Comparing the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Bolt
In the EV universe, two, four-door electric cars have risen to the top of the heap for everyday user-friendly features at an affordable price. We’re talking about the Chevrolet Bolt and Nissan Leaf. For purposes of this comparison, we chose the Leaf Plus version because it is a closer price point comparison head-to-head.
2021 Nissan Leaf Plus vs 2021 Chevy Bolt
Power, Range, and Charging
When it comes to powertrains, the Leaf comes in two versions. The standard Leaf uses a 40-kW battery pack to give you 149 miles of driving range. The Leaf Plus uses a 62-kW battery and a 214 horsepower motor with 250 pound feet of torque for a driving range of 226 miles. The Bolt offers a 60-kW battery that feeds a 200 horsepower electric motor with 266 pound feet of torque and a driving range of 259 miles.
While the Bolt takes the lead in the range wars, it underperforms when it comes to charging time. It takes 2 hours to charge the Bolt from empty to full using a DC fast charger. Compare that to the Leaf, which can go from empty to 80 percent charged in 45 minutes.
Interior & Technology
Both cars feature well laid out spacious interiors. Though, the Bolt looks somewhat like a designer’s idea of what an electric car should look like inside. It reminds us of The Jetsons, where the Leaf looks more like a traditional car inside. Speaking of the interior, the Bolt has one feature we like quite a bit as the floor is flat front and back whereas the Leaf has a bump in the back between the passengers. However, the look and feel of the Leaf is a bit more premium than the Bolt. Heated seats and steering wheel comes standard on both cars.
The Leaf and Bolt also come standard with Infotainment systems that accept Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, push button start and plenty of safety features. You can get such optional extras as automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning and lane keep assist. The Bolt has a rear camera mirror, a bigger touchscreen than the Leaf and exterior video cameras are HD. On the Leaf, the cameras are not HD.
Speed, Handling, and Legroom
Performance-wise, the Bolt will take you from zero to 60-mph in 6.5 seconds. The Leaf will take you there in closer to 7 seconds. Steering is light and aggressive driving is fun on both EVs thanks to low grip, low rolling resistance tires. But the Leaf Plus beats the Bolt when it comes to ride comfort. The Bolt feels stiffer on city streets where the Leaf absorbs bumps a bit better. The Leaf also gives you more headroom and legroom up front than the Bolt. But the Bolt fairs better for headroom and legroom in the back seats.
When it comes to cargo space, the Bolt offers less than the Leaf. When it comes to interior noise when driving, the Leaf beats the Bolt. As for braking, both cars utilize standard brake and accelerator pedals but also offer ‘one pedal’ driving in one form or another. Basically, in this mode when you take your foot off the accelerator, the car begins to slow and brake on its own. Of the two cars, the one pedal feature functions in a more user-friendly way on the Leaf. The braking just feels more sure.
Drivers of both cars say that when you use climate control, the Leaf does not noticeably drain the battery whereas the Bolt loses range. Both cars come with charge ports for Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 DC fast charging. Because both cars charge rather slowly, your best bet is to install a 240-volt outlet in your garage at home so you can utilize Level 2 charging overnight. Charging the Leaf on Level 2 from 20 to 80 percent will take 11.5 hours where the Bolt will take 10.5 hours.
Before looking into tax credits, incentives and rebates for these cars, the Leaf MSRP price spread is $31,620 for the base S model to $38,220 for the 62-kW S Plus. The Bolt price range is $36,500 for the base LT model to $41,700 for the Premier version. The Leaf takes the win here because it is still eligible for the federal tax credit of $7,500 where the Chevy Bolt is no longer eligible.
Head to head, the Bolt offers a more powerful motor and better range, but if 226 miles on a charge is enough for you, the Leaf Plus is the better choice price-wise. In the end, the decision of which of these excellent electric cars to purchase is up to you.
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