Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
“So the question is — what next? I’ve driven the Tesla for so long that returning to a gas car feels like backward time-travel. Do I say giddyap to these things?”
That’s a line I wrote late in my 38,000-mile odyssey at the wheel of our long-term Model S P85+. Which, when it was recently returned — rolling silently (and cruelly) away without me in it — left me feeling as if my beloved starship from the future had abruptly dropped me back in the ordinary-old circa 2015. Plunk, there I am on the ground — amid a small puff of dust.
And there I bewilderedly sat, an alien from Elon Musk’s future returned to the primitive present.
No more giant multi-touch screen? No more magical over-the-air updates? No Superchargers? Back to driving mere ordinary cars? Never!
But even the irrepressible Mr. Toad in me had to face the fact that I needed a way to get around. So I started typing emails.
After coming up goose eggs in my attempts to coerce either Hyundai or Toyota into letting me sample their hydrogen fuel cell wares (the first, stymied by internal corporate barriers, the second, just premature timing), I made a list of available battery-electric cars. Based on what? One thing, baby. Range.
My round-trip commute is a minimum of 76 miles (a bit more when the 405 is closed for late-night construction, which it usually is). So, conservatively, let’s say its 80. Adding a 10 percent fear factor makes it 88. OK, now let’s run through the list of available non-Tesla BEVs out there:
- Smart ForTwo: 68 miles — too short.
- Ford Focus Electric: 76 miles — nope.
- BMW i3 BEV: 81 miles — nope, but cool carbon-fiber tech.
- Chevrolet Spark EV: 82 miles — nope.
- Volkswagen e-Golf: 83 miles — nope, but certainly fun to drive.
- Nissan Leaf: 84 miles — we’re inching closer.
- Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive and Fiat 500e: 87 miles — ack, short by 1 crummy mile.
- Kia Soul EV: 93 miles — eureka!
So the Kia is actually my one and only pure battery-electric choice since Toyota discontinued its slow-selling, 103-mile RAV4 EV ($49,800 — no wonder). The sole quasi-alternative was the BMW i3 with Extended Range, which would have amusingly punctuated my trips with brief firings of its two-cylinder engine-generator, needing refueling (with gas) every week and a half or so. Unfortunately, our slow-motion BMW-courting hasn’t resulted in a date; disappointing, but simplifying things.
Read more: Motortrend