Are you an environmentally-conscious car buyer who wants to go all-electric, but you aren’t enthusiastic about the price tag on a new EV? We recommend checking out used EVs to bridge that price gap!
But which used EVs are really worth their battery weight in your hard-earned cash?
Today, we’re bringing you our top 5 list of Best Used EVs Under $30k (or under $25k if you hope to snag that Federal Used EV Credit).
Let’s get started with our top pick for all-around best used EV in the $25,000-$30,000 budget range: the Model 3.
1) Used Tesla Model 3 (2018-2020)
You’re probably not surprised to hear us call the Model 3 our favorite electric vehicle for under $30k. As a daily commuter, it’s comfortable. As a road tripper, it has the longest range and one of the fastest charging times in its class. And lest we forget, the Model 3 is just plain fun to drive.
In the current market, you can find a used Model 3 for under $30k in model years 2018, 2019, and 2020. For what we’d consider the best used EV under $25k, look for a 2018 Model 3 Standard Range (typically, these will have more than 50,000 miles).
For the highest level of range and comfort within a $30k budget, check out the 2020 Model 3 Standard Range Plus, which often comes with the appreciated bonus of a few more years of factory warranty. You can also find Long Range AWD variants in these model years under $30k as well.
Model 3 Safety
Since the Model 3’s debut in 2018, all iterations of this mid-size, four door sedan have received outstanding safety ratings and reviews from both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
Model 3 Range
At the low end of the Model 3’s range is the Standard Trim, with a given range of 220-250 miles.
The 2018 Model 3 Mid Range gets up to 264 miles of range, and many of them can be found for sale under $30k.
The Model 3 Standard Range Plus adds a few miles to the Standard’s range, reaching about 240-263 miles. Typically, you’ll only find the Model 3 Standard Range Plus showing up under $30k in model years 2019-2020.
The Model 3 Long Range boasts a range of up to 310-330 miles, which is outstanding for this price range. Typically, you’ll find either the 2018 or 2019 Model 3 Long Range under $30k, with the 2020 and newer Model 3 Long Range out of our $30k budget.
The Model 3 Performance manages a range of up to 299-322 miles, but none are likely to be found in a used listing for under $30k…yet.
Model 3 Warranty
Model 3 basic vehicle warranty terms are beginning to expire for earlier model years (2018 and 2019 or those with high mileage), but even an early 2018 Model 3 Battery and Drive Unit Warranty could still be active until 2026.
For a full discussion on Tesla’s warranty terms, be sure to check out our Ultimate Guide to Tesla Warranty Coverage.
Note: Tesla’s Full Self-Driving (FSD) software requires Autopilot Hardware 3.0, which is not installed on earlier used Teslas (manufactured before mid-2019). Since Model 3s from 2018 came with Hardware 2.5, they would require a hardware upgrade before your Tesla could run FSD (the upgrade cost was about $1000 the last time we checked). Going without FSD capability is probably not a deal breaker, but worth knowing what hardware you are going to have before making a purchase.
Next, let’s talk about our runner-up: the Chevrolet Bolt.
2) Used Chevrolet Bolt (2019-2020)
The beauty of the Chevrolet Bolt lies in its simplicity. You won’t get many high tech touchscreen options and luxury details in the Bolt (and there’s definitely no Autopilot), but the Bolt’s basic, user-friendly design is a great way to transition yourself (or even your grandmother) into EV ownership.
Chevy may have discontinued the Bolt, but we still see it as an excellent choice for a used EV under $30k. You’re even likely to come across a few of these used EVs under $25k, since some of them were sold new for less than $30k.
Here, we’re focusing on the 2019 and 2020 model years of the Chevy Bolt EV hatchback as the lowest price used Chevrolet Bolt with the best options.
Chevrolet Bolt Safety
The highly-publicized battery fires that plagued the Chevy Bolt and prompted a massive battery recall make the Bolt a diamond in the rough for used EV bargain hunters. First, it means that the Bolt has gone down in price into the low and sub $20k range. Second, it means that the battery in most Bolts is brand-new (and liquid-cooled), so you’ll have less degradation to worry about right now than you would with some versions of, say, the Nissan Leaf.
As far as actual driving safety goes, the NHTSA has given the Bolt a 5 star rating for every model year. The IIHS has also given Superior ratings to the Bolt EV, even naming it a Top Safety Pick in 2019.
Chevrolet Bolt Range
Here’s where the Bolt really tries to give Tesla some stiff competition:
The 2019 Chevy Bolt had an incredible range of 238 miles per charge. However, this may have changed on many Bolts because of the battery recall. Some owners report having over 250 miles of range after their battery recall replacements (likely due to GM using the newer, bigger battery pack as a replacement).
The 2020 Chevy Bolt boasts 259 miles per charge, upgrading the Bolt from a commuter to a viable road-tripper. However, speaking of road-trips, it’s worth noting that only the upper trim levels of the 2017-2021 Bolt came with fast-charging capabilities. DC fast charging (Level 3) is only a standard option on the Chevy Bolt starting in 2022.
Chevrolet Bolt Warranty
Most pre-2021 used Bolts will be past their basic bumper-to-bumper warranty term, but the battery warranty could remain in effect for another few years (with an original term of 8 years / 100,000 miles from the date of purchase).
GM also covers battery replacement due to degradation (loss of range) if battery capacity degrades over 40% in the warranty period.
The terms regarding degradation are not as great for GM EVs as for others, but there is a silver lining for the Bolt: the replacement batteries that were part of GM’s massive recall have had their warranty term reset. GM is offering 8 years / 100,000 miles in additional battery coverage for batteries replaced by the recall.
With that out of the way, let’s move on to our next entry into the list of best cheap used EVs: the Nissan Leaf.
3) Used Nissan Leaf (2020)
You can’t go far into EV research without hearing about the Nissan Leaf. The Leaf has been around for more than a decade, and we’d say it bore the brunt of EV battery skeptics right alongside Tesla’s Model S.
But some of the negative things you may have heard about the Leaf’s battery are old news. Leaf batteries from 2020 onward are technologically up-to-date and don’t degrade in the heat like a few did in the early and late 2010s (when they had a very different battery chemistry). The passive thermal management (it’s an air-cooled system) means you probably don’t want to try to take a long trip and DC fast charge a Leaf in extreme heat. Most of the time, though? The Leaf’s battery does just fine.
We’re going to focus in on the 2020 Nissan Leaf as the best option for buying used, so let’s get into some specifics:
Nissan Leaf Safety
The 2020 Nissan Leaf (and every Leaf since 2018) has gained a 5-Star Safety Rating from the NHTSA and a Good rating for most all factors tested by the IIHS.
Nissan Leaf Range
The Leaf is best known as a small commuter EV for good reason; the standard Leaf’s driving range does fall behind the Model 3 and the Bolt.
The standard 2020 Nissan Leaf has a range that should satisfy most daily driving needs at 150 miles per charge. However, if you plan on doing more heavy commuting or occasional road trips, the 2020 Leaf Plus can come closer to meeting those needs with 226 miles per charge.
Note: While the 2020 Leaf does support Level 3 DC fast charging, it still takes about 40 minutes to charge up to about 80% for the Standard’s 40kWh battery pack and about an hour for the Plus with its 62 kWh battery.
Nissan Leaf Warranty
While the basic bumper-to-bumper warranty coverage for the 2020 Leaf is up, there may be a year or so left for the Powertrain (a term of 5 years / 60,000 miles). Like most EVs in the US, the Leaf has 8 years or 100,000 miles of warranty coverage for their Lithium-Ion battery pack. If you are anxious about the possibility of a used Leaf needing battery replacement, you can likely find a 2020 Leaf with plenty of battery warranty left.
Note: as of 7/16/2023, the 2020 Nissan Leaf was issued a recall notice for a system glitch that occurs when turning off cruise control, so it’s worth asking the seller if that recall has been resolved when you are considering a 2020 Leaf for purchase. All that’s required is a quick reprogramming session at a local dealership, so we wouldn’t consider this recall a deal breaker.
Our next EV is one you may not have heard of. It’s the trial run of Hyundai’s IONIQ series, the Hyundai IONIQ Electric, and you can actually find it out on the market for less than $20k.
4) Used Hyundai IONIQ Electric (2019-2021)
The Hyundai IONIQ Electric may be harder to locate than other makes and models on our list, but it’s a budget-friendly electric car that you can occasionally find for under $20k.
Originally only sold in 13 states, the 2019-2021 Hyundai IONIQ Electric 4-door hatchback had a starting price of around $24,000-$39,000 (MSRP). Used IONIQ Electrics from 2020 can be found under $20k for the SEL trim level, but we’ve actually seen all years/trims of the used IONIQ Electric (2019-2021) advertised under our $30k budget.
IONIQ Electric Safety
The IIHS rated the IONIQ highly in all six of their crash tests, earning the IONIQ a Top Safety Pick rating. However, the 2019 version of the IONIQ did struggle with some highly-publicized issues that necessitated a recall from the NHTSA. If you are looking at purchasing a 2019 IONIQ Electric, it’s a good idea to double check the recall information on that vehicle. Later model years of the IONIQ haven’t experienced any noteworthy issues.
IONIQ Electric Range
On the low end, the 2019 Hyundai Electric is EPA rated for 124 miles per charge, which pales in comparison to competitors like the Model 3 and the Chevy Bolt. However, if you just need a commuter and aren’t planning on taking many long excursions, a moderate range may not be an issue.
The 2020-2021 Hyundai Electric gets 170 miles per charge, a modest 50 mile-ish increase in range that makes one of these (the 2020) our pick for a used IONIQ. However, we like the options on the Limited trim enough that we’d recommend it over the SEL. For instance, the 2020 IONIQ Limited introduced a heat pump to the system, a must-have option for operating EVs in colder climates.
The biggest downside that we’ve seen to the Hyundai IONIQ Electric is that there is no all-wheel drive option. However, if you are looking for a light-duty commuter, the IONIQ is a comfortable, reasonable daily driver with a decent amount of cargo space.
IONIQ Electric Warranty
We’ve got to give them credit, Hyundai has one of the best battery warranties in the business with 10 years / 100,000 miles and 70% battery capacity retention coverage. And unlike their powertrain warranty (which reduces to a 5 year period for second/subsequent owners) the battery warranty keeps its 10 year balance even after ownership transfer.
Note: when you are researching this vehicle, be careful to search for the full electric version of the IONIQ along with the model year (e.g., 2019 Hyundai IONIQ Electric), since Hyundai also had two hybrids that year by the same name.
Finally, we have the oddball of our budget-friendly used EVs: the BMW i3.
5) Used BMW i3 (2018-2019)
If you want an EV under $30k that stands out from other electric car styles, uses unique materials, and has actual buttons instead of a touchscreen, you should definitely check out a used BMW i3. Heads up, though: this compact EV only seats 4!
You can find the 2018 and 2019 BMW i3 for under $30k in many cases, but it’s also a great find as a used EV under $20k.
For the realist who isn’t ready to drop fossil fuel convenience altogether, some i3s have a small gas tank called a Range Extender (REX). There’s definitely an argument to be made that the added tank of gas makes the i3 a hybrid and not an EV. However, since the REX is an option and not standard, we’re sticking with the story that this city-friendly hatchback is an electric car.
Check out this video by The Fleet on why the BMW i3 is such a useful, unique, and budget-friendly electric car:
BMW i3 Safety
This is one area where the BMW i3 doesn’t shine as brightly as other used EVs in our list. Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS have given the i3 top marks for its safety performance, but on the plus side, it doesn’t have terrible marks, either. For the most part, the i3’s safety is pretty middle of the road, with the IIHS only giving a moderate score.
BMW i3 Range
The i3 has a pretty low to average range of about 126 miles, but the Range Extender (additional gas tank) can push that number up to about 200 miles.
BMW i3 Warranty
For the 2018 and 2019 i3, BMW’s New Vehicle bumper-to-bumper warranty has expired. However, like most other EVs from those years, the battery warranty is likely still active (8 years / 100,000 miles).
Best Place to Find Used EVs under $30,000
If you haven’t spent time trying to dig through online car listings from the big used car dealerships, you’ve spared yourself a lot of grief. It’s crazy out there.
But if you have experienced the mess of ads and irrelevant search results you get on most used car websites, we’ve got something important to tell you: it doesn’t have to be that hard. We made this website just for you.
Looking for a used Model 3 under $25,000 with Autopilot Hardware 3.0? Just click the filters for Make, Model, Price, and Autopilot Hardware…and that’s exactly what you’ll get. No ads, and no competing gas car listings.
And that’s it. You can check through your options, see the details on each vehicle, and contact sellers right through the platform.
Don’t waste your time on other sites, check out our EV-only listings and get the best used EV for your $30,000 today.
Not buying, but thinking about selling an EV while the Used Clean Vehicle Credit is still attracting buyers? Register and list your EV today: you can list for free and get your EV in front of the best EV buyers on the internet.
And if private listings aren’t your style, check out our EV Cash Offer. EV dealers from across the US are ready to make you a real offer. Request an offer today to see what your EV is worth!