Following up on our overnight test drive of the Leaf. Returning the Leaf to the Nissan dealer had my anxiety up pretty high (probably why they are willing to lend them out like that). Most of the experience there was typical car dealership bullshit, but kudos to the salesman for simply taking the keys back and letting me leave without harassment or some kind of infuriating 2 hour wait.
My wife vetoed the Model 3 based on its interior, and the Bolt and Volt based on size and exterior looks. We also had a Rav4 Hybrid on our radar, but she thought it would be too big and didn’t like how it looked either. Manly offroady aggressive styling doesn’t actually appeal to everyone, I guess. She’s been wanting a pure EV for a long time, but we couldn’t justify it until the range got above 200 miles. Even though all of the 200+ mile EVs are expensive right now, I’m glad we were able to find one she likes. She’s had a Versa for 12 years, so she’s paid her dues ;)
Before deciding on the Leaf, we wanted to try the Niro EV since it has more rear legroom on paper and slightly more range. Since I spoiled the reveal in the title, it should be no surprise that we liked the Niro better. It’s a master-class in packaging, able to fit my daughter’s rear-facing car seat behind me sitting in the front without being cramped. The Leaf just barely passed that test, but the Niro had an extra 2 inches for me. I literally couldn’t drive her Versa with the carseat in the rear-middle, so this will be a substantial upgrade.
Driving the Niro EV back-to-back with the Leaf would probably come down to taste for most people. The Leaf (plus version) feels very torquey and truly shoves you back in your seat. Handling isn’t great and understeer shows up at incredibly low speeds. Steering feel is ok, but is way lighter than I prefer. Brakes are good and one-pedal driving is pretty great. Despite the higher torque figure (290 lb-ft!), the Niro doesn’t shove you back in your seat the same way as the Leaf, but still feels plenty strong. Handling is much better than the Leaf because it feels more balanced and the steering is weighted just right. The ride in the Niro is rougher than the Leaf, but not bad at all.
The Niro’s interior is about the same quality as the Leaf’s overall. There are bits of the Leaf that are excellent, but some things like the center console and shifter that are pretty bad for 2019. The Niro’s controls are great and the infotainment is way better. Also, my wife is 2 feet tall, so the telescoping steering wheel in the Niro is pretty nice to have.
We ended up buying one in “Gravity Blue” which is a dark almost turquoise color that shows up as black in most photos. It’s very nice in person and I’m proud of my wife for getting a car with a little color. I just hope she lets me drive it sometimes...
This is getting long, so I’ll save the dealership experience and first day of EV-life for future posts.
We were both truly sad to get rid of our Versa. She bought it in 2007 before we were married. It’s been incredibly reliable over 130k miles and we’ve been on a ton of adventures with that car. Goodbye, old friend: