12 Used Hybrids and EVs that aren't dreary, impractical and/or a Prius
Yesterday, we provided some ideas about how you can reduce your carbon footprint in the wake of the U.N.'s dire warnings about climate change and the need to immediately do as much as we can to stop it. One of the key ways involved your next car purchase. Specifically, we recommended that buying a used hybrid or EV was the best way to achieve the lowest carbon footprint when owning a car.
That said, we readily admit that we don't want to drive some soulless transportation pod. We like to drive. We like distinctive and stylish cars. We have families that need more space than your typical EV or hybrid provides. Some of us even would prefer an SUV. We don't think we're alone.
So, here are 12 used hybrids and EVs that aren't dreary, less practical than conventional versions and/or a Prius – because we all agreed we didn't want to drive a Prius. We think these are pretty good, distinctive cars, and the good news is that this list will get even longer as the current wave of desirable new hybrids, plug-in hybrids and EVs start hitting the used and certified pre-owned market.
Tesla Model SThis one seems like a no-brainer, right? Early Tesla Model S examples start around $40,000 with fairly low mileage. We'd be a little iffy about the reliability and the fact the bumper-to-bumper warranty runs out after four years, but all the electric components are covered for eight years and unlimited miles. Even these early Model S cars were fantastic cars to drive, and not much has really changed over the years besides over-the-air updates and a questionable styling refresh.
Research the 2018 Tesla Model S
BMW i3When we asked around the office "which used hybrid or EV would you buy?" the BMW i3 was the most common answer. Specifically, the Range Extender (REX) model that provides extra distance when you need it. The i3 may be weird looking, but the driving experience, interior packaging, advanced engineering (carbon fiber!), bonkers pizza pie wheels and achingly cool interior make us true believers. Its a characterful and endearing car in a way so many modern BMW's are not. Oh, and a ton are coming off lease now and can be had starting in the high teens.
Research the 2018 BMW i3
Toyota RAV4 HybridNothing sexy here, but it is a compact SUV, and let's face it, those are the hot-ticket item these days. The thing about the RAV4 Hybrid is, though, it's arguably the most appealing version of the RAV4. Whereas the regular gas version is matched or surpassed in most areas by key competitors (cough, Honda CR-V, cough), the Hybrid offers fuel economy that cannot be touched and, when removed from that competitive glare, is a well-rounded, extremely practical package. That applies to a used Toyota RAV4 Hybrid as well.
Research the 2018 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
Chevrolet VoltThe Volt was another popular answer around the office, whether you're considering the newer, more stylish second-generation seen here or the original-generation. With either, you get a car that's surprisingly fun to drive thanks to its immediate electric thrust, super-low center of gravity and well-tuned suspension. No matter the year you consider, there should also get more infotainment features than a contemporary competitor.
Research the 2018 Chevrolet Volt
Fiat 500eWant an EV for dirt cheap that's also goofy-fun to drive and absolutely dripping with character? Behold, the Fiat 500e! We've seen these as low as $6,000, which is definitely less than some golf carts. Sure, perhaps getting a better example for a bit more would be a good idea, but still, if you have a short commute, the relative fun-to-cost proportion is unbeatable.
Research the 2018 Fiat 500e
Lexus NX 300hWant a compact luxury SUV? Cool, you're definitely not alone. Want one that's also a hybrid? Well, dear friend, this is literally your used choice. The good news is, the Lexus NX is actually a pretty solid choice. Say what you will about the Lexus styling (some love, many hate), but it's meticulously built with a beautiful interior. The driving experience is refined, comfortable and surprisingly sharp for a company best known for selling dreary old man's transport. Oh, and it gets 32 mpg combined versus the low-to-mid 20's you'd be looking at with everything else.
Research the 2018 Lexus NX 300h
Volkswagen eGolfThe Volkswagen Golf is one of our favorite compact cars. The electric version, dubbed eGolf, changes very little from the gas version apart from batteries and a motor replacing gas tanks and an engine. You don't even lose cargo space and there aren't any contrived electric styling flourishes beyond some blue trim here and there. As such, the eGolf is therefore also one of our favorite compact cars.
Research the Volkswagen
Honda Accord HybridThis Honda Accord Hybrid uses the same basic hybrid set-up as today's version, relying on the electric motor to directly power the wheels in most instances with the gas engine mostly serving as an electricity generator. This provides a more EV-like driving experience, in the best possible way, in terms of throttle response and acceleration feel. It's also a Honda Accord, widely considered one of the smartest used car choices you could ever make for its general well-rounded excellence and superlative reliability reputation.
Research the 2018 Honda Accord Hybrid
Lexus RX 450hThis recommendation goes to the current generation, which debuted for 2016, and seriously upped the traditionally conservative and dull RX's driver engagement and style. You can even get the RX 450h hybrid with the F Sport package, which looks cooler and a boasts an adaptive suspension that improves both handling and the ride. Lexus reliability is a major reason to take note, as is the fact that the RX 450h's fuel economy is genuinely thrifty unlike some other hybrid midsize SUVs.
Research the 2018 Lexus RX 450h
Honda CR-ZWhen it was introduced, people desperately wanted the CR-Z hybrid to be the reincarnation of the beloved Honda CRX. It was not. Its heavy hybrid powertrain and batteries dulled its performance and agility. Nevertheless, for a hybrid, it's a hoot. It also looks funky, can be had for less than $10,000, and benefits from Honda's reliability reputation. Plus, you get to see the surprised looks of friends who thought you said you bought a Honda CR-V.
Research the Honda CR-Z
Toyota Highlander HybridHere's your best bet for a used hybrid family hauler with three rows of seats (well, at least until the Chrysler Pacifica Plug-In Hybrid arrives on used lots). In fact, the Highlander Hybrid has been the only bet for years now, but at least the latest version represents a more competitive and appealing choice for reasons other than its low-for-the-segment fuel economy. This latest-generation Highlander Hybrid is well-rounded, well-built and more responsive to drive than its predecessors.
Research the 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid
The BMW i8 can now be had for around $70,000 on the used car market, and as it's a high-end sports car, none have high miles on them. The i8 was cool when it was introduced, it's cool now, it'll be cool in 20 years, and it's even cooler when you can buy one for less than half price. That's right, a new one starts at $147,500.
And no, it isn't practical. But it's not dreary, not a Prius, and proof you can be green and drive something that looks like this.