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Head-to-Head: Nissan Leaf vs Chevy Bolt

The Chevrolet Bolt takes on the Nissan Leaf in a battle of the two most affordable electric vehicles on the market today.

Head to Head: Nissan Leaf EV vs Chevrolet Bolt EV

netcarshow.com
netcarshow.com

Look around the automotive landscape and you’ll find a number of companies that have promised sub-$30,000 electric vehicles only to still be spinning their wheels trying to bring them to production. Nissan and Chevrolet however have found a way in the form of their Leaf and Bolt EVs.

The Nissan Leaf set the standard for an inexpensive but functional EV a long while ago and has been improving each year since. Now, the Chevy Bolt looks to supplant it as the best low-cost EV in all the land. To find out which is best we’ll compare everything from their specs to the way they drive, to how comfortable they are, and what sorts of trims and features they offer. Then we’ll crown a winner.

Specs

2022 Nissan Leaf - usa.nissannews.com
2022 Nissan Leaf - usa.nissannews.com

The base Nissan Leaf comes with a 40 kWh battery pack that supplies a 147-hp electric motor. Combined, the drivetrain is good for 149 miles according to the EPA. The upper trim level of the Leaf, called the SV Plus, can go up to 215 miles thanks to its larger 62 kWh battery. It also adds a bit of gusto with a total horsepower output of 214.

Both cars come with DC Fast Charging capability and both can be fully recharged in seven hours from a 240-volt connection. The base Leaf starts at $28,895 while the SV Plus is $36,895. Front-wheel drive is the only option on either the Nissan or the Chevrolet.

2022 Chevrolet Bolt - chevrolet.com
2022 Chevrolet Bolt - chevrolet.com

The Chevrolet Bolt starts at just $26,595 and its upper trim level called the 2LT, starts at $29,795. It has just a powertrain which includes a 66 kWh battery pack and a 200-hp electric motor. The EPA says that it’ll go up to an estimated 259 miles before needing a charge. The Bolt is available with all three levels of chargers and when plugged into a Level 2 charger it can top off in about seven hours.

Driving and performance

2022 Nissan Leaf - netcarshow.com
2022 Nissan Leaf - netcarshow.com

Nissan has been refining the Leaf’s driving characteristics since it debuted back in 2010. Now, in its second generation, the Leaf is a very solid contender in the space. It’s not as quick or nimble as a car like the Tesla Model 3 but it’s well built and comfortable as you get around town.

Zipping into and out of open spaces on the road in the city is easy and we really like how communicative the steering is. While the Leaf does offer one-pedal driving, we’re impressed with how smooth and linear the brake pedal feels when using it like a normal vehicle. Handling turns with any sort of speed is pretty easy for the Leaf thanks to a low center of gravity but we found its limit faster than we did in the Bolt.

2022 Chevrolet Bolt - netcarshow.com
2022 Chevrolet Bolt - netcarshow.com

We were pleasantly surprised by the way the Bolt drives. It’s certainly not up to taking on Teslas or anything else of that ilk but it’ll easily smoke most cars to 30 mph and it’s comfortable and quiet while doing so. Put it on the highway and it’s just as competent though not as snappy.

We really like the one-pedal driving mode, which can use the regenerative braking system to all but make the brake pedal a thing of the past. Handling is above average for the segment and certainly sharper than in the Leaf. The rear passenger-side blind spot is cause for a bit of frustration but good mirror placement can fix that issue.

Comfort and Interior

Once again, Nissan’s experience in the EV space is a big benefit to the new Leaf. It’s quieter than ever and it finds a lovely balance between being comfortable but not floaty. Harsher road conditions are really the only ones that make much of a fuss in the cabin itself as the Leaf snuffs out just about any other imperfections.

We also like how the Nissan Leafs seats support without being too stiff. There’s more than enough headroom and legroom in each row and the rear cargo space (24 cu-ft) is big enough for more than just a weekend away.

Chevrolet doesn’t manage the same sophistication with regard to comfort in the Bolt. Over poor roads it’s considerably more buzzy and jittery. That noise and vibration ends up in the cabin more often than in the Leaf. At the same time, the Bolt is better than in previous years thanks to updated seats and better insulation.

We appreciate the updated climate controls and how the infotainment system is faster than ever in the Chevy Bolt. Of the two, Chevrolet has its user interface dialed in much better. Cargo space is only ok (17 cu-ft) when compared to the Leaf.

Trims and Features

2022 Nissan Leaf S - carsforsale.com
2022 Nissan Leaf S - carsforsale.com

The base Nissan Leaf is called the S. It comes with a cloth interior, 16-inch steel wheels with plastic covers, automatic headlights, manually-adjustable seats, a 7-inch driver information display, an 8-inch infotainment system, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, six speakers, automatic climate control, and keyless entry and ignition. Safety equipment includes forward collision mitigation, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keep assist, parking sensors, and a rear-door alert.

The top trim level is the SV Plus. It adds the bigger battery with more horsepower along with heated side mirrors, 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, LED fog lights, an upgraded infotainment system that allows for remote monitoring of the Leaf, an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats, and a heated steering wheel. Additional standard safety equipment includes Nissan’s ProPilot Assist package which includes adaptive cruise control, and a driver alertness monitor.

2022 Chevrolet Bolt 2LT - media.chevrolet.com
2022 Chevrolet Bolt 2LT - media.chevrolet.com

Chevrolet also sells the Bolt in two different trim levels. The base car, called the 1LT, comes with LED headlights, LED tail lights, 17-inch wheels, keyless entry and ignition, a 10.2-inch infotainment system, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Sport Mode, Teen Driver mode, six speakers, single-zone automatic climate control, and manually-adjustable seats. Safety features include forward collision mitigation, automatic high beams, and a following-distance indicator.

Buyers can add a couple of packages to get more features. The Driver Confidence Package adds rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring, and rear parking sensors. The Comfort and Convenience Package adds an auto-dimming mirror along with heated seats, and a heated steering wheel.

The top trim of the Bolt is the 2LT. It gets leather upholstery, a rear center armrest, ambient interior lighting and a 360-degree HD camera system. Buyers can add an infotainment package that includes a 7-speaker BOSE audio system along with two rear USB charging ports, and a wireless charging pad. Adaptive cruise control is an option all on its own but at just $375, it’s a steal.

The Verdict

2022 Chevrolet Bolt - netcarshow.com
2022 Chevrolet Bolt - netcarshow.com

These are two excellent cars considering their cost and the value they provide. Ultimately though, the Chevrolet Bolt is the better buy in every vital category. It provides better range, more power, more features at a lower price, and a longer powertrain warranty than the Leaf. While the Leaf is a little bit more comfortable, that’s not enough to keep the crown as the king of cheap EVs.

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Stephen Rivers

Stephen Rivers is a car enthusiast who loves all things built with passion, extending to nearly all car cultures. After obtaining an occupational studies degree in sports medicine, Stephen turned his attention to sports cars. He was employed as an auto shop manager, spent time in auto sales, and worked as a software developer for a racing company, but Stephen began writing about cars over 10 years ago. When he's not in front of a computer screen, he's racing his own Bugeye Subaru WRX in as many autocross and rallycross competitions as he can.

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