Have Kids? Three Family-Friendly Electric Cars To Consider

By · May 20, 2013

Becoming a parent all too often means trading in your fun car for something a little more child-friendly. Traditionally, that’s meant swapping a sporty ride for a station wagon, minivan or crossover SUV. Transporting a family usually also means lugging around buggies, nappy bags, soccer kit, musical instruments, and of course, the family dog. That all requires space.

Despite what friends and family might tell you, however, you don’t need a big gas-guzzling car to raise a family. Here are three electric vehicles that can work well for family life.

2013 Toyota RAV4 EV

Toyota RAV4 EV

The 2013 Toyota RAV4 EV is one of the best-suited EVs for families.

Toyota’s all-electric variant of its popular crossover SUV is sold in small numbers to help Toyota meet tough Californian mandates, requiring at least 15.4 percent of all cars sold by an automaker in the state to be zero emission. While its genesis resulted from Californian law, the result is the best family-friendly EV on the market today.

What you’ll like: With a 115-kilowatt electric motor and a Tesla-engineered battery and power system, the 2013 Toyota RAV4 EV is no slouch, reaching 60 miles per hour in less than seven seconds. Like Tesla’s own cars, the 2013 Toyota RAV4 EV can be charged in either a standard mode for 92 miles of EPA-approved range, or an extended mode for an impressive 113 miles of range.

Smart seat heating and clear, easy-to understand displays make driving a joy, while a massive 36.4 cubic feet of space with all five seats in use gives plenty of room for shopping, buggies, and sports equipment.

What you’ll hate: At $49,800 before incentives, the 2013 RAV4 EV isn’t cheap. And since it’s only officially available in select parts of California, it may be quite difficult to find one. As the only crossover electric SUV on the market right now, it’s proving a popular family car.

2013 Nissan LEAF

2013 Nissan LEAF

With a deceptively large trunk, the Nissan LEAF is a great family car (at least by European standards).

It may look small on the outside, but Nissan’s popular hatchback is a surprising pack-horse when it comes to luggage carrying capabilities—thanks in part to the relocation of the car’s charger from the trunk to under the hood for the 2013 model year. Selling more than 25,000 cars since its launch in 2010, the LEAF is the most popular electric car in the U.S. today—revealing its appeal to a relatively wide range of customers.

What you’ll like: Lightweight power-assisted steering as standard on all models, plus optional all-round cameras on the LEAF SL makes parking in tight spaces a breeze, while an unusually deep hatch space helps it swallow a respectable 24 cubic feet of luggage. Meanwhile, a cleverly designed rear seat means it’s possible to squeeze in three child seats, while rear-window tinting helps keep sleeping kids out of the sun on long trips.

What you’ll hate: The notoriously unreliable telematics system and vague-at-best range-estimate display, as well as the all-white optional interior made from recycled plastic bottles. It may be green, but driver who expect young passengers to spill fruit juice are best off with the dark cloth or leather option.

2013 Honda Fit EV

Honda Fit EV

The Honda Fit EV is widely regarded as a high-utility car, given that it's a compact.

It might look small on the outside, but Honda’s compact car has more than a little of Doctor Who’s TARDIS about it. While it only has 12 cubic feet of hatch space with all five seats occupied, its boxy design opens up 49.2 cubic feet with them folded flat, good for bringing home baby furniture and play equipment from the store.

What you’ll like: The 2013 Honda Fit EV is generally considered one of the more fun production EVs from a major automaker. Like its gasoline sibling, it’s great around town thanks to its tiny dimensions, while a wallop of torque from a 92-kilowatt, 189 lb-ft motor makes accelerating from stop-lights too much fun, especially in Sport mode.

We’re also fans of the Fit EV’s keyfob—which displays its state of charge on a tiny integrate display. Add a $389 a month lease for 36 months (where available) and we think you’ll want to take a drive.

What you’ll hate: Despite decent performance and range, the Fit EV’s interior feels a little cheap and plastic. Oh, and you can have it in any color as long as it’s blue.

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