The Nissan LEAF is the best-selling electric car worldwide, while the Chevy Volt leads the plug-in hybrid pack. Plenty of comparisions have been done, and one Chevy Volt owner recently compared his recent time with the Nissan LEAF on a forum post. So how does a plug-in hybrid owner find the all-electric LEAF?
RbbbertPatrison borrowed his brother-in-law’s Nissan LEAF for a week, and for nearly two years now has driven a fully-loaded Chevy Volt. He tried to use the Nissan LEAF on the same commute as his Volt, and these are his observations posted over at GM-Volt.com.
What I liked about the Leaf, compared to the Volt:
- Its significantly roomier inside. It is taller inside and feels wider. Back seats have much more room and headroom.
- The visibility in all directions is dramatically better. The driving position is more upright. Seat belt height can be adjusted.
- Acceleration is brisker making the Leaf feel more nimble, which can be attributed to the lower weight.
- Less bouncy ride. The Volt feels stiffer on uneven pavement.
- Better efficiency: After two days the full battery range shows 106 miles = ~5 miles/kWh. In the Volt I get 46 miles (~4.3 miles/kWh) this time of the year. So with the same driving style on the same roads the difference in EPA MPGe (115 vs 96) seems to be spot-on.
- The Nissan factory nav system finds better routes and has more display options than the Volt nav system. It starts up quicker as well.
- Much better rear-view camera with guidance lines.
Where Volt has a leg up over Leaf:
- No range anxiety. I did not expect it to be so tiring to constantly have to worry about how far I plan to drive and home much charge is available. Even though 100+ miles range should be enough I just hate the fact that there is a hard cliff.
- Build quality everywhere you look. Open the hood of both cars and it’s immediately evident that all components in the Leaf are much flimsier. The doors feel and sound much less substantial.
- Steering feel. The Leaf’s electric power steering is very indirect and plain uncomfortable on highways where constant heavy corrections are needed to keep it centered in the lane.
- Plastics in the interior. The shift knob is made of cheap plastic with sharp edges, while the Volt have a solid shaft that can be grasped. Dashboard panels have uneven gaps.
- Infotainment: the LCD screen is much harder to read in sunlight, audio controls are poorly placed buttons rather than nice round dials on the Volt. The sound of the audio system is much tinnier.
- Dashboard and driver info. The Volt is very well designed and easy to control with a retina quality screen. The Leaf uses cheap 1990ies style low res LCDs with minimal information. For some reason there is a huge temperature gauge on the left that gives near-zero information.
- Climate control. In Volt I can pretty much leave it in ‘auto’ in cool mornings and hot afternoons. In the Leaf I had to work the buttons twice a day to stay comfortable.
Both cars are very quiet inside, and both cars perform better than the EPA sticker.
While it should come as no surprise that the Volt owner found more fault with the LEAF than his Volt, it shows both cars have their strengths and weaknesses. Range anxiety is in the mind of the driver, after all.