I started reviewing cars 20 years ago when I was a feckless singleton. Back then, certain models filled me with glee. They usually involved European heritage, a low stance, high horsepower, and two seats.
Things change when you’re a parent. For the past decade, I’ve found that features like useful storage and a roomy back seat are just as important to my day-to-day driving enjoyment as a healthy horsepower-to-weight ratio. The delighted squeal of my daughters when we get a car with four-zone climate control? It’s almost as joyful as the snap, crackle, and pop of a flat-six engine.
Watching your children grow inspires concern about the state of the world they’ll inherit. It might even inspire you to consider electric vehicle (EV) ownership.
Whether you want to reduce emissions and your carbon footprint, rely less on fossil fuels, or eliminate budgetary anxiety over fuel prices, going electric makes a lot of sense to many parents. And who wouldn’t want to skip the hassles associated with oil changes and tune-ups while benefitting from carpool lane access in certain areas – even when the kids aren’t in the car.
And to remind you that life existed before kids, most EVs are pretty fun to drive, with plenty of thrust and a low center of gravity (thanks to heavy batteries and electric motors) to help the car zip around corners.
How We Picked the Best Electric Cars for Moms and Dads
If you’re shopping for a pure electric family car, you’ve got a limited set of vehicles from which to choose. This, however, is a temporary problem. Starting in 2020, the number of EVs will dramatically expand, and one estimate says that 30 million EVs will be on the road by 2030.
Ahead of this market expansion, we’ve compiled a list of the best electric cars for moms and dads. They’re all 2019 model year EVs, and we considered the following criteria to establish the finalists:
- Driving range of at least 200 miles – When you have a kid in the back seat you don’t want to get stuck somewhere without a source of electricity. Starting a journey with considerable range helps avoid such situations.
- Usable cargo area – Vehicles with a rear hatch are more flexible when it comes to carrying bulky items, like umbrella strollers and giant boxes of diapers. But the lone sedan on this list has a trick up its sleeve that increases its cargo flexibility.
- Tolerable back seat – The eerie silence of electric motors means nothing if the kids are whining loudly about their lot in life.
- Excellent safety scores or record – The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) frequently do not rate EVs for crash protection. In cases where those ratings are unavailable, the listed EV is either based on a car that excels in such testing or is built by a manufacturer with a sterling reputation in this regard.
Listed below in order from least to most expensive, you will find our five favorite electric cars for moms and dads. And remember: the federal tax credit and state incentives reduce these prices considerably.
Nissan Leaf Plus (Prices from $36,550)
Nissan sells two versions of its electric car: the Leaf and the Leaf Plus. The former provides 150 miles of range, while the latter travel as far as 226 miles on a single charge, thanks to a bigger battery. The Leaf Plus is also more powerful, easily zooming away from traffic lights and down freeway ramps.
Pop open the rear hatch and you’ll find 23.6 cu-ft of space with the rear seat in use. Fold the back seat, and Nissan says the space increases just 6.4 cu-ft to 30 cu-ft Still, a Leaf can handle a typical run to Costco, no problem.
Hyundai Kona Electric (Prices from $36,950)
With a 258-mile driving range on a single charge, the Hyundai Kona Electric is the star performer of this group. This little guy is fun to drive, too, quick and zippy everywhere you go.
Inside, the Kona Electric’s cabin is much more nicely outfitted than in other vehicles in this price range. When you’re ready to pick up the kids from lacrosse practice, you’ll find the 19.2 cu-ft cargo area very handy. It expands to hold 45.8 cu-ft when necessary.
Another terrific feature is the lifetime warranty on the battery – you’ll only find that on the Hyundai Kona Electric.
RELATED: Read our 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric Review
Tesla Model 3 (Prices from $39,900)
While Tesla’s original promise of a $35,000 vehicle came to pass only briefly, the entry-level Tesla Model 3 is competitively priced against other electric cars. The automaker’s eligibility for federal income tax credits is evaporating, though, affecting the value equation.
Thus, the Tesla Model 3 qualifies more as an entry-level luxury car, especially when you add upgrades. Then there’s the novelty factor. Check out the interior and you’ll find a cabin that’s beyond minimalistic. The giant touchscreen controls everything.
Technically, Tesla calls the Model 3 a sedan even though it’s a 5-door hatchback. Maybe that’s because it has a front trunk – or frunk, as the kids like to call it. Including the frunk, a Tesla Model 3 can swallow up to 15 cu-ft of your junk. Of course, you can fold the back seat down for more space, but Tesla doesn’t publish a maximum volume number.
Audi e-tron (Prices from $74,800)
When you get an Audi, you can rest assured that you’re getting a beautiful interior, thoughtfully designed amenities, and a let’s-go-faster demeanor. The new e-tron SUV does not disappoint, offering up to 402 horsepower in Sport mode and a maximum rating of 204 miles of driving range.
You’ll also get a generous 28.5 cu-ft of cargo space with the rear seats in use and 57 cu-ft when they’re folded. In terms of size, the e-tron slots between Audi’s compact Q5 and midsize Q7 in terms of passenger and cargo space.
Crash-test results are not available for the e-tron, but given Audi’s recent track record for building safety superstars, we’ll let that reputation speak for this EVs likely protection levels.
RELATED: Read our 2019 Audi E-tron Review
Tesla Model X (Prices from $81,000)
Sure, it may look like a giant spaceship ovum, but when it comes to transporting your kids and their things in a modern EV, nothing tops the functionality and wow factor of the Tesla Model X.
Cruising up to the school pickup line and opening the rear gullwing-style doors will probably impress your kid’s classmates until the very last day of school, and you can carpool with a bunch of them, thanks to seating for seven. Better yet, Tesla claims that the Model X is the safest SUV ever made. According to NHTSA testing, the Model X comes in second only to the Tesla Model S sedan as the safest vehicle the government agency has ever tested.
In addition to the conventional cargo area of this utility vehicle, the Model X also provides a frunk, increasing its maximum cargo capacity to 88 cu-ft. This electric SUV can tow, too. Tesla says it can wrangle up to 5,000 pounds of trailer.
The standard driving range for a base Model X is 255 miles, but step up to the long-range version and you’ll get up to 325 miles of range. Upgrade to the Performance trim level and a Model X will accelerate to 60 mph in a mere 2.7 seconds.
How much fun would that be the next time bratty little Madison’s mom pulls up next to you in her gleaming Maserati Levante? You can smirk, press the right pedal, and wave bye-bye to her astonished face in your rearview mirror.