Best electric SUVs 2020
More and more people are buying electric cars these days, and lots of manufacturers are trying to pair this trend with another hugely popular aspect of the automotive market: SUVs.
The mix of a raised driving position and zero-emissions power is tempting. Such large and weighty cars aren't the most efficient when running on diesel or petrol power, so switching to electric helps bring running costs right down, with zero tailpipe emissions paying particularly high dividends for company-car drivers.
Several of the electric SUV models you can buy right now have been purpose-designed as electric cars; this means the batteries are integrated into the car's structure and don't encroach on luggage or passenger space, so some are actually even roomier inside than petrol or diesel rivals.
There isn't a huge choice of electric SUVs on the market right now, but many new models are just around the corner. Those already here are all appealing in various different ways, and we expect similar variety from those yet to appear. Here's our pick of the best electric SUVs that you can buy right now.
The e-tron is the first fully electric effort from this German premium brand. And as a maiden attempt, the e-tron is a very capable SUV indeed. Prices start just under £60,000, with the entry-level version returning up to 186 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.
Hyundai Kona Electric
The Hyundai Kona Electric moved the mainstream electric-car market on in a big way. With a claimed range of 280 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 ran a Kona Electric long-term to really get a feel for it. It doesn't have genuine off-road capability, but the looks are there and few will take the Kona Electric off-road.
Electric SUVs don’t come much better than this. When it arrived, the I-Pace immediately shot to the top of its class, and it's easy to see why. The Jaguar offers a range of nearly 300 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 battery in the floor, so while it's heavy, the weight is low down, 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. Charging times are fast, too, with 50kW rapid charging capability giving an 80% top-up in 85 minutes.
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 a relatively 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
Kia Soul EV
When the original version was released, the Kia Soul EV was a somewhat unusual offering, but with this second-generation version it has really come into its own. Range between charges is now 280 miles and while the styling will still divide potential customers, it’s what’s inside and underneath that counts.
A 64kWh battery – the same as in the Hyundai Kona Electric above – and 201bhp electric motor mean there’s plenty of performance around town, while good interior space means it’s practical, too. The raised SUV-style body gives great visibility and, combined with the electric drivetrain, a different feel to rivals.
If you buy a Tesla Model X (below) for its range and speed and a Jaguar I-Pace (above) or its all-round ability, then you definitely buy the Mercedes 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.
Like the previous internal-combustion-engined 2008, the e-2008 is an urban-focused family vehicle rather than a true off-roader in any sense. Its larger body means a slightly shorter driving range than the e-208, but the distance is still a useful 193 miles, and the larger car successfully carries over much of the smaller one's sharp and eye-catching styling.
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 two versions to choose from: Long Range and Performance. The Model X Long Range sees range of around 315 miles, while the most expensive Performance car concedes a little of that range in pursuit of a faster 0-60mph time of 2.7 seconds. Amazingly, it's simultaneously one of the largest and fastest electric cars on sale.