Affordable electric vehicles beyond the Tesla Model 3

The Tesla Model 3 has captured the interest of mainstream car buyers and electric vehicle enthusiasts alike.

 

Its combination of sleek styling, long range and semiautonomous driving features gives the Model 3 an “it” factor that’s hard to resist.

But with a base price of $35,000, limited availability, and many of its most desirable features on the options list, the Model 3 isn’t for everybody.

For buyers who are interested in an electric vehicle but don’t want to wait around for the Model 3, several great alternatives are available now at a similar price point.

Some have shorter ranges while others lack the latest driver assistance features, but if you’re interested in an electric car that won’t take as long to arrive, these EVs are worth a look.

2018 NISSAN LEAF

The Nissan Leaf was a game-changer when it debuted in 2011, so hopes are high for the redesigned 2018 model. The Leaf still doesn’t have the long-range abilities of the Model 3 and Chevrolet Bolt, but its low base price gives it a level of attainability that most competitors can’t match.

The 2018 Leaf boasts a larger battery pack that increases maximum range from 107 miles to an estimated 150 miles. A more powerful electric motor bumps output from 107 to 147 horsepower for improved performance.

Two new features set the Leaf apart from its rivals. The first is called e-Pedal. It allows drivers to bring the Leaf to a complete stop merely by lifting off the accelerator. It makes for a one-pedal driving experience that eases fatigue in heavy traffic.

The second feature, called ProPilot Assist, combines several driver aids to provide a semiautonomous driving experience. Available on SV and SL models, ProPilot Assist maintains a set distance between the Leaf and the car in front, keeps the Leaf centered in its lane and steers through corners. Nissan says it’s called ProPilot “assist,” so drivers still need to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road.

Base price: $30,875

Range: 150 miles (manufacturer estimate)

Recharge time: 8 hours on a 240-volt charger

Availability: On sale early 2018 nationwide

2017 CHEVROLET BOLT

The Chevrolet Bolt EV is the Model 3’s closest rival. Not only can it travel 238 miles on a single charge (18 more than the Model 3) but it’s also quick, needing just 6.8 seconds to hit 60 mph from a stop. The Bolt has a solid list of features for the price.

Base price: $37,495

Range: 238 miles (EPA estimate)

Recharge time: 9 hours on a 240-volt charger

Availability: On sale now nationwide

2017 HYUNDAI IONIQ

Like the Leaf, the Hyundai Ioniq EV offers solid range at a low starting price. It also has upscale cabin materials, which feel more substantial and durable than what others in the class use. The restrained interior also has a practical design, a bonus for buyers who want an EV that still feels like a conventional car.

Base price: $30,335

Range: 124 miles (EPA estimate)

Recharge time: 4 hours on a 240-volt charger

Availability: On sale now, California only

2017 VOLKSWAGEN E-GOLF

The Volkswagen e-Golf takes the Golf’s handling and solid construction and adds an EV powertrain. Numerous improvements include an updated battery pack with increased range, a more powerful motor, a higher top speed, styling changes and the addition of a midpack Limited Edition trim.

Base Price: $31,315

Range: 125 miles (EPA estimate)

Recharge time: 5.3 hours on a 240-volt charger

Availability: On sale now, selected states

2017 BMW i3

BMW’s i3 stands out in more ways than one. Its funky styling hides a frame made of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic, making it extremely tough yet lightweight. Its cabin is decked out with natural materials, including real eucalyptus wood trim and leather treated with olive tree leaf extract. The i3 has a choice of two battery sizes: the base 60-amp-hour version with 81 miles of range or the 94-Ah version with 114 miles of range. The 94-Ah model is also available with a small gasoline engine to further extend the i3’s range when the battery runs out.

Base price: $43,395

Range: 81 to 114 miles (EPA estimate)

Recharge time: 4-5 hours on a 240-volt charger

Availability: On sale now nationwide

 

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