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What car should I buy?

What's an ideal EV to carry my three children?

Options include the Hyundai Ioniq, the Nissan Leaf and the new Volkswagen e-Golf

The 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf.

A friend took me for a drive in his BMW i3 and now I'm thinking of buying an electric car. I liked the simple way it drove like a golf cart, with no gears and no gas. I want a bigger car than the i3, though, that can carry my three kids, ages 5, 3, and 1, in the back seat. I also want a range around 200 kilometres because I won't always be able to plug in every night. What do you recommend? – Adam

Lightstone: The i3 really should be the poster child for getting every non-EV driver into the electric-vehicle world. It's so futuristic and it makes green driving enjoyable. I'm not surprised Adam is thinking of going gas-free now.

Richardson: You just like the badge in the centre of the steering wheel and its fancy eucalyptus wood dash and recycled bits inside.

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Lightstone: Not untrue, however, the i3 is a poor fit for Adam since he has to cart the kids around. But with that cargo space and range requirement, there really is only one answer.

Richardson: Don't say the Tesla Model X …

Lightstone: Ding, ding, ding!

Richardson: You're kidding, right? It's really expensive, at $110,000 for the least-powerful edition, and I still don't trust that "falcon-wing" rear door to not break. Besides, the Tesla has about a 400-km range and Adam needs half that. There's no point paying for the extra batteries if you don't need them. I think he'd be much better off with a Nissan Leaf.

The Nissan Leaf’s back seat is not particularly spacious.

Lightstone: I've not yet driven the newest generation of Leaf, but the last one was quite acceptable. However, three kids in the back seat plus cargo in the rear? The Nissan isn't as cramped in the back as the i3, but it's also not that much bigger.

Richardson: There's space for three in the back of the new Leaf, though, yes, it's a squeeze, especially with the two boosters and a baby seat Adam will be needing. I drove it around Los Angeles last November. It has a new system of recharging the battery through regenerative braking that means you barely have to touch the brakes, if you choose. I thought I would hate it, but I loved it.

Lightstone: Well that sounds pretty close to the way the i3 drives in terms of regenerative braking, and if the kids fit … But just to throw another option in there, what about the new Chevy Bolt? I've not tried to fit three kids in the back (God help me if I have to do anything with three kids one day!), but it looks to offer up more room than the Volt, actually. Plus, I've driven one and it's not as humdrum as I thought it would be, and offers one of the higher full-EV ranges out there at 380 km.

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The Hyundai Ioniq has a 200-kilometre range.

Richardson: But Adam doesn't want or need that kind of range, and the more the range, the greater the cost of the extra batteries. I think the much better choice, if the Leaf is too small, would be the new Hyundai Ioniq. It has a range of 200 km, as much space as a Honda Civic and – if Adam lives in Ontario, with its $14,000 rebate – starts at $22,000.That's at least $7,000 less than the Bolt.

Lightstone: If he lives in Ontario … I'm in Quebec and the rebate's just $8,500 here.

Richardson: And in British Columbia, it's $5,000 and those are the only three provinces where electric vehicles are competitive in price. Which is why there's no point paying for the extra batteries and range if you don't actually need it.

Lightstone: We almost forgot the supernew kid to the block: the Volkswagen e-Golf. It's got the ideal 200-km range and a manageable and normal 134 horsepower. Plus, the room in the Golf is good in both gas and electric guise. I've driven both the regular version and the e-Golf and gotta say I really enjoyed the e-Golf's performance.

In Ontario, the e-Golf hatchback starts at $36,355.

Richardson: You were driving like a lunatic again?

Lightstone: I didn't feel like I was "driving green," although I was using no gas. This little hatch could be good value with a starting price of $36,355, if Adam lives in Ontario.

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Richardson: Yes, the e-Golf only comes in the upscale Comfortline trim, which sells for about $11,000 less in the regular Golf. But there's a waiting list of at least a year for the EV. That probably sends Adam back to the Ioniq or the Leaf, but both will give him the range and space he's looking for.

What car should you buy? Write to Mark and Miranda at globedrive@globeandmail.com.


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