The 2014 Nissan Leaf is a practical compact hatchback, but its main selling point is that it plugs in.
Its competitors with plugs include the Chevy Volt, which led it (barely) in sales during 2013.
The Volt has a range-extending engine that eliminates range anxiety after its battery delivers 38 miles or so of range, but the tradeoff is a higher price and four seats instead of five.
Two plug-in hybrids, the Ford C-Max Energi and Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, offer nominal electric ranges of 21 and 11 miles, respectively, in compact hatchback bodies.
The C-Max is nicer inside and performs better, but the Prius gets better gas mileage when it's depleted its (tiny) battery.
The Ford Focus Electric is also a five-door hatchback battery-electric model, but while it's available nationally, it sells in tiny numbers--seemingly because Ford doesn't really care about the car.
Finally, there's the Tesla Model S, which sells in numbers almost as high as the Leaf.
Its ranges (208 or 265 miles) are far higher than the Leaf's, but the price is twice as high.
The Tesla is a striking, fast, luxury electric car with an image that just can't be beat--but it comes at a price.
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