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Best Electric Cars

Top-Rated Electric Vehicles for 2021

February 25th, 2021

Best Electric Vehicles for 2021

Electric vehicles aren't a new phenomenon. In fact, the first all-electric car was developed in the 1830s. What's new is that EVs now compete for market share with traditional fossil-fuel models. Thanks to recent advancements in battery and charging technology, electric cars have finally become a feasible alternative to gasoline cars.

Today's best EVs make a compelling pitch to commuters. They're practical, easy to drive, inexpensive to run and packed with technology. But shopping for an electric vehicle requires a different mindset. While a gasoline car can be refueled in just a few minutes, electric cars take longer to recharge, making them less than ideal for long-range driving. The trick is to think about how far you drive in an average day and how often you'd have a chance to charge up. If you can plug in at work or at home, an EV could be a great fit for your life.

To simplify your shopping process, we've put together a list of the best electric cars on the market right now. The electric-car segment keeps growing, and buyers have more choices than ever. Our list of the best EVs will help you find the electric car that's right for you.

At Edmunds, we put every vehicle we rate through a rigorous testing process that involves both objective tests conducted at our test track and a subjective evaluation on our 120-mile real-world testing loop. We then assign scores to specific characteristics and features to arrive at an overall rating for the car. The electric cars listed here received the highest marks from our experts. We think these are the best electric cars you can buy today.

It's worth noting that, in our experience, most manufacturers' range estimates are realistic — except in very cold climates, which, for several reasons, decrease range. So even if you drive 100 miles on an average day, the best electric cars will provide more than enough range to get you from charge to charge.

Also, please note that while all prices listed below include destination fees, they do not include available state and federal tax rebates, which can lower the net transaction price significantly.

About Affordable Electric Cars

Tesla may have captured consumers' imaginations with its futuristic and pricey cars, but mainstream automakers have been trying to crack the electric-car nut for a long time, with increasing success as of late. These affordable EVs have enough range to get most people through their daily commute, along with all the features you expect from a modern car.

About Luxury Electric Cars

Luxury electric cars bring advanced driving dynamics and upscale design to the EV class. For now, not many luxury manufacturers have fully electric cars on the road, but that's set to change in the years to come. Although Tesla models dominate today's market with their incredible speed and futuristic technology features, stiffer competition is right around the corner.

Affordable Electric Cars

  1. Standard Range Plus starting price (including destination fee):
    Edmunds range:
    232 miles (2020 model)
    Edmunds consumption:
    23.0 kWh/100 mi (2020 model)

    2021 Tesla Model 3

  2. Starting price (including destination fee):
    Edmunds range:
    285 miles
    Edmunds consumption:
    25.3 kWh/100 mi

    2020 Kia Niro EV

  3. Starting price (including destination fee):
    Edmunds range:
    314 miles
    Edmunds consumption:
    22.3 kWh/100 mi

    2021 Hyundai Kona Electric

  4. Starting price (including destination fee):
    Edmunds range:
    277 miles
    Edmunds consumption:
    25.7 kWh/100 mi

    2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV

  5. Starting price (including destination fee):
    Edmunds range:
    237 miles
    Edmunds consumption:
    27.1 kWh/100 mi

    2021 Nissan Leaf

Luxury Electric Cars

  1. Taycan 4S starting price (including destination fee):
    Edmunds range:
    323 miles (2020 model)
    Edmunds consumption:
    32.3 kWh/100 mi (2020 model)

    2021 Porsche Taycan 4S

  2. Long Range starting price (including destination fee):

    2021 Tesla Model 3

  3. Starting price (including destination fee):
    Edmunds range:
    318 miles (2020 Performance model)
    Edmunds consumption:
    32.6 kWh/100 mi (2020 Performance model)

    2021 Tesla Model S

  4. Starting price (including destination fee):
    Edmunds range:
    228 miles
    Edmunds consumption:
    35.2 kWh/100 mi

    2021 Polestar 2

Luxury Electric SUVs

  1. Starting price (including destination fee):
    Edmunds range:
    304 miles
    Edmunds consumption:
    33.1 kWh/100 mi

    2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

  2. Starting price (including destination fee):

    2021 Audi e-tron

  3. Starting price (including destination fee):
    Edmunds range:
    263 miles (2020 Performance model)
    Edmunds consumption:
    29.6 kWh/100 mi (2020 Performance model)

    2021 Tesla Model Y

  4. Starting price (including destination fee):
    Edmunds range:
    294 miles (2020 Long Range model)
    Edmunds consumption:
    35.0 kWh/100 mi (2020 Long Range model)

    2021 Tesla Model X

The Most Anticipated EVs for 2021

A hot topic of conversation these days is when we'll reach the "tipping point" for electric vehicles. Based on total U.S. market share as of early 2021, it looks like we might be waiting for a while. Even with the runaway sales success of the Tesla Model 3, EVs currently account for roughly 2 percent of new car sales across the country.

Nonetheless, we know change is coming, and as 2021 unfolds, that momentum could start building in a big way. So what are the new electric vehicles to watch in 2021? We put our heads together and came up with the following all-star roster.

Ford Mustang Mach-E

Ford Mustang Mach-E

It feels like we've been writing about the Mach-E forever, but the reality is that it only became available at the end of 2020, when it incidentally won our 2021 Top Rated Luxury EV award. Ford's new entrant tops our list for 2021 because it's the first shot over Tesla's bow that's relatively affordable; previous Tesla rivals took aim at the executive-grade Model S, not the volume-selling Model 3.

Chevrolet Bolt EUV

Chevrolet Bolt EUV - Coming soon

Chevy's been talking a good game about all the EVs in its pipeline, but things are about to get real with the Bolt EUV. Whereas the original Bolt EV was held back by its oddball hatchback styling, the Bolt EUV looks to capitalize on the crossover SUV craze with more rugged looks, an elevated driving position and expanded interior space. We don't have any photos yet, but we do have it on good authority that the Bolt EUV will debut this year.

Volkswagen ID.4

Volkswagen ID.4

A small SUV built from the ground up as an EV, the ID.4 should move Volkswagen well beyond the niche appeal of the e-Golf. Initially, the ID.4 will come with rear-wheel drive and 201 horsepower at a base price around $40,000, while a 302-hp AWD version debuts later in the year.

Hyundai Ioniq 5

Hyundai Ioniq 5

Like the Bolt EUV and the ID.4 — and the Mustang Mach-E, for that matter — the Ioniq 5 aims to take the EV mainstream by hopping on the SUV bandwagon. Utilizing Hyundai's new Electric-Global Modular Platform, or E-GMP, the Ioniq 5 should offer generous range, quick acceleration and a capacious interior to go with its eye-catching style.

Rivian R1T

Rivian R1T

Forget about SUVs for a minute; what about electric trucks? Enter the Rivian R1T, which takes pole position in the race to be the first purpose-built electric truck on the market. Occupying an in-between size class that might be called "midsize plus," the R1T is in a class of its own when it comes to pickup-truck performance, thanks to a four-motor setup producing up to 754 horsepower. There's also an adjustable air suspension and a projected range between 250 and 400 miles, depending on configuration.

Electric Cars vs. Gas Cars

Gas-powered cars are comforting in their familiarity. With gas stations easily accessible across the country, they provide unparalleled freedom and, in some cases, a dramatic exhaust note to boot. Sadly, they also produce a lot of air pollution. EVs are an environmentally friendlier alternative and a great match for many drivers' day-to-day needs.

Electric cars drive differently but not necessarily in a bad way. They provide instant torque, making them feel zippy around town. And with regenerative braking, drivers can practice "one-pedal driving," in which simply lifting off the throttle pedal results in significant deceleration. Electric-car ownership means adopting new habits as a driver and owner. Luckily, one of those habits is never having to visit a gas station. If you can install a charging station at home or have access to one where you work, there's a strong chance an electric vehicle would make a good commuter for you.

Electric Cars vs. Hybrids

Hybrids use an electric motor to assist a gasoline engine, improving fuel efficiency while maintaining the freedom of a gas-powered car. They're more mechanically complex, but owning (and driving) a hybrid really isn't much different from owning a traditional gas-powered car, which is definitely part of the appeal.

Plug-in hybrids can be charged up like an all-electric car and driven for a short distance on full electric power before switching over to normal hybrid operation. Most plug-in hybrids won't go more than 20 miles or so on electricity, though. (The outgoing Chevrolet Volt is a shining exception with its electric range of 50-plus miles.) An electric car with a range extender, such as the BMW i3, is different from a hybrid in that its gas engine is only used to generate electricity and can't drive the wheels.

Electric Vehicle Benefits

If you can access a charging station at your home or office, you can likely rely on an electric car to replace your gas car for everything but road trips. All you have to do is plug it in at either location, and it'll charge up while you're doing other things. Electricity is also cheaper than gas, meaning you'll save money on energy over the life of the car. For more details, check out our "The True Cost of Powering an Electric Car."

Cars that are all-electric also have fewer moving parts that can break. Most maintenance will likely involve wear on items such as tires, brakes and windshield wipers. You'll never have to pay for a belt job with an electric car. And there are big tax incentives available, which can help cushion the upfront cost of an electric car. If you lease, you'll see those incentives taken out of your payments right away, saving you some paperwork.

Choosing the Right Electric Car for You

For many households, an electric car makes a lot of sense as a second vehicle. Electric cars provide a clean commuting alternative, requiring less maintenance and zero trips to the gas station. The trick will be to figure out where and when you can charge and how many miles you need to be able to drive between charges.

Make sure to check out our "9 Steps to Easier Plug-In Car Shopping" to help you take the first steps on your electric-car journey. You may be surprised to find out that an electric car could fit your lifestyle.

Am I Ready for an EV?

  • EV ownership works best if you can charge at home (240V outlet) This typically means a 240V home installation, or other places your car is parked for several hours each day. Don't expect a regular household outlet (120V) to suffice.
  • Adding a home charging system is estimated to cost $1,616 in
    This is an estimate for your area. Using your address and the answers you provide, Treehouse can provide a more accurate price.
  • Edmunds is partnering with Treehouse, an independent provider of home EV installation services. Learn more Edmunds customers receive a 10% installation discount and 4% smart charger discount. Discount excludes permit, hosted inspection, and load management devices. Valid for 30 days.
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