Consumer Reports: How to Decide if an Electric Vehicle Is Right for You

When looking for a new car, the possibilities can be endless. There are even more options to consider with the addition of electric vehicles, hybrids, and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Consumer Reports wants to help you find the right automobile for your life.

Consumer Reports reccomends electric vehicles, but there is a learning curve

Consumer Reports helps decide if an electric vehicle is the right choice
An electric vehicle (EV) is charged at an electric vehicle charging station in Bangkok | Vachira Vachira/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Electric vehicles or battery electric vehicles are sometimes called BEVs­ or EVs for short. EVs are everywhere right now, but these take a bit to get used to. Consumer Reports says that while these new cars are efficient, those with long commutes need to prepare for ownership. Most EVs have a driving range of about 200 miles these days, but that might not be enough for all buyers.

Electric vehicles rely on battery backs to power electric motors instead of an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicle. Fully charging an EV using a Level 2 (240-volt) connector can take eight to 10 hours. Some people will opt for a home charger that offers quicker and more efficient charging. Drivers with a charger at work might not need to rely on a home charger or charging station as much. Any potential buyer should consider charging locations. Those living in an area with street parking or public parking might not find an electric vehicle easy to own.

The pros of owning an electric vehicle as decided by Consumer Reports

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It is cheaper to charge an electric vehicle than filling up on gasoline in most instances. The price of electricity changes a lot and depends on the location, but it is still cheaper than gas in most cases. Getting a home charger installed is convenient for a few reasons. Your EV can charge at night when electricity is more affordable. Home chargers allow you to schedule the charge time to take advantage of off-peak hours. Plus, this means your car is always ready to go in the morning.

In theory, electric vehicles have fewer parts to fix, reducing maintenance costs. Compared to an electric motor, gasoline engines are more complicated and have more parts that can break. EVs also have no tailpipe emissions, which is a significant benefit for some. If your state has strict emissions standards, an EV makes that part of life more manageable.

Electric vehicles are quiet and fun to drive. The electric motors that power these automobiles quickly provide power almost instantaneously. This is definitely a pro but might make your commute in an ICE vehicle dull by comparison.

The cons of owning an EV are still worth weighing before making a big purchase

Electric vehicles are very “in” right now, which means the price is high. You can find a used EV, but there aren’t quite as many available as a typical ICE vehicle. While you can find tax rebates on some new EVs, the price for an entry-level option tends to be higher.

You do have to plan your charging out. Knowing where an electric vehicle charging station is on any trip is essential. Long trips require a bit of pre-planning to ensure your route has enough charging options to keep the EV going. These stops can take a bit of time, too. DC Fast-Charging and Tesla Superchargers are the fastest, but your stop can still take between 30 and 60 minutes.

Those who live in a colder climate might want to consider the impact of weather on electric vehicles. Frigid temperatures (and sweltering temperatures) can impact the range and charging. It can also complicate the charging process.

What EVs does Consumer Reports reccomend?

The 2022 Kia Niro Electric is an affordable and versatile fully-electric car. It got an EPA-estimated 239-mile range and came in first on the list of EVs. Priced between $39,990 and $44,650, it offers more than similarly priced cars. The Niro EV can take about 10 hours to charge using a 240V wall connector fully.

Next up is the 2022 Tesla Model 3. It is no secret that Consumer Reports doesn’t always love the Tesla brand, but it has won consumers over anyway. The Model 3 is fun and has a range of between 272 and 358 miles, depending on which version you buy. To recharge a Model 3, it can take 12 hours on a 32 amp, 240V connector. On a Tesla home charger, it only takes seven hours or so. Plus, the Tesla Supercharger stations are always an option.

If you aren’t ready to make the switch to a fully electric vehicle yet, you don’t need to. The EV charging network and cars are constantly changing and evolving, and there is still time to get on board.

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