Bolt versus Leaf: Am I crazy?

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Aug 22, 2022
Wanting to cover all my bases, I went to a local Chevy dealer today and drove both a 2023 Bolt EUV and a 2020 Bolt EV. (They weren’t allowing anyone to take the newer model on the nearby highway, but they allowed some highway test driving in the older car, so I did both.)
Much as I came in predisposed to preferring the Chevy over the Nissan, I just couldn’t get there. Although the top-of-the-line Bolt EUV had all kinds of cool technology and leather seats, I think I still preferred the Leaf.
The Leaf drivers seat is more comfortable, the car feels more roomy and airy inside, it has far more cargo space without folding down the seats, and if memory serves, I think the Leaf had a more pleasing ride (for me) and was quieter.
I also think the Leaf is still a better looking car, again, a matter of personal preference.
I am shamelessly looking for your confirmation bias! Seriously, though, in spite of the knowledge that the Leaf is supposed to be discontinued in a few years and that the Chademo charging standard will be hard to come by, I’m still predisposed to going with the Nissan, even though it will probably end up costing me a few thousand more.
Does this make sense to anybody? ;)
It makes sense to me because I looked at the older Bolts before buying my 2019 SL Plus. They are small. If you anticipate needing to use DCQC frequently, then CHAdeMO might become an issue as time goes on and there is less support for those stations. On the other hand, I have encountered several combination charging stations with broken SAE connectors and never found a physically broken CHAdeMO connector. There are some on this site (Dala is one individual) engineering DIY methods to add an SAE DCQC charging port, but don't expect any commercial conversion/adapter units any time soon. Also, multiple DCQC sessions in a day will heat up the LEAF battery pack and the charge rate will be slower. If you don't anticipate needing frequent fast charging, then I highly recommend the LEAF. I purchased the Plus version because it has enough range so that I rarely need to use DCQC.
So long as you know the CHAdeMO and lack of active cooling stories, and can stomach Nissan corporate and its dealers, pick the EV you like more.

I sold my 2013 LEAF and bought a Bolt because I dislike owning dying tech, my OCD would not give me rest from the pack temperatures in the summer, and the Bolt form and size work very well for us. I should add that my wife and I grew up on European cars so we prefer small, nimble hatchbacks. I also very much like the large Bolt center screen and integration with Android Auto (or the Apple equivalent.). I always found the LEAF rear storage good volume but not real useful due to the shape of the cargo floor. The Bolt storage areas are outstanding given the car size.

Regarding interior room: Compared to a Tesla Model Y we own the Bolt feels a bit cramped, but if I drive the Bolt for a couple days without driving the 'Y' then the cramped feeling goes away. A long story shortened is that I cross shopped the Bolt and LEAF and chose the Bolt for the above reasons. But now we own a Bolt and a Model Y and since I only want to own one car, I am expecting to sell the Model Y. I like the Model Y very much, but the Bolt serves our use case exceptionally well for a lot lower cost.

Regarding service and customer support, I'd say that GM and Nissan are both corporate dicks and both their dealership networks are more likely to be awful than useful. If you want assurance of competent EV service you buy Tesla. Sometimes a local dealership can be OK so you may want to ask local owners.
I also test drove an older Bolt in 2017, and much preferred the Leaf. Maybe when I was younger and was driving a Civic Si I would have liked the Bolt more, but several intervening Camrys and a Volvo 240 - along with my poorly aging body - changed my perspective.
Like most car companies, Nissan has good, helpful, knowledgeable dealers that provide excellent service and bad dealers that know very little about the LEAF. I happen to live near a dealer who has sold/serviced many LEAFs and provides excellent service. Nissan as a manufacturer and my local dealer have both provided excellent customer service to me. Nissan provided a retroactive battery capacity warranty (in writing) on the 2011 and Nissan LEAF Customer Service initiated replacement of the original battery after the second annual battery test and long before I received any correspondence from the plaintiff attorneys regarding the class action lawsuit. Nissan started the battery replacement process on my 2011, not me.

I have no experience with Tesla except looking at them in two different Tesla showrooms in the Phoenix area and a short ride in a Roadster during an EV car show. The Roadster was impressive, but I was not impressed with the fit/finish of the current models I saw in the showrooms and I will never buy a car that forces me to look at a display in the center of the dash to see how fast I am driving and fumble through menus to control basic features such as wipers and HVAC.
Don't buy either right now, wait a few more months as new car inventory levels are starting to increase so prices should come down.
I was willing to overlook the many shortcomings of the Bolt for a good price but missed the prime window (Q4 2017) as I was in a lease and despite getting a decent offer to get out of it, passed on the deal.

As luck would have it, that car was killed on the streets of Tacoma WA a few weeks after the incentives expired. By then the deals were gone, price was almost $10,000 more so LEAF it was.

The Bolt had the advantage of range (which they don't any more) but CCS at the time was barely there in the best of circumstances, completely absent in others so yeah; not the right time.

The shorter wheelbase means the car qualified for discounted ferry service but also made the ride choppy. My LEAF rides smooth as butter and I like it.

Fast Forward a bit and now I have a Plus which reduces the "range penalty" to a few dozen miles if that and I have FASTER DC charging.

Knowing everything I know now, I would have still stuck with the LEAF.

FYI; on the Bolt battery issues? I never considered to Bolt to be a risky car to drive. Of course, I feel the same about Tesla's despite their having many more fires.
A car is not like a shoe. It does not mold to your shape over time. Trust your butt in this; if a car doesn't feel right the first time you sit in it don't buy it. This is particularly important for older people and those with ambulatory issues.

Be aware that you can infuriate sales people. Refusing the test drive after finding the car uncomfortable can upset them.
DaveinOlyWA said:
... and I have FASTER DC charging.

You forgot to mention that you live in the cool weather Pacific NW where CHAdeMO is relatively well maintained and present; and you drive slow enough to avoid rapid-gating. :lol:

OP came looking for confirmation, so I hope he is satisfied with spin.

" I feel the same about Tesla's despite their having many more fires."
Ignorant statement. Fires per fleet size are far lower in a Tesla, and that is what matters. Regardless, any Bolt being sold today by a GM dealership is post recall so your fire stink bomb is trash talking.
We also cross shopped the Bolt and Leaf. My wife did test drive a Tesla as well, but it wasn't really in the running as the price difference felt too.. boushie (as my young adult kids would say) for our needs.

The Bolt ride felt rougher than the Leaf..but I would like to try again as I wonder if I would say the same now that I run my tires consistantly st 40-42, which does noticeably stiffen the ride. 99% of the time the range difference between Bolt and Plus wouldn't matter, but might not complain about an extra 20 miles freeway range.

We felt the seats were more comfortable in the Leaf, but supposedly in 21 the Bolt seats got better. Cargo is King and Leaf (with seats up) wins. When we have 4 in the car for our long trips, I don't think we could get all the luggage and spare tire in a Bolt. Leaf cargo has also been masterful for our Costco runs...though those days are fleeting with only 1 child left in the house.

Here in the midwest, Chademo is still well supported. Evgo just replaced all of the local Chademos with new units. Iowa/east Kansas is great now with good redundancy and new locations still coming online. I do worry once the Leaf is no longer actively sold, whether that changes... and with what speed.

If I were to need a car today, I would definitely try an euv. The rear leg room looks pretty good for slender adults.

Good luck with your purchase.
DougWantsALeaf said:
If I were to need a car today, I would definitely try an euv. The rear leg room looks pretty good for slender adults.

3 inches more rear passenger legroom than the Bolt EV.
The cargo room when the rear seats are upright is the same in the Bolt EV and EUV

The EUV is 6 inches longer overall than the Bolt EV. The other 3 inches were wasted extending the hood so the car looks were more appealing to the mainstream.
GM claims that the Bolt EUV actually does have more cargo space than the Bolt, but that the government's rules for how that space is measured doesn't allow it to be classified as cargo space. Something about the location of the rear axle...
LeftieBiker said:
GM claims that the Bolt EUV actually does have more cargo space than the Bolt, but that the government's rules for how that space is measured doesn't allow it to be classified as cargo space. Something about the location of the rear axle...

And indeed it does ... if the rear seats are folded down.
I wish I had more time to chime in but we do have an existing Bolt thread at I did own one for 3 years exactly and had my former '19 Bolt bought back related to the battery recall.

Received a VERY nice check in exchange. Surprisingly, the car was pretty much troublefree and I'm not a fan of GM. My interactions w/Chevy dealers for service were minimal so I can't comment much on that. Tesla service used to be excellent before Model 3 hit large scale deployment. Now it seems like it's gone down the toilet. It sounds like some service centers are incompetent besides many seemingly understaffed and very poor in communications.

I've had total of 4 Nissans (2 being Leafs) spanning late 01 to mid-2011 and end of July 2013 to mid-2021. Generally, my service interactions w/Nissan dealers have been ok but w/a few problems here are there. One of the dealers w/a great rep (Nissan Sunnyvale, formerly Falore) closed down awhile ago and they weren't close to home nor my current work either.

I'd say as with most brands, for service, it is a case of YMMV.

One of the big bummers of Bolt is the not competitive DC FC speed for today, of maxing out at 55 kW and ramping down once you hit about 50% SoC. Was fine when Bolt came out in Dec 2016 but has been blown away by many cars now. If you don't go on road trips with an EV or do them rarely, then it's not an issue.
cwerdna said:
If you don't go on road trips with an EV or do them rarely, then it's not an issue.

My take on road trips in a Bolt is that if overnight charging is available then 400 miles during the day is not an inconvenience.
Two people with luggage is no problem, three with luggage means one rear seat is folded down for luggage.

I find the steering wheel to be just a tad squirrely at over 70 mph, but this may be only my car, of it may be in comparison to our Tesla which is a dream of a trip car.
Many thanks to all who chimed in on this thread. It's very helpful.
I still think I'll go with the Leaf. I like the way it looks and the cabin feels more comfortable to me. Plus, I'd rarely need to take it on a road trip that would require multiple DC fast charging stops.
As an earlier poster said, the car has to be a good fit for the person buying it. I'm kind of a gadget boy and I generally like having the latest, whizzy tech, but this is largely going to be a city/commuter car, so the fancy LED displays become irrelevant.
Apropos of nothing, by the way, my wife has a 2018 Mazda 3 hatchback and we both love it. If Mazda released a Model 3 EV I'd rush to give them my money. The cabin is very comfortable and it drives like a little sports car.
Nissan Leaf it is, then.
Thanks, folks!
DougWantsALeaf said:
It's funny you say that, as except for road trips, I am finding myself just turning off the screen more and more often.

I don't have NAV so my center screen is off be default. I turn it on long enough to change audio (AM for sports) but that is about it.


My thoughts and experiences mirror yours. The Bolt/LEAF was designed to be an affordable EV entry which means defined abilities in some areas to provide usability in others. I have rarely desired high end features simply because I am cheap...don't want to pay for stuff I don't see value in, etc. But that mostly only applies to cars. I have a 82" Samsung, Pixel 6 Pro, etc...

But the real evaluation is hindsight. If I had to do it all over again, what would I have done? Can't say I would have changed anything other than not being in the way when my 30 kwh was t boned. Keeping that car until the Plus came out is really the only thing that I would have changed despite my getting ALL my money back PLUS $1200.

Interestingly enough, had I kept the 30 kwh until its 3 year lease was ended, it would have been 3 weeks before I swapped my 40 kwh lease for the Plus lease.

As far as service? Well, that is a dealer thing and I have never really equated dealer experiences with the brand itself as they are simply two different businesses with different goals, resources, etc. This is why I drive past 3 Nissan dealerships to have my car serviced. I used to drive past 6 of them but thankfully Aaron changed locations to one 30 miles closer to me. ;)
The horrible seats the Bolt was a non-starter for me, along with the cheap feeling interior plastics which I might have looked past if the seats were reasonably comfortable. One would think GM would have figured out their seating is junk and moved on to something better by now. But that’s just my 2 cents…
rogersleaf said:
One would think GM would have figured out their seating is junk and moved on to something better by now. But that’s just my 2 cents…

GM likes trucks and large SUVs. Has GM ever put luxury into a small car? Like you, we weren't comfortable in the Bolts we sat in.

Considering GM's history with electric cars I wonder if it is committed to keeping the Bolt.