The Nissan Leaf EV Takes Another Accolade as One of Consumer Reports’ Best Cars for Under $20K

  • The Nissan Leaf is a cheap EV worth every penny
  • Hatchback design makes the Leaf a practical runabout
  • The Leaf’s interior is starting to age

We’ve spoken before at length about Nissan’s EV offering, the Leaf. It’s pretty hard to get the small hatchback to depreciate, like the Honda Civic Type R. Plus, Leaf owners made an insane amount of money at the height of auto market hysteria back in August. Now, the brand’s small EV racks up another accolade as one of Consumer Reports’ best cars under $20K, EV or not.

Is the Nissan Leaf a reliable car?

A maroon 2018 Nissan Leaf EV shot from the front 3/4
The 2018 Nissan Leaf is a used EV bargain | Nissan

The Leaf in question is the 2018 model. Back then, the small hatch got a huge update, both on the inside and out. That included some new interior furnishings, as well as the most important part: a big bump in the Leaf’s range. With 140 miles of range in the cheapest model, the candidate for Consumer Reports’ best car under $20K managed a solid bump to north of 200 miles of range.

Previously, the electric hatchback was severely hampered by its range. The Leaf is an old car, and the early versions simply didn’t have the range to compete with Teslas of the day. Thankfully, Consumer Reports states the Leaf has reliability going for it and rated it with a perfect 5/5 for reliability. The cost to charge a Leaf is also mercifully low, as an added benefit.

Why is a used Nissan Leaf EV so cheap?

The beige leather interior of Consumer Reports' best EV for under $20K, the Nissan Leaf
The Leaf’s interior is starting to age | Nissan

But if the Nissan Leaf is one of the best EVs out there right now, why is it so cheap? After all, 2018+ models can be found for around $20,000, with some newer and nicer trims getting up towards $30,000. Part of the answer is simple supply and demand. For much of the updated Leaf’s lifespan, the semiconductor shortage was a nonissue. Nissan could make as many EVs as it could sell, and it did. So, there’s still plenty of Leaf (Leaves? Leafeses?) laying around.

However, there are some marks against the Leaf that keep prices low. In terms of car tech, 2018 was a long time ago, and even apps like Android Auto and Apple Carplay can’t hide the age of the Leaf’s interior. Thankfully, plenty of other aspects help make it one of the best EVs, and best cars under $20K.

A Leaf is the best, cheapest way into electric car ownership

A profile shot of the Leaf EV in a vineyard
The Leaf got a big range boost in 2018 | Nissan

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Consumer Reports points to low running costs, but there’s more to it than just that. The Leaf also rolls in a practical hatchback body with attractive looks. Most people don’t even realize it’s a Nissan until they look at it. While the interior is starting to age (especially on those sub-$20K models), it does still function, and well at that. Controls are easy and connectivity is there, if a hair slow compared to the new-new EVs. All in all, it’s hard to go wrong with a used Nissan Leaf, or a new one.