Home » The Hyundai Nexo Is A Late-Model Used Car Bargain With An Enormous Catch

The Hyundai Nexo Is A Late-Model Used Car Bargain With An Enormous Catch

Hyundai Nexo Topshot
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It’s no secret that used car prices are still sky-high, with relief looking long out. I get it, it’s hard to wait, and people want well-equipped, late-model crossovers on dealer lots now for rock-bottom pricing. Based on that description alone, you’d imagine it would be impossible to find something that fits those popular criteria. Not so fast — head to California and you’ll find a number of Hyundai Nexo crossovers for cheap that tick a lot of boxes. However, it does come with a big hang-up that makes it not for everyone that (It’s an FCEV). Let’s start with the appealing stuff.

Large 55960 2024nexo

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

For a start, the Nexo is available. A quick perusal online finds no shortage of well-equipped Nexo models for under $20,000, and these aren’t old cars we’re talking about. The vast majority land in that three-to-five-year-old sweet spot and have very little mileage, usually the sign of a good used bet.

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Then there’s the form factor. Sure, it may only be front-wheel-drive but it’s a small crossover, and few things sell better than small crossovers at the moment due to sheer practicality. We’re talking about cars not much longer than a small hatchback but with plenty of interior space, perfect for your dog and/or 2.2 children. To this concern, the Nexo comes with five seats, 29.6 cu.-ft. of cargo space with all seats up, and 130.9 cu.-ft. of total interior volume. We’re talking Toyota RAV4 passenger roominess here.

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Hyundai Nexo Interior

So what about equipment? Surely, with used values this low, you can expect spartan appointments. Not so fast — you can find the Limited trim for under $20,000 with more features than you’d expect for the price. I’m talking cooled seats, navigation, a sunroof, a digital cluster, and more console buttons than the USS Enterprise. There’s no doubt in my mind that you’d be hard pressed to find a better-equipped used car for this sort of money without subjecting yourself to depreciated luxobarge maintenance misery.

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So what’s the catch? This Nexo thing just seems too good to be true. Well, here it is: Depending on where you live, you might not be able to drive the Nexo at all. That’s because it’s a hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle, a technology for which the infrastructure isn’t exactly built out.

Toyota Mirai 1

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As a result, the Nexo isn’t the only cheap hydrogen car on the used market. Toyota Mirai values consistently drop like cast iron bathtubs out of tenth storey windows, with gently-used front-wheel-drive first-generation models in the mid-to-low teens and snazzy rear-wheel-drive second-generation models listing in the low twenties. A brand new Mirai stickers for $50,595 including a $1,095 freight charge. However, it gets even better. Spend a touch more on a Certified Pre-Owned Mirai and Toyota will currently throw in $15,000 in free hydrogen. Go with a first-generation model and that’s basically the cost of the car in fuel.

Hyundai Nexo 1

Unfortunately, Hyundai doesn’t have a free CPO hydrogen program, nor do the fuel gift cards that Hyundai toss to new Nexo owners transfer to subsequent owners, which begs the question: What does filling up cost? Well, hydrogen fuel is predictably expensive, with one S&P report in February pegging California pricing at $26.01 per kg. With a tank capacity of 6.33 kg in the Nexo, it would cost premium gasoline-powered car money to fill up, around $164.64 to be reasonably precise.

Hyundai Nexo 2

That plush Nexo Limited with the cooled seats has a range of 354 miles due to its big wheels, which means a spend of $0.465 per mile in fuel alone. That’s bordering on obscene, but there is a bright side. Because fuel cell electric vehicles are fundamentally electric, they don’t require nearly as much pesky maintenance as gasoline-powered cars. No oil changes, no transmission fluid changes, no spark plugs, just filters and coolant. It definitely doesn’t completely make up for the preposterous fuel costs, but it helps. Then there are the simple savings on the front end. We’re talking thousands of dollars less than an equivalent combustion-powered vehicle, and a few thousand bucks buys a fair amount of fuel.

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Hyundai Nexo 3

I definitely wouldn’t recommend a hydrogen-powered car to everyone, as it takes particular driving habits, location, and a willingness to learn new things to run an FCEV as a daily driver. However, if you are good at owning weird cars, don’t drive a ton, live in California, and are willing to adapt, don’t write a cheap FCEV off yet.

(Photo credits: Hyundai, Toyota)

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Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
9 months ago

I already knew the catch as soon as I saw ‘Nexo’… and knew it had the same catch as the Toyota Mirai.

It’s a stupid hydrogen vehicle that is only useful as a lawn ornament outside of California.

don’t write a cheap FCEV off yet.”

Too late… I’ve already written it off… unless someone figures out a way to convert these technological dead ends into BEVs.

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
9 months ago

Finally a break from all the EV junk…would get one of these (if forced) just to spite EV fanatics/stans
Also: gas forever!

Sgtyukon
Sgtyukon
10 months ago

Nice analogy, but I trust you do know that weight has nothing to do with how fast something falls.

Old Busted Hotness
Old Busted Hotness
10 months ago

No, the enormous catch is that it’s a Hyundai.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
10 months ago

“which means a spend of $0.465 per mile in fuel alone.”

Premium even in the SFBA as well as much of LA can be had for as *little* as 4.59/gal which makes this equivalent to a <10 mpg guzzler as far as fuel costs go. This gets worse when compared to regular and gas prices outside California. Not a strong selling point.

"Because fuel cell electric vehicles are fundamentally electric, they don’t require nearly as much pesky maintenance as gasoline-powered cars. No oil changes, no transmission fluid changes, no spark plugs, just filters and coolant."

Pretty sure these costs won't even make up for the extra dough you'll spend passing gas station after gas station to reach a hydrogen station.

"However, if you are good at owning weird cars, don’t drive a ton, live in California, and are willing to adapt, don’t write a cheap FCEV off yet"

IMHO the best adaptation would be to remove the FC, sell it and use that dough to replace it with a NG burning ICE hybrid drivetrain using the existing batteries. Then fill the tanks with CNG. At about $2.15 GGE even in California the fuel costs will be about 1/6th as much when the lower efficiency of the ICE is factored in. Since CNG has considerably more energy by volume you should be able to pack more gas into the tanks and at least double the range. You might even be able to stay solo in the carpool lane with a NGV sticker.

Alternatively team up with Toecutter and make it into a full on BEV. That might be more fun.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
10 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

> This gets worse when compared to regular and gas prices outside California

That’s moot since 1) you’re in CA and 2) you can’t driue this thing outside of a pretty tight radius around population centers in CA.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
10 months ago

That’s moot since 1) you’re in CA and 2) you can’t driue this thing outside of a pretty tight radius around population centers in CA.

I might be in CA but not all HFCVs are. This one ended up in Ohio:

https://www.theautopian.com/how-this-hydrogen-powered-toyota-ended-up-stranded-in-ohio-where-only-one-man-can-save-it/

The only thing worse than being tethered to the one station in range is having no stations in range.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
9 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Alternatively team up with Toecutter and make it into a full on BEV.”

I think that would be the way to go. Consider that it’s already halfway to being a BEV since it uses an electric motor for propulsion.

Ditch the fuel cell stack and hydrogen tanks and put battery packs in that space… and reuse the electric motor that came with the vehicle.

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
10 months ago

H2 cars (meaning under 10k GVWR) are not going to takeoff… it just ain’t happening.

Besides all of the costs of producing, distribution, etc.. green h2 vs. blue h2, whatever it is, it doesn’t matter given the most recent news.

The real nail in the coffin for H2 cars/trucks for Class 2 (and probably up to Class 6) is the recent adoption of the NACS plug by Tesla. I don’t care if you are for or against it, it’s a massive blow to H2 cars.

Lankyloon
Lankyloon
10 months ago

I saw one of these a few months ago in Boston at a Best Buy! No idea how it got there…

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
9 months ago
Reply to  Lankyloon

Might have gotten there the same way Land Rovers get places:
https://www.magaripoa.com/gari/wp-content/uploads/Range-Rover-on-flatbed-magaripoa.jpg

Icouldntfindaclevername
Icouldntfindaclevername
10 months ago

Basically, just for people in LA, San Fran and San Jose

Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
10 months ago

LOL I didn’t even know this thing existed

V10omous
V10omous
10 months ago

which means a spend of $0.465 per mile in fuel alone

That is positively Viper-esque. Actually at 15 mpg and $4.50/gal for 93 octane, it’s some 50% more expensive to drive than your average V10 sports coupe. Maybe LM002-esque?

However, if you are good at owning weird cars, don’t drive a ton, live in California, and are willing to adapt

Other than all that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?

LarsVargas
LarsVargas
10 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

In 1991 I had a 1970 Cadillac Fleetwood that got about 8 MPG with its 472 c.i. engine. Didn’t matter if you drove fast or slow. Towing or not. 8 MPG. And it liked 91 or better octane with it’s 10.5:1 compression tired old engine.

Here in TX, 93 octane (91 is hard to find) will set you back around $3.759/gal. So around 46.9 cents a mile for fuel. Same cost at a nearly-3-ton Cadillac monster from the pre-smog days.

2cv8
2cv8
10 months ago

I clicked through to the Mirai links you provided. The first gen (2019) listing mentions the $15K fuel card, but not the second gen (2022). Is it only on the older units?

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
10 months ago
Reply to  2cv8

It should be both as they’re both certified pre-owned cars and the fuel card is included with the certified program, just the 2019 makes explicit mention of it – someone made sure to call that out in the listing, whereas the 2022 is mostly auto-generated details.

PresterJohn
PresterJohn
10 months ago

Great article! I’d love to see more about the Nexo and the Mirai given the number of Autopian staff members in CA. I was hoping David would go for a Mirai and write about ownership over the long term but that i3 was too good to pass up!

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