And warnings in advance, based on the different questions and posts I've seen, I'm trying to be as comprehensive as I can up front. Hopefully I'm not hitting you with too long a book, but that's the trouble with us darn writers
Why I'm here
About a month ago, a tree limb snapped in a snowstorm and totaled our 2004 Toyota Matrix. (No one was hurt and house was fine, thank goodness.) The Matrix was our secondary vehicle (we have a 2014 Subaru Outback that we use for family travel, road trips, etc.).
Other than a tree limb smashing the roof, the Matrix was in great shape. We owned it free and clear, and we planned to have it a few more years. We are looking hard at replacing it with a used Nissan Leaf, with a view to having that vehicle be our secondary for as long as it's worth having.
I've been researching here and elsewhere online for the past few weeks. Here are some things about how we'd be using the vehicle, and what we are considering. Would love to get your perspective:
- We own and live in a ranch house in a quiet suburb a few minutes outside of downtown Eugene.
- We can park an EV in our driveway.
- We have immediate access to power via external 110 outlets on the side of the house, so running a charging cable from house to car is no problem.
- We're going to be remodeling our garage this year (converting it into 2 offices, as my wife and I both work from home). Part of that will be having electrical work done, so we would also plan to add wiring for a proper EV charging station (via an existing subpanel in the garage that has plenty of capacity).
- We drove our Matrix about 20–30 miles per week. A heavy week would be 50 miles. All in-town/city, mostly local roads, some local highway and interstate.
- Our secondary vehicle is primarily so my wife or I can drive solo (such as for classes she teaches, when I have an occasional meeting, or one of us is doing something on their own.
- One child is in a car seat and the other is in a booster. It'll be rare that we ever need to put car seats in the secondary vehicle.
- If we did need a charge while out and about, Eugene has extensive EV charging infrastructure (for example, public parking garages all have EV-only spaces with chargers). However, this car would pretty much always be within a 20-minute drive of our house.
Eugene is a pretty temperate climate, so extreme heat/cold issues aren't a factor.
- We have some flexibility on budget, in terms of cash and good credit.
- Since this is a secondary vehicle we'd like to try to avoid a payment or have only a small payment (and we got a good settlement from our insurance, so that helps).
- Odds are we'd be trying to keep the purchase price under $10K.
From what I've seen so far, budget-wise/price-wise I doubt that we'd be looking at any Leafs 2016 or newer.
We've looked some at the differences between S, SL, and SV between the different model years, but I don't think anything there is a dealbreaker or essential. Since we're aiming to buy used, and the vehicle gets such small usage, I think we're okay getting whatever body style we can. If we can get a more upgraded/premium body style for a good price, that's cool, and if an S is where our sweet spot is, then I'm confident we'll be dandy with that too.
The Leaf is pretty popular here. In addition to federal and Oregon incentives, our local utility has a rebate for 2018 and 2019 Leafs. The utility incentive ends Apr. 1. 2019. Between that and tax refunds, my hunch is that during April and May our area will see a bump in used older Leafs for sale, especially at our local Nissan dealer. That said, I'm also keeping tabs on used Leafs in the Salem and Portland areas as well.
A 2014 or 2015 Leaf seems like it could be a sweet spot for us?
I've seen various posts recommending sticking to Leafs that are April 2013 and newer, so the vehicle has the upgraded battery chemistry. Given our circumstances though, would it be sensible to also consider 2011, 2012, or earlier 2013?
I don't think we have a comfort level in buying used from a private seller, so likely would be focusing on the dealerships in town, such as our Nissan dealer. Are there advantages/disadvantages to going through a dealership?
For either dealer or private party, what are the big things to look out for and ask about, so we can make the best informed decision that we can?
Thank you so much for all the posts, it's been a huge help as we've worked to wrap our heads around getting a Leaf. Looking forward to your perspectives. I tried to cover all the bases, given what I've seen elsewhere on the forum, but please let me know what other questions you have.