The 10 Most Efficient Electric Cars of 2016

Sean Gallup Getty Images
Sean Gallup/ Getty Images

Across the board, we’ve come a long way with fuel economy in a decade. Just 10 years ago, the base Ford F-150 drank gas at a combined rate of 15 miles per gallon. In 2015? It’s up to 22. And that’s just internal combustion. A decade ago, hybrids were a niche segment, mass-market EVs were all but unheard of. Now they’re a big part of the picture, and with the EPA website releasing 2016 EPA ratings for the top 10 all-electric vehicles, we can see just how much things have changed.

For rating EVs, the EPA is using something called a “Miles per Gallon equivalent” or MPGe, where 33.7 kWh equates to 1 gallon of gasoline. With this in mind, the results, viewed in MPGe don’t really address all of the efficiencies that electric vehicles provide. But going means more than just saving money at the pump. EVs have fewer moving parts, and generally need less maintenance than your standard gas-powered car. They also have the benefit of taking advantage of things like kinetic energy from the motion of axles and other parts to regenerate power. So in the end, the electric car has it all over the traditional gasoline engine vehicle in more ways than one. But let’s focus on the raw savings in terms of electrical power used on the road here. These are the 10 most efficient EVs on the road today.

10. Tesla Model X AWD 90D – 92 MPGe combined

Source: Tesla

At the end of the top 10 list, Tesla’s newest model, this electrified SUV gets the equivalent of 90 miles per gallon in city and 94 miles per gallon on the highway. It’s the only EV on the market that features all-wheel drive and towing capability. Although Tesla also has the Model S, the Feds opted for the Model X, which it rates at 92 MPGe combined. Curiously, while Car and Driver shows an MPGe of 101/102 for the 2016 Model S, doesn’t have figures for the ’16 Tesla Model S listed yet.

9. Ford Focus Electric  – 105 MPGe combined

2016 Focus Electric Charging_mj
Source: Ford

The Focus electric model gets 110/99 MPGe, and is a steal at $29,170 before federal and state tax incentives. Its 240 volt battery recharges in about three and a half hours. Ford’s SYNC and MyKey systems are standard. Although it’s a competitive electric model overall, the Focus Electric’s sales haven’t been great, probably for a number of reasons. First, the Focus Electric looks pretty much just like gasoline model, but on-board electronics reduce interior space. It also has a lower range at about 76 miles, and there’s no DC quick-charge capability. As a relatively expensive EV, it’s been described as one that “hides” too much of its uniqueness beneath a generic shell.

8. Kia Soul electric – 105 MPGe combined

Source: Kia
Source: Kia

Unlike what we expect from gas-powered cars, the Kia Soul EV gets better mileage in city at 120 miles per gallon, and worse mileage on the highway with “only” 92 miles per gallon, thanks largely to regenerative braking systems. This zero-emissions vehicles comes in three trims – Soul EV-e, Soul EV and Soul EV+. Unfortunately, it’s only available in limited numbers, and only in California and Oregon.

7. Smart Fortwo – 107 MPGe combined

Source: Smart
Source: Smart

The new third-generation Smart Fortwo offers less polarizing styling than the outgoing model while keeping the compact utility that Smart fans have come to love. Returning 122 MPGe in the city and 93 MPGe on highway in the EV version is a nice perk too. The new Smart’s small cabin is packed with features like custom instrumentation, high design air vents, proprietary touchscreen interface, and better seats to give it a more comfortable ride. Note: Although the EPA’s list includes the new ForTwo in its 2016 ratings, the new Electric Drive model hasn’t hit dealerships yet; it’s expected to arrive later in the year.

6. Smart Fortwo Convertible  – 107 MPGe combined

Source: Smart
Source: Smart

The Smart Fortwo Convertible is essentially the same car as the hardtop, save for its targa-top. Nevertheless, the EPA gave it equal time on its list. The gas-powered version is pictured above, but you can expect the electrified version to hit the streets around the same time as the hardtop.

5. Nissan Leaf — (30 kw/h battery pack) 112 MPGe combined

Source: Nissan

Nissan’s prominent EV gets the equivalent of 124 miles per gallon in the city, and 101 on the highway. As the best-selling EV of all time, it’s helped Nissan hold its own against the rising tide of competition from traditional automakers and new startups combined. For 2015, the Leaf had a maximum range of 80 miles. For 2016, The new 30 kilowatt battery pack will give the car a range of 107 miles.

4. Mitsubishi i-MiEv — 112 MPGe combined

i miev
Source: Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi’s answer to the electric plug-in gets 126 MPGe in the city, but fares slightly worse than its competitors at 99 MPGe on the highway, according to EPA estimates. This five-door hatchback runs on a 47 kW electric motor with a single speed reduction gear transmission. EPA estimates about a 62 mile range, owing to its status as one of the more obscure electric cars; only a few thousand of these have been sold in the United States. Mitsubishi has announced that it’ll be pulling the i-MiEV out of the U.S. market after 2016.

3. Nissan Leaf — (24 kw/h battery pack) 114 MPGe combined

Source: Nissan

Another version of Nissan’s five-seat hatchback, with its 80 kW electric motor for that’s good for 107 horsepower. With a bigger battery pack, this Leaf ups its economy to the equivalent of 126 miles per gallon in the city, and 101 on the highway.

2. Volkswagen e-Golf — 116 MPGe combined

Source: Volkswagen

Getting 126 miles per gallon equivalent in the city 105 on highway, the e-Golf is a well-equipped electric car built on the popular MQB platform that’s been VW’s “template” for various models, including some Passats and Tiguan crossovers, as well as a few Audi models. Available as a four-door model in two trims, the VW e-Golf offers things like keyless access, review cameras, and a modern touchscreen audio system. This electric version of the best-selling Golf has a range of 81-118 miles, according to VW estimates.

1. Chevrolet Spark — 119 MPGe combined

2015 Spark EV
Source: Chevrolet

This all-electric Chevy gets really impressive, with miles per gallon equivalent of 128 in the city, and 109 on the highway. In case you were wondering, this is the award-winning new car that Domino’s chose to deliver the pizzas of the future. While GM’s electrified city car doesn’t come standard with a pizza over, it offers a built-in WiFi hotspot, proprietary Chevrolet radio system and smartphone connection, and heated leather seats in top trims. It also comes standard with safety features like electronic stability control, hill assist and 10 airbags.

Take a look at these 10 EVs. They all offer viable ways to get around in places where electric charging stations keep range anxiety at bay. They also show that with bigger, more efficient batteries, they’re even beginning to make sense in areas where charging stations are scarce. Regardless, with these 10 you’ll never need to visit the pump, and you’ll also be getting a lot out of each kilowatt you use.

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