8 Best Electric Cars Under $20k

While there are no brand-new electric cars available for under $20,000, there are some great used options for buyers looking to keep the purchase price low.
Written by Jacqulyn Graber
Unfortunately, there are no brand-new all-electric vehicles (EVs) on the market with a price tag under $20,000. However, the 2018 Nissan Leaf, the 2016 Chevrolet Volt, and the 2018 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid are three affordable used vehicle options. 
  • You can’t buy a new EV for less than $20,000 in 2023—but there are still a handful of affordable options on the market.
  • The cheapest electric car available for purchase in 2023 is the Chevrolet Bolt, which starts at $26,500 MSRP. 
  • Purchasing an all-electric or plug-in hybrid (PHEV) vehicle is a great way to significantly improve your fuel economy and lower ownership costs over time. 
  • Shopping for used EVs is a great way to access the technology at a lower cost, and there are plenty of older models that offer the same great perks as brand new cars.

8 best electric cars under $20,000

Even when shopping for used electric cars, you’ll still likely be hard-pressed to find options below the $20,000 price range. However, there are some wonderful plug-in hybrid options out there, too! Here are our favorites.
Pro tip: Before shopping around, be sure to brush up on the
tax credits
and incentives that are available for certain new and used EVs!

2018 Nissan Leaf (Estimated starting price: $16,300)

Range: 150 miles
Charge time (household outlet): 26 hours
Charge time (240-volt unit): 7 hours
Charge time (rapid charger): 40 minutes  
The
Nissan Leaf
is one of the few all-electric vehicles that you’re likely to find for under $20,000. The good news is that you can get a model from as recently as 2018 for a price point in the teens! And while it won’t offer the range or luxury of a
Tesla
, it’s still good enough for the average driver.
The original Leaf was the first widely available EV in 2011 and was redesigned for 2018. This Leaf looks nothing like its predecessor. What was once overtly dorky is now cool and compact, boasting exterior styling that’s more like a typical Nissan car.
Pros:
  • Impressive torque 
  • Great steering feedback
  • Attractive interior 
  • Fun to drive 
Cons:
  • Doesn’t offer a very long range
  • Cheap-feeling materials

2016 Chevrolet Volt (Estimated starting price: $12,500)

Range: 420 miles
Charge time (household outlet): 13 hours 
Charge time (240-volt unit): 4.5 hours
Charge time (rapid charger): N/A
Plug-in hybrids offer the best of both worlds, and the 2016
Chevrolet Volt
can drive up to 53 miles on electricity alone—and then another 367 miles with the aid of its gasoline-powered onboard generator. Your fuel costs will be lower than a gas-powered vehicle, and you’ll enjoy fast charging and more flexibility than a true EV. 
Like the 2018 Leaf, the 2016 Chevy Volt has been fully redesigned. Not to be confused with the Chevrolet Bolt EV, highlights include an improved hybrid drive system, updated styling, new driver information and infotainment controls, and five-passenger capacity.
Pros:
  • Nice driving manners
  • Comfy interior
  • Peppy power 
Cons:
  • Cramped back seat
  • Lacks basic amenities like power front seats

2018 Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid (Estimated starting price: $18,000)

Range: 590 miles
Charge time (household outlet): 8.5 hours 
Charge time (240-volt unit): 2.3 hours
Charge time (rapid charger): N/A
The 2018
Hyundai Ioniq
was offered with pure electric, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid powertrains. The PHEV will likely be valued at just under $20,000, and the standard hybrid will be even cheaper.
The Ioniq plug-in adopts a larger 8.9-kWh lithium-ion battery pack in place of the hybrid’s 1.6-kWh battery pack, as well as a beefier electric motor good for 60 horses versus the hybrid’s 43.
Pros:
  • Incredibly stylish
  • Long list of standard features
  • Great warranty
Cons:
  • While the overall range is impressive, the EPA-estimated all-electric range is less so
  • Low amounts of horsepower 

2018 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid (Estimated starting price: $21,000)

Range: 560 miles
Charge time (household outlet): Less than 9 hours
Charge time (240-volt unit): 2.25 hours 
Charge time (rapid charger): N/A
Like the Hyundai Ioniq, the
Kia Niro
is offered with pure electric, plug-in hybrid, and standard hybrid drivetrains. The PHEV version of this subcompact crossover SUV was released for the 2018 model year, and while some used models will cost you as much as $27,435, others are valued at as little as $14,633. 
Families will love this stylish, four-door hatchback for its impressive list of safety and convenience features. Unfortunately, the Niro won’t quite match the miles-per-gallon rating of pricier, more iconic EVs and hybrids like the Toyota Prius.
Pros:
  • Fun to drive
  • Versatile and family-friendly
  • High-quality interior 
Cons:
  • All-wheel drive (AWD) isn’t available
  • Doesn’t have the longest range when running on an electric battery alone

2018 Fiat 500e (Estimated starting price: $12,000)

Range: 84 miles
Charge time (household outlet): 24 hours
Charge time (240-volt outlet): 4 hours
Charge time (rapid charger): N/A
The best thing about the 2018
Fiat 500e
? It offers better performance and reliability than its gas-powered counterpart! Its 24-kWh battery may seem pedestrian, but it’s not. Unlike the Ford Focus Electric, VW e-Golf, and Nissan Leaf, the 500e has a liquid-cooled battery.
Unfortunately, the 500e’s range isn’t as impressive as other used hybrids and EVs, but it does benefit from an expressive design and excellent handling characteristics, and its short wheelbase and narrow track make it ideal for city dwellers who have trouble finding roomy parking spaces. 
Pros:
  • Nimble handling
  • Easy to park
  • More affordable than other all-electric options
Cons:
  • Miniscule back seat
  • Missing the latest driver safety aids like adaptive cruise control
  • Only available in California and Oregon 
  • Short driving range 

2017 BMW i3 94Ah (Estimated starting price: $18,000)

Range: 114 miles
Charge time (household outlet): 28 hours
Charge time (240-volt outlet): 5 hours
Charge time (rapid charger): Under 1 hour
Can you believe that a luxury vehicle made the list?! The rear-wheel drive (RWD)
BMW i3
is somehow both cheeky and posh, with coach doors, futuristic lines, and an interior and exterior that still hold up incredibly well eight years after its inception in the U.S. market. 
Another perk of the 2017 i3 is its liquid-cooled battery pack. The 94Ah i3 has a total battery capacity of 33.2 kWh, but its usable number is 27.2 kWh. This means that the i3 has a relatively large 18% buffer, enhancing long-term battery health. 
Pros:
  • Well-crafted interior
  • Uniquely architected exterior
  • More miles of range compared to older models
Cons:
  • Reverse-hinged doors can be difficult to use in cramped parking lots
  • Small cargo area

2017 Volkswagen e-Golf (Estimated starting price: $18,000)

Range: 125 miles
Charge time (household outlet): 26 hours
Charge time (240-volt outlet): Less than 6 hours
Charge time (rapid charger): 30 minutes 
The
Volkswagen e-Golf
was the carmaker’s first mass-produced EV—but it was only sold new in specific states. An electric version of the regular Golf hatchback, this compact car looks and drives much more like a gas-powered vehicle than many of its contenders. 
A new lithium-ion battery for 2017 yields a higher energy capacity and, therefore, a significant bump in driving range, from 83 miles to 125 miles. Plus, an upgraded electric motor increases horsepower and torque. 
Pros:
  • Quiet ride
  • Lots of cargo space
  • Premium interior materials
Cons:
  • Lacks exciting luxury features
  • Mediocre electric range
  • Only available in certain states 

2017 Chevrolet Bolt (Estimated starting price: $17,000)

Range: 238 miles
Charge time (household outlet): 35 hours
Charge time (240-volt outlet): Under 10 hours
Charge time (rapid charger): Under 2 hours
The
Chevy Bolt
holds the spot as one of the first truly affordable all-electric vehicles on the market. Arguably, it’s the vehicle that made EVs appealing to the masses. Sales began in California before the hatchback was released nationwide.
Its popularity speaks for itself. The Bolt has been listed as the top-selling all-electric vehicle in California, even ahead of the iconic Tesla Model S. 
Pros:
  • Impressive all-electric range
  • Battery is hidden in the floor, so it doesn’t take up room in the cabin
  • Easy Bluetooth smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto
Cons:
  • Seats feel small and uncomfortable
  • Battery takes a while to charge
  • Several recalls because of the battery catching on fire
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