Not everyone can afford a Tesla Model S, but that doesn’t mean they can’t fulfill their plug-in dreams. We’re taking a look at the 2020 Chevrolet Bolt and 2020 Nissan Leaf, two affordable, compact electric cars that give the luxury segment a run for its money. This EV comparison is about to spark things up.

Electric overview

The Chevy Bolt offers a 259-mile electric range on a full charge. That’s a 21-mile addition from its predecessor. At the same time, the Nissan Leaf delivers a maximum range of 226 miles, albeit on their more powerful 62-kWh battery (the 40-kWh comes standard and only offers 149 miles). The Bolt’s longer range immediately gives this vehicle a head start. After all, range is king when it comes to an EV comparison.

The Bolt’s improved fast charging adds 100 miles in just 30 minutes. Cold weather charging is also more reliable than before. Available quick charging matches the Leaf up with its competition on the juicing front.

The winner: 2020 Chevrolet Bolt

Price

2020 Nissan Leaf

Let’s talk dollars. The Bolt starts at $36,620 while the Leaf starts at $31,600. The more affordable MSRP of the Nissan makes the Leaf a force to be reckoned with. It gives drivers more room in the budget for optional doodads that make driving a little bit cooler.

Keep in mind that the Nissan Leaf is still eligible for a potential federal tax credit as an incentive for making the switch to energy efficient. That means you can get $7,500 off your Leaf. Unfortunately, the Bolt no longer qualifies — all GM productions lost the incentive after March 2020 due to surpassing 200,000 EV sales. State incentives may still apply for either model.

The winner: 2020 Nissan Leaf 

Performance & handling

Because of the Bolt’s butter-smooth suspension, I’d be remiss not to boast its handling. Breaking feels organic and the turning accuracy is pristine. Unfortunately, it’s noisier than other EVs, which can be annoying on winding roads.

Even though the Leaf has a lower horsepower, it still manages to reach commendable acceleration times. The Nissan’s quiet cabin gives it an advantage, as well. I’m still not sure if these perks cancel out its limited range.

The winner: It’s a draw.

Style

From first glance, the 2020 Nissan Leaf looks like any old hatchback. It sure has come a long way since its dawn in 2011, when it resembled a cartoon character from the movie Cars. Quite frankly, the latest installment looks way sleeker than the 2020 Chevy Bolt, which has an odd height-to-width ratio (it’s rather tall with a stubby nose) that I just can’t get past.

The winner: 2020 Nissan Leaf

Storage

The Bolt offers 16.9 cubic feet of cargo storage (or 56.6 cubic feet with the rear seets down and false floor included) while the Leaf offers 23.6 cubic feet (or 30 cubic feet with the rear seats down).

The winner: 2020 Chevrolet Bolt

Additional features

The Chevy Bolt has a whole array of standard and available features:

  • 8-inch driver’s display and 10.2-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Available Wi-Fi and myChevrolet App with Energy Assist
  • Bright LED headlights and taillights
  • Available Driver Confidence Package with blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and more

The Nissan Leaf comes in hot with the features, too:

  • 8-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
  • Safety features like fatigue monitor, backup camera, highway assistance and rear traffic alerts
  • Adaptive cruise control and navigation
  • Available power-adjusted seats and Bose Audio

The winner: 2020 Chevrolet Bolt

The consensus: 2020 Chevrolet Bolt wins by a margin

In this review, the 2020 Chevy Bolt takes the trophy. But considering the power of affordability and style, I still might go with the Nissan Leaf instead. It’s all about personal preference. If range, handling and luxury-esque features are your jam, it’s Bolt all the way. But if you want to save money while also saving the planet — and look good doing it — let the Leaf be your guide.  

Rachel Curry
"Hey! My name's Rachel Curry and I'm a full-time writer who loves telling the world's stories as much as hanging with my dogs (and that's saying a lot). A University of Delaware graduate, I've traveled extensively, living everywhere from Ireland to Thailand. Bylines include Matador Network and Delaware Today."

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    8 Comments

    1. It’s good to know that there are lower-cost options for people looking for these types of vehicles.

    2. leaf ftw

    3. I previously owned a Fiat e500; completely electric and it had attitude but there was so much left to desire with it. I found myself wishing I had more miles, and better charging time. Am I sensing a Bolt in my future???

    4. I like Chevy so I was rooting for the Bolt. But it was definitely close.

    5. It is great to see other EV options coming to market, but is it a requirement for electric cars to look like they have design features conceived from 4th grade art projects?

    6. nice article, I like the idea of an EV but I just can’t get past the looks of these two. Just not for me.

    7. Well done comparison.

    8. Thank you for the comparison. It’s useful to have these kinds of references when getting new cars.

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