How we decided
To make this title scientific and data-driven, we compared the most popular all-electric models against each other using the criteria below. Our picks for 2023 continue on the page.
The most popular all-electric used cars are ranked and scored from 0-5 according to these ten categories. For a full breakdown of our analysis, scroll to the bottom.
- Cost per range mile - a Recurrent statistic that looks at the ratio of used price to real range and measures how much you’re paying for range vs. everything else (design, nice features, a killer sound system, etc). If you’re looking for a budget EV, you’ll want to keep this number low.
- Number in inventory - how available are these cars? This affects your ability to get your hands on a used one, and the ultimate sale price you may negotiate.
- Likelihood to be under $25K - we chose this price threshold because it is the cutoff for eligibility in the used EV tax credit program
- Charging speed - this score factors in both AC (level 2) and DC (level 3; fast charging) speeds
- Charging network availability - as determined by owner satisfaction and surveys
- Average range score - the Recurrent range score looks at the average observed range for models of a certain year and compares them to the average observed range when new
- Seasonal variability - how does the car’s tech prepare it for winter or cold weather driving?
- Recurrent Report eligibility - is this make and model supported by Recurrent to track range health and battery condition? Are there any limitations on our coverage?
- Connectivity - how do drivers rate the car’s app, ease of use, and usefulness of features. This is a blended score based on app store reviews and community feedback
- Price depreciation, annualized - how well has this car held its value over the past 12 months of price changes
2020 Nissan LEAF
- Total Score: 35.8 points
- Winner 🎉 Best Around-town Errands EV
The Nissan LEAF is tried and true. You know what to expect, and 2020 was the third year of the “gen 2” design, which offered a 40 kWh battery and the optional upgrade to a 62 kWh “Plus” version. While the standard range offering can be found under $25,000, you likely won’t find such low pricing for the Plus. If you’re desperate for that tax credit, you may have more luck finding a 2018 or 2019 LEAF under the price cutoff, although they are harder to find in inventory.
What we love: The price is right for a Nissan LEAF, but the standard range only offers 151 miles, which drives up the cost per range mile. The nice thing about the smaller battery, though, is that the max DC charge speed of 70 kW means that a refill will take just over 30 minutes. The LEAF also offers preconditioning on a timer and upgraded trims come with a heat pump. However, it’s predominantly the lower trims that can be found under $25,000, making them eligible for the used EV tax credit. In the past year, the price for a used 2020 LEAF has outperformed the overall market.
What we don't: The biggest downside for the LEAF is the relatively low Range Score, which is just shy of 90. This means that the average 2018 LEAF gets about 90% of the range it was observed to get when new. Note that we use observed range when new, rather than EPA range, so many drivers are still seeing a lot of miles per charge.
The LEAF uses CHAdeMO chargers for DC fast charging, which are starting to fall out of vogue across North America, so you may have limited public charger availability. The LEAF itself also does not allow you to set maximum state of charge levels, so you’d need a smart charger if you want the car to stop charging at 80% SoC. In terms of battery monitoring, the base trim of the LEAF (the “S”) does not support the premium connectivity required for automated Recurrent reports.
2020 Hyundai Kona EV
- Total Score: 34.8 points
- Winner 🎉 Best Incognito EV
The Hyundai Kona is the only car on this list that was not designed electric from the ground up. Instead, it is an all-electric option based off a gas or hybrid base. However, the Kona has some great features, and for people who are looking for a more low-key way to go green, it is less conspicuous and more conservatively styled.
What we love: The Kona EV has a very low cost per range mile, and almost 90% of them fall below $25,000. It has decent charging speeds for the size of the battery, and people like the BlueLink app and its features. It had great price stability over 2022, with annual degradation about equal to the overall market adjustment.
What we don't: There are not a ton of Kona EVs available in the used EV inventory. It also does not offer app-based preconditioning, as drivers must set a timer or manually precondition the car. There was no heat pump offered in the US market, either. However, drivers can preheat the steering wheel, mirrors and the back window remotely, and turn on the seat warmers once in the car.
2020 Tesla Model Y
- Total Score: 37.3 points
- Winner 🎉 Best EV for Skiing and Winter Weather Trips
The Tesla Model Y is the most recent addition to Tesla’s lineup, and it has quickly become the most popular electric car. The main thing differentiating it from the Model 3, below, is the cost per range mile, availability, and the fact that it comes standard with a robust and very efficient heat pump HVAC system.
What we love: The Model Y was an innovator when it comes to cold weather tech, offering Tesla’s first sophisticated heat pump system. It also has access to Tesla’s high speed chargers, and has a very solid onboard charge speed, like other Tesla models. While there are no Model Ys that are currently listed under $25K, we expect that by the end of 2023, we may start to see some of the standard range models come close.
What we don't: Americans love SUVs, and if you want a Model Y, that is what you’re paying for. The cost per range mile is significantly higher than the Model 3. The 2020 Model Y inventory has also seen a lot of price correction, losing 21% off its average price since January 2022. There has also been modest range degradation in the three-year old model.
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E
- Total Score: 38.7 points
- Winner 🎉 Best Used EV for Max Style
The Mustang Mach-E is arguably one of the first EVs out there that is giving Tesla a run for its money. It’s not a budget pick - even used, especially since many have not lost any value in the year or two they have been on the road. That’s due to incredibly high demand and low supply, so depreciation should catch up with them soon.
What we love: The Mustang Mach-E knocks it out of the park with charging speeds - both AC and DC. It’s true that many real world drivers have noticed that it doesn’t stay at its peak DC speed for that long, but that seems like something that might be a software update, rather than a hardware problem. It is holding its range incredibly well, with many cars on the road seeing higher ranges than when new, and there are a lot of them in inventory.
What we don't: The Mach-E suffers from the same fate as many EVs without a heat pump: pretty significant range reduction in cold weather. It does offer in-app preconditioning and scheduled departure, and heated seats standard on some trims. The cost per range mile is also on the higher side, but it goes along with the fact that you are paying for a lot more than range, and cost per range mile measures exactly how many bells and whistles you’re getting with your car.
2019 Tesla Model 3
- Total Score: 39.8 points
- Winner 🎉 Best Mid-priced Long Range EV
There is a lot to say about the Tesla Model 3. 2019 was the first year that the Model 3 really rose to prominence on the road, and was also the year that the storied “$35,000 EV” was removed. However, like many Teslas, where the Model 3 shines, it outshines the rest.
What we love: as prices across the used car market decline, and used Tesla prices decline especially, the Model 3 is becoming more of a bargain. It has a modest cost per range mile, and there are plenty in stock. As of today, it’s still rare to find one in the sweet spot below $25,000, but expect to see more in the coming months. Other major pro’s include outstanding DC charging speeds and access to the Tesla charger network.
What we don't: the 2019 Tesla Model 3 predates heat pumps, and the resistive heater in the car can really sap range in the cold. However, technology bells and whistles offset some of that range loss with timed preconditioning and seat warmers. The average Range Score is a 93, which is not awful, but does show some degradation. Finally, user reviews of the app are lackluster at 3.8/5.
2017 Chevrolet Bolt
- Total Score: 41.8 points
- Winner 🎉 Best Used EV (Overall)
The Chevrolet Bolt was not built to be the center of attention, but after two years of a highly publicized recall saga, it has risen from the ashes as the winner of several “best of” lists. The fact that a six year old car is all but guaranteed to have a brand new battery (under the 2021-2022 recall), coupled with the bargain of a price, ensured its victory.
What we love: 86% of 2017 Chevy Bolts are listed at a price under $25,000. In conjunction with the used EV tax credit, this means the price can effectively be knocked down to $21,000. The Bolt already has a shockingly low price per range mile before factoring in a potential tax credit at year end. Bolts have held their value well, with only a 10% average depreciation per year from the base MSRP, and people don’t hate the premium connectivity offered by OnStar. For winter weather, the Bolt can be preconditioned by using the key fob or the paid OnStar services. It is also the only model on this list that has not seen any price depreciation since January 2022, even though we suspect prices will start to fall soon.
What we don't: one of the biggest misses for the Chevy Bolt is the relatively slow DC charging speed. It maxes out at 55 kW, which is at least half the speed that most modern EVs get. On the other hand, it has a pretty solid 7.2 kW onboard charger for AC charging. Combined, these facts mean that the Bolt is great for commuting, errands, and trips around your home base, but for anything farther, expect long charging breaks. However, with all the money you’re saving, you might just rent a car for road trips.
Judge's Full Analysis
Note: we do not have enough data on the Kona EV to determine the Range Score just yet!