Latest electric car reviews
- 2023 Genesis Electrified GV70June 5, 2023
- 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQEJune 5, 2023
- 2024 BMW iXMay 18, 2023
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.