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The $45,900 Polestar 2 is the coolest new electric car you've never heard of

Tim Levin   

The $45,900 Polestar 2 is the coolest new electric car you've never heard of
  • The Polestar 2 is the first serious production car from Polestar, a new electric car brand.
  • It's a fantastic sedan that delivers elegant tech, striking looks, and 270 miles of range.

I was creeping across the George Washington Bridge, driving home from a weekend upstate, when someone waved at me from the next lane over. I figured they were complimenting the 2022 Polestar 2 I was driving, so I gave a thumbs up and moved along.

They caught up again, gesturing madly, so I rolled down the window.

"Hey! What kind of car is that?" they shouted over the din of 14 lanes of traffic crossing between New Jersey and New York.

"It's a Polestar!" I yelled back.




"POLE! STAR!," I screamed as clearly as possible before rolling up my window and continuing on my way. I have no clue if they got the message.

You can't exactly blame people for being curious. After all, Polestar is a relatively young brand, and its debut electric sedan doesn't have the badging you'd see on most cars — only some cryptic logos and tiny stickers with some more details.

The lack of prominent branding is an unexpected choice for Polestar, which is still trying to build name recognition and carve a slice of the growing market for electric vehicles. Moreover, the Polestar 2 is a fantastic electric sedan that more people should know exists. It's packed with cool tech, pleasant to drive, gets great range, and stands out from the growing sea of Tesla Model 3s and Model Ys.

The basics

Polestar is a new electric car brand that spun out of Volvo in 2017. It's jointly owned by Volvo and the Swedish firm's parent company, Chinese auto giant Geely.

The Polestar 2 is, shockingly, Polestar's second vehicle. The Polestar 1, a $155,000 high-performance hybrid launched in 2019, is only sold in very limited numbers, so you'd be excused for never having heard of it. As Polestar's first mass-produced car, the 2 is the truer test of whether the brand can stake its flag in the crowded and competitive EV space. Like a Tesla, customers buy it directly from the company online.

The 2022 Polestar 2 gets more range and a cheaper base price than the inaugural 2021 model. There are two versions to choose from:

  • Long Range Single Motor ($45,900): Comes with 270 miles of Environmental Protection Agency-rated range and 231 horsepower. Options include a luxury package and a bundle of driver-assistance features.
  • Long Range Dual Motor ($49,900): Comes with 249 miles of range, 408 horsepower, and adds the option for a performance package with upgraded brakes, suspension, and wheels.

The single-motor model Polestar loaned me had an $1,200 paint option and came out to $48,400, including a $1,300 destination fee.

What stands out: Striking looks and shockingly intuitive tech

From its chunky shape and chiseled angles to its fastback roofline and SUV-like ride height, the Polestar 2 looks funky. While Car and Driver may deride the 2's styling as "indecipherable," I happen to really dig it. The 2 makes itself known, but in a decidedly unflashy, subdued kind of way.

Its minimal interior is comfy and upscale, featuring both an 11-inch central screen and a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster for the driver. It feels crabby to say that huge in-car touchscreens such as the one found in the Polestar 2 frustrate me, but it's the truth. It's not that I'm afraid of change. I just feel like we got it right the first time with buttons, knobs, and switches. Why reinvent the wheel?

But the Polestar 2's infotainment system — intuitive, crisp, and impeccably designed — won me over completely. All of the most trafficked settings are only a couple of taps away, not hidden in a nesting doll of menus. The most important buttons are large and easy to tap while driving. Everything looks astonishingly clean and simple.

The driver screen foregoes any flashy animations and just shows you just the basics — speed, cruise control, battery level, turn-by-turn directions, etc. — clearly against a black backdrop.

The Polestar 2 is the first vehicle to use Google's operating system, so it comes with Google Maps and the voice-activated Google Assistant built in. Plot a route and the car tells you, with great accuracy, what battery percentage you'll be at when you arrive — and after the journey home. A Range Assistant app further calms range anxiety by showing how one's driving style and use of climate controls impact energy consumption in real time.

Driving the Polestar 2

If you want a more exciting driver's car, you may be better off with the all-wheel-drive, dual-motor version, which claims a four-second 0-to-60-mph time and offers an optional performance package. But the cheaper version is still fun to drive.

Delivering the snappy, immediate acceleration intrinsic to electric cars, the single-motor Polestar 2 leaps from a stoplight or skirts around a slow-moving truck with ease. Overall, the car feels agile, planted, and experiences minimal body roll. Take your foot off of the throttle, and the car will — like most EVs — slow itself down without use of the brake pedal to capture energy and feed it back into the battery pack in a process called "regenerative braking."

There aren't drive modes to choose from, but regenerative braking and other elements of the experience can be configured to a driver's liking. You can dial in your preferred steering feel (from light to heavy) or mimic the gas-car experience by having the vehicle creep forward when you take your foot off the brake.

Promising a healthy 270 miles of EPA-rated range, the single-motor 2 is a 'tweener, offering more mileage than many rivals but less than others. Tesla is still the range king at this price point, with the Model 3 Long Range traveling an estimated 358 miles per charge.

What falls short: Standard safety features

I was surprised to learn that my test car didn't have blind-spot monitoring or adaptive cruise control, both of which come standard on a slew of new vehicles these days, especially higher-end models. Several features do come standard, like collision avoidance and lane keeping, but you have to buy the $3,200 Pilot package to get a broader array of driver aids.

This section is the shortest of all. That's because I really enjoyed the Polestar 2 and found almost no downsides.

Our impressions: Keep an eye on Polestar

Polestar isn't as loud, well-known, or hyped-up as some of the other new electric-car companies cropping up. I'd venture a guess that more people have heard of Rivian, the buzzy, Amazon-backed startup, or Lucid, the luxury-EV firm run by Tesla's former chief engineer, than Volvo's new subsidiary. (A spokesperson chalked up the 2's subtle branding to the company's "Scandinavian design ethos.")

But Polestar is quietly doing what neither of those companies have managed yet: sell a lot of cars. The firm moved 29,000 vehicles last year and aims to more than double that in 2022. An SUV called the Polestar 3 is on the way.

Polestar has flown under the radar for years. But with a product as excellent as the Polestar 2 on the market, I can't imagine that anonymity will last long.


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