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Electric Vehicle information for Atlanta and Georgia

a checklist for the perfect electric car


a guide for the EV purchaser


an open letter to automakers about their next EV

This long document exists for two purposes:

  • For the EV consumer, to serve as a guide to what you should be scrutinizing. It’s a list of things to look for when trying to make sense of all of the EV options available to you. Even if you don’t read through the whole thing, at least read the must-have section, but if you get serious about it then come back for the rest. We’ll assume that you already know the basics of EVs, and perhaps even already own one and are looking to upgrade. If you are new to EVs, first check out the fact sheet on EV basics, linked on the left side of this website.
  • As an open letter to automakers, inventorying all the little features that their competitors may be offering, and revealing all the unseen ways that they could be screwing up their product.

This checklist was first created in summer 2013 as more EV models started to come to market, offering a greater variety of features and performance. It was completely overhauled in December 2023. Every single item on this list is here because some carmaker screwed it up on their model.

This is necessarily an incredibly long document, and thus is organized into the sections below:

critical / must-have features of any EV

These are at the top of the list for a reason: they’re super important! If you want a real EV, then these are the headline items to evaluate, and failing here can be a dealbreaker.

DC Fast Charging power / speed: First, for an introduction to DCFC, see:

The big differentiators on DCFC are A) what is the peak speed that the EV can charge at, and B) how long during the charging session can it hold that high speed. It’s not just about the peak power number. For example, Tesla’s EVs famously charge at very fast speeds, but only for the first few minutes and then they ramp down significantly (see FastNed graph here). In contrast, an EV like the Audi etron has a lower peak speed, but holds that fast speed all the way to 80% state-of-charge or SOC (FastNed graph). Another factor is how efficient the EV is, literally how many miles it gets out of each kWh you charge into it — and to continue the above two examples, Teslas are very efficient whereas the Audi is a more inefficient SUV. A measurement like “miles per hour of charging” (MPHC) would be good and combines both power input and driving efficiency, but there is no standard for publishing that and again you need to not just look at the peak MPHC number. Ideally the EPA would come up with a standardized way to report this performance (e.g. minutes to get 100 miles of range), just like they report miles of range and report it on the Monroney sticker (and at fueleconomy.gov), but as of 2023 they have not yet. Until then, a good way to evaluate this performance is to look here at the FastNed graph for the EV you are evaluating and see how much of the graph is above 100 kW. During a charging session from near 0% to near 100%, how much of the time is the car pulling more than 100 kW? The more of that curve that is at higher power levels, the less time your EV will need at charging stops, and it’s likely that you will be never be waiting for the car. If the charging power spends more time above 100 kW, the car will likely be ready to go again before you even come back from getting a bite to eat or whatever. Again, don’t just look at the peak speed — check the actual performance curve for how well it sustains the high power. Carmakers never publish this curve, so you need to go to independent sources for it, like the FastNed system mentioned multiple times above. Note: Plugin Hybrid EVs (PHEVs) carry a gas engine as a backup and for roadtrips, and therefore typically don’t need or offer DCFC; see the PHEV section below for more.

Rear- drive (RWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD), not front-wheel drive (FWD): Because electric motors are so much more compact than their gas counterparts (typically the size of a watermelon), they are easier to fit in the rear of the car, under the trunk, coaxial with the rear wheels. Driving the rear axle allows the power to be delivered to the ground better than front wheel drive, which can be prone to “wheelspin” with a powerful electric motor. Similarly, while AWD was historically complex and heavy to add to a gas car due to the extra drivetrain and suspension parts, it relatively easy in EVs and you’ll see most models offering it as an option. RWD-only models often have the best range numbers because they are slightly more efficient (however note the range discussion below). The only downside of RWD is that it’s less stable in slippery conditions, but as long as you drive aware of that, the rest of the time you have a better driving car. Typically only the budget models will offer FWD-only drivetrains; for FWD the one thing to evaluate is how bad the “torque steer” is, and if it’s bad then you’re probably dealing with an immature EV model.

power display while charging: When starting a charging session, you want to see if the station is giving you a decent amount of power before you walk away. For this, we need to see the instantaneous power displayed, in kiloWatts, and preferably on one of the screens without having to power up the car. Ideally the car even wakes up and displays it on the screen if you are just near the car (standing outside) so you can just look in the window and check. You can’t rely on the charging station to tell you, because many display only the total energy (kWh, not kW) delivered, or total cost accrued so far, not the power (in kW), and those absolutely are not substitutes so you need to rely on the car’s power display. Further, many Level 2 stations don’t display the power at all, so again you are relying on the car for this, especially for hotel stays. The Ford Mustang Mach-E is an example of an EV that utterly fails on this metric. (See also the exterior LED charging status feature described in the “EV subtleties” section farther down in this document.)

adjustable acceleration power (e.g. a sport mode): Because electric drivetrains are so powerful, carmakers will often offer multiple power settings, dialing down the power to less aggressive levels and offering the higher power as a sport mode or similar. However, they have a conundrum here: they want the default behavior to be powerful for first-time test drives (including by journalists writing reviews), but they also want it to be efficient because the EPA range is determined with the car at its default settings. So you need to seek out that higher-power mode if you want it; it’s typically another shifter position or a drive mode that you select with a button. Typically all the setting does is change how twitchy the accelerator pedal is (aka the “pedal mapping”) but it makes a big difference in how fun and useful the car is.

strong regen available: All electric cars (and indeed all hybrid cars) regenerate power back into the battery as you decelerate (slow down), using the exact same electric drivetrain that accelerated the car, and this capability is called regen braking. All EVs have it, and most models engage some (if not all) of that regen braking when you lift off the accelerator, without requiring that you press the brake. This means you can effectively accel and decel with just one pedal — we literally call it one-pedal driving. For the performance car readers here, this makes driving the EV feel like a manual transmission car with the engine braking, and that’s a good thing. EVs are stealth sports cars! Critically, we want strong regen to be available to us. The tricky part is how to evaluate — unless you already have an EV and have a subjective “feel” for that regen power, you’ll need to seek out detailed reviews by journals such as Motor Trend and Car & Driver, who publish objective measurements of the regen power.

adjustable regen braking, independent of sport mode: Some people like the regen effect and some don’t — typically a first-time EV driver hates it and wants to turn it off right away. However I always suggest that they just stick with it for 15 minutes, because they will find that it becomes the new normal and works just fine. Nonetheless, the carmakers have caved and usually default to weaker regen, and then offer you some control that increases it. Some add a position on the shifter (“L” or “B”), some use cool “paddle” controls on the back of the steering wheel, some bury it as a setting in the menu. But here is the key: you want that regen braking adjustment to be independent of the accel power adjust described above. For example, if the car only offers an Eco mode that simultaneously increases the regen braking and decreases the accel power, or doesn’t offer adjustable regen at all, then that car has failed this test.

low regen cutout speed (e.g. 3 MPH or even 0 MPH) — Also known as “one pedal driving”, if the car keeps the regen braking effect in the loop as long as possible, you can regen-brake to a complete stop (or close to it) without taking your foot off the accel pedal. Ideally, there will be a setting in the car’s menu to enable or disable this setting; some cars, notably from the Germans, use confounding language for this behavior and thus make it hard to find the setting.

AC Charging power / speed: Also known as Level 2, AC charging is typically what you will use routinely at your home or workplace, perhaps daily or weekly (see the home charging page for more). These charging sessions are much slower than DCFC, typically take many hours, and thus are usually done overnight or while parked at work all day. The charging speed is limited by a electric converter bottleneck inside the car, and the size of that bottleneck is expressed in terms of power (kW) or current (Amps). Since the 2010 start of this wave of EVs, pretty much all of the EV models have offered 6-7 kW charging (30-32 Amps), and that is certainly the minimum you should accept. Increasingly, however, EVs on the market are offering 10-11 kW charging (48 Amps), especially on the EVs with bigger batteries like on SUVs or pickup trucks. You’ll need that slightly faster charging to get a full charge overnight, if you pulled in the previous evening nearly empty. This is especially important for roadtrips where you might plan your overnight stay at a hotel that offers EV charging — if you are charging at the slower 6-7 kW speeds, you may find that even after 10 hours of charging (say, 10pm to 8am), you’re still not filled up. Note: PHEVs can get by with slower charging; see PHEV section below.

heated seats and steering wheel: This isn’t necessarily an EV-only amenity, but it’s one way that most EVs on the market extend the range of the car. Heating you in your seat is much more efficient than heating the cabin’s entire volume of air, and a heated steering wheel is really nice too. Bonus points for heating the rear seats as well.

cooled (ventilated) seats: Another amenity that isn’t necessarily only on EVs, this blows some of the cabin air through the seat cushions, and is a killer feature in hot-weather climates. In theory this helps with efficiency because you can relax the cabin cooling a bit. This feature is typically offered in luxury cars but is increasingly showing up in budget models. The Korean makes (Hyundai, Kia, Genesis) in particular have offered this across their product lines for many years.

dedicated EV platform / not a conversion car — some automakers are taking their gas models and simply doing a “conversion” on them, leaving out the gas engine and gas tank and replacing them with the electric drivetrain. This frankenstein approach gives them a product that they can quickly bring to market, for example in California to meet the EV mandate there, but the conversions are usually pretty messy affairs. In particular they usually don’t have a good place for the battery, and so they’ll put it in the trunk, tying up what would otherwise be useful space, and similarly they will lack a frunk (more on the frunk below). Look for EVs that were designed from the ground up to accommodate an electric drivetrain, typically with the battery in a large, flat volume below the cabin or below the rear seats.

800 Volt drivetrain: This isn’t a must-have per se, rather an important technical detail to be aware of. Up until 2020 or so, all EVs had 400 Volt drivetrains, meaning a 400V battery, 400V motor and 400V DC Fast Charging. Then EVs started to come out with double that, providing more powerful drivetrains and much faster DCFC — see the DCFC technology page for a list of 800V cars. Any 800V car will inherently charge much faster on roadtrip stops at DCFC stations, and over time we expect to see many more such cars come to market. Much like basic 4-cylinder gas cars vs luxury 6-8-cylinder gas cars, we may see the 400V drivetrains move to the budget end of the market and 800V go to sports and luxury. (Note: the numbers “400” and “800” are of course approximate and will vary from car to car, but those are the general drivetrain class terms used in industry.)

driver assist technologies: Starting with adaptive cruise control in the 2010s, then evolving through lane maintenance, automatic lane changing and even hands-free driving, these technologies are some of the most exciting features of new cars. They’re not EV-only, but typically appear on all EVs since those are the most tech-forward models. There’s a whole section below about them and what features to look for.

a commitment to software updates: Every car ever made leaves the factory with known problems. However with software driving so many of the features in modern cars, these problems can often be fixed with software updates. The critical item to evaluate is whether the carmaker has committed to deploying all software updates to cars that are already sold. Believe it or not, some carmakers have a policy of not updating the software once a car has left the factory, unless they are forced to due to a safety concern, e.g. a recall with NHTSA involved. (Audi, I’m looking at you.) Get a commitment that yes they do update the software, even if it can only be done in the dealership’s service garage, and get that commitment in writing.

over-the-air (OTA) software updates: Some carmakers can deploy software updates to the car via a mobile network modem built into the car. Typically this is just for updates to the infotainment system, such as map updates, but a few innovative carmakers (Tesla, Rivian) can literally update anything over the air, including drivetrain performance. If the carmaker says they do OTA, clarify whether it’s just infotainment or every module. If the update is for critical functions such as drivetrain, check whether you can delay (aka snooze) the update when it arrives, to delay the install to a time when you won’t need the car for a little while. You might need to search the internet for owner reports on this behavior.

Finally, two items that many first-time EV shoppers care about but actually are not that important …

range (not that important): The fully-charged range of an EV is typically the very first thing that shoppers ask about, but as long as it’s over 200 miles, it doesn’t matter that much — literally every single thing above is more important than range. Most important is the item at the very top of this list: DCFC speed (power), and not just the peak speed, as discussed above. Having 250 or 300 miles range is nice, but you shouldn’t pursue that to the detriment of other features. With most drivers needing a short break after 2-3 hours, and DCFC being deployed all over the country, range is less important. But because the less-informed general public is all about range, those EV models with lower range numbers (200-250) may have depressed demand and could thus actually be the bargain choice, especially if they check many of the other boxes above..

Tesla / NACS plug (not that important): As discussed on the public charging and roadtrips page, the entire non-Tesla industry had converged onto the CCS plug standard, and all non-Tesla public charging infrastructure nationwide is already equipped with that plug. However, in mid 2023 this gradual convergence was suddenly upended when all of the carmakers (starting with Ford) announced that they would eventually shift to putting the Tesla receptacle (aka North American Charging Standard or NACS) onto their cars, instead of CCS. This will start to happen in 2025, after Tesla’s ad-hoc “standard” really is standardized (under SAE J3400), and the carmakers have their supply chains working. In the meantime, starting in 2024 the carmakers will offer adapters to the existing owners of their CCS-plug cars, and Tesla’s charging sites are already starting to be equipped with both plugs (NACS and CCS). This means that non-Tesla CCS-plug cars will continue to be supported for many years to come, possibly decades especially via the adapters. The point here is that you should not wait until your model of interest has the Tesla/NACS receptacle directly on it, because CCS is just fine and will continue to be for a long time. In fact the earliest NACS-equipped cars are likely to have problems anyway, so you might want to stay away from NACS that first year or two (2025-2026). But the general population won’t understand this subtlety, which has the effect of depressing interest in EVs, which means a bargain for you! Don’t worry about the CCS plug, it’ll be fine.

EV subtleties

Next, we have the long list of the subtleties, the little things that you don’t even know about until you’ve been driving electric and have seen lots of different EVs. Honestly none of these are likely to be dealbreakers (or they’d be listed above) but they do make a difference between a very satisfied customer and one who’s constantly frustrated about The Little Things. The most important ones are listed first.

charge port location: If you plug in every day, you’ll find that you care more about where on the car that charge port is located. If it’s right by the driver’s door then the marginal cost of your time is just a few seconds; if it’s way over on the other side of the car, it becomes more annoying. However, most EVs have far more range than you’ll use in a single day, so you may find that you only charge once or twice a week, and in that case the port location is less important. Still, having it on the driver’s side of the car somewhere (front corner, front fender, back corner) is a little more convenient than on the passenger side. Some carmakers put it on the passenger side because they are more focused on the European market, where curbside parking and charging is more common than in North America.

power and energy displays for drivetrain: An instantaneous power consumption display on the dash shows you how much of the drivetrain power you’re using at that moment as you accelerate and decelerate. Think of it like the tachometer dial in a gas car, except that in an EV it also shows regen power. It doesn’t need to show actual numbers, rather just give us a dial that goes up and down with the drivetrain demands.. Bonus points for showing the climate control power consumption, typically buried in the menu somewhere, and not just as a percentage or score, but in terms of actual kW.

power limiting display — Provide an indication when instantaneous power available is reduced for some reason, both for reduced accel power and for reduced decel (regen) power. Typical reasons for this are a cold battery (weather) or a hot battery (spirited driving). Most cars will indicate this on the power gauge (see item just above), but if they don’t it’s a sign that they haven’t fully thought through the EV driving experience.

ability to disable charging alarms — any charging-related alarms (cord pulled, EVSE problem) that cause the car to spontaneously honk should be able to be disabled by the owner, e.g. via configuration screen.

blend some regen into brake pedal action: Following on the regen braking discussion in the must-have section above, some carmakers solve the weak-vs-strong regen dilemma by putting some of it on accel pedal, and the rest on the brake pedal. In that case, you get weak regen if you lift off the accel pedal, and get more braking effect if you then start pressing the brake. Critically, as you press harder on the brake pedal the car will start with the additional regen, then blend the two braking systems together as it adds in the friction brakes, and you’ll need to feel out this blending and make sure it works well. The regen braking action should be visible on the power gauge (discussed above) and monitoring that during braking will tell you if the brake is blended or not. Putting all of the regen on the accelerator can make for an uncomfortable, lurching experience for the passengers (the driver doesn’t generally mind it since their in the control), and a blended brake is one way to solve that.

accel and braking modes stay that way through power cycle of car — Sport Mode, Eco Mode, whatever mode — often the car will change back to some default after you power it off and on. The car should retain whatever mode you left it on, or you should be able to configure that default in the settings somewhere. Carmakers will often design the car to default to weaker modes in pursuit of better efficiency ratings, because the EPA requires that testing be done with whatever settings the car is defaulted to. But it’s nice if they keep your settings, or let you set the power-up default.

a front trunk aka frunk — Because electric motors are so much more compact than gas engines, there’s often a lot of available space under the front hood. Designers still like to have a decent sized nose at the front of the car for a variety of reasons, so usually some of that available space is enclosed in a weather-tight “front trunk” or “frunk”. In some cars it’s big enough to carry a suitcase or two, and in some it’s barely big enough to hold your mobile charge cord or first aid kit. But it’s still an extremely useful place to store things, especially things that you hardly ever need but still want to carry with you.

show the charging state on the outside of the car: … meaning LED(s) of some kind that light up when you are plugged in, to indicate whether the car is still pulling charge or has completed charging. This may be implemented as an LED up on the dash below the windshield, or on the side of the car by the plug. Either way, this is useful for checking your car from a distance (e.g. from a nearby building’s window) to make sure it’s really charging. The carmakers all have different behaviors for theirs, but most have the LED blink when charging, and on solid (or off) when the car is fully charged. See also the power display feature mentioned in the must-have section at the top of this document.

charge cord lock control: It is typical for cars to offer three modes for locking the charge cord to the charge port:
– “Off” = no locking at all, anyone can remove at any time
– “On” = locked to the car if the car’s doors are locked, even after fully charged
– “Auto” = locked to the car until the car is fully charged, then released
All three of these settings are needed to deal with the various cases that you deal with when charging at home and at public stations. If the car offers no control of this at all, it’s a sign of an immature product from a carmaker that is new to EVs.

light up the charge port when it is open — just a nice convenience to have when plugging in in a dark area.

charge port covered by a single lid, no extra plastic caps underneath the lid — make the exterior lid water tight to keep out rain/spray, and then don’t have any more nuisance caps inside that we need to fuss with.

scheduled charging, and in the car’s menu not only via an app — You should be able to tell the car when to charge. For example, you might plug in whenever you get home, but you want the car to hold off on drawing power until 11pm, when you might get cheaper electricity from your utility. This should be configured in the car, not the charging station, and certainly should not require purchase of their proprietary charging station.

scheduled charging override capability — After you have set up the scheduled charging per above and start using it for home charging, you may find yourself in situations where you want to ignore that schedule. Typically this would happen when you are charging away from home, and you want the car to start pulling the charge as soon as you plug in. This problem only exists for AC / Level 2 charging, as all cars are already smart enough to do this for DCFC sessions. You’ll typically encounter this problem when doing “opportunity charging” at a retail stop, or at a hotel overnight. Some cars are smart enough to know (from GPS) that you aren’t “home” and so automatically ignore the schedule. Some cars give you a prompt on the main screen as you power off the car to let you override the schedule. Some cars give you a physical button somewhere, perhaps just inside the driver’s door but sometimes right at the plug receptacle, that you can press to command the override and charge immediately. The coolest implementation of this is to have a “secret handshake” where the car recognizes a quick plug-unplug-plug action as meaning an override.

portable EVSE works with both 120V and 240V supplies: Nearly all EVs come with an EVSE cordset that can be used to plug into a regular 120V wall outlet. The EVSE supplied with some EVs also comes with adapters (and internal circuitry) that allow it to be plugged into a 240V outlet and charge the car much faster.

Level 1 charging at both high and low current: Most EVs come with an “EVSE cordset” that you can use with a regular wall outlet to charge the car (albeit very very slowly). They are usually designed to pull 12 Amps (up to 1440 Watts) from that wall outlet. However, when charging at a strange wall outlet, e.g. while traveling and plugging into an outlet in a hotel’s parking area, pulling the usual 12 Amps can lead to trouble. If there are other loads on the circuit then the breaker may trip, and then you’re in the business of having to get hotel management to find the breaker and reset it, or giving up on the charge. For that reason, some carmakers’ cordsets offer a “slow” mode, controlled via a toggle button on the cordset, to slow down and charge at a lower rate, say 8 Amps. Some carmakers have you control this via a toggle in the car’s menu; Tesla goes further and allows for completely granular control, +/- 1 Amp all the way down to 6 Amps. This can be important for workplace charging as well.

car can be preconditioned on demand: One technique that EV owners use to extend the range of their car, or just for comfort, is to “precondition” the cabin and battery just before they leave on their trip, while it is still plugged in. Using the car’s app on their phone, they will send a command to the car say 30 minutes before leaving (or even just 5 minutes!) and the car preheats/precools the cabin and battery using wall power, getting them just a little bit more range. Some cars only offer preconditioning of the cabin (not battery too), or make it very difficult to command battery conditioning on demand. (See also the separate feature documented elsewhere here for commanding this from your keyfob, a killer feature.)

climate control system startup both via smartphone and keyfob: Being able to “prestart” the car so that the climate control system gets going is an absolutely killer feature of these cars. And since it’s an EV you don’t have to worry about exhaust in an enclosed space like a garage. Even giving the car just 15 seconds of prestart as you’re walking up to the car can be useful, and it’s nice to be able to do this with the keyfob, not just a phone app. The phone apps are far slower than the keyfob, laughably so, and far less convenient.

trip odometer that automatically resets itself after a full charge — showing miles and kWh consumed since starting the day with a full charge, this is useful for reviewing the performance of the car at the end of the day. Having to remember to reset one of the trip odometers is a pain.

efficient climate control — early EVs had crude “resistive” heaters, but many EVs now offer heat pumps in their HVAC systems. Heat pumps are far more efficient at the job, and that translates to a bit longer range off the same battery charge. This upgrade is sometimes included in a “cold weather package” option in the car. Note: just like in house units, some car heat pumps include a resistive heater to help out in the most bitterly cold conditions.

valet mode – so we can limit the performance of the car when handing off to strangers

smooth accelerator pedal behavior — As you gently press the accelerator to start moving from a stop, you should get a smooth ramp up of power at the very beginning of accelerator pedal travel. As you press harder, you should feel a smooth ramp up of power. As you lift off the accel pedal and transition from accel to decal, that should be a smooth transition as well. Is there a lag as you move your right foot? If you are in a lower-acceleration mode (e.g. “chill” mode in a Tesla), does the car properly exhibit “kickdown” behavior if you floor the accelerator? Can you find the middle spot between accel and decel (regen) where you are coasting, and how smooth is the transition across that point? These are subtle drivetrain behaviors that take extra effort to tune properly, but it can be done. Rough accel pedal behavior is the hallmark of immature EV technology from carmakers that are still feeling their way around.

regen braking integration with cruise control — When in cruise control, and you tap the brakes to disengage, does it lurch into max regen immediately, or does it smoothly transition from cruise to regen? To test this, you’ll need to have the car in max regen mode (aka one-pedal driving) before your start the cruise control test. Ideally it takes a couple seconds to ramp up to full braking, giving you a chance to “catch it” with the accelerator.

traction control sensitivity and regen braking integration — Immature EVs exhibit a disturbing behavior if you hit a bump in the road (e.g. small pothole) while under moderate braking: the brakes “relax” and for a second you get the horrible sensation of accelerating when you want to be braking. This appears to be a problem with regen braking integration with traction control, and is something I now test for in all EVs.

hill hold — if you come to a stop on an uphill grade, hold the car there, either via the electric drivetrain or the friction brakes.

creep mode — Creeping is the effect you are probably familiar with in a gas car with an automatic transmission: with the car in Drive, as soon as you take your foot off the brake the car starts rolling forward. This is a behavior inherent to “slushbox” transmissions, and some people like it and some don’t. Electric cars can mimic this behavior, but there are strong opinions on both sides of this, so the car should definitely offer a setting to enable or disable creep mode.

hub motors — Formerly a fantasy feature, carmakers have started talking about this for their high-performance electric models. Instead of one or two electric motors mounted at the center of one or two axles, you get an electric motor mounted inside in each of the four wheels, enabling ludicrously performance levels and exotic performance features like torque vectoring. See this video from 2013 (!) that showed this in action on a Mercedes-Benz sports car, and this 2023 video from Hyundai that demonstrated a similar solution.

Plug and Charge (ISO 15118) capability: P&C is fully explained on the DCFC Technology page on this website. Ask the dealer if the car supports this useful technology, and when they give you a mumbly answer or a blank stare, google for reports whether the car supports it yet. It needs both hardware support and software support — typically there will be a date when they started production of cars that supported the feature (a specific date, not a model year), and then later they finally complete the software that enables it. If they promise that it’s coming, get it in writing!

wireless charging capability: And here we are talking about wireless charging of the car, not your phone. This feature allows to you install a charging “pad” on the ground below your regular home parking spot, and as long as you park the car directly over it, the car will charge without you having to plug in at all. This seems silly to some EV veterans, since plugging in is so trivially easy. But imagine you are a busy parent juggling kids and groceries, and either you have your hands too full, or you find yourself forgetting entirely to plug in. The SAE J2954 standard has been in the works for years, but as of 2023 nobody has offered this as a factory installed option.

Vehicle-to-X power output capabilities: Abbreviated as V2X, this covers the various ways that carmakers offer power output from the car to A) your house/grid (V2H/V2G) or B) to a load plugged into the car (V2L). V2L features are increasingly common, and usually appear as AC outlets inside the car, or an AC outlet adapter that plugs into the car’s charge port outside and provides AC power out of it. Some electric pickup trucks offer outlets in the frunk or rear bed, and some offer a 240V outlet. Most V2L-capable cars offer many kiloWatts of power, which is plenty for campsite or worksite use, although if you are running power tools you’ll want to look closer at the V2L specs. The Koreans (Hyundai, Kia, Genesis) were the first to market with V2L capability.

driver assistance and navigation features

Driver assistance features are now common in all cars, and are often the most thrilling new perks for anyone getting into a new car from an old car built before the early 2010s. Many of these features are actually quite common now and some are even available in budget models, but there are several more advanced features to be aware of and evaluate in your prospective new car. Some of the features turn out to not work so well, and this section provides a checklist for evaluating them.

If you’re coming from an older car that didn’t even have adaptive cruise control (described below) you may think that all this tech is excessive and you don’t care. But we can tell you from experience that once you have these features, you love them and come to rely on them. These are especially important if you intend to actually use your car, such as routing around traffic jams around town, navigating around parking lots and going on long roadtrips.

Evaluation points for navigation systems are also included in this section. See the roadtrips page for a rundown of why the navigation system built into the car is important, rather than just relying on your phone, even if connected via Apple CarPlay or Android auto. If you paid for a car with navigation capabilities, you should expect them to work, and good nav is particularly important in EVs.

pan and zoom map while car is in motion: Using the touchscreen, you should be able to pan and zoom the displayed map while the car is in motion (pan means to drag the displayed map up, down and sideways). Some carmakers take the safety theater too far and don’t allow you to pan, only zoom! This makes it impossible to set a new destination if voice entry isn’t working (a quite common problem), and is at the top of this section because not being able to pan and zoom really does cripple map use.

zoom in and out via physical buttons: obviously you can use two-finger pinch gestures to zoom in and out, but when you are driving the car, it’s useful to have a physical interface for this. BMW’s iDrive hand controller is the gold standard for this, allowing full control of the screen via a hand controller that’s right next to the driver, in addition to touchscreen. However some other carmakers provide limited physical control of the screen; for example, the Hyundai Ioniq 5 repurposes the Tune up/down rocker button for zoom control. This allows you to quickly change the zoom level without having to interact with a touch screen.

keyboard text entry while car is in motion: Using the touchscreen, can you type in search text while the car is in motion? Most cars prohibit this as a safety policy, but some cars actually allow it, and it’s worth checking just so you know.

hand controller for screen interaction and entering text: BMW started this in the 2000s with their iDrive system; a large rotary knob and some buttons are placed in the central armrest, closer to the driver, and allow the driver to interact with the screen without having to lean forward and touch it. The large knob will often have a touch-sensitive surface on the top that you can literally draw letters on, allowing you to spell out search terms without taking your eyes off the road. This neatly addresses the problem that a touchscreen is a terrible user interface for a driver in a moving car, and the reality that voice recognition is frequently laughably bad. Other luxury carmakers have followed suit in offering similar hand controllers, including Mercedes and Genesis.

voice entry of destinations: Pretty much all cars have this feature these days, but test it! What is the magic phrase to tell the car you are requesting a new destination? (“take me to …”, “new destination”, etc.) Knowing that phrase could be critical to getting this feature to work reliably. Then try testing a few destinations, both by address and by business name, just to see how it does. Find out how to list all of the commands that the car will recognize. Voice entry often performs terribly and so you end up relying on pan and zoom on the touchscreen, which is why that capability is at the top of this list.

next turn and arrival time always visible in driver’s display: It is typical for nav systems to display your next turn somewhere on the main screen at all times, whether that next turn is 500 feet away or 25 miles away. However it is also useful to have this on the driver’s display, which each carmaker will often have some unique acronym for, like DIC for driver information console. It’s useful to reliably see this information right in front of you, especially because the main screen (to your right) might be off showing entertainment information or settings or something.

re-sequencing destinations: when you have a multi-stop trip with multiple destinations entered into navigation, you may want to re-sequence them, and so you need to check whether the nav system lets you edit / reorder that stop sequence. Believe it or not, some car nav systems don’t let you do this. This is uniquely important in EVs because, on long roadtrips, you will often know exactly where your stops will be because you’ll be targeting particular charging stops, instead of just exiting when you feel like it. You will enter these stops into the system at the beginning of the trip, but inevitably this happens haphazardly as you get time after you’ve already started driving, and you won’t enter them in order. Or during your trip you’ll change your plans and want to replace one charging stop with another. Having all of the stops entered into nav lets the car calculate the expected battery levels at each stop and lets you get back on the road quickly after each charging stop, so being able to manage a list of multiple destinations is important.

max number of waypoints: Further to the above, you may have a long trip with multiple stops already planned, and entering them all into the nav system at the beginning allows you to relax and focus on the drive itself. However some nav systems only allow one or two waypoints, or none at all. At least five is good, ten is great.

show expected battery SOC at each destination: The typical navigation system will have a screen where you can see details on your destination, or multiple destinations if you’ve entered a multi-stop trip. That screen should show the expected battery SOC at each stop, and it should update that screen while you are sitting at a charging stop as energy builds back up in the battery. Some navs have the bug where that display is a static snapshot of data, and you have to go out and back into the screen to see the updated numbers. This can be important when you are sitting there watching the numbers waiting for the moment when you have enough charge to make it to an intermediate charging stop and can unplug and move on.

nav accounts for more than just distance: A really good navigation system will take many things into account when calculating how much battery SOC is needed for a route — terrain is the most obvious, as climbing or descending a long hill can make a huge difference. But some of the more advanced navs (such as Tesla’s) account for ambient temperature, wind direction and speed, cabin HVAC usage and your recent driving behavior. Obviously this is not something that you can easily evaluate during a short test drive, but at least see if you can get information on how much the system accounts for. Terrain is the big one. All of this gives you confidence in the nav system, so that if it says you will make it, you know you will make it.

show traffic delays and calculate time lost: Most navigation systems receive traffic data over-the-air and display traffic jams on the map. If you’ve entered a destination and there’s a traffic jam along the way, the nav system should propose a quicker option (if one exists), and ideally should at least show you how much time (e.g. 10 minutes) you are losing due to the traffic jam. Either way, the calculated arrival time should include the traffic delay. Ask if the traffic data system requires a subscription to the carmaker’s data service, perhaps free for an initial period but then for a monthly cost.

public charging stations shown in navigation system — and a mechanism to keep that database updated, so that new stations show up in the car. Does it only show the stations for the network that the carmaker partnered with? (e.g. Electrify America) Does it show stations at car dealers, which are historically terrible for public charging for multiple reasons? Nonetheless, rapid growth in this sector means that the charging station data in car nav systems is typically very outdated and unreliable, and you’ll be missing out on newer and faster stations if you rely on it. You are better off relying on apps like Plugshare and ABRP; see the roadtrips page for much more about this, including a discussion of the Tesla exception.

basic features of any safety system:
– front and rear collision warnings (audible alert with brake priming)
– lane departure warning (when not using a turn signal)
– blind spot detection on sides (when using a turn signal)
– rear crossing traffic alert (e.g. when parking out of parking space)

basic features of any adaptive cruise control system (test each of them):
– control over following distance, including eval of extremes
– speed incrementing by +/- 1 and +/- 5
– resume at previous setpoint (e.g. after braking event)
– in stop-and-go traffic, does it start moving again by itself, or need a push

basic performance of any lane maintenance system (test each of them):
– any weaving on straight sections of highway (usually good)
– any weaving on curved sections of highway (often bad)
– does is automatically bias slightly away from traffic being passed, e.g. trucks
– does it work on rural highways and surface streets (not just on interstate highways)

lane maintenance overrides: how easy is it to toggle on and off? is it a button on the steering wheel (or perhaps on the end of the turn signal stalk), or is it a setting buried in the menus? if you manually signal and execute a lane change, does the car let you do so gently, or does it fight you, and does it automatically resume the lane maintenance after your manual lane change?

manual lane change support: while in cruise control, does the car change lanes for you simply by you command it with the turn signal stalk?

automatic lane change: while in cruise control, does the car change lanes automatically if it encounters a slow car and a clear passing lane?

side mirror camera view display: Some carmakers have started augmenting the side mirrors with an automatic camera view when you start your turn signal. The display might show up in the DIC in front of the steering wheel, or might even be embedded in the door, near where you’d look for the mirror anyway. Starting in 2020, some countries in Europe started allowing these displays to replace side mirrors (which improves aerodynamics and thus range) but as of 2023 it isn’t allowed in the US yet.

steering wheel alerts: if you take your hands off the steering wheel, how long does it wait before starting to complain — 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 30? If you ignore that first warning, how does the escalation behave, and what is the endgame? does it slow down in the middle of the highway, or try to pull over to the shoulder before stopping?

face/gaze monitoring for hands-free cruise: if hands-free cruise is offered, where is the camera that monitors where you are looking (i.e. not at the road), how quick is it to complain when you look away, and what happens if you block the camera?

speed limit offset cruise: This feature in cruise control systems allows you to set how much faster (or slower) than the speed limit that you’d like to cruise. How granular is that setting? How does it behave when the posted limit drops — does it immediately lurch down to the new speed, or gradually slow down over several seconds? Does it get fooled by truck speed limit signs, or minimum speed limit signs? (Ford, I’m looking at you)

soft speed limiter — speed threshold you can set (typically X mph over posted speed limit) so you get an alert and can prevent yourself from inadvertently driving (manually) too high a speed

automatic parking capability: Most owners find this feature frivolous or risky, but a few find it useful because they have very tight parking situations.

leading vehicle departure alert and traffic light detection: Does it alert you when the light has turned green and you can go? Or during stop-and-go traffic, without cruise control active, does it alert you when the car in front of you has pulled away and everyone is waiting for you now? It’s a pretty cool little feature.

traffic light status displayed in car: Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) is cool technology that allows the car to receive status data from advanced traffic signalling devices ahead. For example, it can show a countdown timer that indicates how many seconds until the light will turn green. As of 2023 this seems to only be a feature of Audi cars, but it seem inevitable that it will eventually arrive in other cars.

surface street driving features: Does the car use its cameras to recognize stop signs and stop lights and actually stop at them? Does it make turns, recognize pedestrians, deal with construction detours, recognize emergency vehicles, and on and on? One particular carmaker is trying to do all of this, but you are well advised to avoid it until they’ve actually done it — meaning do not pay for just a promise of a future feature.

other amenities (not EV specific):

The most important items are at the top. See separate section above for driver assist / cruise control features.

power seats with memory — At the mid to high price points that these EVs are often marketed at, you should absolutely expect this feature, and evaluate how adjustable it is. This is at the top of this section for good reason — a bad seat can ruin an otherwise good car. Does the seat memory also remember the side mirror positions? Steering wheel position, if that is motorized? Can you store the positions into memory while the car is moving?

seat heating and cooling — most cars come with (or offer as an option) seat heating these days, but seat cooling (actually just ventilation) is a killer feature to have, especially in warmer climates. See the must-have section at the very top of this document.

recirculating air control — a separate, dedicated button that is always visible and accessible immediately to command recirculating air (e.g. due to sudden truck exhaust in front of you), with no touch screen or menu navigation required

manual or virtual air vent controls — Some car models use a virtual interface to control the air vents, where you touch a screen to aim the air, and motors on the air vents actually do the moving. In theory, the advantage of this is that your air vent positions can all be memorized and become part of your profile, useful if you have two or more drivers in the car, so once you have the settings just right, you can instantly get right back to them. However some people find this virtual control gimmicky and annoying.

physical buttons for some key controls, instead of a touchscreen or a silkscreened surface for absolutely everything

instant access to major functions — no matter what mode the touchscreen is in, you should always have buttons available that take you to the map view and perhaps the radio or media views; these can be physical buttons, or touchscreen buttons that are always displayed.

HD Radio and RDS — the FM tuner needs to support these two digital technologies. HD Radio typically triples the number of stations available to you in a given city, and RDS allows you to see song information on the tuner’s display (sent by the radio station). Come on, it’s the 21st century, all car radios should have these two features by now!

DIC: show entertainment information (e.g. radio station, song title)

sunroof or moonroof: typically optional, evaluate its features:
– does it open up, meaning the glass slides away to ventilate the car?
– does it have a sunshield that closes? (motorized or manual)
– if no sunshield, how does strong sunlight feel on your head? can sunlight get in your eyes at some angles?

tire pressure monitoring: with PSI numbers, not just an alert when low (which is the federally mandated minimum)

wireless charging of mobile phone: does phone lay flat, or need to be tucked down sideways into a slot? is there a charging status light, especially if you can’t see the phone’s display? does charging status show up on the main screen?

Apple Carplay / Android Auto: If you care about one of these, does the car support the one you care about? Does it work wirelessly or do you need to plug in? Note that onboard car navigation can actually be superior to smartphone nav, for reasons explained in the roadtrips page.

towing capability: Does the car offer a factory* installed tow hitch, designed specifically for that car? (* For imported cars it’s actually installed at “the port”, just before handoff to dealer network.) What weight is it rated to tow? Is it a small 1.25″ hitch receiver or the larger 2″ type?

user profiles — Does the car offer user profiles so that it can remember the settings for multiple drivers? This can be separate from seat memory (discussed above), and typically covers details like drive mode settings, radio presets and HVAC preferences. Are the profiles tied to keyfobs?

heads up display (HUD) — Can you adjust the display, including vertical position, rotation angle and brightness? Can you control what content is shown?

premium audio system options

tilting and telescoping steering wheel, for comfort and dashboard visibility; some budget cars have steering wheels that tilt but don’t telescope; is it manual or motorized? (motorized positions can be stored in seat memory)

visual indication when the car is locked, such as mirrors folded or a blinking light from the alarm system

close windows via door controls without having to power entire car back up

open/close windows with keyfob (e.g. press and hold a button)

keyless entry — key stays in your pocket and the car automatically unlocks when you approach a door, and locks when you depart; door handle touch may be needed in either case

hands-free opening of hatchback / trunk: This feature is useful when you’ve got your hands full (with groceries, kids, etc.) and can’t reach for your keyfob. This may be implemented as A) simply standing by the rear bumper for a couple seconds, or B) a sensor below the bumper that detects you waving your foot under it. If you expect to really use this feature, be sure to test it during your test drive, because it often doesn’t actually work so well, or takes a little practice to activate properly.

handholds over doors, aka grab handles: Check this one! One popular EV carmaker is led by a, uh, strong-willed leader who refuses to let his company’s cars be equipped with them!

speedometer calibration: Obviously you want the speedo to be as accurate as possible, but typically the carmakers will calibrate them to be slightly conservative, indicating a slightly higher speed (say 1-2 MPH) than you are actually traveling. The reverse, indicating slightly slower than you are traveling, is a big no-no, because effectively you are driving more dangerously (and more illegally) than you realize. A speedo that is calibrated high is rare but it does happen and you should know if it’s got that bad calibration.

digital rearview mirror: Instead of using a mirror, this features uses a camera on the rear of the car that has its video sent to the rearview “mirror” which is actually a digital display. This way you have a completely unobstructed view behind you, not blocked by seats or heads or car structure or anything. Note however that since you still have to focus your eyes inside onto the display surface in front of you, this can be difficult to use since the display is so close, especially for those with corrected vision. (When you use a real physical mirror, your eyes are focusing on the distant objects seen in the mirror, not the mirror’s surface.) Thus this feature can be less useful while driving, and you may find that the classic mirror works better for you then, but it’s still useful in parking situations. Typically this feature is implemented with a “tilt” feature that toggles back and forth between mirror and display, like how the old manual day/night mirrors used to work, but check that to be sure.

rear camera lines when reversing: does the display have lines overlaid that follow steering wheel position? does it draw alert boxes around detected objects?

overhead camera view, or movable 3D rendering: these features “stitch” together the live camera feeds from around the car to create a virtual camera, and are extremely useful when parking

camera recorder / DVR — onboard ability to record video from cameras; does it record when parked and something disturbs the car? can you export the video, e.g. to hand to law enforcement?

automatic brights — very common now, but perhaps missing on budget models

projection headlights: aka “matrix” or “pixel” lights, this is a lighting system that allows for a more accurate lighting pattern; advanced systems can “notch out” opposing traffic and keep the brights on, or provide stronger illumination of detected objects; can it compensate for vehicle tilt due to passenger loading?

media controls on steering wheel: mute/pause, skip to next track / radio station

CD player: All carmakers have now dropped CD players from their cars, so if you didn’t know that, sorry!

AM radio: Surprisingly, some carmakers are starting to drop AM radio from their cars. Actually when Ford tried to do this in 2023, they got slapped down by the radio industry and are putting it back in. See also the much more important HD Radio feature at the top of this section.

Aux audio input: Some carmakers are getting rid of this too, in favor of using Bluetooth.

roadside assistance service via button push: push a button to get a person on the line to help you get a tow truck or whatever you need

assistant / concierge service: push a button and a human being (from the carmaker) answers, for answering questions about the car. Note that this is a separate feature from a roadside assistance service, where the person answering doesn’t know anything about the car.

3 seats in back, even if it’s a squeeze and only for kids. This means A) don’t put a cupholder / console into the middle of the back row, obstructing the middle and B) do provide the third set of seatbelts in the middle. It doesn’t need to actually fit three adults comfortably, just needs seat padding all the way across and three seat belts.

if two-door / coach-door car, can rear passengers let themselves out? — For example, could children let themselves out of the back seat on the right side of the car, with nobody sitting in the front seat to open the front door for them? The BMW i3 failed this test due to its odd coach (aka suicide) doors; if you will be routinely dropping kids off at curb, and the car’s rear doors are weird, test this for yourself to be sure.

physical buttons should reliably respond to quick presses, with no lag (e.g. parking brake, window auto-down, charge port open, drive mode change)

door open chime (when car is powered on) should stop after a minute — critical for show-and-tell or camping scenarios

door lock / alarm arming honk is not loud (or better, silent or even configurable)

LoJack-like car location and disabling system

turn signal stalk placement and behavior — classic physical hold-and-return, or BMW-style toggle?

rain sensing intermittent wipers

display of exterior temperature

sun visor, when turned to block side window, can be extended back to reach past driver’s head all the way to the B pillar

ease of door closing (e.g. just needs a nudge from hold position, not a slam)

front license plate holder install without drilling into bumper

sturdy rear trunk deck cover, not a piece of fabric that you manually stretch across on hooks; this helps suppress the sound of loose cargo in the trunk, and keeps the cabin quieter

adjustable front headrests

removable rear headrests, to improve rear visibility if they aren’t needed

interior lighting for rear seats

rear windows open up

PHEV features to look for

A Plugin Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) gets its energy input from both gasoline and plug. PHEVs typically have a weak electric drivetrain coupled with a regular gas engine, and the net result is fantastic efficiency, with miles-per-gallon numbers approaching 100 MPG and higher. But not all PHEVs are created equal, and here’s what to look for.

a powerful electric motor! A weak electric drivetrain means it can only help a little bit (say, in gentle city driving) before the gas engine has to start up. If the car has a gas engine that kicks in any time you press the accelerator hard, or try to go 70 MPH on the highway, it’s really just a hybrid and you won’t be able to really say goodbye to your local gas station. You need the electric drivetrain to at least be strong enough to pull the car at highway cruising speeds. This is why some of the PHEV models are no good — you won’t be enjoying the benefits of driving a real EV, because they are putting a WEAK electric motor in there. To evaluate this, you can try to dig up the power (in horsepower or kilowatts) of the electric motor and compare that between models, but carmakers often don’t publish that. Instead, look at the electric-only range (in miles, which they have to report to the EPA), or the battery size (in kWh, which they don’t), as that correlates well with motor power. Most PHEVs have electric-only capability in the 20-50 mile range, and obviously higher is better because that bigger battery is usually paired with a more powerful electric motor. The Chevy Volt and BMW i3 , both now discontinued but available used, were two “range extender” outliers in the PHEV market with their fantastic, full-power electric drivetrains.

enough electric range to cover your commute with a little left over — First, you want your PHEV to have enough range (and power! see above!) to cover your daily commute in pure-electric mode, because that’s when you get the fantastic fuel savings. You’ll end up only needing the gas engine to kick in when you have a long day driving around town, or go on a roadtrip, and you’ll typically find that a single tank of gas will last many months. Second, you should have a buffer, say 20%-30%, to protect you against the slight range reduction caused by winter cold and to protect against the slight reduction from battery aging over the years. Note that even if you routinely go past the pure-electric range of the PHEV you’ve selected (and burn some gas), the way the math works out you will still save a lot of money on gas expenses.

charge port on driver’s side of car: With the small batteries found in all PHEVs, you will typically exhaust it with your regular daily driving around town. Thus, in a PHEV, you will find that you plug in the car every day, when you get home, just like you plug in your cell phone. This is unlike buying gas for a car, which you typically do much less frequently, and wouldn’t be so annoyed if the cas port happened to be on the “wrong” side of the car. For a PHEV, it’s important to have the charging port on the driver’s side of the car, where it’s convenient for quick access every day. It only takes a few extra seconds to plug and unplug, but this detour time gets annoying if the port is on the other side of the car, and you may find yourself skipping (or forgetting) to plug it in. (Note: this matters most for PHEVs; pure EVs with their huge batteries get charged less often than daily and for those the charge port location is less critical.)

slow AC charging speed is OK: Fast Level 2 is important for a pure EV for the reasons explained above in the first section on must-haves. But a PHEV will typically have a much smaller battery, so slower charging (due to the smaller AC charging bottleneck in the car) is actually just fine. You will still get a full charge during an overnight stay, whether it’s at home or at a hotel. Most PHEVs offer 3 kW charging (15-16 Amps) and that’s just fine.

used EV considerations

The items in this section aren’t concerns in new EVs, but used to be problems that we had to worry about. If you are buying an older model used, check these. See also the used car advice for some specific models linked on the pages on the right side of this website.

certified pre-owned or CPO — when a used car is sold by one of that carmaker’s dealers, they will often do a full inspection of it and then offer an extended warranty

thermally managed battery pack: This means that there are heating and cooling systems embedded inside the battery, to protect the battery from temperature extremes. Years of experience with lithium-ion chemistries has shown that in order to get a long life out of the battery (10-15 years), it needs to be protected from temperature extremes. The Nissan Leaf is NOT thermally managed like most of the other EVs on the market, and that is why the Leaf is so affordable — it’s a simpler car. But that comes at a tradeoff, both in performance during adverse weather conditions and in the lifetime of the battery. Thermal management of the battery mitigates these problems.

selectable full charge threshold — The lithium ion batteries used in all EVs are happiest when they are not fully charged or fully discharged. If you leave the car plugged in and charged all the way to 100% and sitting there for days, you are slowly cooking the battery and shortening the life. Therefore pretty much all carmakers offer a setting in the car to stop charging short of 100%, say 90% or 80%. Unfortunately, some of the older EVs don’t have this feature (e.g. the Kia Soul EV) and for those you have to literally go out and unplug your car before it gets to 100%.

Subjectives / Intangibles

Finally, we have the intangibles, the things that aren’t really technical features of a car, rather more non-technical, emotional even.

Is it fun to drive? Pretty much any EV is a blast for the novice owner, due to the massive torque, but you do start to notice differences after a while. Is there some sort of traction control / launch control that lets you leap off the line without tire spin? When taking turns hard, how is the front/rear weight balance? Is the car fun to throw into turns? What do the tires sound like when at the limit of grip?

how noisy is it at cruising speeds? Tire noise? Wind noise? These contribute to fatigue over long trips.

design aesthetics:
– car stands out with unique design (BMW i3, Hyundai Ioniq5, CyberTruck) or blends in with other cars
– the car is ugly to look at from pretty much all angles (old Nissan Leaf)
– the car looks good except for that one angle, which you either still love or you hate (BMW i3 from rear, Rivian R1x headlights)
– ultimately you have to decide if everything else outweighs your problems with the design

body style — which do you prefer?
– a sedan vs an SUV
– a coupe with two long doors instead of four short ones
– hatchback vs trunk

warranty periods — most of the carmakers are offering something like 8 years / 80,000 miles on the electric drivetrain, which includes the battery, so you don’t need to worry about that. There will be a separate bumper-to-bumper warranty for a short period that covers everything. The Korean’s warranties are a bit more generous than most, and for a while Tesla’s warranty was actually for 8 years / infinite miles! (but they did kill that)

where in model cycle? — Is a new version of the car coming out next year? If so, your shiny new car may look dated within a year, and you may be grumbling about all the improvements and new features in the new model that you didn’t get. Conversely, a brand new model (or model refresh) is likely to have early production problems, especially during the first full model year.

brand identity — Certain makes of cars have cultural baggage associated with them. In general, these prejudices precede you when someone sees you in your car; you have to decide whether you care. For example:
– Chevy has to battle GM’s long history of building garbage
– Cadillac has to battle a perception of being exclusively for the elderly
– BMW is saddled with the cultural preconception that their drivers are selfish and self-absorbed
– Tesla is run by a founder who is … polarizing
– Volkswagen committed fraud on a grand scale with Dieselgate
– Toyota has fought electrification for many years (in their lobbying and marketing)

These are not necessarily my own opinions! I’m just noting that each brand carries some baggage with it. (And if I haven’t antagonized you with this section, nothing will …)

personal / emotional connection to a brand: Finally, perhaps you have a personal connection to a brand. Your dad worked on a Brand X assembly line. Your first car as a teenager was Brand Y, and as an older adult you’re coming back to the brand. Brand Z has made a huge investment in your state (e.g. building factories) and you want to support the home team.

In the end, you can logically evaluate the hundred-plus items above, but it might just come down to an emotional decision. It’s still good to have reviewed all of these items and be aware of what’s out there on the market.

Good luck!


DCFC: DC Fast Charging

DIC: driver information console, the display immediately in front of the steering wheel

EVSE: EV Servicing Equipment, the station or cordset that plugs into the car to charge it

PHEV: Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle, which takes energy in via both gas and plug (note: not the same as a regular hybrid, which only takes gas in)