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A white 2022 Kia Niro EV is shown from the front at an angle.

Making It Happen: 3 Affordable Used EVs to Consider

Electric vehicles are in. If a brand doesn’t offer one already, the chances are they’re working on one. Yes, it’s true: Tesla is not the only game in town when it comes to EVs. It certainly paved the way, but other brands have hopped on the bandwagon, and there’s now a booming EV market. It’s the new automotive trend, but, as any car enthusiast knows, in the automotive industry, “new” quickly becomes “used.” While the EV craze is a new trend, relatively speaking, it is a trend that has been around for long enough that there is now a good selection of used electric cars for sale.

This is great news for EV enthusiasts who are ready to make the jump but don’t have the savings to drop the asking price on a brand-new Tesla. You’re not alone, and there are options for you. There are actually more electric vehicles––yes, even used electric vehicles––on the market than you may realize. While you may not be surprised to hear that some of the higher-level luxury brands have EV options, you may be more surprised to hear that some of the brands within your price range also have great EV options for you.

#1 – Kia Niro EV

Kia is one of the biggest innovators in the EV market at the moment, with several hybrid and all-electric options. For the 2019 model year, Kia released the Niro EV. This special Niro keeps the interior space of the regular Niro Hybrid while offering everything you could hope to get out of an EV. In fact, the Niro EV offers more interior space than its traditional counterpart, thanks to the utter lack of engine going on under the hood. That’s not even the biggest benefit of not having a gasoline engine; with a range of 239 miles, you’re looking at very high efficiency.

Because the Niro is a 2019 model, it is just old enough to fit securely into the used category (meaning lower prices) but is not yet old enough to be dated or behind the curve in any way. A 2019 model is ideal for any used vehicle because it will still have you predominantly up to date while not draining your entire savings account on a down payment.

Kia is a great brand. Speaking from personal experience as a Kia Soul owner, its cars are durable, safe, spacious, and fun. Trust me when I say the Niro EV is high-tech and offers technology to match its electric aesthetic. Kia does things well, and it does things well at reasonable prices. That’s exactly what you want when searching for an electric vehicle.

A white 2021 Nissan LEAF is shown from the rear at an angle.

#2 – Nissan Leaf

Before you even read the word “Leaf,” there was already reason for intrigue at the word “Nissan.” The brand is not second-rate; many people would place it among the top brands in the industry. But, even at that, I’d argue that Nissan is incredibly underrated. Its ability to craft next-level vehicles while delivering fantastic performance, and to offer both of these features at affordable prices, makes it a truly special brand.

It is this kind of specialness that speaks volumes to a driver seeking an EV. Having made its debut in 2011, the Nissan Leaf is no newcomer to the industry. That’s what makes it such a good used EV. The first generation of the Leaf lasted from 2011 to 2017, which is quite a long stretch. I don’t suggest that you go all the way back to 2010, but going back to 2017 and catching the tail-end of the first generation will get you behind the wheel of an EV for around $15,000 (which is good for any vehicle in the Leaf’s segment, electric or not).

Now, if you’re riding on the excitement from hearing that the 2019 Niro offers a range of 239 miles, you may be disappointed to hear that the 2017 Leaf only offers 107 miles of range. But don’t let this be a deal-breaker for you. If you’re looking for an EV to increase efficiency and capability on your daily commute and short trips here and there, then a range of 107 miles should be plenty for you. As long as you’re diligent about charging regularly, you should have no problem keeping up with such a range, and going with a slightly lower range gives you a much lower price.

If you’re not content with that, there is another option. While 2017 is a great model year to purchase because it concludes the Leaf’s first generation, it is fair to say that some time has passed since 2017, meaning that there have been more Leafs since. Nothing says you can’t go with a second-generation used model. Just the two-year jump from 2017 to 2019 brought a range increase of over 100 miles, with the 2019 Leaf Plus offering a range of 226 miles. Even before then, the 2018 Leaf went through a major makeover, meaning it’s even more comfortable than the 2017 model and offers 151 miles of range.

If you want the lowest price and the most recent model year possible, the 2017 Leaf is probably the best option. But if you’re willing to spend a little bit more, the 2019 model is probably the way to go. As I said, 2019 is an ideal used model year at this point, and this is especially true for the Leaf, given the significant range increase.

A blue 2017 Chevy Bolt EV is shown from the front after leaving a dealer that has used electric cars for sale.

#3 – Chevy Bolt EV

If you’ve been following the automotive news, you know that Chevy is making huge strides in the EV market with the upcoming Silverado EV, Blazer EV, and Equinox EV. Exciting times. But EV innovation is not a new activity for Chevy. In fact, Chevy was one of the first mainstream brands to head down the electric path with the introduction of the plug-in hybrid Volt in 2011. The Volt paved the way for what was to come, giving way to the Bolt EV. The simple replacement of a V with a B may seem insignificant, but the difference is huge: the Bolt EV is all-electric.

The Bolt was released in 2017 and was certainly a game-changer for the Chevy lineup. It will forever have the distinction of being the first in what already appears to be growing into a long line of Chevy EVs. While 2019 is a good model year for used electric cars, the Bolt EV’s ideal used model year is the 2020 model. That may have been a rough year for many of us, but we have to acknowledge the good parts as well, and one of the good parts is the 2020 Bolt EV. With an increased range of 259 miles, the 2020 Bolt EV has the best range we’ve seen on our list. What’s the point of an EV if you don’t maximize efficiency?

Because the Bolt EV is a Chevy vehicle, one of the big benefits is that you know you’re getting high-level technology features, especially in the safety sector. With safety features like Chevy Safety Assist and Teen Driver, you’ll be in good hands, and you can even teach your kids how to drive an electric car (I wish I had learned to drive in an electric car––make sure they know how cool that is!). Chevy is a reliable brand, so you’ll be in good hands with your used Bolt EV. It’s got great range and efficiency, high-level safety, and durability. That’s a good value proposition right there.

Making It Happen

For a few years, it seemed like EVs were reserved for the super-rich, those who had an “in” with the industry, or people who decided that a cool car was more important than their savings account. The tides are turning, though. While EVs are still a new phenomenon in many ways, they are old enough to start showing up on used car lots. Therefore, EVs are not as inaccessible as they once were. You can get better style and capability, increase efficiency, and have a more exhilarating drive while paying only marginally more than you might for a gasoline-powered vehicle. It may be used, but I’d argue that it’s well worth it, so long as the car is in good condition. And, hey, if you don’t like it, there are plenty of people who will gladly buy it from you.