Five of the best used electric family cars for sale in the UK in 2021
Fancy jumping on the electric car bandwagon? If so, you might have been deterred by the relatively high prices of new examples. Happily, EVs have been around for long enough now that there are plenty of used examples on the market – and that means if you’re after an electric family car, your choice is no longer limited to just one or two models.
As proof, here we present our guide to the best used family EVs you can buy at the moment. All of these cars offer a significant saving compared with their new counterparts, all are widely available on the used market (we also have buying guides on most of them, links below) – and all will help you cut your fuel costs as well as reducing your carbon footprint.
Best used electric family cars to buy in 2021
Nissan Leaf (2011-2018)
The Leaf was so far ahead of its time when it was launched that there was nothing else like it on sale. While there were other electric cars that the public could buy and viably own, none could boast quite as much room for passengers.
Now, though, the Leaf’s age means it’s one of the most affordable electric cars on the used market; indeed, it’s about the only family-sized electric car you can now buy for less than £5,000. That’ll get you one with the smaller 24kWh battery, which should go around 100 miles on a charge.
If you’re prepared to spend a little more, you can upgrade to a 2013-onward car, which had upgrades to the heating system to improve range slightly on the higher-spec versions, or a 2016-on car, which could be had with a 30kWh battery for a range of about 130 miles.
Price to pay: from £4,500 We found: 2011 Leaf 24kWh, 55,000 miles, full service history, £4,795 Watch out for: Premature battery degradation, worn tyres.
Volkswagen e-Golf (2015-2019)
The biggest advantage of the e-Golf was that it looked and felt like any other Golf. That means you get the same smart looks and classy dashboard, and the same pragmatic interior (minus 40 litres of boot space to make room for the battery).
All of which gives the e-Golf a certain appeal, especially among those who aren’t attracted to the Leaf’s slightly unusual styling. And if you’re able to stretch your budget to afford one of the 2017-onward cars, you also get a similar range thanks to the big 36kWh battery, which should be good for about 130 miles in the real world.
Earlier cars only will only go around 100 miles on a charge, by contrast, but if that’s all you need, the e-Golf is a great option that gives you the familiarity of a regular hatchback combined with the cost savings of electric power.
Price to pay: from £14,000 We found: 2017 e-Golf, 40,000 miles, full service history, £17,000 Watch out for: Infotainment system glitches, problems with front radar sensors and adaptive cruise control.
Hyundai Ioniq Electric (2016-present)
Here’s a thought: almost every Ioniq Electric you can buy will still have some of its manufacturer’s warranty left on it. This is, in fact, the only electric car about which you can say that for the price.
In electric form, the Ioniq isn’t the smoothest-riding car but it has lots of space, a large boot and generous equipment levels. And with impressive crash test scores, it should keep your family safe.
But the Ioniq’s trump card is its deeply impressive efficiency; not only does that mean it’ll get around 150 miles from a charge in the real world (increasing to around 170 miles in later, facelifted examples from 2019 onwards), but it also means it’s one of the cheapest electric cars to run. Throw in affordable prices on the used market and it’s a really tempting buy.
Price to pay: from £15,000 We found: 2017 Ioniq Electric Premium SE, 29,000 miles, full service history, £16,500 Watch out for: Cheap interior materials which wear prematurely, especially blue piping on leather seats.
BMW i3 (2013-present)
It’s fair to say that none of our electric car choices so far is the most stylish thing on four wheels. But there is an electric family car that’ll turn heads. The BMW i3 still looks like nothing else on the road, even eight years after it was launched. And early examples are now available for not-unreasonable sums.
All i3s get a dramatically styled interior, too, with lots of glass and light, and beautiful materials. And that clever upright stance means there’s space to seat two adults and two children, even though the i3’s footprint is very compact.
Early cars are relatively short on range, but in 2016 the 94Ah version went on sale, with a 33kWh battery that was good for around 160 miles in the real world. It’s one of these cas that we’d recommend.
Mind you, an i3 isn’t the most practical thing. The boot is quite small, while the rear-hinged back doors can be a faff in a car park. But if you can live with these gripes, there’s nothing else out there that feels quite this futuristic.
Price to pay: from £15,000 We found: 2018 i3 94Ah, 40,000 miles, full service history, £16,000 Watch out for: Glitchy infotainment systems.
Tesla Model S
It’s with a caveat that we recommend the early Tesla Model S as a family chariot, because its reliability and quality record is far from exemplary – especially on early cars.
However, we include it here for two compelling reasons: firstly, almost nothing else for the money gets the same sort of range – even the cheapest 60 versions should get around 190 miles on a charge, while the 85 model, which we’d recommend stretching to, should go around 270 miles before it runs out of juice.
Secondly, owning a Model S gets you access to Tesla’s excellent Supercharger network, which makes charging away from home a doddle. And cars built before 2017 will have free, unlimited supercharging for life, making them extremely cost-effective to run.
Away from the quality issues, the Model S is a good car, with acres of space, lots of grip and famously rapid performance. If you’re prepared to put up with a few occasional glitches, then, the Model S can still make a smart used buy.
Price to pay: from £30,000 We found: 2014 Model S E 85, 27,000 miles, full service history, £32,995 Watch out for: Electronic issues, water leaks, plastic trim coming off or breaking, clonking suspension.