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The 2023 Best Electric Vehicles

Buying a new car has always been a complex, high-stakes decision, and the influx of electric vehicles certainly hasn't made it any simpler.

There are now more fuel and engine types than ever—gas, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, EV, and even hydrogen fuel cell. Inside the vehicle, dash screens are getting larger and more numerous, complete with their own apps, monthly subscriptions, and over-the-air updates.

As confusing as these next-gen vehicles can seem, it's hard to go wrong. EVs tend to be some of the most technologically advanced, smooth-driving cars on the road. They're essentially smartphones on wheels, with the potential to save you hundreds of dollars on gas and maintenance bills (e.g., no oil changes).

With that in mind, these are the best EVs we've tested. Make sure to read to the end for an overview of key points to consider when it comes to electric driving.

Should You Get a Hybrid, Plug-In Hybrid, or Full Electric Vehicle?

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If you're interested in moving away from a fully gas-powered vehicle, there are multiple ways to do so depending on your lifestyle.

Hybrid vehicles are a great entry point: They are essentially a more efficient version of a fully gas-powered vehicle. Their small battery complements the gasoline engine, improving the miles per gallon and overall efficiency though not providing enough power to travel on pure electricity. They do not require charging or any lifestyle changes—apart from fewer trips to the gas station.

(Credit: Doug Newcomb)

Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) sit in between a pure electric vehicle and a hybrid. They have a full gas tank, but can also go a certain distance on pure electricity (usually around 25 miles, give or take), thanks to their larger battery that must be charged through an external port. Many PHEV owners report not needing the gas engine for weeks at a time, especially for errands around town, though they can fall back on it for longer trips.

Cost-wise, PHEVs are not necessarily a budget option. With two powertrains, that means double the engineering complexity for car makers. They are typically priced closer to EVs than hybrids for that reason, though there are several affordable options.

Electric vehicles drop the gasoline engine entirely and rely on electricity alone. They run nearly silently, accelerate more quickly, and don't spew unpleasant exhaust out of the tailpipe. The trade-off? Charging can take hours and the total driving range is often shorter than a gas-powered vehicle. Range numbers have slowly crept up over the years, however, with many newer models now able to go more than 300 miles on a single charge. And though there aren't as many charging stations as there are gas stations, more are added all the time.

There are a few key questions to ask yourself when considering a purely electric vehicle. If you say "yes" to at least a few of these, you're ready to go electric:

  • Do you have an easy, stress-free place to charge? Ideally, that would be at home or work where there isn't competition from the public for chargers.
  • If you often take road trips, are there ample fast chargers along the way? Keep in mind that most brands can use Tesla Superchargers starting in 2024. Alternatively, do you have a gas-powered vehicle you could take on long trips?
  • Would you save money on gas? Use online calculators to ballpark your expected savings.
  • Are you able to spend a bit more money to buy the car? EVs are typically more expensive than their gas-powered counterparts. There are several affordable electric models to choose from, but the list is shrinking.

An alternative fuel vehicle you might consider is a hydrogen fuel cell, which offers great range and refuels in just five minutes. Hydrogen fuel cells are in their fledgling era, even compared with hybrids and electrics. The most popular model is the Toyota Mirai, but it's currently California-only because the state is the only one with a reasonable number of hydrogen fuel stations.

Do You Buy EVs at Dealers or Online?

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Electric vehicles are shaking up the dealership model. Tesla and Rivian both take orders online only, foregoing dealerships entirely. Instead, they have set up service centers around the country exclusively for maintenance.

Ford, GM, and others have taken the hint. They now also take orders online, though you still need to visit a dealer to pick up the vehicle.

There are pros and cons to the shift to online car sales. On the one hand, that means transparent, upfront pricing and no haggling with salespeople. On the other hand, seeing the car in person and talking through its features with someone knowledgeable can be incredibly helpful. Not being able to do so can make it harder to find the right car for you.

How Do EV Tax Credits Work?

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The US government offers a federal tax credit of up to $7,500 for eligible buyers and vehicles. Only a handful of EVs qualify and the buyer must make under a certain amount of money, though there are loopholes for leasing.

For now, the funds are issued when you file annual taxes through December 31, 2023. Beginning January 1, 2024, however, you can recoup the funds directly at the dealership when buying or leasing the vehicle.

State credits are also plentiful, and tend to be less restrictive. Be sure to look into your state's offerings, and keep in mind that both state and federal incentives usually offer cost savings for home charger installation as well.

Dash Screen 101: Best-in-Class Features to Look For

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Most new vehicles these days—and EVs in particular—come with a slew of new dash features. Gone are the days when Bluetooth, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay were the pinnacle of vehicle connectivity. Some companies, including Tesla and Rivian, see Android Auto and Apple Carplay as restrictive third-party software that their engineers can't modify and have dropped them. GM also plans to drop Android Auto and CarPlay on future vehicles. Other carmakers are sticking with them for now.

(Credit: Doug Newcomb)

Dash screens are getting larger and more numerous. Some offer content streaming via in-vehicle subscriptions. Many display camera feeds from all angles around the car, which assists with turning and parking while collecting data for self-driving assists. A few, like the Audi Q8 e-Tron, have head-up displays. These small clusters of information projected onto the windshield make it easy to see the information you need (speed, direction) without having to take your eyes off the road.

Some automakers are replacing physical buttons with reprogrammable touchscreens. On the Ford F-150 Lightning, for example, the volume dial also adjusts temperature. Brands like Hyundai say they won't fully get rid of buttons, as studies show physical contact with a reliable knob is still safer. At the same time, Teslas have no physical buttons at all, or even an ignition to turn the vehicle on and off—your phone serves as the key. The vast array of dashboard designs means it's even more crucial to see the vehicle in person to find a cockpit you're comfortable with.

This also applies to gas-powered vehicles. The main addition to the dash screen for an EV is the current battery percentage and expected range. That's also where you'll verify if the charger is plugged in properly, as well as find charging stations along your route.

Last, be sure to check out a vehicle's mobile app. It often acts as an extension of the dash, allowing you to turn on the AC/heat before entering the vehicle, lock/unlock, view battery percentage, and more.


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