The 2021 BMW i3 enters another year essentially unchanged. The hatchback EV saw its last significant update in 2019.
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2021 BMW i3 Overview
Choosing your BMW i3
The BMW i3 once again comes in two trim levels: i3 and i3s. The i3 starts at $45,445 with destination, and the i3s is priced from $48,645 before options. Both prices are before applicable plug-in incentives like the $7,500 federal EV tax credit.
The i3 carries an an electric motor that generates 168 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. The i3s get a high-output version capable of 181 hp and 199-lb-ft. A single-speed transmission delivers power to the rear wheels. Both models use a 42-kWh lithium-ion battery and offer 153 miles of electric range.
The optional Range Extender ($3,200), which adds a two-cylinder gas engine, increases total range to 200 miles, although the all-electric range drops to 126 miles. With the gas engine engaged, the i3 is EPA-rated at 31 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving.
According to BMW, a full recharge takes five hours on a 240-volt Level 2 charger. Charging time drops to just one hour on a DC fast charger.
Passenger and Cargo Capacity
The i3 is spacious in front, but the rear seat is designed for just two. The slender back doors are hinged at the rear, which helps with getting in and out, but does nothing to solve the lack of legroom.
The cargo area holds 15.1 cubic feet, about the same as a conventional trunk. With the rear seat folded, load space expands to 36.9 cubic feet.
The i3 is light on standard safety technology, providing only front and rear parking sensors. The Technology Plus Driving Assistant Package ($2,350) includes adaptive cruise control and adaptive headlights with automatic high beams. An automated parking system can be added to the package for $200.
Several common features, like blind-spot monitoring and lane keeping assist, are not yet available on the i3.
The i3's standard infotainment setup includes a 6.5-inch touchscreen, navigation, HD and satellite radio, and USB connectivity. The system is compatible with Apple CarPlay, but not Android Auto.
The Technology Plus Driving Assistant Package includes an upgraded navigation system with real-time traffic data. A 12-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound system is available for $800, and wireless device charging and wi-fi capability can be added together for $500.
The i3 comes equipped with heated manual front seats, automatic climate control, heated power-folding side mirrors, proximity key access, and 19-inch wheels. The interior features cloth upholstery and recycled trim materials. Buyers can add a sunroof for $1,000 and a high-efficiency heater for $150.
Three interior trim packages are available. Mega World ($1,400) features grey leatherette upholstery with brown trim. Giga World ($1,800) offers brown leather seats with wool inserts and eucalyptus dash trim. Premium leather upholstery and dark oak trim are found in the Tera World ($2,600).
Along with the more powerful engine, the i3s carries a sport-tuned suspension, gloss black exterior trim, and 20-inch wheels. Other equipment and options are shared with the i3.
The standard i3 represents the best value in our view. The Ranger Extender may be convenient, but it doesn't add enough range for the price, and the i3s is only marginally quicker.