When buying a new car, reliability should be a primary determining factor. Electric cars have a confusing reputation from a reliability standpoint. While these vehicles tend to have top-of-the-line technology and efficiency features, many models are notorious for breaking down frequently.
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So, how can you avoid buying a lemon and ensure your electric car has the wherewithal to remain on the road? Here’s our advice on the most reliable electric vehicles of 2022.
But First: Are Electric Vehicles More Reliable Than Gas?
Research whether electric cars are more reliable than gas, and you’ll get mixed reviews. Some analysts state that electric vehicles require 10%-15% less maintenance than those with internal combustion engines, and this gap increases as you compare EVs to older vehicles. That’s explained in part because electric cars have fewer moving parts than those with gas engines, meaning there’s less to go wrong mechanically.
However, research is starting to show that you won’t always get what you pay for—at least with high-end electric vehicles. In fact, a Consumer Reports study found that cars in the $35,000-$45,000 range actually scored better on reliability metrics than those priced above $75,000. Industry darling Telsa scored second to last, beaten only in unreliability by Ford’s Lincoln.
That’s not to say that expensive EVs are built worse than budget-friendly models. You can actually attribute most of the blame to the high-tech gadgetry within them. Luxury EVs tend to have top-of-the-line features like touchscreen controls, large LED screens, and even the capacity for over-the-air software updates. However, these extra features offer more opportunities for things to go wrong, and much of this interior technology is new enough to be buggy still.
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In this sense, you’re more likely to walk away with a reliable car if you skip the bells and whistles and instead commit to one with fewer parts to break down. That’s why our recommendations for the most reliable EVs all fall under the $50,000 price line.
The most reliable EVs: our top picks
Highlights: Budget-friendly Kia breaks their own mold with the Kia Niro, a high-end car that’s a winner for performance and reliability.
- EV Range: 112 MPGe, 239-mile range
- Battery Type: 64 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery
- Rated Power: 201 horsepower
- Price: starts at $39,990
Winning Consumer Report’s top placement for reliability, the Kia Niro EV is a car you can count on. It’s priced a little higher than the competition at $39,990 but comes with a reputation for reliability and quality production. While Kia used to be known as a budget-friendly car company, its vehicles now compete favorably against legacy brands.
This car is a versatile, all-electric hatchback with a roomy interior and intuitive controls. It has a 64 kWh battery that generates 201 horsepower over its 239 driving range, and the car can smoke past many other EVs with a 6.2-second acceleration to 60-mph.
Also included in the car is a 10.3-inch infotainment touchscreen equipped with built-in navigation, satellite radio, and other features. Though the model wouldn’t be considered luxurious, it includes thoughtful features like an interior climate control system that automatically shuts off when it detects an empty passenger seat, which saves battery in the long run.
Highlights: Reliable yet powerful, the Chevy Bolt charges quickly and has a large drive range—making it ideal for daily use.
- EV Range: 120 MPGe, 259-mile range
- Battery Type: 65 kWh 350 V lithium-ion
- Rated Power: 200 horsepower
- Price: Starts at $31,500
The Chevy Bolt is largely responsible for putting electric cars on the map for the average consumer. Years later, it’s still a stellar pick for a daily use vehicle. This small yet feature-packed all-electric hatchback will travel up to 259 miles, and you can add up to 100 miles to the battery in just a 30-minute charging session.
Though small, the car’s interior comes equipped with comfortable seats and an easy-to-use 10.2-inch infotainment system. You’ll likely be pleasantly surprised how much room there is around the rear seats.
Adding to the car’s reputation for reliability, it comes equipped with industry-leading safety features like forward collision and lane departure warnings. Those who go premium will enjoy a 360-degree camera, blind-spot monitoring, and adaptive cruise control.
Despite its reputation as a commuter car, customer reviews share that the Bolt is a lot of fun to drive, thanks to a torquey, well-balanced build. And beyond the car’s impressive performance, it also earns stellar ratings for reliability. In fact, Consumer Reports awarded it a perfect reliability score of 5/5 from 2017-2020.
Highlights: Honda’s plug-in hybrid offers an excellent electric-only range and an abundance of safety features that make it a reliable bet for any budget-conscious driver.
- EV Range: 500-mile range, 42-mile electric drive range
- Battery Type: lithium-ion battery pack
- Rated Power: 151 horsepower
- Price: Starts at $25,760
Cost-effective and fuel-efficient, the Honda Insight won’t earn many style points, but you can trust this car to get you where you need to go. It’s a plug-in hybrid that’s similar in stature to the Civic Hybrid. The car can make it 54 mpg on electric power alone, matching the more expensive Prius Prime. It offers a smooth and comfortable driving experience, although the interior and cargo space are somewhat limited, and the gas engine gets loud during accelerations.
Even so, the Honda Insight comes equipped with state-of-the-art features like a driver information interface, Walk Away Auto Lock with Smart Entry, and a multi-angle rearview camera. Other high-end safety features include a blind spot information system with a cross-traffic monitor and other forms of driver assistance technology. Just don’t expect quick acceleration, as the combination of a gas engine and the electric motor slows it down to 7.7 seconds to reach 60 mph.
Even so, Consumer Reports has assessed this midsize sedan to be significantly more reliable than the average new car, ensuring you’ll spend your time on the road and not at the mechanics.
Highlights: This hatchback electric car is an award-winning electric vehicle with super-quick charging capacities, meaning it’s guaranteed to get you where you need to go.
- EV Range: 120 MPGe, 258-mile range
- Battery Type: 64-kWh lithium-ion battery pack
- Rated Power: 201 horsepower
- Price: Starts at $34,000
As a subcompact car, the fully-electric Hyundai Kona is roomy enough for daily use and offers a hatchback for ample storage and easy access. This car doesn’t skimp on performance, as it travels up to 258 miles per charge. Regarding the interior, you’ll get comfy seats and an infotainment system that’s compatible with both Apple and Android systems.
Despite its somewhat scrappy build, the car’s 64 kWh lithium-ion battery provides up to 201 horsepower and 291 lb-ft of torque. Running out of battery isn’t a serious concern, as the vehicle can recharge up to 80 percent in an hour.
The Kona is the winner of the 2019 North American Utility Vehicle of the Year, and it’s long been considered one of the best electric vehicles available for under $50,000. And along with its lack of tailpipe emissions, Hyundai itself is working to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045 through more efficient cars and technology innovations like hydrogen energy.
Safety-wise, this car is equipped with all standard features and many more—including blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, lane following, drive attention warnings, and lane following.
Highlights: Both models of the Nissan LEAF offer a reliable vehicle that gives you the best of what electric power can offer. Keep your expectations realistic; considering the price, don’t expect a luxury vehicle.
- EV Range: 114 MPGe, 226-mile range
- Battery Type: 40 kWh lithium-ion battery
- Rated Power: 147 to 214 hp (based on engine size)
- Price: Starts at $27,400
Compact and efficient, the Nisson LEAF makes sense for city and highway driving alike. Don’t expect many luxury features at this price point, although the LEAF makes up for its lack of flash with solid performance and reliability.
But even so, this EV employs a push-button start, NissanConnect infotainment screen, automatic temperature control, and a wide range of modern safety features that make driving less precarious.
The amount of power per charge depends on the model: the standard LEAF has a 40-kWh electric motor that’s good for 150 miles, while the PLUS’s 62-kWh engine lets it push through to 226 miles with 250 lb of torque. This makes it mid-tier compared to other EVs, although relatively impressive for the price.
Highlights: A classic of hybrid cars, the Prius Prime offers the potential to run off both battery power and gas—although it does neither better than the competition.
- EV Range: 133 MPGe, 25-mile electric drive range
- Battery Type: 8.8 kWh 352 V lithium-ion
- Rated Power: 121 horsepower
- Price: Starts at $28,220
Now considered a classic in the world of plug-in electric vehicles, the Toyota Prius is still a good bet. The car is known for its fuel efficiency and impressive drive range, as it makes it up to 54 mpg with city/highway driving. Once you use up the car’s electric capacity, it switches to a gas engine, meaning you’ll never be stranded so long as a gas station is nearby. Thanks to a large cargo hold, upscale interior, and robust tech and safety features, it makes for a stellar daily use car.
As the battery is smaller than those in fully electric vehicles, it can charge from empty in just 5.5 hours on a 120-volt household outlet.
Just note that this car isn’t one for showing off from a speed standpoint, as it offers a less-than-impressive acceleration speed. Likewise, the car’s multiple fuel types means there are more internal systems to go wrong. But even so, the Toyota line remains a standout in the industry for its reliability. The Prius Prime itself earns a reliability score of 74 out of 100 from Consumers Reports, making it well above average compared to competitors.
Highlights: Indulge in an environmentally sound sports car with the Mach-E, Ford’s electric vehicle answer to the Mustang.
- EV Range: 90 MPGe, 247-mile range
- Battery Type: 68 or 88 kWh usable capacity battery
- Rated Power: 266-480 horsepower
- Price: Starts at $43,895
Designed in part as an homage to its sportier cousin, the Mustang, the Mach-E might just be fun enough to convince you you’re driving one. This vehicle started the development process as an electrified Focus, but Ford executives made the pivot to make a car that more resembled the cool factor of a Mustang.
Today, the Mach-E is Ford’s first fully electric vehicle. It’s a five-passenger SUV with AWD that Consumers Reports rates as more reliable than the average car. You’ll get a sporty feel with how it handles acceleration, though the car’s electric motor means it lacks that distinctive gas engine revving. Even so, it can reach 60 mph in an impressive 5.1 seconds.
The car also boasts a large battery pack that gives it close to a 250-mile range per charge, and the large center touchscreen adds an expensive feel. In fact, drivers may find it resembles the Tesla Model Y, Audi e-Tron, and Jaguar I-Pace from a luxury sports car standpoint.
You can charge the Mach-E quickly, adding up to 52 miles of range in just ten minutes with a DC fast charger, or charge it from 10 to 80% full in under 45 minutes. But unlike these vehicles, the Mach E has a reputation for durability and reliability.