The best electric cars of 2021

Electrification is coming, it’s only a matter of time, and ironically that makes choosing an EV harder than ever. Once the outliers, and a rare sight in the road, EVs now seem to be just about everywhere. Plus all the largest carmakers have some sort of EV either on sale, or on the way very soon.

Whether it’s Nissan, Porsche, Audi or even Hummer, there’s no shortage of zero emission vehicles right now. Whether you want a simple urban runabout or a performance EV, here are the best electric cars you can go out and order right now.

But in the here and now there are plenty of  impressive EVs to choose from. Tesla has been impressing buyers with EV performance for years and there are electric luxury sedans, exotic supercars, compact commuters, and even pickup trucks coming this year. 

Moreover, home charging stations have dropped in price from thousands of dollars to do-it-yourself models costing $600. It all represents solid progress on the electrification front. 

Here, then, are the best electric cars in 2021, with a brief shoutout to the Chevy Bolt EUV — the first non-Cadillac to come with general Motors high-tech Super Cruise autonomous driving system. The Bolt EUV proved itself to be an excellent commuter vehicle, and had it not been for the ongoing battery recall it would have earned a place on this list.

(Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

1. 2021 Tesla Model 3


Price: $43,990

Range: 358 miles

0 to 60 mph: 3.1 seconds

Drive: RWD, AWD

Availability: Now, December-June delivery

Reasons to buy

+Forward-looking features+Over-the-air updates+Good range for the price

Reasons to avoid

Distracting center-only instrument displayNo Apple CarPlay or Android Auto support

Every car company in the world seems to be gunning for Tesla, but its Model 3 remains one of the best electric cars available, with excellent range, features, and a price that demonstrates that Teslas aren’t just for the 1-percenters. Indeed, the 2021 Tesla Model 3 may still be the best mass-market electric car out there. The Model 3 can go up to 262 miles on a single charge (with the standard battery), and while this car is stubbier and plumper than Tesla’s Model S, it’s about half the price.

While critics point out that Tesla continues to overstate the technical abilities of its driver-assist Autopilot feature, we think it’s still worthwhile, within limits. Software updates offer continual improvements, but if you want more range and better handling AWD, pricing on the Model 3 starts at $41,990.

Read our full Tesla Model 3 review

(Image credit: Polestar)

2. 2021 Polestar 2


Price: $59,900

Range: 233 miles

0 to 60 mph: 4.7 seconds

Drive: AWD

Availability: Now

Reasons to buy

+Reasonably priced luxury+Solid handling+Excellent Android Auto infotainment

Reasons to avoid

Mediocre range in this class

Polestar is a car company founded by Volvo, but kept as a completely independent entity. So while Polestar can benefit from its founders safety technology and other resources, it’s free to push the boundaries of electric vehicle performance and engineering. Polestar 2 is the company’s first five-door electric car, with a great mix of looks and safety.

Polestar 2 offers dual motor performance, alongside an EPA range of 233 miles per charge. It’s not industry-leading, but it’s still pretty impressive. Polestar also included an infotainment system based on Android Automotive OS, alongside self-cleaning headlights, a Harmon Kardon sound system, and Volvo’s Pilot driver assistance system. That includes emergency braking and pedestrian detection, lane centering, and all the other bells and whistles you’d expect.

(Image credit: Ford)

3. 2021 Mustang Mach-E


Price: $56,200

Range: 300 miles

0 to 60 mph: 6.1 seconds

Drive: RWD

Availability: Now

Reasons to buy

+Sports car styling+Over-the-air updates

Reasons to avoid

Not really a Mustang

It may not be the Mustang you were expecting, but Ford’s Mustang Mach-E is still the  first all-electric car Ford has built. The SUV design might put some people off, but Ford has added a solid mix of technology and performance. That includes a 15.5-inch touchscreen, CarPlay and Android Auto support, and a luxury interior that should keep everyone happy.

It may not be as powerful as a Tesla Model X, or offer quite as much range as other electric cars, but it’s still a great option for someone hoping to get all these features for a slightly lower price than the competition is asking for. 

Still, Ford recently announced a new Mustang Mach-E GT model that takes things a step further. Boosting power from 346 hp to 460 hp and covering the 0-60 in 3.8 seconds (3r o.5 secs for the Performance Edition). 

Read our full Ford Mustang Mach-E review

Volkswagen ID.4 review

(Image credit: Tom’s Guide)

4. VW ID.4


Price: From $39,995

Range: 260 miles

0 to 60 mph: 5.7 seconds

Drive: RWD, AWD coming soon

Availability: RWD available now, AWD arriving late 2021

Reasons to buy

+Comfortable ride+Up to 260 mile range+Apple CarPlay and Android Auto included+Free Electrify America charging for three years

Reasons to avoid

Not the most exciting carInfotainment is buggy

While not the fastest or most exciting EV out there, the VW ID.4 has proven itself to be a worthy purchase — in a stylish and subdued way. So you have a solid SUV pick, with a comfortable ride and autonomous driver assistance that is on par with other lower-priced electric vehicles.

The ID.4 also offers plenty of space for passengers and cargo, but without causing any discomfort in the process. It also makes for a solid getting around car, even if the ID.4 itself won’t be turning any heads of passer’s by. But with all that wrapped up into an affordable package, there’s not much more you do need.

Read our full VW ID.4 review

Nissan Leaf 2022

(Image credit: Nissan)

5. Nissan Leaf (2022)


Price: From $27,400

Range: 226

0 to 60: 7.4 seconds

Drive: FWD

Availability: Late 2022

Reasons to buy

+Cheapest electric car in the US+ePedal one-pedal driving mode+ProPilot driver assistance software+Roomy interior with Android Auto and CarPlay support

Reasons to avoid

40 kWh model has limited rangeCHAdeMO rapid charger

While not the most spectacular EV on the market, the Nissan Leaf is an ideal car for people new to EVs, or who simply don’t want to spend a lot of money. The 2022 model of the car is even more appealing in that respect, since its starting price is just  $27,400 — and that’s before you take federal and state incentives into account.

The Leaf also offers a roomy interior with plenty of hi-tech options, including the semi-autonomous ProPilot driver assistance software, and the ‘ePedal’ that offers a one-pedal driving mode for those that want it. It also supports both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

There are downsides, mainly the fact that the cheaper 40 kWh battery models only offer 149 miles of EPA range. Likewise the Leaf includes a CHAdeMO rapid charger, rather than the CCS favored by every other automaker that isn’t Tesla. But if you’re looking for an EV that doesn’t need to be too big, and you have a tight budget, this is one to consider.

Read our full 2022 Nissan Leaf review

(Image credit: Lucid)

6. 2021 Lucid Air Dream Edition


Price: $169,000

Range: 517 miles

0 to 60 mph: 2.5 seconds

Drive: AWD

Availability: Spring 2021

Reasons to buy

+Incredible range+Advanced sensor technology for autonomous driving

Reasons to avoid

High price

Lucid looks to be trying to directly compete with Tesla, offering up a luxury car that has more miles on the battery than you know what to do with. The Lucid Air Dream Edition is the pinacle of the company’s offering, with deliveries now starting to take place for those that can afford it.

With all wheel drive, 1,080 horsepower, an aerodynamic frame with 0.21 drag coefficient, and a resulting 517 miles of range, it’s one spectacular car that offers almost everything. There’s also autonomous driving involved, with the hopes that it can be upgraded to a Level 3 ‘eye-off’ system a little further down the line. It’s not self-driving, but it looks like Lucid wants to give Tesla and GM a run for their money.

(Image credit: GMC)

7. GMC Hummer EV Edition1


Price: $112,595

Range: 350 miles

0 to 60 mph: 3.0 seconds

Drive: AWD

Availability: Fall 2021

Reasons to buy

+Impressive off-road prowess+Solid range+Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support

Reasons to avoid

Wicked expensive

An icon of excess, the Hummer was loved and loathed for its too-wide-to-fit-in-a-lane stance and its in-your-face off-road attitude when it was discontinued in 2010. This year, it’s back in a pure-electric version.

The first version, the EV Edition1 is a pickup truck with three electric motors (one up front, two in the rear) that will generate 1000 horsepower and with launch control that will catapult this beast from 0 to 60 mph in 3.0 seconds. Compare that to the popular Ford F150 that takes 6.2 to get there. GM is also equipping the first EV Hummers with a full-on off-road package that includes skid plates and rock sliders to keep you from gouging the bottom of the truck, plus washable underbody cameras. The adaptive air suspension will include an “Extract Mode” that can raise the body over half a foot to get out of trouble.

When you’re back on the highway, the new Hummer will include what is the closest tech you’ll get to self-driving vehicle today —  GM’s Super Cruise hands-off feature. To keep you informed of what’s happening inside and what’s left of the truck’s impressive 350-mile range, there will be 13.4-inch center touchscreen and 12.3-inch gauge cluster. Next year, the Hummer will come in an SUV model as well. In the meantime, the Hummer EV Edition1 promises to satisfy drivers’ craving a big, bad pickup truck in an EV model.

(Image credit: Tesla)

8. Tesla Model Y


Price: $53,990

Range: 326 miles

0 to 60 mph: 3.5 seconds

Drive: AWD

Availability: Now

Reasons to buy

+Lots of storage space+Autopilot as standard, FSD available+250kW Supercharging available

Reasons to avoid

No cheaper standard range model on saleNo Apple CarPlay or Android Auto support

The Tesla Model Y may not be as cheap as the Model 3 or as powerful as the Model X, but it does manage to mix affordability and storage space into an attractive-looking package. With 76 cubic feet of space, up to 326 miles of range, space for up to seven people, and access to Tesla’s 250kW Supercharger network.

On top of this the Model Y gets to enjoy all the benefits of Tesla’s Autopilot driver assistance software. You get all the basics including automatic steering, acceleration, and brake control, thrown in with the car as standard. The more advanced Full Self Driving (which isn’t actually autonomous) is also available for a one-off payment of $10,000.

So if you want all the benefits of a spacious Tesla, but are priced out of the Model X, this might be the EV for you.

(Image credit: Porsche)

9. 2021 Porsche Taycan Turbo S


Price: $185,000

Range: 201 miles (Turbo S)

0 to 60 mph: 2.4 seconds (Turbo S)

Drive: AWD

Availability: Now

Reasons to buy

+Supercar handling+Superior performance

Reasons to avoid

No Android Auto supportFully loaded model elicits sticker shock

The Porsche Taycan can still lay claim to several firsts. It was the first production EV with a two-speed transmission to boost acceleration. It was also the first production EV with an 800-volt system, which cuts down recharge times. And, of course, it’s the first pure-electric production Porsche.

One of the best electric cars, this Porsche sedan boasts supercar features including neck-snapping acceleration, carbon-ceramic brake rotors, active anti-roll bars, air springs, and high-speed rear-wheel steering. And those slots on the front are front brake air ducts that close at highway speeds to improve aerodynamics. New for 2021 is a head up display, SiriusXM satellite radio, and the ability to receive over-the-air software updates.

With the Porsche handling and emblem come some Porsche prices. While the base model tops out at a few grand over $100K the Turbo S — the one you really want — starts at $185,000.

audi e-tron

(Image credit: Audi)

10. Audi e-tron


Price: $65,900

Range: 222 miles

0 to 60 mph: 5.5 seconds

Drive: AWD

Availability: Now

Reasons to buy

+Upscale, relaxed ride with storage space to spare+Good performance and speed+All the tech you’d expect

Reasons to avoid

Not the best range

While it may not be the longest range EV you can buy, there’s still plenty of reasons to be interested in the Audi e-tron. Most of all the fact it offers 402 horsepower, 4,000 lbs of towing capacity, and can hit that sweet 60mph mark in just 5.5 seconds. All in that hefty SUV design.

What’s more Audi hasn’t cheaped out where tech is concerned. Not only does the e-tron offer a dual-screen infotainment system, it also supports Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon’s Alexa, so there’s something for everyone — unless you’re using Bixby for some god-forsaken reason.

So if you’re looking for something with plenty of tech, and a stylish look only an Audi can offer, this is worth looking into. Just ignore the fact that it’s more expensive than a Tesla Model Y, which travels over 300 miles on a single charge

Leave a Comment