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On the road in six electric cars

Here are six electric cars you can buy (or lease) today.

Internal combustion cars dominated the last century, but led to pollution and unpleasant foreign entanglements due to oil imports. Electric cars solve both of these problems through much greater efficiency and the multitude of means by which electricity is generated. The cars reviewed here look to be the first generation of the kind of vehicle that will dominate the new century. All of them are pricey compared with gasoline-fueled equivalents, but they cost considerably less for both electricity and maintenance.

2011 Nissan Leaf
Nissan took a risk by getting its new-generation electric car out earlier than other automakers, but all those miles driven should give the company an edge in research. The Leaf is a comfortable hatchback that drives easily. It feels somewhat heavy, but the majority of the weight sits low, under the cabin floor. At an EPA range of 73 miles, it works best for daily commutes. Using 34 kilowatt-hours per 100 miles, it is one of the less efficient electric cars, the price of being first out of the gate.

2013 Honda Fit EV
One of the most recent electric cars, the Fit EV is also one of the best. Built on the Honda Fit platform, the car retains all of the gasoline model’s easy maneuverability. It does not feel as heavy as the competition, although it is based on a more compact platform. The Fit EV consumes only 29 kilowatt-hours per 100 miles. The range is rated at 82 miles, not stellar but practical for most daily driving.

2012 Ford Focus Electric
The electric version of the Focus hatchback highlights Ford’s commitment to new technology. The Focus Electric not only uses an advanced electric power train, but gets all Ford’s latest cabin technology, and a bit more. The car’s technology focus can be overwhelming, although early adopters, the group most likely to buy this EV, should delight in it. The Focus hatchback is a solid platform, but the battery weight feels biased toward the rear. EPA range sits at 76 miles, and the efficiency rates a middling 32 kilowatt-hours per 100 miles.

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