New EVs Range from Affordable to Outrageous
The annual Western Automotive Journalist (WAJ) Media Days present a chance for automotive journalists and manufacturers to come together to test drive some of the hottest new vehicles along the coast of the Pacific Ocean at Half Moon Bay.
The 2022 event presented a wide range of more than 30 new vehicles to drive in 30-minute routes that gave writers a taste of the performance, comfort and technology featured in today’s top rides.
This year there were six fully electric vehicles in the lineup, so my wife Judy and I aimed our focus–and our cameras—on those models to get a feeling for the quickness, comfort, styling and silence that EVs offer drivers. Here’s our video report. More details are below.
The Electric Lineup
We started with the flashiest EV in the lineup, the 2022 BMW i4 M50.
BMW i4 M50
HORSEPOWER: up to 536 hp
RANGE: 301 miles
0-60 SPEED: 3.7 seconds
CHARGING TIME: 8.25 hrs at 240V
Next up was the VW ID4 Pro, an all-wheel-drive version of the model that I drove a few months before in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where the car will be built starting next month.
Volkswagen ID4 AWD
VW ID4 Pro
HORSEPOWER: 201-295 hp
RANGE: up to 280 miles
0-60 SPEED: 5.7 seconds
CHARGING TIME: 7.5 hrs at 240V
Toyota and Subaru have joined forces to develop and produce similar electric models, built on the same platforms with the same battery power plants, yet slightly different exterior styling.
I originally saw the Toyota BZ4X at its dramatic unveiling on the Pacific Coast near San Diego, but this was my first opportunity to drive the hatchback EV.
HORSEPOWER: 201 to 214 hp
RANGE: 250 miles
0-60 SPEED: 6.3 seconds
CHARGING TIME: 10 hrs at 240V
The Subaru Solterra, which was introduced at the Los Angeles Auto Show, provided a similar ride as the BZ4X, with pickup that was quick and smooth, yet not quite as exhilarating as the other EVs that we tested.
Subaru Solterra EV
HORSEPOWER: 215 hp
RANGE: 228 miles
0-60 SPEED: 7.7 seconds
CHARGING TIME: 12 hrs at 240V
But it was the layout of the driver’s information dashboard that bothered us the most. The steering wheel seemed to block my view of the speedometer, forcing me to keep trying to adjust the wheel to give better view of the digital gauges in front of the driver.
At every WAJ event, there’s typically one vehicle that stands out above the rest in popularity among the attending journalists, and this year that was the Lucid Air Dream Performance EV. This is a brand new model from a new company that is being designed and built at a factory in Arizona, and it is stunning not only in looks, but in its performance.
We got to spend some quality seat time with Lucid representative Justin Berkowitz, who gave us the lowdown on this high-end EV that has started deliveries in 2022.
Lucid Air Dream Performance
HORSEPOWER: 1,111 hp
RANGE: 471 miles
0-60 SPEED: 2.6 seconds
CHARGING TIME: 13 hrs at 240V / but it can charge from 0 to 80 percent in 37 mins at some DC fast charging stations
And last, but certainly not least, was the Kia EV6, a futuristic looking hatchback that moves quickly, drives smooth and quiet, and has a clean design inside and out.
HORSEPOWER: 168-320 hp
RANGE: 310 miles
0-60 SPEED: 4.5 seconds
CHARGING TIME: from 10 to 80 percent in 18 mins on a DC fast charger
After a couple of days testing this assortment of EVs on similar roads, we had a good understanding of the differences between the models. They all are excellent for the environment, being fully electric, and require less maintenance than gas-burning vehicles.
Here’s how we rated the EVs we tested:
1) Lucid Air Dream Performance
- Beautiful styling inside and out
- Superfast acceleration and horsepower
- Quickest charging of any EV on the market
- Expensive yes, but future models will have lower starting prices
The high-hp stars of the show–Lucid Air
2) BMW i4 M50
- Exterior color and styling is a stunning
- Fast, comfortable and quiet
- Drives like a BMW
3) Kia EV6
- A real good commuter or daily driver car
- Well designed inside and out
- Fast charging times
4) Volkswagen ID4 Pro
- Very clean and simple interior styling
- Quick get up and go
- Fun shifter lever and floating driver’s information screen
5) Tie: Toyota BZ4X and Subaru Solterra
- Similar models the same under the skin
- Driver’s dashboard is hidden behind the steering wheel
- Good, but not great acceleration and battery range.
All-in-all, we had a blast checking out these new electric models and are thrilled to see that so many manufacturers are getting on the EV bandwagon to produce all-electric choices that are fun to drive, great for the environment and don’t burn a drop of gas.
It’s an automotive EVolution!