Published on December 30th, 2018 | by Zachary Shahan0
88 CleanTechnica Electric Vehicle Reviews
December 30th, 2018 by Zachary Shahan
CleanTechnica has had the lucky opportunity to review a freakin’ ton of electric vehicles this past year, and many more in previous years. In the article below, you can find links to most of the reviews as well as short snippets about the vehicles. Below all of that are lists to some other non-EV reviews we’ve conducted.
Before jumping into the short review summaries, though, we have a few models that we offer long-term reviews of, with those writers owning the vehicles. The long-term reviews cover: Tesla Model 3 (from multiple owners), Tesla Model S (from multiple owners), BMW i3, Kia Soul EV, Peugeot iOn (aka Mitsubishi i-MiEV or Citroen C-Zero), and Nissan LEAF (from multiple owners). As you probably noticed, those long-term reviews cover some of the world’s best selling electric cars.
Scroll through this long compilation of CleanTechnica reviews below.
Fully Electric Cars
BMW i3: Perhaps the best “city car” on the market, this from-the-ground-up electric model has exhilarating acceleration thanks not just to the electric motor but also the light carbon fiber body and small size. The visibility in this car is practically unmatched, the interior is another level of sophistication and artistic design, the green production process and materials are noble, the handling is awesome, and the adaptive cruise control is a great relief on a long-ish trip. Throw in self-parking tech, a range extender (if you choose that version), one of the best regenerative braking systems on the market, and a now sizable electric range on the upper trim. Clearly, I love the i3, as that’s our family car in Florida.
For more, you can read my articles about i3 ownership (our long-term review of the car), Jesper Berggren’s summary of his time with the car, reviews by Jose Pontes of the i3 (in two parts) and the i3S, and review from Kyle Field after 24 hours with the car.
Byton M-Byte: We didn’t get to drive this one, but Nicolas Zart got to ride in an 85% complete prototype. Despite his fluency describing all types of vehicles and topics, Nicolas got left speechless.
Click this link to hear his podcast about the M-Byte and riding in it.
Chevy Bolt: The longest-range electric car you can get for $30,000 to $40,000, this functional hatchback seems to be well loved by owners. Modern comforts, a slick rearview mirror camera, “Surround Vision,” knobs & buttons galore (if you like that), and a hyper-normal look for those who want to blend into the crowd rather than stand out like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer the BMW i3, the Bolt is a solid choice if those features tickle your giggle button.
You can read CleanTechnica reviews of the Bolt from Jose Pontes, Kyle Field (in two parts), Steve Bakker, and Steve Hanley. I also compared the Bolt to the i3 and LEAF and to the Tesla Model 3. And we published owner reviews from Mitch Stone and Robert Dee.
Fiat 500e: One of the cutest cars in history, the 500e is still super sporty and fun thanks to its electric powertrain and ultra-compact size. The 500e also comes at some unbeatably low prices at times in California. But yeah, that design pulls many buyers in even without the discounts. The downsides of the 500e include tiny storage space and interior passenger space, not the best traction control in the world, low range, and pretty weak regen braking.
Ford Focus Electric: The Focus Electric blends into the crowd, which some people love and some hate. In a review written for CleanTechnica, one Focus Electric driver contends, “the experience in operating the Ford Focus Electric is far nicer than the other market comparables. All of the touch points, and materials are far better than what one would expect for a car of this price. There is basically one option on the FFE: $1000 for what it calls ‘Light Stone’ leather — shaming Nissan’s nickel-and-diming trim levels, and for less money. Fit and finish is excellent with no squeaks or rattles. They must have been inspired by Colin Chapman because they’ve managed to ‘simplify and add’ silence. When driving, this car is very similar to my Volvo S80 … you can easily hear a whisper from the back seat. ”
That’s actually our only review of the Focus Electric, but it offers an in-depth look at the car.
Honda Clarity Electric: This car … is a car. That was the impression our reviewers had of it. It has all the luxury, style, and size a common American can want. The downside of the car: too little electric range.
Read Kyle Field’s in-depth review for more.
Hyundai Ioniq Electric: Adding extreme efficiency + premium quality in an affordable package, the Ioniq is now one of the top competitors to the Nissan LEAF in markets where it’s sold, and a significant number of buyers think the Ioniq offers more electric value for the money. But man … I just can’t get over that ginormous grille.
Read Kyle Field’s review of the Ioniq Electric for more.
Hyundai Kona Electric: This is one of the hottest electric vehicles of the end of the decade. As long as Hyundai produces enough of them, they should sell like hotcakes. The vehicle practically has it all. It nails the car class, range, and styling that people want, as far as we can tell. And look at that turquoise.
Read Sebastian Blanco’s review from his test drive of the crossover.
Jaguar I-PACE: This long-range fully electric SUV was previewed and born with a high degree of hype. It’s an attractive car with good specs and the style and luxury you expect from Jaguar. Nonetheless, we’ve also heard from experienced drivers that it’s still only ~80% of a Tesla. The thing is, various people have various preferences, and some certainly favor the I-PACE.
Kia Soul EV: This model offers a unique combo of SUV-like styling, class, and affordable pricing. Its styling pulls in a certain type of consumer, but it’s also not something many people would call unattractive. Cargo space is adequate for normal humans, and fast-charging capability is helpful. But it’s really the hip hamster appeal that sells this model.
Lucid Air: Nicolas Zart got to ride in another vehicle that’s not actually on the market yet but is too cool to not include here. It’s the next generation of a performance luxury sedan, according to Nicolas. It certainly looks stunning, but apparently feels even better.
Mercedes B250e: It’s no longer on the market, but it offered the luxury of a Mercedes B-Class car with the practicality (almost) of a Tesla. Its biggest flaw is lack of fast charging, let alone super-fast charging. Of course, it also has low range, but as long as that’s all you need, that can do the job.
Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Peugeot iOn, Citroën C-Zero: The oldest electric car on the market in many places, this option (under a trio of different brands) has a distinctive design — a cute/neat one according to many. Owners enjoy the ample head space and minimalist interior, not to mention the low price. The biggest downside is the car’s extremely low range relative to other models, especially new ones. But if your goal is to save money while driving electric and you don’t have very long-distance driving needs, the i-MiEV/iOn/C-Zero might well be the car for you.
Nissan LEAF: The LEAF is still the queen of electric vehicles. Even if she no longer has the influence she used to, she’s the top selling electric car in history worldwide. With plenty of space in the hatchback cargo area, a comfy interior in the front and back, quality driving performance that balances a serenely smooth ride with enough instant torque to do what needs to be done at any intersection, compatibility with the fairly widespread CHAdeMO fast charging network, “No Charge to Charge” programs in many locations, enough range for common driving needs, and a competitive price tag — especially in markets with extra discounts — the LEAF keeps pulling in customers day after day in countries around the world because it’s a solid choice. Like with other popular EVs, LEAF buyers are abnormally happy with their cars according to independent research on the matter.
We’ve published dozens of reviews of the Nissan LEAF from our long-term reviews of the car and some test drives.
Renault Zoe: The first relatively long-range, affordable electric car in the world, the Zoe is still a popular option in Europe and a few other markets, but it has been Europe’s top seller for years, long before it offered 150+ miles of range. The car is fairly simple and low-luxe, but it has an attractive design, relatively high-power AC charging, one of the most competitive prices on the electric car market (maybe the most competitive for the value), and all the basic comforts of a modern car. The Zoe is certainly one of the first cars that comes to mind when recommending electrics to people just learning about this zero-emissions market. That said, it seems less compelling now that we have the Kia e-Niro, Hyundai Kona EV, and other attractive long-range electric cars with moderate prices hitting the market.
Smart Fortwo Electric Drive: If you want a tiny city car that can park in the bestest of spaces, but also still packs a nice burst of umph, the Smart Fortwo is what you’re looking for (or perhaps its somewhat larger Forfour sibling). I know there are Tesla drivers who also enjoy their Smart Fortwo Electric Drives — that should tell you something. Though, I have to say, I’m not a fan. I’d prefer another low-cost electric option over this tiny, bare-bones car.
Tesla Model 3: The best car you can buy for the price. Potentially the best car of any price on the market.
You can read numerous articles from our long-term reviews of the Model 3. We’ve also published numerous other Model 3 reviews, including mine and Kyle’s review of the Model 3 Performance and numerous mainstream media reviews.
Tesla Model S: The other top contender for best car on the market.
Read our long-term review series for much more.
Tesla Model X: Most amazing SUV on the planet — hands down.
Volkswagen e-Golf: The Volkswagen Golf is one of the most well known and heavily consumed cars on the planet. The two fully electric e-Golf is also a compelling offer to many buyers. It has in fact been the most popular car in Norway in some recent months. The combo of comfort, handling, storage space, regenerative braking options, and humble yet attractive style make the e-Golf a good option if you want to step into the plug-in car world but not too far out of the automotive norm.
Volkswagen e-up!: Similar to the e-Golf but at a more affordable price, the e-up! is one of the most cost-efficient electric cars on the market. Despite its low price, it still has an appealing, cute, semi-classy look and offers a comfortable ride. It includes multiple regenerative braking options and includes plenty of enjoyable torque, even if it isn’t a Model 3. The interior materials are fairly cheap, though, and it’s in one of the smaller car classes, which doesn’t suit people looking for a good chunk of legroom and cargo capacity.
Audi A3 e-tron: This car offers the kind of luxury-class interior many people want and expect from a $38,000 car. The backup engine makes sure you never have to worry about running out of electricity, and the power the drivetrain provides is enough to have some fun on an empty road. Overall, the A3 e-tron’s style is in the “highly popular” category. The battery is quite small, though, and after driving many fully electric cars, the gas engine’s presence and frequent use cross the e-tron off any plug-in vehicle list of mine.
Read my rather scathing review of the A3 e-tron for more details.
BMW i8: The BMW i8 is a stunning piece of art. It’s also quite powerful and can be a lot of fun to drive. Plus, it has a cool heads-up display. Did I say it was pretty? The beautiful looks have to carry this vehicle into your garage, though, as the performance doesn’t compare to what you can get from a Tesla for much less money.
Chevy Volt: If you want maximum electric range with a huge amount of gasoline backup as well, the Volt is #1. With enough electric range for nearly every day of the year, Volt drivers drive approximately the same number of electric miles as Nissan LEAF drivers, but they also have the security of a sizable gas tank any time drivers need it. It’s hard to beat the practical appeal of the Volt — actually, I’m not sure if another model can genuinely beat it in this category. The Volt is also sporty, reliable, and comfortable for four people. As long as it checks all of your critical boxes, I’d say that you probably couldn’t find a better value for the money on the market.
Read 4 separate CleanTechnica reviews of the Volt for more.
Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid: The Pacifica Hybrid is the first and only minivan with a plug. It’s more competitive than its gasoline sibling on basically all counts (which makes me wonder why anyone buys the gasoline option). It has all of the functionality of a conventional minivan and can enjoy the benefits of home charging and quiet zero-emissions driving and moderate circumstances. The interior offers high quality, good tech, and enough ways for kids to fight that you’ll never have a boring day. We hear the electric range could be better, but it’s a start.
You can read a CleanTechnica review of the Pacifica Hybrid from an owner for much more.
Ford C-Max Energi: Want a plug-in car that feels sort of like a CUV inside? With an expansive front seat, back seat, cargo area, and windshield, the C-Max Energi is hugely loved by many of its owners. It feels far more spacious inside than it looks from outside. The electric range is enough for most commutes and basic city driving, and the gas engine allows for road trips on the fly. Again, if you’d rather blend in than shine like a lighthouse, this is a model that does that magic trick while still letting you drive electric for short commutes around town. That said, the range leaves much to be desired and doesn’t compare to a Chevy Volt.
I have driven the C-Max Energi but never wrote a full review of it. Consider that concise summary CleanTechnica‘s official review.
Honda Clarity PHEV: This car … is a car. That was the impression our reviewers had of it. It has all the luxury, style, and size a common American can want. The car also has a sizable amount of electric range for a plug-in hybrid — 47 miles — and sees solid sales as a result. With the Chevy Volt soon leaving the market, the Clarity PHEV should have an easy time appealing to customers who want to mostly drive electric but also have a gas backup.
Hyundai Ioniq PHEV: Adding extreme efficiency + premium quality in an affordable package, the Ioniq PHEV has been selling quite well in places where it’s available. The electric range could be better, but that’s the tradeoff you get for the relatively low price and security of a gasoline engine for long drives.
Read Derek Markham’s review of the Ioniq PHEV for more.
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV: The only semi-affordable plug-in SUV on the market, this vehicle has been extremely popular over the years. My experience inside the vehicle was that it had all the space, comfort, space, comfort, space, and comfort any at least semi-normal person could need. It’s also one of the best looking SUVs on the market, imho. So, it’s not at all a surprise that this is one of the highest selling electrified models in history.
Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid: This plug-in hybrid Porsche offers a compelling combination of luxury, performance, and style. It’s not as quick as a Tesla and certainly has too little electric range, but it has (arguably) a more luxurious interior and an iconic, beautiful design that many people love — me included.
Toyota Prius Prime: The most advanced trim of the most famous hybrid family in the world, the Prius Prime offers some cutting-edge tech (including a HUD!), insane cargo space, insane range that is enviably efficient compared to other gasmobiles, and the second best navigation on the market. The Prius Prime is a tough competitor for practically any other car in the “total value for the money” category. It’s also got some slick cuts & curves if you’re into that kind of thing. The problem is, I can’t imagine buying one rather than a Model 3, and there are now other long-range electric cars in the price territory that I consider much more compelling offers. But if you need a gasoline crutch and ample passenger & cargo space, this is your beast.
Read Kyle Field’s review of the most advanced Prius ever.
Volvo XC90 T8: The Volvo XC90 T8 is a 7-seat plug-in hybrid SUV packed with luxe. It is a great choice for folks looking for a vehicle that can run for a few miles in all-electric mode, but it would be much better if it could go a bit further on electricity before switching to a typical hybrid driving mode. As a quite large SUV, it has the capacity to haul around tons of people, kids, and/or gear, in style.
Read Kyle Field’s review of the XC90 T8 if this vehicle interests you.
Electric Bikes, Skateboards, Powerwalls, & More
Aside from the above, we’ve reviewed a number of electric bikes, skateboards, motorcycles, etc. They are below in list form — click to read the full reviews.
- MellowBoards Cruiser Skateboard
- Boosted Boards Dual+ Generation 2
- KingKong Pro Electric Skateboard
- InMotion’s Solowheel Glide 3
- Blix Aveny Step-Through E-Bike
- ECZO Electric Bike Kit
- GenZe e-201 Electric Bike, Part 1 and Part 2
- Unique Gocycle G3
- Jetson Adventure E-Bike
- Jetson Journey E-Bike
- Gazelle Easyflow E-Bike
- 2018 Zero FX
- 2018 Zero FXS
- 6 Months of Zero DS
- Ferrari 308 (electric conversion)
- JAC iEV7S
- Chanje Electric Van, Part 1 and Part 2
- Nissan e-NV200
- Workhorse e-Gen
- Renault Twizy
- Mini Tesla Model S from Radio Flyer
After-Market Tesla Products
Navdy Intelligent Heads-Up Display: Navdy is a very intelligent, very functional device at a price point that reflects its cutting-edge specs and design. For those who were really expecting and hoping for a HUD in the Tesla Model 3, this seems worth trying. Of course, the HUD can be used in other cars, too.
With Tesla vehicles being quite popular, we have reviewed a number of after-market Tesla products. For more reviews, click the following links:
- Tesla Model 3 rim protectors from EV Annex
- Tesla Model 3 interior vinyl wrap
- Tesla Model 3 all-weather floor mats
- Tesla Model 3 car cover
- Tesla Model 3 Owl wireless charger from EV Annex
- Tesla Model S front center console from EV Annex
- Tesla Model S carbon fiber upgrade from EV Annex
- Tesla Model S rear console insert from EV Annex
Still not done? Nope. Below are some of the non-EV products we’ve reviewed as well.
- Getting A Rooftop Solar + Tesla Powerwall 2 System Installed In Vermont
- Our Tesla Solar Home Update — It Just Gets Better & Better!
- Lessons Learned From 6 Months With The Tesla Powerwall
- Philips Hue White Ambiance Adds Intelligence & Choice To Home Lighting
- Awair Glow Home Air Quality Monitor
Enough weekend and New Year’s Day reading for you? We hope so, but you probably need more time than to go through the reviews from this piece that interest you.