Best electric SUVs
Electric cars are rapidly growing in popularity, and many car manufacturers are combining this emerging niche in the automotive industry with a once-cult class that’s now become the mainstream: SUVs.
It’s easy to see why this combination of electric power and raised-up body is so attractive to buyers, because these often large and heavy vehicles aren’t the most efficient when fitted with a conventional petrol or diesel engine. As an electric car, an SUV emits no CO2 at all, so it’ll be cheap to tax and run as a company car.
Meanwhile, many of the electric SUVs now on sale are bespoke models, so there’s no loss of practicality. In fact, some will boast even more space inside than petrol or diesel alternatives.
There are only a handful of choices at the moment if you want a fully electric SUV, but there are lots of exciting new models due to arrive soon. However, the ones that have already arrived are all brilliant in different ways, which is a great sign for things to come. Here's a selection of the best electric SUVs out there...
Electric SUVs don’t come much better than this. When it arrived, the Jaguar I-Pace immediately shot to the top of its class, and it's easy to see why.
Jaguar has beaten all of its mainstream rivals to market with a fully electric car, and hit the nail on the head with the I-Pace. That’s because it offers a real-world range of more than 250 miles, with performance to rival some much sportier machinery (395bhp and a 0-62mph time of 4.5 seconds proves as much) and the practicality that any family SUV buyer is looking for.
Key to this package is the clever body that sandwiches the 90kWh battery in the floor, so while it might be heavy, it also keeps the weight low, so the I-Pace handles sweetly and rides smoothly.
It also doesn’t hamper practicality, as there’s lots of space inside and the 638-litre boot will swallow almost anything a family can throw at it.
Recharge times are fast, too, with 50kW rapid charging capability giving an 80% top-up in 85 minutes. With 100kW charging already built into the package, when it becomes available a top-up will only take 45 minutes, so it’ll be a while yet before the I-Pace will be obsolete.
Taking all that into account, it's no wonder the I-Pace is a major prizewinner: it scooped our 'Best Large Electric Car' title at the DrivingElectric Awards late in 2018, and in 2019 was crowned World Car of the Year at the New York Motor Show. It deserves all the accolades it gets. Read our full review.
Tesla Model X
The Tesla Model X was the company's third model, and with this electric SUV the US brand spread its wings – literally. That’s because of the Model X’s signature ‘falcon wing’ doors that give access to the spacious interior.
You can have it as a five, six or seven-seater, but whichever version you choose there’s plenty of space in the front and the middle rows. However, it does feel tight in the third row of seats.
There’s more to the Model X than how many it can carry though. There are three versions to choose from: Standard Range, Long Range and Performance.
The entry-level Standard Range should get you 230 miles on a single charge, with a 0-60mph figure of just 4.6 seconds. The Model X Long Range sees the range rise to 315 miles, while the most expensive Performance car slashes that 0-60mph time to 3.4 seconds. And if you spend £8,200 on Ludicrous Mode, that falls even further to 2.7 seconds. Which is blisteringly quick.
You also get 400kWh worth of free Tesla Supercharger time, so recharging shouldn’t be too much hassle. With a top-up time of around 40 minutes for an 80% charge, this will give you around five free charges. From an infrastructure point of view, that's something Tesla's rivals can't match. Read our full review.
Hyundai Kona Electric
The Hyundai Kona Electric is arguably the car that moves the mainstream electric-car market on at least another half step, if not a full one. And it’s an SUV, so its popularity should be assured.
With a claimed range of around 300 miles from the larger 64kWh battery model, there’s as much range as in some petrol superminis, so the Kona Electric is genuinely useable not just as a day-to-day electric car, but for longer journeys, too.
There’s practicality, plenty of on-board technology thanks to a strong infotainment system that boasts the latest connectivity, good refinement and a comfortable ride, so the Kona Electric is a great all-rounder.
We’re running a Kona Electric on our long-term test fleet, so we'll see how the Hyundai fares over a longer period of time, but for now the signs are good.
It doesn't have genuine off-road capability, but the looks are there and few will take the Kona Electric off-road. As an electric SUV, it’s one of the best around. Read our full review.
Kia Soul EV
When it was first released, the Kia Soul EV was a somewhat unusual offering, but three years later it has come into its own.
That’s thanks to a new version that arrived in 2019, which increased the car's range between charges to 280 miles. The styling will still divide potential customers, but it’s what’s inside and underneath that counts.
A 64kWh battery – the same one you'll find in the Kona Electric – and 201bhp electric motor mean there’s plenty of performance around town, while good interior space means it’s practical, too. The raised-up SUV-style body gives great visibility and combined with the electric drivetrain, a different feel to conventional rivals.
This quirkiness is the Soul EV’s USP. And it wears it rather well. Read our full review.
The Audi e-tron is another example of a manufacturer entering the electric car market for the first time. And as a maiden attempt, the e-tron is a very capable SUV indeed.
Prices start just under £70,000 – if you include the Government's £3,500 plug-in car discount – with a 95kWh battery returning up to 248 miles of range according to the latest WLTP efficiency tests.
Performance is decent: 0-62mph takes 5.7 seconds, en route to a top speed just under 125mph. Meanwhile, 660 litres of boot space is very competitive in this class, with plenty of room for passengers in the front and rear seats.
However, the e-tron's main shortcoming is its weight: it tips the scales at two-and-a-half tonnes, which has a big impact on how efficiently it can use the energy in its battery. Other than that, it's a stellar offering from Audi. Read our full review.
Pound for pound, the Kia e-Niro is one of the best electric cars ever made. And the reason is simple: it combines long-range electric driving with an affordable price tag that significantly undercuts the premium cars on this list, like the Tesla Model X and the Jaguar I-Pace.
With a 64kWh battery the e-Niro returns 282 miles of range on paper, and it will take a rapid charge of up to 100kW for a 0-80% top-up time of an hour and 15 minutes.
Better still is the fact that the e-Niro is very good to drive, as well as being practical and comfortable for a family of five.
If you buy a Tesla Model X for its range and speed, and a Jaguar I-Pace for its all-round ability, then you definitely buy the Mercedes EQC for its comfort.
The EQC is exceedingly quiet – even for an electric car – making it relaxing to drive over any kind of distance. That's partly down to the heated leather seats and their adjustable lumbar support, but also because Mercedes' engineers have worked hard to ensure that the EQC's suspension is softer and more forgivable than its rivals'.
Performance is far from shabby, with a 0-62mph time of 5.1 seconds and top speed of 110mph. 259 miles of range from the 80kWh battery makes the EQC very usable too, although alternatives in this class are squeezing out more range per kWh of battery; that means the EQC's running costs will be slightly higher. Read our full review.
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