tangfj
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Help me choose! Leaf vs Cmax Energi vs Volt and others...

Sun Jun 08, 2014 9:51 pm

First post!

Hey guys, I'm considering trading in my BMW 135i for a more practical car as I have a little one on the way... I'm considering a MY14 Leaf, C-Max Energi, Volt, or i3 (and maybe either the VW e-golf or Audi A3 e-tron if they ever release them in the US). Was hoping to get some advice from you guys on which one may be better for me?

Currently I live in Chicago and do not drive much... I go through about 200 or so miles and a tank of gas every 1.5 months with my current car. At most I may drive maybe 30-40 miles round trip to the suburbs but that's only on the weekends and its maybe once a month. Maybe 2-3 times a year we may consider using the car for a much longer trip of 300 miles or so for a drive down to St. Louis. My wife may also use the car and her round trip commute is less than 10 miles right now.

For my day to day needs, I just want something reliable that'll get me around town without having to go to the gas station any more. Also, of importance to me will be usable cargo space as I'm sure we'll be lugging more around with the baby coming. I would also like the car to have a good user interface to use with my iPhone but that's probably the least important thing to me (although from what I understand a bad user interface can be really annoying).

Anyway, if you guys could help me out with some pros and cons I'd appreciate it! I'll hopefully be test driving the cars in the next couple of weeks.

One more thing... anybody have any idea when 2015 cars would generally be announced? It's been a long time since I've bought a new car so I'd hate to buy a 2014 only to have the 2015 come out only months later.

Thanks!

(I hope I'm posting this in the right place... if not please let me know!)
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scottf200
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Re: Help me choose! Leaf vs Cmax Energi vs Volt and others..

Sun Jun 08, 2014 11:00 pm

You can also ask this at http://www.gm-volt.com" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I live in a Chicago suburb and drive a 2011 Volt. 45 miles in the summer on the battery and ~30 in the winter. Obviously you have 9 gallons of gas to use after that. I've gotten 40 miles per gallon on many trips driving 65 mph. I drive 72% on the battery.
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RonDawg
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Re: Help me choose! Leaf vs Cmax Energi vs Volt and others..

Sun Jun 08, 2014 11:48 pm

As far as an EV (Leaf) vs. a PHEV (Volt, Energi, PiP), the biggest factor is going to be if this is going to be your only car. If so, do you have convenient access to another car, such as a friend, relative, or car sharing service? If not, you are better off getting a PHEV. With a baby on the way, your wife may not feel secure in having just an all-electric car; she'll want to know that she can jump in the car at any time and not be worried about if it has enough charge to make it to the hospital.

Also, what is your home charging situation like? Do you have your own home with your own garage, or are you a renter or condo/co-op owner who has to share garage space with others? If you fall into the latter, make sure that the management/HOA/co-op has no problem with you plugging into their outlets. A couple of Leafers found out the hard way that they were no longer allowed to plug in at their apartments and condos.

With a baby, I do not recommend taking a long road trip with the Leaf. If this is your only car, rent a regular car or hybrid instead for that trip. However, if charging at home will not be a problem, this car would work perfectly for your wife's commute.

As far as cargo space, the Volt is probably the most limited of the choices you mention. The C-Max will likely have more room than the others, though the battery of the Energi version does cut into cargo space (though not to the extreme of the Focus Electric).
Blue Ocean 2012 Leaf SV, lost that 1st bar at 34 months/26,435 miles. Lease returned 2 months later. Final LeafStat figures: 225 Gids, 17.44 kWH, SOC 91.89%, SOH 82.36%, 69.49% HX, 54.57 Ahr, battery temp 61.8 F.
Now driving a 2015 VW eGolf SEL.

cwerdna
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Re: Help me choose! Leaf vs Cmax Energi vs Volt and others..

Mon Jun 09, 2014 1:00 am

tangfj wrote: Hey guys, I'm considering trading in my BMW 135i for a more practical car as I have a little one on the way... I'm considering a MY14 Leaf, C-Max Energi, Volt, or i3 (and maybe either the VW e-golf or Audi A3 e-tron if they ever release them in the US). Was hoping to get some advice from you guys on which one may be better for me?
...

For my day to day needs, I just want something reliable that'll get me around town without having to go to the gas station any more. Also, of importance to me will be usable cargo space as I'm sure we'll be lugging more around with the baby coming.
Since you wanted something reliable, you may as well rule out the C-Max Energi. It got a dubious honor at http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news ... /index.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;.

i3? It's brand new to the US and the signs I'm seeing on the BMW i3 Facebook w/US owners group are pretty bad so far. But reliability isn't one of BMW's strong suits nor is that of VW or Audi. I doubt I'd ever want an electric vehicle from VAG, considering they're not known for their electrical related (reliability) prowess. e-Golf will be coming, but I don't think to your state anytime soon.

That leaves the Volt and Leaf. FWIW, I am NOT a GM fan, but it seems virtually everyone w/the Volt seems happy theirs. It previously had done well in CR and did amazingly well at http://insideevs.com/chevy-volt-tops-j- ... ity-study/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;. (I don't consider 3 years to be "long-term" not a a long enough measure, but anyway...) '11 Volt did get above average reliability in Consumer Reports but not far above average. '12 and '13 have average reliability ratings, so far.

Reliability scores in CR of the Leaf have done very well w/'11 and '12 being much better than average while '13 is beter than average.

Since you want "usable cargo space", per Specs tab of http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/Find.do? ... 9&id=33900" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;, Volt is classified as a compact while Leaf is a midsize car. The sticker at http://www.greencarreports.com/news/109 ... e-breaking" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; confirms that the i3 is a subcompact.

These might help:
http://www.mynissanleaf.com/viewtopic.p ... 84#p267884" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
http://www.mynissanleaf.com/viewtopic.p ... 62#p332862" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Please don't PM me with Leaf questions. Just post in the topic that seems most appropriate.

RonDawg
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Re: Help me choose! Leaf vs Cmax Energi vs Volt and others..

Mon Jun 09, 2014 1:19 am

RonDawg wrote:As far as cargo space, the Volt is probably the most limited of the choices you mention. The C-Max will likely have more room than the others, though the battery of the Energi version does cut into cargo space (though not to the extreme of the Focus Electric).
I stand corrected. Per Edmunds, the Leaf actually has more seats-up cargo room than the C-Max Energi, but the non-plug-in version has slightly more than the Leaf:

C-Max Hybrid: 24.5 cubic feet
Leaf: 24 cubic feet
C-Max Energi: 19.2 cubic feet
Volt: 10.6 cubic feet

Both C-Max versions have more "maximum" cargo room than the Leaf:

C-Max Hybrid: 52.6 cubic feet
C-Max Energi: 42.8 cubic feet
Leaf: 30 cubic feet
Volt: N/A

Edmunds does not yet have cargo capacity info for the BMW i3.
Blue Ocean 2012 Leaf SV, lost that 1st bar at 34 months/26,435 miles. Lease returned 2 months later. Final LeafStat figures: 225 Gids, 17.44 kWH, SOC 91.89%, SOH 82.36%, 69.49% HX, 54.57 Ahr, battery temp 61.8 F.
Now driving a 2015 VW eGolf SEL.

LeftieBiker
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Re: Help me choose! Leaf vs Cmax Energi vs Volt and others..

Mon Jun 09, 2014 2:52 am

From your description, you would find yourself with stale gas in a Volt, running the car in gasoline mode often just to use it up. As long as you are willing to rent or borrow a car for those rare long trips, the Leaf would seem to be the best choice, if you can charge at home. L-1 charging with the supplied charging cable should be fine for you, as long as you have a free circuit in or near the garage or parking area. "Free" means it has to be able to handle a 12 amp continuous load, which means a 15 amp or 20 amp circuit with no more than a couple of lights on it now. L-2 charging with 240 volts is usually better, but unless you want to be able to use the car repeatedly most days, for more miles than you mentioned, it's optional.

I further suggest you lease the car. If you find you love it when the lease is up, you can buy it for a reasonable price. If not, you are free to get a better car in two or three years. Go for a zero money down lease, or close to it, so if the car gets wrecked you aren't losing a large down payment.
Last edited by LeftieBiker on Mon Jun 09, 2014 12:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Pipcecil
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Re: Help me choose! Leaf vs Cmax Energi vs Volt and others..

Mon Jun 09, 2014 5:49 am

As an owner of a volt and a leaf I can give you a good idea between the two. I have also have two friends that have gotten a c-max energi so I can give a pretty good assessment of those too.

Firstly, for long trips that are that infrequent (twice a year), it is cheaper to rent than to buy a bigger/longer range car that is more expensive. The misconception that you have to have a car for every eventuality will cost. The break even point is ~ 1 month. So if you rented once a month it would break even (this is an average for all vehicles, like buying a car and renting a truck when needed, etc.). So don't hang up on the long road trips.

As for the commute and driving. The Leaf and i3 will definitely get you there and back on electricity only. The Volt *may* but it will be close (my wife's 2012 volt frequently hits 45+ on battery only despite the EPA range of only 35). The C-max will always cost you gas as the electric range is only 21 EPA.

For space, the Leaf and C-max are both considered midsize cars with the c-max having the most cabin room of all. The trunk is smaller though, the leaf 24 ft^3 while the c-max is 19 ft^3. The volt, being a compact car has less interior room, but its trunk is decently large for its class - just one less cubic foot than the c-max. The i3 i think is a compact class, but I couldn't find the specs.

As for reliability and feel - my wife LOVES her volt and she had a small sports car (Audi TT) before and prefers the volt. It is a very nice vehicle and has held up well against her ~100 mile daily commute. The leaf is also a fantastic car, and with the 40 mile max driving, it will still do well even if you loose capacity or it gets cold. My friends both enjoy the c-max as well and really like the roominess and the higher loading (you don't have to stoop down much to get in). Unfortunately I can't say much on the i3, I have only seen it once and never got to get in, but from first glance, its probably the same interior size as a Volt (maybe slightly more), but is taller. Trunk probably the same size.

So really it comes down to what you want. All the cars have great phone integration, so that shouldn't be a problem (I can't remember if the c-max needed the optional radio for it). If you want interior room, the leaf or the c-max is your bread winner. If you want trunk space, the leaf is the best (by a decent margin). The i3 is super nice, but its also a good deal more than the other 3. If you want all electric driving, you would probably not want the c-max and maybe not a volt. So it really depends on your goals.
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LTLFTcomposite
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Re: Help me choose! Leaf vs Cmax Energi vs Volt and others..

Mon Jun 09, 2014 7:12 am

Just a side note, I know people with gas cars who say they never take road trips in their own cars, they always rent. The reasons they give are they don't want to put the miles on their own cars (can be a factor if leasing) but the stronger reason given is they don't want to risk having to deal with problems with a car while on a trip. I hadn't really thought about it, but it's true, if you're 500 miles from home and your own car breaks down or you get in a little fender bender you have to deal with it where you are. It could be minor or in some cases it could be days. With a rental car, at least from a national chain, you just switch to another car and it's their problem.
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Re: Help me choose! Leaf vs Cmax Energi vs Volt and others..

Mon Jun 09, 2014 7:30 am

Except for having to deal with their loss of business clause if you do not have appropriate insurance coverage...
LTLFTcomposite wrote:With a rental car, at least from a national chain, you just switch to another car and it's their problem.
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Re: Help me choose! Leaf vs Cmax Energi vs Volt and others..

Mon Jun 09, 2014 7:58 am

cwerdna wrote: Since you wanted something reliable, you may as well rule out the C-Max Energi. It got a dubious honor at http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news ... /index.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;.
I have heard that most of the complaints about the C-Max Energi were not so much reliability issues with the drive-train, rather "electrical issues" with accessories, and especially a lot of complaints about the "MyFordTouch" infotainment system. I read a long PDF on the issue a few months back and I didn't see much that would be concern for being left stranded on the side of the road or anything like that. Most of it was just annoyances.
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