Here are the 3 used EVs you should consider

By our math, we’re about 8 years into the modern EV era. With the release of the original Nissan Leaf, battery-powered cars became a viable option for a ton of people. EVs have enjoyed a lot of popularity boosted by federal and state rebates, and even a rebate from our local electricity company.

Because there are so many automakers who have gotten into the EV market, there are a ton of excellent used options you can choose from. And, because many people lease these cars and take the initial deprecation hit, used electric cars are often surprisingly cheap for the age and mileage. Especially if you need a second car for a commute or a high school kid who’s just gotten their license, you can pick up a reliable used EV for very little money.

The major issue to consider is that batteries shed range as they age, and so you’ll want to choose a vehicle carefully to plan for what mileage you’ll need in the future. You should also absolutely think about repair costs should something happen to your car. More common brands and vehicles that sold in higher numbers will have more used parts available just in case your car needs to make a trip to the mechanic or body shop.

With that said, here are our three picks for the best used EVs:

Chevrolet Bolt EV (Any Year)

Image credit: Chevrolet

They were hard to find for a bit, but off-lease Bolts are hitting the used market and they’re a perfect fit for many different lifestyles. The original range of 238 EPA-rated miles will likely be mostly intact after the ~30K+ miles many of these vehicles have been driven. Expect at least 200 real-world miles left in these batteries.

What’s even cooler is that you’ll be able to spring for a fully-loaded Bolt Premier for less than the cost of a new base-model Bolt. We’ve seen off-lease Bolts selling for as little as $21,000, which gives you a savings of $16,000 vs buying new. (Editor’s note: this is the car I currently lease)

What we like:

  • Long range
  • Wide array of options
  • Standard Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
  • Advanced liquid-cooled/heated battery for greater longevity
  • Humongous Chevrolet dealer and certified mechanic network, plentiful part availability
  • Flat floor makes rear seats surprisingly spacious

What we don’t like:

  • Limited rear cargo space
  • Narrow front seats don’t fit everyone
  • CCS DC Fast Charge port was optional, so check for this feature
  • Resistive heating is less efficient than heat pump
  • No adaptive cruise control available
  • Slow-ish 80kW built-in charger
  • Still expensive vs a new economy ICE vehicle

Kia Soul EV (2014-2018)

Image credit: Kia

Kia hit a home run with its first EV, the electrified version of its second-generation Soul. This boxy, funky ride blends utility with comfort quite well, and offers up some great features like front heated and ventilated seats. What’s even more impressive is that with a software update, Soul EV models with UVO touchscreens can gain Apple CarPlay compatibility.

From what I hear, you can expect somewhere around 70 miles of range from an off-lease Soul EV. What’s great about these Souls is that if you find one from a dealer that’s a certified pre-owned model, you’ll get the remainder of the generous 10 year/100,000 mile warranty that Kia offers from new. So let’s say you find a Soul EV that was sold in 2016, that leaves you with 7 years of protection not just for your car, but, more importantly, for your battery! Pricing looks great for these Kias, starting at under $13,000 with around 25K miles.

What we like:

  • Decent everyday range
  • Two trim levels makes picking features easy
  • Nice seats and interior
  • Standard CHAdeMO fast charging
  • Models with Uvo infotainment can gain Apple CarPlay upgrade
  • Excellent warranty on CPO models
  • 2018 model year gained range, rated at 111 miles EPA
  • Efficient heat pump heater appears to be standard

What we don’t like:

  • Air-cooled battery pack can impact range and longevity
  • Slightly cramped rear seat
  • Limited production run may mean fewer secondhand parts
  • Not sold in all 50 states, so local availability may vary

Nissan Leaf (2013-2017)

Image credit: Nissan USA

Ah, yes, the Nissan Leaf. The pioneer of the modern EV. The Leaf models since 2013 are all pretty solid, and some key changes on the inside of these cars make them worth shopping for. Among them is improved regenerative braking, more efficient electronics, and a more capacious rear trunk. Although the battery tech Nissan used is behind the top EVs of 2019, you’ll find plenty to love with a used Leaf.

One thing to note: Leafs (Leaves?) had a smaller capacity battery for a long time until the 2016 model year, when the SV and SL models gained a battery with an EPA rated 107 miles. We’re seeing even certified pre-owned Leafs in our area for as little as $13,000, making them a great deal. You can rock what’s sure to become an eco-classic down the road.

What we like:

  • S models can be had very cheap
  • Great reputation for reliability
  • Plenty of parts and service available
  • CPO warranty is pretty good
  • SV and SL batteries (30 kWh) should net solid range

What we don’t like:

  • Battery not actively cooled/heated
  • Dated interior lacks modern digital amenities
  • Slow built-in charger for base S models
  • S models have a smaller battery (24 kWh)
  • S models only have resistive heating, no heat pump
  • Non-standard CHAdeMO fast charging depending on model year
  • S models only have a 3.3kW charger, unless equipped with CHAdeMO

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