For reasons that I will discuss in another blog entry, I have been driving a 2013 Nissan LEAF SV for the past month and a half. To my surprise I liked the car a lot more than I thought I would. In this post I will explore the differences between the cars in a few key areas. If you have questions about anything I missed, feel free to ask me in the comments.
The LEAF is packed with features and blows the Fit EV away in this area. Some of my favorites are keyless ignition, LED headlights, heated steering wheel, nicer navigation system, and option to turn the heater off. Nissan did a great job on packing cool technology into the 2013 LEAF.
The only feature that I prefer on the Fit EV is the mobile app. Nissan’s iPhone app has trouble connecting, constantly crashes and takes a long time to reload. Honda’s Hondalink EV app isn’t perfect by any means, but it’s way better than Nissan’s Carwings app.
The LEAF is the clear winner when it comes to available features.
When I first started driving the LEAF, I felt that the range was significantly more than the Fit EV. I soon realized that the range guess-o-meter in the LEAF is horribly inaccurate compared to the Fit EV. In my experience, the Fit EV is spot on almost every time, while the LEAF tends to overestimate by about 20%. To make things worse, the LEAF goes to “—” miles remaining once you have about 8 miles left. This is very stressful when driving. Every other EV that I’ve drained the battery pack on only goes to “—” miles remaining after counting all the way down to 1 mile. This lead to some frustrating moments when I thought I had enough range, but found myself at “—” miles remaining and had to drive another 10 or so miles. I have since found out that there is the equivalent of about 2 bars of range beneath the last bar on the LEAF, which makes me feel a little better when I start running out of charge. The farthest I was able to go in the LEAF was 78 .6 miles, about 10 miles past the “—” miles remaining mark, which was after mostly 55mph driving.
Unlike the LEAF the Fit EV does a great job at estimating my remaining range. I’ve gone about 7 miles past “—” miles remaining in the Fit EV without running out of range. In my daily driving I probably get slightly less range in the Fit EV because I drive it significantly faster than the LEAF (it’s just too much fun!). However, if I’m driving at the speed limit I feel that the Fit EV has a bit more range. It’s very close though.
When it comes to driving range, the Fit EV wins by just a hair.
The LEAF that I am driving has a ChaDeMo quick charge port, allowing the battery to be charged up to 80% in about 20 minutes. In addition to the ChaDeMo port, the LEAF has a 6.6kW onboard charger, just like the Fit EV.
Just looking at these specs, the Nissan LEAF appears to be the better choice, since it includes the ChaDeMo port. However, I was surprised by what I experienced when charging. On level 1 (120V outlet), the Fit EV takes about 15 hours to charge. This means that I can generally get enough power for my 40-mile round-trip commute in 8 hours at work. However, the LEAF takes about 24 hours to charge on level 1 and I was not able to power my commute solely on level 1 charging at work. To make things worse, the Nissan iPhone app does a horrible job at estimating time remaining to charge and does not work well in underground garages. The LEAF’s battery pack is only 20% larger, so I’m not sure why it takes
60% longer to charge; perhaps the LEAF’s charger is not as efficient as the Fit EV’s. Similarly, on level 2 (240V, 30A in this case) the LEAF requires about an hour or two more to complete a charge compared to the Fit EV. While these charge time differences are pretty minor, especially if you charge at night, they have thrown me off quite a bit when the LEAF is not at the charge level I expect.
The ChaDeMo port in part makes up for the longer charging times. I have charged twice on a ChaDeMo station so far and it was a really neat experience. The ChaDeMo saved me once when I had to unexpectedly drive 30 miles to work. I stopped at Mossy Nissan in Oceanside and in 15 minutes I was able get enough juice to make it to work.
While the LEAF takes a bit longer to charge than the Fit EV on levels 1 and 2, it makes up for that with it’s ChaDeMo capabilities. If you live in an area with lots of ChaDeMo (chances are you don’t), then the LEAF may be a better option. Otherwise, the Fit EV is a better option with the lowest level 1 and level 2 charging times of vehicles on the market. Because ChaDeMo stations aren’t widely adopted (and it’s unclear if they ever will be), I will call charging a tie between the two vehicles.
After hearing that the performance of the 2013 LEAF had been reduced to increase efficiency and driving range, I was surprised at how responsive the vehicle is. While the LEAF is not nearly as quick as the Fit EV, it accelerates quite well and has no problem getting up to 80mph. The LEAF also drives much more smoothly and quietly than the Fit EV; It drives more like a luxury car than a sports car.
The Fit EV, on the other hand, is much more sporty; the car accelerates much quicker than the LEAF, you can feel the road more, and you can hear road noise and the electric motor much more than the LEAF.
For me, the winner of this category is definitely the Fit EV, however I’m sure many people would prefer the quiet and smooth ride of the Nissan LEAF.