My wife and I replaced our Mazda 5 a year ago with a used vehicle. We liked the station-wagon-ness of our Mazda 5, its capacity for putting in a lot of stuff, for putting a couple of boats on the roof, and for being good on gas. (We didn’t like how absurdly low it was when we were driving back-roads or in snow).
Our thought was to get a hybrid or electric vehicle, but nothing really fit the bill and they were expensive. The Prius just didn’t appeal, and the later-model Subarus had ballooned in size and felt like driving trucks. In the end, we found a 2019 Volkswagen Golf wagon all-wheel drive with low mileage, thinking that it would retain good resale value until we’re ready for the jump to an EV.
We like this car a lot, but the plan was the plan. Is there now something in the EV world that would fit that bill in the $30,000 range, possibly used? – Skot, Kingston, Ont.
Mark Richardson: There are no new electric vehicles for much less than $40,000 in Ontario, where there are no provincial rebates. So it’ll have to be used.
Petrina Gentile: There’s a growing market for used electric vehicles, which are more affordable than brand new, but you don’t want to get something too old like a 2013 EV. With technology changing quickly and range improving every year, I would look at a 2018 EV or later. Wouldn’t you agree, Mark?
Richardson: The warranty on most EV batteries is eight years, sometimes up to 10, so with a used EV, I’d look for something no older than four years. That’s also around the time we started seeing mainstream models with longer ranges, too, like the 2020 Nissan Leaf. That could be a reasonable vehicle for Skot.
Gentile: And if they buy a used EV, they can take advantage of used EV incentives. The non-profit Plug’n Drive association offers up to $2,000 in used EV incentives: $1,000 toward the purchase of a fully electric car (plug-in hybrids don’t qualify), and another $1,000 if you scrap your old gas car for an EV.
Richardson: That only works in Ontario, but the rest of the country has different incentives, or none at all. And I don’t think Skot is going to scrap a 2019 VW.
Gentile: Unfortunately, that program is going to run out of money soon because it’s privately funded.
Richardson: So if I’m reading Skot’s question correctly, they want an all-electric car that’s a bit larger than most, for around $30,000. This is a tough find because older electric cars are almost all small, to cope with the limits of older battery technology. The Nissan Leaf would still be a reasonable choice, though, and it seats five in a pinch.
Gentile: The Nissan Leaf would be one of my top picks in the used EV market. If he’s looking at a 2018 model, for example, he can find dozens of trims available in Ontario for prices ranging from $22,000-to-$41,000.
Richardson: It would be my first choice, because the Leaf has been around for a decade and that’s plenty of time to ensure reliable technology. If he wants a car that’s a little more bulky, perhaps the Kia Niro EV would do the trick. It’s larger and more capable than its subcompact Soul sibling.
Gentile: Kia Niro EV is a good choice, too – it’s a practical, boxy little hatch that most people forget about. But finding a used 2019 or 2020 model is tough. And if you do, it won’t be less than $30,000, unfortunately. I’m thinking of a used, 2016-2017 BMW i3 – depending on the mileage, with the range extender it’s priced in the $30,000 range.
Richardson: That thing’s tiny. Not much bigger than a Smart car. Again, used EVs tend to be smaller because they’ve only recently started making them larger, and they tend to be more expensive because at the time, they cost a lot to build. The Ford C-Max Energi was fairly spacious though, if you can find one.
Gentile: No! That’s too old – the C-Max Energi was around from 2013-2017. Don’t bother with that. But he might want to consider a used 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. They range in price from about $25,000-to-$40,000, depending on the trim and mileage.
Richardson: That’s the first generation of the plug-in Outlander, but it’s large and comfortable and capable, with a 10-year warranty. Well worth considering, and perhaps Skot’s best bet for the money.
Gentile: Agree, especially with that warranty. It’s one of the best on the market: 10 years or 160,000 kilometres on the powertrain and the lithium-ion battery. Talk about peace of mind. It’s an extra bonus when buying a four-year-old vehicle.
Richardson: The Outlander was impressive from the get-go. It won’t travel far on just electricity and isn’t intended to, between 25 and 40 kilometres, but it’s more than any non-pluggable hybrid and the used price is right.
Gentile: It is. But I also think a used Nissan Leaf would fit the bill for Skot.
Richardson: For once, we agree – Skot, for the money you want to spend, you want a Leaf as your electric car. If you want to regularly drive more than 150 kilometres in a day, however, then go for the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.
What car should you buy? Write to Mark and Petrina at firstname.lastname@example.org and use ‘What car’ as part of your subject line. Emails with different subject lines may not be answered.