manufacturers to ratchet up their EV game, expect to see a more robust list of options in the not-too-distant future.
Still, there are a number of solid entries already available. Aside from lower energy bills, federal and state tax incentives offered to stimulate growth among eco-conscious vehicle models are making EVs even more enticing.
Read on to discover the best EVs with a starting price below $60,000, listed below in alphabetical order.
2019 BMW i3
It may be more expensive than other EVs of similar capability, but the BMW i3 offers truly unique styling and fun driving characteristics that are hard to beat. The interior, which features a modern open layout, is awash with futuristic-looking carbon fiber and eco-friendly bamboo. Plus, there is plenty of advanced technology on board.
According to the EPA, the i3 is good for 113 MPGe, on average, and thanks to its new and more powerful battery, has a range of 153 miles between charges. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the 2019 BMW i3 top marks in crash testing, but only an “Acceptable” rating for the vehicle’s seats and headrests. The federal government has not yet rated the i3’s crashworthiness.
Pricing starts at $45,445 for the i3 Deka World trim, including the $995 destination charge but not including the $7,500 federal tax credit or state incentives and rebates.
2019 Chevrolet Bolt EV
When the Chevy Bolt EV went on sale, it brought long-distance electric driving range to the masses. The Bolt will go 238 miles between charges, putting it far ahead of most other relatively inexpensive EVs, though Hyundai and Kia are bringing out new models that do even better for about the same price.
This car is fairly fun to drive and features a futuristic interior with seating for four people. The EPA average efficiency rating for the 2019 Chevy Bolt is an impressive 119 MPGe. In crash testing, the IIHS found that the Bolt performed well, but the safety organization found the car’s headlights to be sub-par, assigning a “Poor” rating in that category. The Bolt received a 5-star (out of 5) overall safety rating from the federal government.
Pricing starts at $37,495 for the LT trim, including the $875 destination charge but not including a $7,500 federal tax credit or state incentives and rebates.
2019 Honda Clarity Electric
The Clarity Electric is one of a trio of eco-friendly vehicles offered by Honda under the same nameplate. The others are a plug-in hybrid and a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle. Roomy and easy to drive, the Clarity Electric has a shorter range than some of its competitors, and of the three versions of the Clarity the EV variant offers less capability and value than the PHEV or the fuel cell version.
The Clarity Electric has a 114-MPGe EPA average efficiency rating and a paltry 89-mile driving range. Neither the IIHS nor the federal government has released crash test results for it.
Honda doesn’t sell the Clarity Electric; you must lease this car for 36 months. The payments are $199 per month plus tax, fees, and other charges, and that assumes a down payment of $1,799 when you sign the paperwork.
2019 Hyundai Ioniq Electric
One of another triplet of eco models comes from Hyundai, under the Ioniq nameplate. Alongside the Ioniq Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid models, the Ioniq Electric offers outstanding value and a 124-mile range, according to the EPA. Although it can’t match the range of the Nissan Leaf or Chevrolet Bolt EV, the Ioniq Electric is also less expensive than those competitors.
The 2019 Ioniq Electric has a 136 MPGe average efficiency rating, according to the EPA. Although the PHEV version of the Ioniq is an IIHS “Top Safety Pick,” the EV version has not yet been rated, either by the IIHS or the federal government.
Pricing starts at $30,700 for the standard trim, including the $885 destination charge but not including $7,500 federal tax credit or state incentives and rebates.
2019 Hyundai Kona Electric
Hyundai is getting serious about electric cars. The new 2019 Kona Electric offers a whopping 258 miles of estimated driving range on a single charge, exceeding what the Chevrolet Bolt EV and the more powerful Nissan Leaf e+. A standard quicker charger provides an 80-percent charge in less than an hour, according to Hyundai.
Arriving in the spring of 2019, for a price that is yet to be determined, the Kona Electric looks a little different from a standard Kona, inside and out. Five people will fit, but four are likely to be happier. Even then, the back seat is pretty cramped. Cargo space behind the rear seat matches the gas-fueled Kona at 19.2 cu.-ft.
With 201 horsepower and 291 lb.-ft. of torque, the Kona Electric is a quick little bugger, zapping effortlessly away from intersections. The EPA says it gets 120 MPGe in combined driving, too. It comes in SEL, Limited, and Ultimate trim levels, and deserves a place on your consideration list.
2019 Kia Niro EV
With the debut of the Kia Niro EV, this family of fuel-efficient crossovers is complete. Matching the Chevy Bolt EV in terms of range, and slightly besting the new and more powerful version of the Nissan Leaf, the Niro EV blends style, space, and utility in one of the most practical electric cars yet.
Basically, it has the same electric drive system as its corporate cousin, the Hyundai Kona Electric, making 201 horsepower and 291 lb.-ft. of torque. Here, though, range amounts to 239 miles, average efficiency measures 112 MPGe according to the EPA, and it takes longer to get an 80-percent recharge using the standard DC fast charging port at 75 minutes. Cargo space is about the same, though, with 18.5 cu.-ft behind the rear seat and a maximum of 53 cu.-ft. with the back seat folded down.
Available in two trim levels – EX and EX Premium – the Niro EV arrives early in 2019.
2019 Kia Soul EV
The soul of a Soul is its hip, boxy styling. The EV version ratchets its funky cachet up a notch further with a futuristic blank grille panel. Of course, the main benefit of boxiness where the Soul is concerned come in the form of generous interior and cargo space, of which there is plenty. Acceleration is a bit sluggish compared to other electric cars, but like most EVs the Soul’s quiet operation is a big selling point.
The Soul EV has a 108-MPGe EPA average efficiency rating, as well as a 111-mile range. The gasoline-powered model of the Soul is an IIHS “Top Safety Pick,” but the EV version, with its greater weight, has not yet been rated for crashworthiness by the IIHS or the federal government.
Pricing starts at $34,945 for the standard trim, including the $995 destination charge but not including the $7,500 federal tax credit or state incentives and rebates. A redesigned Soul EV arrives for 2020, with improved styling, technology, and driving range.
2019 Nissan Leaf
One of the first pure EVs to hit the U.S. market, the Leaf has also come a long way since its debut. With its standard 150-mile range battery and a newly available 226-mile range upgrade, as well as its vastly improved styling, it’s hard to beat at its price. Plus, it was the recipient of the 2018 World Green Car Award. That has to count for something.
The standard Leaf has a 112-MPGe EPA average efficiency rating. The IIHS hasn’t yet completed its full battery of crash tests, but the Leaf received top marks in the ones that have been conducted. The federal government has not yet rated the crashworthiness of the latest-generation Leaf.
Pricing starts at $30,875 for the S trim, including the $885 destination charge but not including the $7,500 federal tax credit or state incentives and rebates.
2019 Tesla Model 3
Long awaited and much talked about, the Tesla Model 3 crescendoed onto the EV scene last year with a now-standard Tesla-style backup of advance orders. With its cutting-edge software system and clutter-free interior, the Model 3 has become an instant favorite among EV aficionados, even if its affordable $35,000 price tag never materialized.
Efficiency and range vary based on options, with rear-wheel-drive, all-wheel-drive, and extended-range models available. The Mid-Range model has a robust 260-mile range and a 123-MPGe EPA average fuel-economy rating (based on 2018 ratings). The IIHS has awarded top marks to the Model 3’s crash-prevention features but has not yet performed any actual crash tests. The rear-wheel-drive version of last year’s Model 3 got a 5-star (out of 5) overall safety rating from the federal government.
Pricing starts at $45,200 for the Mid-Range rear-wheel-drive version, including the $1,200 destination charge but not including federal or state tax incentives and rebates. Because Tesla has sold so many electric cars, the company has started phasing out the federal tax credit, which is $3,750 through the end of June, and $1,875 from July 1, 2019 through the end of the year.
2019 Volkswagen e-Golf
It may not have the rabid enthusiast following of the sporty Golf GTI or Golf R, but Volkswagen’s e-Golf offers reasonable pricing and a 125-mile range. Combine this with its fun driving characteristics, European flair, and hatchback utility, and you’ve got an impressive little EV.
The e-Golf has an average EPA efficiency rating of 119 MPGe. Neither the federal government nor the IIHS has rated the e-Golf for crashworthiness. This year, the SE trim gains standard DC Fast Charging, while the SEL adds a bunch of standard driver assist and collision avoidance technology.
Pricing starts at $32,790 for the SE trim, including the $895 destination charge but not including the $7,500 federal tax credit or state incentives and rebates.