OK, the 2021 Nissan Leaf and 2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV don’t have the Tesla Model 3’s appeal, but both electric hatchbacks offer confident acceleration and plenty of tech goodies. Despite many similarities, however, the two electric cars appeal to different buyers. So should you get the Chevrolet or the Nissan? Keep reading to learn about the strengths and weaknesses of each mainstream EV.
2021 Nissan Leaf: Pros Over the Bolt
The Leaf stands out with its low starting price of $32,545. If you qualify for a $7,500 federal tax credit, you’re looking at a very reasonably priced EV. Meanwhile, the Bolt starts at $37,495, and because GM hit the 200,000 EV sales mark, it doesn’t quality for a federal tax credit. Recently, Chevrolet has been offering some generous cash allowances to bring down the price.
With five trims across two battery-pack options, the Leaf is available at a variety of price points. But the Bolt is available in only two trims, with the Premier costing $42,695 before discounts.
Overall value is another important factor to consider. Taking into account depreciation, insurance, maintenance, and other factors, our partners at IntelliChoice analyzed the five-year costs of ownership for the Leaf and Bolt. (The most recent data at time of writing is for 2020 models.) The Leaf has an Excellent rating on all trim levels; IntelliChoice rates the Bolt Average on all variants.
Driver Assist Technologies
Special tech on the Leaf provides automatic steering, acceleration, and braking inputs to assist highway driving. The system, dubbed ProPilot Assist, is not perfect, and it sometimes wants to veer toward the left side of a given lane. Nevertheless, we find it eases the burden of driving in traffic. Brace yourself—the Bolt doesn’t even offer adaptive cruise control.
Standard safety features on the Leaf include automatic emergency braking, forward collision alert, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane keep assist. These goodies are optional on the Bolt.
2021 Chevrolet Bolt: Pros Over the Leaf
There’s more space for passengers to stretch their legs in the back of the Bolt. Second-row legroom measures 36.5 inches compared to 33.5 inches for the Leaf.
Total cargo space
The Bolt offers only 16.9 cubic feet of space behind the second row of seats. That’s not as much room as the Leaf, which has 23.6 cubic feet. But fold down the rear seats, and cargo capacity in the Bolt expands to 56.6 cubic feet, much better than the Leaf’s 30.0 cubic feet with the rear seats folded.
Because it takes so much longer to charge an electric vehicle than fill a tank of gas, range remains one of the most important considerations for buyers in the EV space. And the Bolt has the clear advantage with the ability to travel 259 miles on a single charge—no matter which trim you pick. With the Leaf, you get up to 226 miles of range when paired with the larger battery option. With the standard battery, the Leaf’s range is simply uncompetitive at 149 miles.
So which is the better EV? As is often the case, it depends what you’re looking for. If cost of ownership ranks high on your priority list or you’re looking for a little stress relief on your highway drive home, the Nissan Leaf makes a lot of sense. On the other hand, the Bolt has more space for your stuff, and perhaps more important, it can travel farther on a single charge. We also like the way it drives. For those with range anxiety, the Bolt is the hands-down winner.
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2021 Nissan Leaf Pros Over the Bolt:
- Starting price
- Value/Cost of ownership
- Driver assist technologies
2021 Chevrolet Bolt Pros Over the Leaf:
- Rear legroom
- Total cargo space
- Driving range