EVs on a Budget: 9 Affordable Electric Cars

Updated January 4th, 2022

Couple shopping for an affordable electric car

Shopping for an electric car is a noble pursuit. EV drivers aren’t just doing a solid for their own gas budget, but the environment as a whole. After all, lower emissions is something everyone can benefit from. But as much as drivers can save by going electric, many are put off by the sticker shock they get from high-end EV models. 

While their powertrains might be different, automakers have made sure that the frills and features that separate expensive new cars from more affordable ones are still present in their EV lineups. 

As such, more expensive new EVs have many features that more affordable EVs do not, including things like better interior styling, all-wheel-drive, lengthier warranties, and more robust entertainment and technology options. 

Fortunately, you don’t have to shell out tens of thousands of dollars to benefit from the fuel and annual maintenance savings driving an EV provides. In fact, some of the best electric cars also happen to be some of the most affordable electric cars

Reasonable pricing on an EV can be found when you explore the many different base models and lower trim levels available, many of which still come with the features modern drivers desire, such as great driving range, touchscreen navigation and entertainment, and extensive battery pack warranties.

Read on to learn how these affordable electric cars from the 2021 model year can offer you a terrific ride at a reasonable cost. We’ll share the best picks for commuters, families, and young drivers.

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Most Affordable Electric Cars for Commuters

Whether you travel to the office daily or spend a lot of time on the road meeting with clients, finding the most affordable electric car can go a long way in saving you time and money — without sacrificing horsepower.

While short on cargo space in comparison to larger EVs, these peppy sedans and hatchbacks offer miles of range that are well-suited to commuters and those who travel a lot for work. And their short footprints don’t just mean a stylish look, but also a car that can fit into plenty of parking spots.

Nissan LEAF

Nissan LEAF

Starting Price/MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price): $31,670

MPGe (Miles Per Gallon Gasoline Equivalent): 111 combined city/highway

Lauded by critics and drivers for its sleek styling, the striking Nissan LEAF remains a very popular and affordable electric car amongst commuters

The Nissan LEAF has previously received Kelley Blue Book honors as the lowest 5-year cost to own in its class, as well as the best 5-year cost to own an electric vehicle in its class — proof of its terrific value. 

The Apple CarPlay integration makes it easy to sync up your contacts for hands-free, touchscreen-enabled communication on the road. The Nissan LEAF also features 60/40 split rear seats that allow for 30 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded. 

Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus

Tesla Model 3

Starting Price/MSRP: $39,490

MPGe: 142 combined city/highway

All electric vehicles come with eligibility for federal tax credits that can reduce their cost. With a base starting price of around $35K after these incentives, the Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus is one of the most affordable electric cars produced by the well-known electric vehicle brand. It’s a much more cost-effective option than the Tesla Model Y and Model X.

Capable of 0-to-60 MPH in 3.1 seconds, the Tesla Model 3 offers considerable punch for those eager to navigate freeways with power. In addition, the car’s all-wheel drive option makes it a great choice for those who have to navigate winter snows and spring rains as part of their annual driving calendar.

Tesla also boasts access to their public charging network that features 25,000 charging stations worldwide, with six new locations opening each week.  

BMW i3

BMW i3

Starting Price/MSRP: $44,450

MPGe: 124 city/102 highway

While BMW’s high-end luxury vehicles remain somewhat expensive, their compact, fully electric hatchback is a reasonably priced $44,450 before incentives. While this tiny car constructed of Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic may look small, the luxury that BMW is known for is definitely there. 

The car features two leather seats tanned with olive leaf extract for supreme comfort and hand-selected open-pore eucalyptus wood trim throughout the cabin, sustainably grown, of course. BMW also has a partnership with the public charging station company EVgo, which gives drivers plenty of access to fast-charging Level 2 stations nationwide. 

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Most Affordable Electric Cars for Families

Think you need a gas-powered engine to power your next family SUV or crossover? Think again!

There are plenty of wallet-friendly electric cars that are great for both long-range trips with the family and for a run to the store and soccer practice.

Hyundai KONA Electric

Hyundai KONA Electric

Starting Price/MSRP: $37,390

MPGe: 132 city/108 highway

Hyundai‘s all-electric KONA is a subcompact SUV that’s a terrific affordable electric car option for growing families. 

The KONA features space for two child seats in the rear seat, as well as reasonable legroom for front passengers. Heated and cooled front seats make it a great ride for all seasons in terms of passenger and driver comfort.

And thanks to over 45 cubic feet of cargo room with the rear seats folded, it can haul sports equipment and pets with considerable ease.

Kia Niro EV

Kia Niro EV

Starting Price/MSRP: $39,090

MPGe: 123 city/102 highway

With a pre-incentive starting price just under $40K, the Kia Niro EV has become incredibly popular among drivers with families. Adding to its value is Kia‘s class-leading warranty of 10 years/100,000 miles. 

The Kia Niro EV features 53 cubic feet of cargo room, ideal for bringing everyone and everything along with you. The vehicle also has an array of safety features that any family would appreciate, like blind spot collision warning, lane following assist, and a driver attention warning. 

Whether you’re transporting young children or have new drivers in the fold, the Kia Niro EV could be just what you need.

Volkswagen ID.4

Volkswagen ID.4

Starting Price/MSRP: $39,995

MPGe: 104 city/89 highway

The Volkswagen ID.4’s starting price of $40K can go as low as $32,495 after federal tax credits and state-based incentives. 

The driver-centric design scheme around the Volkswagen ID.4 helped it earn the World Car of the Year Award for 2021. Critics and drivers have both lauded the car’s groundbreaking interior lighting scheme, panoramic glass roof, and motion-activated electric sun shade. 

The Volkswagen ID.4’s 64.2 cubic feet of cargo room with the rear seats folded also make it one of the largest all-electric SUVs on the market today. 

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Most Affordable Electric Cars for Young Drivers

Just landed your dream job? Tired of uncomfortable commutes on the bus or subway? There are plenty of affordable electric car options for new professionals, students, and young drivers who are eager to make their mark on the world — without the toxic fumes. 

Chevrolet Bolt EV

Chevy Bolt

Starting Price/MSRP: $36,500

MPGe: 259 combined city/highway

Chevrolet’s no-frills all-electric hatchback is ideal for young drivers on a budget who don’t want to sacrifice style. The car comes in a wide variety of fun colors, ranging from Oasis Blue to Cayenne Orange Metallic. 

While the vehicle’s infotainment package requires choosing a more expensive trim, the base model Chevrolet Bolt EV features a quality array of safety options, including lane assist and departure warning.

If you’re looking for a no-nonsense, affordable, all-electric ride, the Bolt EV is a top choice. 

MINI Electric Hardtop 2 Door

Mini Electric Hardtop 2 Door

Starting Price/MSRP: $29,900

MPGe: 115 city/100 highway

The MINI Electric Hardtop 2 Door gives young professionals all the quintessential style MINI is known for without the high price tag. 

With a 0-to-60 MPH time of 6.9 seconds, the MINI EH 2 packs plenty of zip in addition to its flair. The car also boasts ambient interior lighting and a newly updated dashboard design with touch controls as part of the brand’s attempt to appeal to a new generation of drivers.

Hyundai IONIQ Electric

Hyundai IONIQ Electric

Starting Price/MSRP: $33,245

MPGe: 145 city/121 highway

The affordability and style of Hyundai‘s IONIQ all-electric vehicle have helped make it a hit among young drivers. The base SE trim starts at a little over $33K. And while the car’s 23 cubic feet of cargo room leave a little bit to be desired, the car offers ample space for four passengers. It’s ideal for a night on the town. 

Drivers from California can also save an additional $3,500 utilizing the state’s Clean Fuel and Clean Vehicle rebate programs.

Get Cruising

By taking advantage of federal tax incentives, you can make your electric vehicle even more affordable. In addition, nearly all states also offer rebate and incentive programs to reduce the cost of your EV purchase. 

No matter what electric car you choose, make sure your home electric grid is capable of powering an EV charger. Any required upgrade to your home electrical system may require additional costs.

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