For a road trip from Tampa (FL) to Cocoa (FL), the best option on the lot after some last-minute changes to our plans was a Cadillac XTS luxury sedan. While it wasn’t what we would have initially chosen, the opportunity to drive a luxury Cadillac was actually an editorial boon. After a year of happily driving an all-electric Nissan Leaf, I had an occasion to compare the Leaf to a gasoline luxury sedan with a starting price of $45,295, which is approximately $10,000 more than the Leaf’s price before subsidies.
Sinking into the seats, the interior of the Cadillac seemed pleasant. My 25-year-old daughter and 34-year-old son felt comfortable with the seats and space. Would that last for the duration of the trip? Would we be missing the XTS once we got back into the Leaf, or would we be missing the Leaf after a short time on the highway with the XTS?
It is dark and late. The first thing I note is that I’m asking my son and daughter for help seeing if I can switch lanes safely. In the Leaf, I have a great view of all sides. I notice almost immediately in the XTS that I have a better view out the back windows of the Leaf than I have in the Cadillac.
I crank my neck around getting on the highway and feel unsure of what’s coming up behind me. I definitely have a blind spot, but that blind spot is more like a blind wall compared to the Nissan LEAF’s superb visibility.
I repeatedly ask my passengers for help to confirm a clear opening and a safe lane switch. Accustomed to the quality of the Nissan Leaf, this is a big letdown in what I was hoping to be a truly luxurious Cadillac.
(Days later, returning to the Nissan Leaf, my view of the road was wide open. As the driver, I could see well in all directions once again. What a relief!)
The front seat of the Cadillac seems luxurious as I sink into it. However, after a few moments, I feel a lack of support for my back. The Nissan Leaf supports my back quite well. It supports my back better. [Editor’s note: As a driver about half the time, this was a big downside of the Cadillac XTS for me — or perhaps I should say a big upside of the Nissan Leaf. It seems too many driver seats are not a good match for my torso and leave my back aching after a couple of hours. The XTS seats were better than average in that regard, but not as comfortable as the Leaf seats for long (or short) drives. —Zach]
More importantly, while in the Cadillac, I cannot seem to adjust the seat to make it feel like I am sitting up. I am sitting down too low, but there doesn’t seem to be a solution in this car.
Overall, the ride quality is okay, but it would have been nicer to be in the Leaf.
(After returning to the Nissan Leaf, Zach reported that the back seat of the Leaf is very roomy and comparable in comfort to the Cadillac.)
GPS & Infotainment
The Cadillac wins with this. It is better. The Cadillac has more options and more information. The navigation is quite good and easy to use. It’s not much different from the Leaf, but seems slightly better.
Infotainment ease of use is comparable, but the Cadillac has a lot of buttons, which sometimes makes it difficult to find what you’re looking for. Also, I decide to leave that part of the car to my kids.
[Editor’s note: I found the buttons really annoying. My sister (Mira) and I had trouble getting the basic volume button to change the volume. Press, press, press — no response. Press, press — finally! At times, Mira also had some troubles connecting her iPhone to the infotainment center and getting it to work correctly. —Zach]
The Cadillac is roomier. We have to get things in better order returning to the Nissan LEAF.
Agility & Parking
Nissan LEAF wins and wins again. It is easy to maneuver and turn in small spaces. The driver can do a turnaround completely with a light touch. The wheel is easier to turn than any wheel of any car I have driven.
Air Conditioning & Heated Seats
HVAC works well on both cars. Hard to tell if one is better than the other.
The ICE Cadillac loses, of course. We used approximately $40 of gas on the trip. I spent approximately the same amount on Leaf charging throughout the year.
Nissan Leaf with zero emissions wins, even ignoring the emissions from the gas car.
I’m happy to be back in my Leaf again — from a driver’s perspective as well as from an environmentalist’s perspective.