July 6, 2022

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Best Affordable Electric Cars For 2022

12 min read

Early innovators and many premium brands are firmly rooted in the EV segment. The next innovation wave focuses on overall affordable efficiency and versatility. Numerous factors play into the equation: battery type, charging speed and vehicle range, obviously. But without a reasonable purchase price to put EVs within reach of mainstream consumers, the specifications are largely irrelevant. 

The secret weapon, of course, is the $7,500 federal tax credit and various state and local credits that accompany most EV purchases. We say “most purchases” because once a manufacturer hits 200,000 sales, the federal credit no longer applies scales down to zero 18 months later. (As of March 2022, General Motors, Toyota and Tesla have hit this threshold.) When combined with the increasingly reasonable prices of the latest EVs plus lower operating costs, the numbers begin to pencil in your favor.

Here are the most affordable EVs currently available to U.S. consumers. They are ordered by the price of the most affordable trim line, excluding the tax credit available to most buyers but not to people leasing EVs. Lessees may get a reduced lease price equal to much but not all of the $7,500.

Nissan Leaf S Plus 



View Deals On The Nissan Leaf

The 2022 Nissan Leaf S Plus is the most affordable EV in 2022. The Leaf S Plus is rated at 226 miles, nearly three times that of the pioneering 2011 Leaf, rated for 84 miles with a 24 kilowatt-hour battery. The Leaf was the world’s best selling EV until overtaken by the Tesla Model 3 in 2020. Nissan

Why We Picked It:

The 2022 Nissan Leaf features a comprehensive lineup of models. The S and SV trims have a 40-kilowatt-hour battery pack that powers a 110-kilowatt (147 horsepower) electric motor and drives the front wheels; maximum range is 149 miles. The starting MSRP is $28,375, including the $975 destination fee but not any tax credits, making the Leaf the least expensive EV currently available. The Plus models that follow the same naming convention (S, SV and SL) feature a larger 62-kWh unit and 160 kW electric motor. Counter-intuitively, the most affordable Plus model—the S Plus—has the longest range and can achieve 226 miles when fully charged. The SV Plus and SL Plus trims can only travel 215 miles on a full charge. Given its maximum range and $33,375 base price, it’s the clear choice for value in the Leaf lineup. Read more Leaf details here. 

Pros 

  • Quiet driving experience
  • Wide range of driver assistance features
  • Competitive cost of entry to the pricey electric market

Cons  

  • Back seats don’t fold flat
  • Air-cooled batteries lose range faster than other EVs
  • Lackluster driving dynamics

View Deals On The Mini Hardtop

Despite its 110-mile maximum range, the Mini Cooper SE exudes plenty of charm and it’s a blast to drive. Mini

Why We Picked It: 

Starting from $30,750 (before a $7,500 federal any other tax credits but including the $850 destination), the Mini Cooper SE is among the market’s most affordable EVs. It blends frisky handling and lots of features with the signature style that’s made Britain’s Mini Cooper an international legend for 61 years. There’s only one little problem: An official 110-mile driving range, less than half that of many EVs. As a result, it’s best to think of the Mini Cooper SE as a second or third car in the household, well-suited to daily commutes, errands or weekend fun. With that in mind, we’d stick with the base model, skip any options and enjoy its personality overall. Read the full review. 

Pros 

  • Among the most affordable electric cars
  • Charming style, premium interior
  • Can in some cases exceed official driving range

Cons 

  • Stingy 110-mile official range
  • Limited back seat, cargo space
  • Weighs 453 pounds more than standard, gas-engine, Cooper

3. Chevrolet Bolt  

View Deals On The Chevrolet Bolt

Chevrolet Bolt sales trickled to a halt due wide-reaching battery recall campaign. Battery supplier LG is almost back up to speed and sales are expected to resume in April 2022. Chevrolet

Why We Picked It: 

The Bolt EV offers a driving range of 259 miles on a single charge, and its 66-kWh battery pack can be fully recharged in 7 hours using a Level 2, 240-volt, home charger. Step up to a Level 3 DC fast-charging station, and it can add 100 miles of range in 30 minutes. (The available DC fast charge option is required.) As previously mentioned, GM has hit the limit in terms of federal tax credits, but the Bolt 1LT starts at $32,495, including a $995 destination charge making it one of the least expensive EVs on sale in the U.S. The 2LT is a $3,200 upcharge and brings leather upholstery, machined aluminum wheels, heated exterior mirrors with turn signals, and some added safety features; plus, it’s the only way to get adaptive cruise control ($375). We think the car is a solid enough effort to warrant stepping up to the 2LT. Read more Bolt details here. 

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Pros 

  • Roomy interior for such a tiny vehicle
  • Entertaining to drive for any vehicle let alone an EV
  • Long driving range

Cons 

  • No native navigation system
  • Battery update limits usable storage capacity to 90%
  • Standard equipment isn’t as generous as competitive offerings

View Deals On The Mazda MX-30

With just 100 miles of range, the Mazda MX-30 EV is best situated to small communities with a robust charging network. Mazda

Why We Picked It: 

The MX-30 EV starts at $34,695, including a destination fee of $1,225, while the Premium Plus trim is $37,705. Both prices are before a $7,500 federal tax credit and applicable state rebates. Both come very well-equipped, including such features as a sunroof, adaptive headlamps, blind-spot monitoring, rain-sensing wipers, and 18-inch wheels. But the CX-30 is hobbled by its weak-kneed 100-mile range. It’s hard to recommend for anyone outside of self-contained communities and maybe tiny resort islands, which is good, as it is currently sold only in California. Nationwide availability is coming in 2023. Read the full review. 

Pros 

  • Slick styling 
  • Sharp handling and smooth ride
  • Upscale cabin materials and design

Cons 

  • 100-mile range is far less than most competitors
  • Awkward rear-hinged back doors
  • Cramped rear seat 

View Deals On The Hyundai Kona Electric

The Hyundai Kona EV packs 228 miles of range and a lot of features into a compact package. Hyundai

Why We Picked It:

There’s a lot to like about the Hyundai Kona Electric, including its $35,225 base price, including destination but not the $7,500 federal tax credit. Its 258-mile range is the best in class, as is its 120 MPGe estimate (both are official EPA numbers). Our biggest criticism is that Hyundai couldn’t find a way to put two key safety features—adaptive cruise control and automatic high beams—into the base SEL model as an option or as part of a package. The jump to the Limited, the all-in top-top trim, is $8,500. Nevertheless, it’s arguably a more interesting design than the Niro, Bolt or Leaf, and the warranty, maintenance and roadside assistance package is the most generous in the competitive set. Read the full review. 

Pros 

  • Slick styling 
  • Sharp handling and smooth ride
  • Upscale cabin materials and design

Cons 

  • 100-mile range is far less than most competitors
  • Awkward rear-hinged back doors
  • Cramped rear seat 

6. Hyundai Ioniq 5  

View Deals On The Hyundai Ioniq 5

One of the newest EVs on the market, the Hyundai Ioniq 5 offers 223 miles of range in standard trim and up to 303 miles with the higher capacity battery. Availability is currently limited due to high demand. Hyundai

Why We Picked It: 

The 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 enters the market near the pinnacle of the compact electric SUV segment in almost every category. The base Ioniq 5 SE Standard Range starts at $40,945, including a $1,245 destination fee, is a good starter for anyone seeking a fully loaded EV that costs relatively little—especially for those who can claim a $7,500 federal income tax credit that lowers the actual cost to $33,445. Before applying any incentives, the big-battery rear-drive SE starts at $44,895 and brings a rewarding 83-mile bump in range and power. Read the full review. 

Pros 

  • Comfortable yet sporty ride and handling
  • Spacious modern interior. 
  • Rear- and all-wheel drive versions

Cons 

  • Constrained rear visibility 
  • Limited availability

View Deals On The Kia Niro EV

Launched in 2018, the Kia Niro EV is a bit of an elder statesman in the rapidly proliferating EV segment. Kia

Why We Picked It:

In a small but competitive segment, the Kia Niro EV offers peppy performance, a quiet and comfortable cabin, and numerous standard features for the price, including a healthy set of advanced driver-assist technologies. Its 239-mile range and the ability to charge 80% in an hour should be enough for most drivers’ day-to-day needs. There are just two trim levels, the EX at $40,265 and the EX Premium at $45,825, both including a $1,195 destination charge. Both qualify for a $7,500 federal rebate, plus state incentives, but the Niro EV is sold only in 12 states. Read the full review. 

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Pros 

  • More power than most rivals
  • One-pedal driving feature
  • Simple, intuitive controls

Cons 

  • Less range than most rivals
  • Some cheaper-looking interior materials
  • Not available in all states

8. Ford F-150 Lightning   

View Deals On The Ford F-150 Lightning

So it’s not a car; the Ford F-150 Lightning is still a highly versatile EV that starts around $42k before the federal or state tax credits. Ford

Why We Picked It:

True, the F-150 Lightning pickup is technically not a car, but you can bet many buyers use it that way. The same can be said of the Rivian R1T, but its $67,500 price tag is nearly $25k more than the Ford F150 Lightning Pro’s $41,669 base price (including the $1,695 destination). Both trucks are still applicable for the $7,500 federal tax credit. The Lightning bears a close physical resemblance to its best-selling F-150 gasoline counterpart, but underneath the skin is an EV powertrain capable of up to 320 miles of range in the extended-range version. However, the base Pro model has a range of just 230 miles. The biggest downside to the F-150 Lightning is the wait to get one; Ford says the entire first year’s production is sold out. Read the first drive. 

Pros:

  • Attract base price
  • Traditional pickup styling
  • 2000-pound payload with standard battery pack

Cons 

  • Long wait for delivery
  • Price escalates quickly, top models near $100k
  • Pending Chevrolet Silverado EV getting larger in the rear-view mirror

View Deals On The Kia EV6

2022 Kia EV6
Like its Ioniq 5 cousin, the Kia EV6 represents the latest in modern, affordable EVs. Kia

Why We Picked It:

Kia’s first dedicated EV, the EV6 leapfrogs much of the competition right out of the gate, not unlike its Ioniq 5 cousin with which it shares some commonality. The base EV6 Light model ($42,115, before the $7,500 tax credit but including $1,215 destination) might also be called the EV6 lite. Its price is relatively low, but its range is just 232 miles. The rest of the lineup—the $48,215 Wind and $52,415 GT-Line trims, again before any federal, state or local rebates or incentives—use a 77.4 kWh battery and are rated for 310 miles of range; All-wheel drive versions are available. Read the first drive. 

Pros: 

  • Fresh unique styling in and out
  • 350-kW DC fast-charger can add a claimed 70 miles in five minutes
  • Spacious front and rear seating

Cons:

  • Hyundai Ioniq5 cousin slightly less expensive
  • Tiny frunk 
  • All-wheel drive versions over $50,000

View Deals On The Volkswagen ID.4

To years after its introduction, the Volkswagen ID.4 continues to offer a pleasing blend of style, range and amenities. Volkswagen

Why We Picked It: 

The 2021 VW ID.4 is a competent electric crossover that easily matches most gas-powered rivals’ performance, comfort and convenience. While this isn’t the vehicle to take on unpaved backroads, it is ideal for urban adventurers and families who can charge at home, work or a station nearby. The Volkswagen RWD ID.4 Pro, which retails for $41,995, including the $1,195 destination fee, will be enough for most buyers that want to enter the EV market in the most cost-effective way possible. The Pro S commands a $4500 upcharge. A $7,500 federal tax credit reduces the base model to $33,100 for buyers who can claim it. Read the full review. 

Pros 

  • Comfortable and spacious
  • Drives better than gasoline counterparts from Toyota and Honda
  • Rear- and all-wheel drive variants

Cons 

  • Public charging stations are still challenging to find
  • Some drivers will want more buttons and dials for controls
  • All-wheel-drive variant trades power for range

View Deals On The Ford Mustang Mach-E

The Ford Mustang Mach-E offers undeniable style; the fact that it’s an EV is almost a bonus. Ford

Why We Picked It:

The Ford Mustang Mach-E lives up to its high-voltage hype with speedy, near-silent performance and sleek looks. Ford’s handsome electric SUV in the base Select trim can be had for as little as $44,995 ($37,495 after the $7500 tax credit and including the $1,100 destination) with front-drive and a 247-mile driving range. Stepping up to the Mach-E Premium with the extended-range battery boosts for an additional $5,250 increases the range to 303 miles. Read the full review. 

Pros 

  • Comfortable and spacious
  • Drives better than gasoline counterparts from Toyota and Honda
  • Rear- and all-wheel drive variants

Cons 

  • Public charging stations are still challenging to find
  • Some drivers will want more buttons and dials for controls
  • All-wheel-drive variant trades power for range
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Methodology

For 2022, our rating categories, used to calculate scores for full reviews, are:

  1. Performance 
  2. Fuel Economy 
  3. Safety 
  4. Infotainment 
  5. Comfort & Room 
  6. Cargo Space & Storage 
  7. Style & Design 

Overall: 100 points 

  • Performance (15 points) The Performance score is a subjective assessment of a vehicle’s handling, braking, acceleration, ride quality and other qualitative performance measures such as horsepower, torque, zero-to-60 time and top speed. Towing capability for trucks and SUVs also is considered. Performance of the vehicles is compared against the identified competitive set. While driving, reviewers look for attributes relative to the expectations set by the manufacturer and by consumer expectations.
  • Fuel Economy (15 points) The Fuel Economy score is based on the combined mpg estimate for the entire model lineup and how that figure measures against the identified competitive set. The mpg estimates are based on EPA data or the manufacturer if no EPA data is available. Hybrid and plug-in electric variants within a lineup that significantly lower their overall average will not be included in the comparison unless the competitive set also have hybrid or PHEV variants. Scoring for pure electric vehicles will be based on kilowatts consumed per 100 miles and the comparative mile per gallon equivalent, or MPGe.
  • Safety (15 points) The Safety score is based on crash test results from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Vehicles not yet rated by either agency receive zero points. Also included in the safety rating are points awarded for certain advanced driver-assistance safety features offered as standard equipment on the base trim. There are nine safety features Forbes Wheels considers mandatory for the standard offering: forward emergency automatic braking, forward collision warning, automatic high beams, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic warning, adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning or one its higher-level variants, lane keeping assistance or lane centering. Vehicles must have at least four of these in their standard offering to receive points. Vehicles that offer a Level 2 self-driving system, (a combination of adaptive cruise control and lane centering) are eligible for a bonus point.
  • Infotainment (15 points) The Infotainment score is based on points awarded for certain features offered as standard equipment on the base trim. Forbes Wheels identifies certain features that are growing in popularity and therefore have been adopted by both premium and mainstream automakers. Some of these features include a minimum 7-inch touchscreen (or premium vehicles that use a rotary knob, touchpad or other mechanism to control a non-touchscreen display), wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a customizable, digital driver information display or instrument panel and at least 2 USB ports. Additional points are awarded for popular features that haven’t been widely adopted in mainstream vehicles such as wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and wireless charging capabilities.
  • Comfort & Room (15 points) The Comfort & Room score is based on points awarded for the reviewer’s assessment of the vehicle’s comfort, ergonomics and overall interior feel as well as effective use of space. Points also are awarded for the measurement of rear-seat legroom and how it compares with the identified competitive set. Vehicles that offer segment-best legroom in either rear seat or optional third row are eligible for a bonus point.
  • Cargo Space & Storage (15 points) The Cargo Space & Storage score is based on points awarded for the reviewer’s assessment of the vehicle’s large and small cargo spaces (as well as small-item storage) and how well they serve their purpose and effective use of space. Reviewers also consider innovative storage solutions and flexible loading features. Points also are awarded for the cargo space measurements for rear cargo hold or trunk and how it compares with the identified competitive set. Vehicles that offer a segment-best cargo or trunk space are eligible for a bonus point.
  • Styling (10 points) The Styling score is a subjective assessment of a vehicle’s overall styling and design, inside and out. Reviewers also consider the configuration of the interior and how well the design plays into the function. Build quality also is a consideration.  

This article, Best Affordable Electric Cars For 2022, originally appeared on Forbes Advisor.

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