The electric revolution hasn’t arrived with the ferocity predicted by futurists the world over, but we’re still seeing some pretty big leaps in range, performance, and style with the introduction of each new electric vehicle. It’s a promising sign of things to come, and one that gives shoppers a wide variety of choices. All of the best EVs provide enough range for use as a daily driver while offering features and technology that didn’t even exist a few years ago. It’s an exciting new segment in the automotive industry, and the list below highlights our top picks for the best hybrids, the best plug-in hybrids, and the best pure EVs available for 2021.
Hyundai Kona Electric
To compete with the growing number of electric vehicles hitting the market, Hyundai has swapped the Kona SUV’s gasoline engine for an electric motor and battery pack to create the 2021 Kona Electric. The swap has resulted in a compelling electric vehicle, with an engaging driving character, zippy performance, and up to 258 miles of all-electric driving range. Styling differences include a unique grille and wheels, but the Kona Electric’s unique looks still turns heads like the regular version. Rival EVs such as the Chevrolet Bolt, the Tesla Model 3, and Kia Niro EV offer similar functionality, but the Hyundai’s starting price and unbeatable warranty makes it one of the smarter choices in the segment.
Chevy Bolt EV
The 2021 Chevy Bolt EV isn’t as interesting as the Hyundai Kona Electric or as sexy as the Tesla Model 3, but its smooth ride, roomy cabin, and popular standard features make it an appealing option to mainstream-brand shoppers. The Chevy has an EPA driving range of 259 miles, which is nothing to sneeze at, and its fast-charging capability allows it to replenish up to 100 miles of range in 30 minutes. Sure, the Bolt’s design borders on dorky, and its interior quality doesn’t qualify as premium despite a starting price close to $40,000 (before federal tax credits), but its electric motor sends 266 pound-feet of torque to the front wheels, providing zippy acceleration. We also appreciate its one-pedal driving and satisfying-to-use hand-brake function.
The 2021 Honda Insight is a hybrid with great fuel economy that looks and drives mostly like a conventional compact sedan. It shares many components with the popular Honda Civic sedan, and delivers a similarly pleasant driving experience and roomy, practical interior. The crucial difference is the Insight’s combination of a gasoline engine and electric motors, which supply power in a non-traditional way in the name of efficiency. The hybrid system is seamless during everyday driving but can occasionally be noisy when accelerating hard. But the Insight’s minimal price premium over the Civic and superb fuel economy make it a smart buy.
The 2021 Toyota Corolla continues its tradition of being an inexpensive, safety-minded, and well-equipped compact car. Available as either a four-door hatchback or sedan, the little Toyota offers a variety of personalities. Both body styles feature a pair of dutiful four-cylinder engines, and they’re also offered with an extremely frugal hybrid powertrain. For folks who appreciate driving engagement, the Corolla can be had with a manual transmission and a sport-tuned suspension. However, it’s still less exciting than most of its competitors, such as the Honda Civic and Mazda 3. While the hatch has a tiny back seat, it shares desirable features and an attractive cabin design with the sedan. The 2021 Corolla isn’t the most exciting small car, but it’s still an efficient and stylish choice.
Hyundai is becoming increasingly known for daring designs, and the company’s compact sedan, the 2021 Elantra, is the latest to receive a bold new look. The new Elantra sports angular exterior details and an upscale cabin, both of which are intended to pull focus away from the segment’s heavy hitters—namely the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, and Nissan Sentra. The standard powertrain is a 147-hp four-cylinder but Hyundai also offers a 201-hp turbocharged N Line model and an available hybrid powertrain. A host of driver-assistance features are standard, with even more advanced tech offered as options.
These are some of the latest hybrid cars of 2021.