5 Best Affordable Electric Cars

  • Christian Wardlaw has 25 years of experience serving in automotive editorial leadership roles with Autobytel, Edmunds, J.D. Power, and Tribune Publishing. A married father of four, Chris is based in the Los Angeles suburbs and believes fuel cell electric vehicles will power the future.

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This is not a list of the most affordable electric cars. Rather, it is a list of the best affordable electric cars, taking into account variables other than price. Otherwise, you’d see the canceled Smart EQ ForTwo on it.

How did we define best? Finalists had to:

  • Cost less than $35,000 after applying the federal tax credit*
  • Offer a minimum driving range of 125 miles
  • Provide at least 15 cu-ft of trunk space

Beyond these minimum requirements, we considered the following characteristics:

  • Price
  • Range
  • Utility
  • Safety
  • Value

Given these parameters, we’ve identified the five best affordable electric vehicles (EVs) of 2019. They are listed below in reverse order of our recommendations, from least best to, umm, best.

#5: 2019 Volkswagen e-Golf

2019 Volkswagen e-Golf White Front Quarter
The 2019 Volkswagen e-Golf makes up for what it lacks in driving range with enjoyable driving dynamics, useful cargo space, and a low price. (Volkswagen)

 

Limited driving range and slower DC Fast Charging capability are the only apparent downsides to Volkswagen e-Golf ownership. This is an older EV, and Volkswagen is about to replace it with a thoroughly modern family of electrics. In the meantime, an e-Golf is a mighty affordable and mighty fun-to-drive choice for people with predictable driving patterns and easy access to charging.

  • Starting Price: $32,790
  • Federal Tax Credit: $7,500
  • Range: 125 miles
  • DC Fast Charging: 50 miles in 30 minutes
  • Cargo Space: 22.8 cu-ft with a maximum of 52.7 cu-ft

RELATED: Watch Ride’s 2019 Volkswagen e-Golf video review

#4: 2019 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Gray 2019 Chevrolet Bolt EV driving on a road
Chevrolet’s eligibility for federal tax credits is coming to an end, but the automaker is discounting this long-range EV to ensure it remains competitive. (Chevrolet)

 

Give credit where credit is due: The Chevrolet Bolt EV was the first affordable long-range electric vehicle. Now, EV buyers have other choices, and Chevrolet is facing ineligibility for federal tax credits, putting pressure on the car’s value equation. Know that this car is safe, though, even if the narrow cabin restricts passenger and cargo room.

  • Starting Price: $37,495
  • Federal Tax Credit: $3,750 (until Sept. 30, 2019)
  • Range: 238 miles
  • DC Fast Charging: 90 miles in 30 minutes
  • Cargo Space: 16.9 cu-ft with a maximum of 56.6 cu-ft

#3: 2019 Nissan Leaf

Red Nissan Leaf parked in a vineyard
Nissan offers two versions of the Leaf, allowing you to save money in exchange for less power and range, or spend money to get more power and range. (Nissan)

 

With the original Leaf, Nissan arguably paved the way for the potential success of the other cars on this list. Today, the Leaf offers a low price of entry, and the ability to add equipment, power, and additional driving range should your budget allow. Plus, it has the largest trunk of any car on the list, perhaps a consolation prize for a cramped back seat.

  • Starting Price: $30,885
  • Federal Tax Credit: $7,500
  • Range: 150 miles for Leaf and 226 miles for Leaf Plus
  • DC Fast Charging: 90 miles in 30 minutes for Leaf or 120 miles in 30 minutes for Leaf Plus
  • Cargo Space: 23.6 cu.-ft. with a maximum of 30 cu.-ft.

RELATED: Read the Ride Review of the 2019 Nissan Leaf Plus

2019 Kia Niro EV

White 2019 Kia Niro EV parked on a road
The most expensive car on this list provides a long list of standard equipment, a useful interior, and 239 miles of driving range. (Kia)

 

With the Niro EV, Kia doesn’t skimp on features or safety technology. That explains its high starting price. Factor in the federal tax credit, though, and the EX trim costs comfortably less than the average transaction price of a new car in America. A long warranty, free connected services, speedy DC Fast Charging, and impressive crash-test ratings also reflect the value that’s hard to see in the sticker price.

  • Starting Price: $39,495
  • Federal Tax Credit: $7,500
  • Range: 239 miles
  • DC Fast Charging: 100 miles in 30 minutes
  • Cargo Space: 18.5 cu-ft with a maximum of 53 cu-ft

RELATED: Read the Ride Review of the 2019 Kia Niro EV

2019 Hyundai Kona Electric

Gray 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric parked in a neighborhood
Value is the name of the Hyundai Kona Electric’s game, from its lifetime battery warranty to its 3-year free trial of Blue Link subscription services. Oh, and it goes 258 miles on a single charge. (Hyundai)

 

We think the Hyundai Kona Electric is the best of the affordable EVs. It offers the most driving range, a lifetime battery warranty, and speedy recharging using DC Fast Chargers. Add the flexibility of its hatchback design, the standard Kona’s impressive safety ratings, and expressive styling, and the Kona Electric is a winner. The downside? You need to pay extra for driving assistance and collision avoidance technologies – but that’s true of nearly every car on this list.

  • Starting Price: $37,995
  • Federal Tax Credit: $7,500
  • Range: 258 miles
  • DC Fast Charging: 115 miles in 30 minutes
  • Cargo Space: 19.2 cu-ft with a maximum of 45.8 cu-ft

RELATED: Read the Ride Review of the 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric

* Based on available tax credit on July 1, 2019


About the Author

  • Christian Wardlaw has 25 years of experience serving in automotive editorial leadership roles with Autobytel, Edmunds, J.D. Power, and Tribune Publishing. A married father of four, Chris is based in the Los Angeles suburbs and believes fuel cell electric vehicles will power the future.

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