2017 BMW i3 vs. Its Competition

2017 BMW i3
Andrew Ganz Andrew Ganz Senior Editor

Electric cars remain a rag-tag bunch with few models looking and feeling like direct rivals.

To that end, let's look at the i3 as both an electric car and as a range-extended model with the optional REx.

As an electric, it squares off against the Chevrolet Bolt EV, which more than doubles than i3's driving range and costs a lot less.

The Chevy is way more practical, but it's not as swanky inside and, frankly, it looks kind of like any other hatchback.

The Tesla Model S has been Hollywood's eco-friendly darling for years and it continues to get better, but you can buy two i3s for the price of the Tesla.

At the opposite end of the spectrum sits the Nissan Leaf and Volkswagen e-Golf.

Both models are cheap and fairly cheerful with about the same usable range as the i3.

If you're fine with hard plastics inside and a mediocre stereo, they'll save you a lot of coin over the BMW.

The i3's best range-extending rival is probably the Chevy Volt, which is quite different in that it's basically a normal compact car with a reasonably large fuel tank that can drive on electricity alone for the average driver's commute (for at least a day or two).

2017 BMW i32017 BMW i3
Browse Used Listings
2017 Chevrolet Volt2017 Chevrolet Volt
Browse Used Listings
2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV
Browse Used Listings
2017 Nissan Leaf  2017 Nissan Leaf
Browse Used Listings
2017 Volkswagen e-Golf2017 Volkswagen e-Golf
Browse Used Listings
2017 Tesla Model S2017 Tesla Model S
Browse Used Listings
Quick Specs
6.6
The BMW i3 is a technological and stylistic tour de force—yet like any technology, it's nearing its sell-by date.
7.7
The 2017 Chevy Volt offers excellent fuel efficiency, and refined driving, improving on its predecessor in every way that counts.
7.4
The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV could become the first mainstream electric car, with a 238-mile range and a base price in the high $30,000s before incentives.
5.8
Eclipsed by the Chevrolet Bolt EV's 200-mile-plus range, the Nissan Leaf is best enjoyed with the substantial discounts dealers are eager to offer.
6.4
The 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf is a Golf that happens to run only on electricity, but its range is now sub-par.
8.3
The 2017 Tesla Model S is unlike any other car on the road for several reasons—good and bad.
MSRP From     
$42,400$33,220$36,620$30,680$30,495$68,000
Gas Mileage     
43 MPG City / 42 MPG Hwy
Engine     
ElectricGas/Electric I4ElectricElectricElectricElectric
EPA Class     
Subcompact CarsCompact CarsSmall Station WagonMid-Size CarsCompact CarsLarge Cars
Style Name     
60 Ah5-Door HB LT5-Door HB LTS Hatchback4-Door SE60 RWD *Ltd Avail*
Drivetrain     
Rear Wheel DriveFront wheel driveFront wheel driveFront Wheel DriveFront Wheel DriveRear Wheel Drive
Passenger Capacity     
455555
Passenger Doors     
N/A44N/AN/AN/A
Body Style     
HatchbackHatchbackHatchbackHatchbackHatchbackHatchback
Transmission     
AutomaticAutomaticNAAutomaticAutomaticAutomatic
Detailed Spec Comparison
 2017 BMW i3 vs. 2017 Chevrolet Volt2017 BMW i3 vs. 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV2017 BMW i3 vs. 2017 Nissan Leaf2017 BMW i3 vs. 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf2017 BMW i3 vs. 2017 Tesla Model S