Which car you should buy really depends on what you care most about. If range is more important to you than other factors, definitely choose the Bolt, as long as you don’t mind the front seats. It’s hands down still in a different category range-wise than the Leaf, and it’s battery will likely age better.
Below are my thoughts on who each car is best for, and a head-to-head comparison that, instead of looking at just specs, also details how each car is different. Hopefully it helps inform your decision. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions, or let me know if there’s something you disagree with, or something else you’d like to know!
Who Should Get a Leaf
While I ended up keeping the Leaf over the Bolt, it’s not because I felt it’s a better car overall. The Bolt is better engineered in a lot of ways I believe, especially with regard to the EV system. That said, I’d recommend the Leaf to the following people:
- People who just need a commuter or city car, with a round trip of 100 miles or less. If you want to use the trip to make long trips with fast chargers, or need to daily reach close to the Leaf’s full range of 150 miles, the Bolt is a better choice.
- People who really need more cargo space than the Bolt offers.
- Budget-conscious buyers. The Leaf SV (my recommended model) is still about $5,000 less than the Bolt, and you can get it with 0% interest, making payments a lot more affordable than the Bolt.
- People who cannot stand the front seats on the Bolt. The Leaf is more comfortable and nicer inside than the Bolt, and if you don’t need the extra range on a daily basis, the Leaf is nicer to drive, with better tech too.
Who Should Get a Bolt
The Bolt is an impressively engineered car. It’s main drawbacks are it’s small size, and it’s relatively cheap / uncomfortable interior. It has impressive range, and can often beat it’s EPA range. I’d recommend it to the following people:
- People who plan to use their EV for longer road trips. While the fast charger infrastructure still isn’t totally there, it’s getting better, and with the Bolt’s better range, and less problems quick-charging, you’re going to get a lot farther than you will in the Leaf.
- People in hot climates, where the lack of active cooling is more likely to lead to rapid battery degradation in the Leaf. Since the Bolt has better active cooling.
- People who can afford both the Leaf and Bolt, and aren’t put off by the Bolt’s interior or seat comfort issues. If you don’t find the Bolt’s seats uncomfortable, that extra range and better battery tech is really nice.
- People with car seats, or who need more rear-seat legroom. While the car and cargo space is small, it’s actually easier to get car seats in and out of the Bolt than the Leaf, because it has more back seat room.
2018 Leaf vs 2018 Bolt Comparison
|2018 Nissan Leaf SV||2018 Chevrolet Bolt LT|
|MSRP As Reviewed||$34,275. SV with all-weather package for heated seats, wheel.||$38,800 LT with comfort & convenience package for heated seats, wheel & DC charging.|
|Battery & Range|
|EPA Battery Range||151 miles, car slightly overestimates range, drops quickly on highway.||238 miles, car tends to accurately estimate range or slightly underestimate, drops less quickly on highway.|
|Battery Capacity||40kwh, air-cooled. Likely to degrade faster in hot climates.||60kwh, liquid-cooled. Should degrade slower than Leaf in hot climates.|
|Capacity Warranty||8 years / 100,000 miles capacity guaranteed at 9 bars or higher (probably 60%-75%).||8 years / 100,000 miles, capacity guaranteed at 60% or higher.|
|Driving & Comfort|
|Suspension||Gentler, softer, absorbs bumps more.||Stiffer, tighter, sportier. Rougher going over bumps.|
|One-Pedal Driving||E-pedal. Combines regen with friction brakes for consistent feel. Confident stops.||L mode. Responds differently at different battery capacity levels. Less firm stops, brake lights don't stay on when stopped.|
|Seats||Comfortable front, cramped rear.||Uncomfortable front (subjective), surprisingly spacious rear.|
|Cargo||23.6 cubic feet. Roomy enough for several suitcases.||16.9 cubic feet. Very narrow space, can't fit much.|
|Infotainment & Audio|
|Screen||7", capacitive multi-touch. Interface looks a decade old, but seems solid & bug-free.||10" resistive touch screen. Much larger and nicer looking, but experienced various bugs with screen not turning on / behaving properly.|
|Sound Quality||Mediocre||Mediocre, but louder|
|Texting||Reads texts to you when connected via Bluetooth, can reply with predefined messages (on Android).||Reads texts to you when connected via USB, or you can ask Siri / Google to read them over bluetooth. Send with voice when connected via USB or bluetooth.|
|Navigation||Built in navigation, plus Carplay, Android Auto. Built in nav puts turn info in drivers info cluster.||Carplay or Android auto only. Fantasic, big screen for maps, but must have phone plugged in.|
|Radio & Bluetooth||Remembers last source & radio status (on or off) when you start car.||Always turns on to last played radio station, even if you were listening over bluetooth or had radio off.|
|Mobile App||Pretty, but slow. No bluetooth control option.||Not as pretty, also slow, but fast when connected over bluetooth.|