By MICHAEL CANTU, Edmunds
Buyer interest in electric vehicles, or EVs, is increasing. According to data from the Pew Research Center in 2021, 40% of non-EV owners are very or somewhat likely to buy an EV as their next vehicle. But many of the newest models are also expensive; Rivian R1T pickups, for example, start at over $70,000 and can easily cost over $90,000.
Fortunately, there are lower priced EVs on the market, and two interesting choices are the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Bolt EV.
The Nissan Leaf is a pioneering EV for people who want a zero-emissions vehicle at a low price. The 2023 model starts at $28,895 including destination fees, and the Leaf Plus model with longer range has a price tag starting at $36,895.
Chevy also pays attention to value. The Bolt EV used to cost over $30,000, but for the 2023 model year, Chevrolet lowered the starting price to $26,595. Even the fuller Bolt EV 2LT model comes in at around $31,000.
Which is better to buy? Edmunds auto expert compared the two EVs to find out.
POWER, DRIVING RANGE AND CHARGING
Budget EVs used to be known for their short driving distances and little power, but that’s not quite the case with these competitors. The short-range Leaf S produces 147 horsepower and has an EPA estimated driving range of 149 miles. Those numbers are mediocre, but the long-range SV Plus model packs a more competitive 214-horsepower electric motor and 212-mile driving range. Edmunds also ran the Leaf Plus through real-world range testing and managed to cover 237 miles on a full charge.
The Bolt EV only has one model to choose from, and it offers 200 horsepower and an EPA estimated range of 259 miles. It also went a step further in Edmunds real-world testing: 278 miles.
Both EVs can be charged at home or at public DC fast charging stations. Charging times are similar at home, but when equipped with a larger battery, the Leaf will charge faster at a fast charging station. However, the Leaf has a CHAdeMO-style charging port, which may not be supported on all fast charging stations.
This budget-friendly EV is very well equipped with other technologies and features. Both Leaf models have sizable 8-inch touchscreens and support Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. The basic Leaf S comes standard with several advanced driver aids and the SV Plus model adds the ProPilot Assist system, which combines adaptive cruise control and lane centering for easier on-road driving. Leather seats or an upgraded audio system are not offered.
The Bolt EV packs a larger 10.2-inch touchscreen with sharper looking graphics. The Bolt EV’s base 1LT trim comes with fewer driver aids, but the top 2LT trim costs about the same as the base Leaf S and adds more driver aids plus leather seats. It can also be selected with adaptive cruise control and a Bose audio system for nothing more.
Both EVs are nimble around town and boast similar 0-60 mph acceleration. Single-pedal driving, which allows you to slow down by releasing the accelerator pedal, is possible in either EV. This can make driving easier and increase range.
In terms of comfort, the Leaf has a more supportive front seat than the Bolt, and offers a smoother ride. The Bolt EV’s ride is still pretty comfortable, but unlike the Leaf, the rough, potholed roads can make for a choppy and hectic ride. Without a loud petrol engine, you might think road and wind noise is common, but both EVs do a good job of keeping outside noise to a minimum.
PASSENGER AND CARGO ROOM
The Leaf and Bolt EV are very practical thanks to their hatchback body style. The biggest difference is the cargo space. Behind the rear seats, the Leaf’s 23.6 cubic feet of cargo space beats the Bolt EV’s 16.6 cubic feet. Similar passenger compartment. Head and shoulder room is nearly identical in the front and rear seats, but the Bolt EV offers more legroom in the front and rear seats. Ultimately, the superior choice here depends on what you need more of.
With a lower starting price than the basic short-range Leaf S and much cheaper than the SV Plus model, the Bolt EV wins this comparison. Potential buyers of the Bolt may want to wait until 2023 when it will once again qualify for an EV tax credit of up to $7,500 thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act. This makes the Bolt a more affordable option. But it’s not just about price; The Bolt EV also excels with longer range and a superior infotainment system.
This story was provided to The Associated Press by automotive site Edmunds.
Michael Cantu is a contributor at Edmunds. Instagram.
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