Best Small Electric Cars [Top Ranked Models]

Best Small EV

As the electric vehicle industry begins to merge into the mainstream, midsize crossover models like the new Ford Mustang Mach-E are becoming the standard template.

However, there are still some great models that we would call “small cars” worthy of notice. We’ve tested each of them and found that they are fun to drive and very affordable.

We will rank our best small electric vehicles by price, range, safety, reliability, and features.

Check out our full list of the best EVs here >>

Read about how we rank our vehicles >>

Best Small Electric Cars Comparison

ModelBase Price (Approximate)EPA Range EstimateConsumer Reports Reliability Score
(Higher Is Better)
Chevrolet Bolt EUV
$35K
250 Miles
3/5
Kia Niro
$41K
239 Miles
3/5
Chevrolet Bolt
$33K
259 Miles
5/5
Nissan Leaf Plus
$39K
226 Miles
3/5
MINI Cooper Electric
$32K
114 Miles
2/5

1. Chevrolet Bolt EUV: Bigger Is Better

Chevrolet-Bolt-EUV-Best-Small-Electric-CarsWe’re not going to pretend that the Chevy Bolt EUV isn’t at the top of our list because it is the biggest small vehicle on this list. Size matters in small vehicles, and GM was wise to create a longer Bolt. We have just tested the Bolt EUV in every type of driving imaginable including climbing the tallest peak in the Northeast. The Bolt EUV is a very satisfying and fun vehicle to drive. It feels like the most “grown-up” on this list of great cars.

GM will also soon be offering Super Cruise, a hands-free driver-assist system that you are going to love. We tried it for hours at a time and found that it reduces fatigue, and GM seems to have carefully thought out the safety systems it incorporates.

The Bolt EUV has a roomy back seat and ample cargo volume. The Bolt EUV’s wireless phone integration and a great panoramic moonroof are among our favorites of its many features. Shoppers should also take note that Chevy will be offering a multi-voltage mobile charger so that you can simply plug it into a 240 V outlet you have installed that GM is willing to pay for! GM even added self-sealing tires so that a puncture won’t result in a tow.

The Bolt EUV is the best small electric car in the market because GM bent the rules on what a “car” can be.

Pros

  • Super Cruise hands-free system (Available late 2021)
  • Multi-Voltage mobile charger (Available late 2021)
  • GM Will help pay for your charging outlet installation (Limited time offer)
  • Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay

Cons

  • Some important features are on hold due to shortages (Check back in late 2021)

Current Chevy Bolt EUV Deals & Incentives

YearMakeModelCash Incentives (up to)Best Avail. APRLease OffersExpiration
2022ChevroletBolt EUV$239/month for 36 months, $2,619 due at signing5/31/2022

You may qualify for additional deals and incentives, check out this month's Chevy deals here.

2. Kia Niro EV: The Hidden Tesla Model 3 SR+ Competitor

Kia-Niro-EV-Best-Small-Electric-CarsWe drove a Kia Niro EV to our local Tesla retail outlet and drove it back to back with a similarly-priced Model 3 SR+. The two vehicles have nearly identical interior space, and the Niro has the edge in cargo capacity. What we found shocked us. We liked the Niro better!

The Niro EV is a quick and nimble vehicle with a fun attitude. The long hatchback body style is perfect for throwing a mountain bike into on weekends, and the Niro doesn’t feel small with four passengers. The Niro and the Kona Electric from Hyundai share a lot of their underlying technology, but we like the Niro better, which is why you don’t see the Kona on this list.

Pros

Cons

  • Limited availability in 2021
  • No spare tire

Current Kia Niro EV Deals & Incentives

YearMakeModelCash Incentives (up to)Best Avail. APRLease OffersExpiration
2021KiaNiro EV
2022KiaNiro EV1.90%$299/month for 36 months, $3,499 due at signing5/31/2022

You may qualify for additional deals and incentives, check out this month's Kia deals here.

3. Chevrolet Bolt EV: Best All-Around Small Electric Car

Chevrolet-Bolt-Best-Small-Electric-CarsIf it weren’t for the fact that the Bolt EUV is basically the same price for a larger Bolt, we would have put the Chevrolet Bolt in the number one spot on this list. Also, the current recall gives us pause. Owners of Bolts have suffered through three stages of this mess and many have sold back their Bolts.

Enough negativity. We’ve driven the updated 2022 Bolt as well as a prior-generation Bolt in the past months and found the Bolt to be a fantastic vehicle in all regards. It is nimble, fun, quick, and has excellent outward visibility.

The Bolt also has the best small-car EV range overall with 259 miles. We have verified that the range is real (in mild weather), and we were impressed with the Bolt’s wireless Android Auto integration. If the Bolt’s size meets your needs, make it the first one you check out when you shop.

Pros

  • Fun to drive
  • Great visibility
  • Wireless phone integration

Cons

  • Unfortunate battery issues (hopefully resolved) mar a perfect reliability record

Current Chevrolet Bolt Deals & Incentives

YearMakeModelCash Incentives (up to)Best Avail. APRLease OffersExpiration
2022ChevroletBolt EV$219/month for 36 months, $2,539 due at signing5/31/2022

You may qualify for additional deals and incentives, check out this month's Chevy deals and average prices paid.

4. Nissan Leaf Plus: Better Than You Remember

Nissan-Leaf-Plus-Best-Small-Electric-CarsIf you think of the original version when you hear “Nissan Leaf,” it is time to recalibrate your opinion.

The updated Leaf Plus offers the benefits of the second-generation upgrades with a larger battery and much greater range.

The Leaf is a proven reliable design.

Nissan was the pioneer of battery-electric vehicles for the modern age, and its Leaf Plus is a fun roomy small car that is always on the list of best affordable small EVs.

Pros

  • Still qualifies for federal tax incentives
  • Much improved over prior Leaf models

Cons

  • A bit slower to charge than some models
  • Unusually high seat position is not ideal for taller drivers
  • No spare tire

Current Nissan Leaf Deals & Incentives

YearMakeModelCash Incentives (up to)Best Avail. APRLease OffersExpiration
2021NissanLeaf
2022NissanLeaf1.90%$209/month for 36 months, $4,059 due at signing5/31/2022

You may qualify for additional deals and incentives, check out this month's Nissan deals here.

5. MINI Cooper Electric: The Fun One

MINI-Cooper-Best-Small-Electric-CarOfficially called the MINI Cooper SE Hardtop 2-Door, the MINI EV is a blast to drive. We tested it at a local public ride and drive event and fell in love. MINI has designed out a lot of the goofy infotainment content from its early Cooper models, and we find it much easier to like these days.

The Cooper SE Hardtop 2-Door (really has a ring to it, eh) can scoot to 60 MPH in under seven seconds, but the instant electric torque makes it ideal for point-and-shoot city scooting. The downside is that its backseat is mostly for show and the Cooper is a peanut of a car.

The range is also a real issue. Just 114 miles in the best of weather, and half the range of the rest of the vehicles on this list relegate the electric MINI Cooper to urban car or weekend fun car status.

Pros

  • Most fun to drive small EV
  • Qualifies for federal tax incentives

Cons

  • It’s super small
  • Limited driving range
  • No spare tire

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best small electric vehicle?

Our top pick for the best small EV is the Chevrolet Bolt EUV. We tested it out in every type of driving imaginable and found it very satisfying and fun. The Bolt EUV is the best small electric car in the market because GM bent the rules on what a “car” can be.

Which small electric vehicle has the longest range?

The Chevy Bolt has a range of 259 miles in mild weather. This makes it the range leader in small affordable EVs.

Should I purchase or lease an electric vehicle?

Availability is a factor when considering which small EV to purchase or lease in 2021. However, due to rapid changes in the small EV market and battery issues in many models, leasing may be a wise alternative to buying.

What is the most reliable small electric car?

Until recently, the answer was simple - the Chevy Bolt. It has earned the highest reliability scores of small electric models from Consumer Reports. However, a recent three-part recall related to battery fires has marred that perfect record.