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Electric Dreams: 11 Cars Worthy of a Look in 2014

Electric vehicles may be hitting their stride. As drivers continue to see the benefits and automakers continue to improve on them, it’s likely that electric vehicles will only continue to gain in popularity.

Up until a year or two ago, the options for electric cars were exceptionally limited. Now, however, buyers have a wide range available to them, from the compact Nissan (NSANY.PK) Leaf to the mighty Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) Model S. Here are the 11 different cars that are — or will be — available in the U.S. this year.

The following cars are purely electric, not plug-in hybrids. We decided to omit the latter, as there are enough of them on the market to warrant their own article. Therefore, you won’t find the Chevy (NYSE:GM) Volt, Toyota (NYSE:TM) Prius plug-in, or the Ford (NYSE:F) Energi cars in these rankings, even though they have electric-only capabilities.

Additionally, some vehicles are only available in select markets, while others can be found nationwide. The mileage is measured in miles per gallon equivalent; you can read more on how that compares to conventional metrics here.

Since we here at Wall St. Cheat Sheet haven’t driven the vehicles in question ourselves, we turned to the automotive expertise of Edmunds.com for some insight as to the pros and cons of each vehicle. The following are ranked alphabetically.

BMWi3Driving
1. BMW i3

Base price: $42,275 (includes destination)

Fuel economy: 125 mpge combined

Pros and cons: The BMW i3 is BMW’s first foray into the electric car market, and it is radically different from the rest of the company’s line. Edmunds noted that the i3 is compact and lightweight, seats four (presumably rather comfortably), boasts strong acceleration and crisp handling and performance, and even offers a notably refined ride at high speeds. However, the range is fairly limited without the extender — which runs on gas — and then there are the polarizing looks that set the i3 apart from other offerings completely.

Options to splurge on: If range is a concern, the range extender version (about $4,000 more) should be a good investment. Other than that, no further options have been disclosed save for rim choices and paint options. The i3 should be hitting dealers sometime this spring.

Chevrolet Spark EV
2. Chevrolet Spark EV

Base price: $26,685

Fuel economy: 119 mpge combined

Pros and cons: Edmunds commended the Spark EV’s “energetic” acceleration, its “eager” handling, and decent range relative to some other electric vehicles in its segment — about 82 miles on a full charge. It also packs a body-tenderizing 400 pound-feet of torque. Additionally, Edmunds enjoyed the ”cheerful” interior design. However, the Spark EV is relegated strictly to the California and Oregon markets, and it reportedly takes a long time to recharge, even when hooked up a 240-volt charger.

Options to splurge on: The base Spark EV comes pretty well equipped, with fog lights, a USB port, and keyless entry. Upgrading to the 2LT trim (about $500 over base), though, will add pewter leatherette heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a DC Fast Charger.

Fiat500e
3. Fiat 500e

Base price: $31,800
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