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Chevy Volt Vs. Nissan Leaf: Compare Cars

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Chevy Volt Vs. Nissan Leaf

Chevy Volt Vs. Nissan Leaf

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They both deliver smooth, all-electric power. They both plug into the wall to recharge their battery packs. And after two years, they're the first and second best-selling plug-in electric cars in the U.S.

So which one is right for you: the Nissan Leaf, or the Chevrolet Volt?

Both electric cars run on energy stored in a built-in lithium-ion battery pack. The EPA rates the Leaf's electric range at 75 miles, after which you'll need to recharge its battery--almost certainly using a 240-Volt Level 2 charging station.

The Volt has an EPA-rated range of only half that--38 miles--on its battery, but it has a kicker: Unlike the Leaf, the Volt carries a small engine that's used as a "range extender". When the Volt's battery is completely drawn down, the engine switches on and turns a generator that provides electricity to power the electric motor that drives its front wheels. (Under very limited circumstances, the engine also contributes power directly to turn the wheels, but the driver will never know--the experience behind the wheel is always that of an electric car, with smooth, quiet power and strong acceleration away from stops.)

The Leaf has no range extender, so its electric range is its maximum. Note that the range of the newest Leafs, rated at 75 miles, isn't directly comparable to the 73 miles of earlier models--due to changes in testing procedure. The newer Leaf's ratings are 10 to 15 percent higher than the previous model years' ranges.

Recharging the latest Leafs has also gotten quicker. A full recharge used to take 6 to 9 hours using the Level 2 charging station, but an uprated onboard charger in 2013 and later models cuts that time almost in half. Still, a Leaf relies entirely on its battery pack.

After the Volt's 35 to 45 miles on electricity, on the other hand, it'll run for another 300 or so miles on gasoline. Fill the tank, it'll do another 300 miles on gasoline. For the 78 percent of U.S. drivers who never exceed 40 miles a day, a Volt that's recharged nightly could effectively run forever as an electric car--never switching on its gasoline engine, achieving gas mileage close to infinity. The Volt's combined fuel efficiency, though--the EPA says it's 37 mpg when the engine is running--will depend entirely on each driver's blend of electric and gas-powered driving.

The Nissan Leaf is a straightforward proposition and easier to understand in some ways than the Volt. Leaf drivers will have to think more about how they drive and how they use their electric car. Its battery gives the Leaf an effective driving range of somewhere between 60 and 90 miles, perhaps more if drivers accelerate slowly and smoothly, and don't use the Leaf in very hot or very cold weather. On medium-speed flat roads, without using air conditioning, heat, or the radio, some drivers may net a total Leaf range of more than 100 miles on a single full charge of the battery. That's rare, though--a range of 65 to 80 miles is about right in typical mixed use.

In part, the right choice depends on what the buyer prioritizes. Some don't want to use any oil, period--but others can't fit their daily driving needs into 100 miles, or may not think they can. And other factors affect how you'll use these vehicles--one of the most important being being the number passengers and volume of stuff you need to carry. That's where the Leaf comes out on top. The Volt seats four and has only a shallow load deck; the Leaf seats five and its more upright styling and vertical hatch give it more cargo space.


 
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Comments (11)
  1. the Volt Should win because it's the perfect car for me and it has numerous awards
     
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  2. Since I never want to stop at another gas station for the rest of my life, the Leaf is the perfect car for me and my families safety concerns. The Volt has too many safety issues.
     
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  3. the Volt Should win because it's the perfect car for me and it has numerous awards. and it is a perfect car for me just like the Porsche 911
     
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  4. What is meant by "The Volt has too many safety issues." It has a 5 star safety rating.
     
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  5. I drive a Volt and I'm unaware of any safety concerns. Please advise what the heck you are talking about.
     
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  6. Read the fine print on the Leaf website, "Like any battery, time and age will lead to a corresponding decrease in range.” For the truly committed, check out Green Car Congress:
    "Electric vehicle batteries have up to 70% capacity remaining after 10 years of use in an automotive application." (http://www.greencarcongress.com/2012/01/abb-20120118.html)

    In a country where the AVERAGE vehicle is 10 years old? Get real.
     
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  7. The Volt has water cooled temp controled batteries, Leaf Air Cooled. Volt can't be over charged, Leaf can be left charging to long causing costly damage. Volt only uses 70% of battery memory for daily use, so memory loss over ten years comes out of the 30% never used buy the driver. It works that way to allow odvious memory loss over time without it changing or affecting the distance handling or comfort for the driver. Leaf not even close..
     
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  8. Neither one interest me because they both have shortcomings that negate a choice of one over the other.
     
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  9. I can't believe the Volt didn't score much higher.

    They praise the Volt's interior but give a score of 6 vs 8 for the LEAF.

    They complain that the optional Bose sound system costs more but don't acknowledge the standard sound system is still better than the LEAF's and then they give the LEAF 8 over 6 saying the LEAF has optional winter heating, while the Volt has a much superior heating system, non-optional.

    No consideration for standard appraisial such as acceleration, braking, ride quality, steering precision/feel.
     
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  10. I drive a Volt.

    There are a few times that I have put close to or more than 100 miles on my car in one day. Most of the time, I drive about 55 miles roundtrip.

    I get a little 100 MPG, which is well below average for Volt drivers, largely because of my longer than average commute. I already save about 80% of the gas I used to consume. Getting that last 20% is not worth it when the trade-off is driving in a car (the Leaf) which has the equivalent of a 1/4 tank (or less) of gas all the time.
     
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  11. I will always prefer Chevy. Leaf would not at all match the perfectibility of Volt.!!!!!
    Ford Engine Repair Huntington Beach
     
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