Expert Insights

Which Electric Cars Beat EPA Range Estimates?

Laurance Yap
December 18, 2023
Thinking about buying an electric car but worried about range? Consumer Reports recently tested over 20 EVs and found that many of them actually exceeded EPA range estimates, even when driven at high speeds on the freeway. Which ones?
Ford Mustang Mach E driving on a highway by the sea

Many Vehicles Have More Range Than Advertised

Range, or the lack of perceived range, continues to be a concern for drivers thinking about making the switch to an electric vehicle. While most EV drivers will charge at home overnight, or at work, and always depart with a full tank of electrons, drivers used to gasoline worry about how far an EV can go between charges. That’s because charging can take longer than the few minutes it takes to refill a gasoline vehicle – impacting convenience, especially on road trips. The EPA’s estimated range for electric vehicles typically doesn’t help: listed range for most EVs tends to be less than many buyers think they want.

Still, the most recent test from consumer watchdog Consumer Reports shows that buyers of many electric vehicles might be surprised by how far their vehicles go. The group recently conducted a highway test of many electric vehicles, driving them at a constant 70 mph on the freeway. In many ways, high-speed cruising is the worst-case scenario for an electric vehicle: without transmissions, their electric motors are working hard at high rpm, and there is no regenerative braking available to help charge the batteries. Plus EVs carry extra weight that increases energy use at high speeds.

Yet, in Consumer Reports’ range tests, many vehicles actually exceeded their EPA-estimated range figures, in some cases by a huge margin. Mercedes-Benz and BMW were the clear champions in this regard, but vehicles from Ford, Rivian, Volkswagen, Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis also performed well.

Mercedes-Benz EQE 350 4Matic close up of the trunk

Which EVs Performed Best in Range Tests?

In Consumer Reports’ testing, there were actually several EV models that beat their EPA range estimates, even when travelling at 70 mph on the highway. The top-performing vehicles in terms of how much they exceeded EPA estimates were:

Audi q4-50 EV driving on the road

What EVs Lose the Most Range at Highway Speeds?

Not all vehicles fared well in Consumer Reports’ testing. The Ford F-150 Lightning missed its 320-mile range estimate by 50 miles, and the Lucid Air Touring missed by 40 miles. However, most vehicles were within 20 miles of their EPA ratings.

During the 70-mph highway test, these vehicles failed to meet their EPA range estimates:

Lexus RZ 450e driving on a mountain

How is Highway Range Determined?

Unlike a lot of other publications, Consumer Reports actually buys the cars that it tests. In order to ensure the vehicles are properly broken in, they tested vehicles they owned that had between 2,000 and 15,000 miles on their odometers. Testing was performed in the summer at temperatures between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. All vehicles were tested with the cruise control activated, and speed verified by GPS, with the climate control set to 72 degrees.

The 22 cars tested were actually driven at a steady speed of 70 mph until they ran out of charge. Even if they indicated zero miles of range, they were driven until the vehicles came to a stop – at which time they were towed away on a flatbed tow truck. Consumer Reports notes that some vehicles, such as the BMW iX, travelled up to 30 additional miles when the range counter indicated zero.

Consumer Reports notes that the EPA provides city and highway estimates for fuel efficiency in miles per gallon (mpg), yet does not provide range estimates for city and highway. A highway range rating would go a long way towards helping potential electric vehicle owners determine if a vehicle is right for them.