LOS ANGELES, Oct. 15, 2015 — Women in tech love cars, but what are the top environmentally-friendly vehicles to bring value and the most advanced technology you can get behind the wheel? Here’s the Best 2015-2016 Eco Cars for women in tech.
Are you considering a “green” option for your next car? Are you concerned not only about toxic pollution and rising CO2 levels, but also the resulting disastrous and deadly climate change effects and the violent petrol dollar?
Both the climate crisis and our gas-powered economy hit the “disenfranchised” the hardest (women, minorities, seniors and kids). One of the easiest ways to drive yourself into the green revolution is to replace your current emissions-spewing vehicle with a low or zero emissions vehicle.
What’s the EV Lifestyle?
Going electric isn’t easy. The “EV lifestyle” is a real thing. Truly, you must change the way you live your life if you decide to buy an all-electric vehicle. EVs take time to charge. Sometimes, it can take 8-12 hours to charge your EV fully on a 120-volt household outlet (also known as Level 1). Charging times shrink two fold if you plug into a 240-volt outlet (this is called Level 2 and you find these outlets usually in businesses but you can have an electrician affordably install one in your garage or apartment building). Then, there’s the Mother of All Charging. “Direct current” (DC) or “fast chargers” (also known as Level 3) are the big new thing in EV tech.
Not only do you need a completely different intake for fast charging (your EV must be equipped with one), but the charging time is shortened to an almost unbelievable 20 minutes for an 80 percent charge. Fast chargers make the EV lifestyle much more simple, but unfortunately there’s just not a lot of them around (except on the Tesla-only SuperCharger network). However you charge, driving a zero emissions car with low “fuel” costs can be thrilling, pioneering and just plain fun.
If an EV just sounds too far out of your comfort zone or not at all appealing, then your next best bet is a plug-in vehicle. These cars have both electric and internal combustion engines (otherwise known as ICE) that run off gasoline. Most plug-ins first drive off the battery stored in the electric motor for between 25 and 50 miles (the number depends on your EV and other factors such as weather or driving conditions) or so miles until they almost imperceptibly switch to ICE power. While plug-ins still emit some noxious emissions, they are a good choice for those who are curious about the EV lifestyle and yet need a never-stop vehicle.
More than any other group, women want value when it comes to transportation, so how do you go green and be able to afford it? We have left the big-ticket Tesla off this list deliberately as certainly not everyone can afford the EV of All EVs. But if you are ready to drive your first electric motorized car, then the best way to try out today’s warp-speed EV technologies for yourself is to hit an auto show or a local dealership for a quick test drive.
As a green car expert, an automotive journalist, a professional road test reviewer and a #womenintech, here’s my picks for today’s best value eco cars when it comes to women and technology:
Best Overall Value & Functionality: 2015-2016 Kia Soul EV
The 2015 and now second gen 2016 Kia Soul EV is the “nearly perfect” EV. The exterior is based on Kia’s best-selling Soul model, so it looks like any other good-looking modern ride. What else makes the Soul EV most perfect is its excellent driving range (the EPA estimates 93 miles per charge). Next, the Soul EV’s interior and infotainment system is not only roomy, comfortable and ergonomic, but the huge touchscreen infotainment mated to a killer Infinity sound system makes each ride in this green car extra special indeed. Lastly, the Kia Soul EV is ready for prime time with Level 1-3 charging capacity (not to mention the charging ports are cleverly-hidden in the front grille for easy public charging). In other good news for EV enthusiasts, Kia recently reported the addition of four states to its Soul EV models for a total of 10 states including New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, California, Oregon, Washington, Georgia, Texas and Hawaii.
Best Star Trek-Like Drive & Futuristic Tech: 2015 BMW i3
If you can afford to spend a lot on a car, but perhaps don’t quite have enough for a Tesla, consider BMW’s i3. This funky-looking ride is actually one of the most fun-to-drive vehicles on the road today not just for its warp-speed acceleration, but also for the outrageous living room-like interior’s killer flat-screen infotainment system. Truly, the BMW i3 has the most weird and wonderful regeneration braking of all as well, which bodes well in urban driving for both ease of driving (you hardly ever need to hit the brake) and “fuel” efficiency (actually, the “hard regen” is charging your battery as you brake). Love to drive a rocket? Think i3.
Best Never-Stop Plug-In: 2016 Chevy Volt
Not everyone can afford to have two cars, so one car must do and that one car must never stop. That’s where plug-in vehicles are best and GM’s 2016 Chevy Volt is one of the best and most affordable plug-ins on the roads today. GM made a big deal out of its 2016 Volt launch and for good reason: This now even better-looking sedan goes an EPA-estimated 53 miles on a full electric charge (or 420 miles with a fully-charged battery and a full gas tank), has five seats and the revamped sleek exterior has thankfully lost its weirdness.
Best Eco Lineup: Ford
Ford was late to the electric game, but has committed to a four-pronged approach to lowering emissions: 1) eco boost (turbocharged gas engines), hybrids (electric and gas engine with no charging necessary), plug-ins (electric charging plus gas engine) and all-electrics (full EVs). Henry Ford was a pioneer in electric engine technology way back when and Ford’s eco engineers have not disappointed their founder. Ford’s 2015 and 2016 model year “electrics” – including the compact 2015-2016 Focus Electric, the 2015-2016 Fusion Energi and the highly utilitarian 2015-2016 C-MAX Energi hatchback – are all literally built Ford tough and with loads of standard equipment including Ford’s proprietary Sync3 infotainment soft and hardware. (Both the Ford Fusion and C-MAX also come in hybrid versions.)
Best EV Hatch: 2015 Volkswagen Golf EV & 2016 Highlights
Like Kia Soul EV, the eGolf was fit inside an already best-selling urban family-friendly ride. eGolf’s thousands of enthusiasts are not fettered at all by the scandal, but announce proudly the went radical with Volkswagen’s first-and-only EV rather than a now scandalous “clean” diesel model. The VW eGolf is truly a compact EV worth the look. VW interiors are always uber masculine and minimalist, however, they work for women in their simplicity and utilitarianism. In August, VW announced some 2016 model year highlights, which mostly include tech upgrades such as VW’s new MIB II infotainment system with its own “VW Car-Net App Connect” and three other available “connected car systems”: Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink.
Best at Charging & Range: 2015-2016 Nissan Leaf
With so many cool new EVs on today’s car market, the original pioneer production EV, Nissan Leaf, can get neglected. In fact, Nissan’s Leaf has led all EV sales worldwide by selling 170,000 cars since 2010. But the big news in EV tech is how Nissan’s engineers broke the 100-mile mark by getting an EPA-estimated miles per full charge on its 2016 Leaf. In addition, Nissan’s Leaf just charges faster than most other EVs. And while the Leaf’s wonky exterior may not be for everyone, the minimalist modern interior is comfortable, roomy, soothing and full of cool tech.
Best Tiny EV: 2015-2016 Chevy Spark EV
Urban women most especially find driving a tiny car is a value in and of itself when it comes to parking in tight spaces and saving money on high fuel prices. Who wouldn’t love nabbing those hard-to-fit parking spaces and never stopping at a gas station ever again? Plus, the 2016 Chevy Spark EV gets an EPA-estimated 82 miles of driving range and the price has recently been reduced. This super cute all-electric mini hatch is not only designed to look good outside, but the interior is cool too with ergonomic comfort, easy-on-the-eye design and awesome infotainment tech. When fully charged, Chevy claims its new and slightly improved 2016 Spark EV gets an EPA-estimated 82 miles of driving range (that translates to 119 MPGe), which makes it one of the USA’s most efficient EVs on the roads today.
Best Luxury EV That’s Not Tesla: 2016 Cadillac ELR
If you can’t quite afford a Tesla and can’t stand the look of BMWs i3, then check out Cadillac’s 2016 ELR. Like Chevy’s Volt, Caddy’s second gen 2016 ELR is a plug-in vehicle, which means that it runs on an advanced electric motor and then kicks into a gas-powered 1.4-liter engine for a total of around 330 miles. While the ELR may not have the best stats when it comes to fuel efficiency, you sure can’t knock its star quality. The ELR’s exterior is race-car cool and will have heads turning all over town. The spaceship-like interior is beyond techie and makes you smile each time you sit down for another smooth ride in this warp-speed wonder car (0-60 mph in 6.4 seconds).
It isn’t easy to change and certainly the EV lifestyle isn’t for everyone. And there’s a lot more to be discussed about buying EVs, including potential local, state and federal tax refunds as well as time- and money-saving carpool and parking privileges. But if you are prepared to be a pioneering woman when it comes to your car, these top eco cars are fun to drive and own.