The Electric Car Driving Experience. Part 1: Around Town and Hill and Dale

Had to sneak in a picture of Pennsylvania Native Ray Harroun, winner of the first Indianapolis 500. He’s behind the wheel of a Marmon Wasp, not an electric.
  • True or false.  The electric car is small and tinny and generally uncomfortable.
  • True or false.  The electric car is underpowered.
  • True or false.  The range of an electric car is still too small to be practical.
  • True or false.  The weight and distribution of the batteries in the electric car makes it poor in handling.
  • True or false.  The electric car is expensive to maintain.
  • True or false.  The instrument panel of an electric car is difficult to understand and manage.

Guess what?  The answers to all of the above questions are false.  Preacher Beckerman is here to assist you in getting over your anxieties of operating an electric car.  And although we can’t place you into the seat of an electric car to drive around,  my soaring prose should fire your imagination to feel that you are riding beside me.  Or some sh*t like that.

I can speak to the Nissan Leaf experience as we have had one for two months and have put around 1,600 miles on it.  Having had my driver’s license for 50 years with over a half million miles under my belt, I have been behind the wheel on practically every type of passenger vehicle around, as well as a 1974 Suburban and a 1967 Ford F-100 farm truck.  The Leaf is both like and unlike other vehicles on the road today.

The impression you get driving a Nissan Leaf, and probably most other electric cars, is just how normal it feels.  It has 4 passenger doors and a hatchback. You swing open the door, throw your butt on the seat and paw for the seat belt always behind you on the left in a place you almost can reach.  You pull the door shut and adjust the seat and the mirrors, because your spouse used the car last and is somehow not the exact height and trunk length you are.  Ready to go, you put your foot on the brake and press the on switch, which is where the old cigarette lighters used to be back in the day.  You can find the switch because it is lighted even though the car is not started.  You can also find the switch because it is also the same type of starter that the Prius has and I suspect most modern cars have when they use a fob system.  Once upon a time there was this thing call a key and you pushed it into a keyhole and turned it until you heard a starter motor turning. That is unless you owned a 1966 Volvo, in which case you needed to pull out the manual choke first and of course put your left foot on the clutch and the right one on the brake.  In my lifetime no less.

When you push the starter button, you get a few reassuring clicks, but nothing else, no starter motor, no engine noise.  The instrument panel in front of you goes from the dormant how-many-hours-until-the-car-is-charged mode to the operating mode.  If the parking brake is on, you press that switch and it makes a barely audible brrrr as it turns off.  Provided you have opened the garage door, you are ready to go, putting the car into reverse with that nubby little stub of a shifter.

As you back out using either the techy butt-cam as a guide or the old-fashioned over the shoulder look, the steering is remarkably tight, meaning you have to pay attention not to drive the car into the grass on either side or the light pole on the left as you exit the driveway.  Reaching the street, you put the car into drive and hit the gas (now merely a metaphor).  What is the gas pedal on an electric car called, anyway?  The weasels at Nissan call it an “accelerator pedal.”  But the brake is called the brake pedal not the decelerator pedal, so something fishy is going on here. Where’s George Carlin when you need him?

Whether hitting the gas or accelerating, the Leaf jumps to.  The biggest learning step to driving the Leaf is how quick it is from a full stop.   Almost instantly, you are at 25 mph.  What is deceptive is that getting there is in pure silence.  The dc motor doesn’t rumble, whine, or whinny.  You do have to pay attention to your speed as it always feels to be less than it is.  This should not be surprising as the more famous Teslas have 0-60 mph times slightly behind the Porsche 918 Spyder and ahead of the Lamborghinis. Electric cars do have excellent acceleration. The Leaf we have can reach 0-60 in 6.5 seconds, faster than the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, or Chevy Malibu, but slower than the Dodge Charger R/T.

While driving, the Leaf is incredible quiet and most of what you hear are the tires, wind, and other cars on the road.  This is a serious safety issue that will have to be addressed and soon.  Pedestrians simply can’t hear the car coming, with no muffler and no engine noise.  Currently, new cars sold in the EU must come equipped with an acoustic sound system that will produce a sound when reversing or driving below 12 mph.  The new electric Ford Mustang will generate synthetic motor sounds which apparently is like a SCI-FI v-8 in a Bladerunner movie.  Personally, I would prefer Joe Pesci yelling at people to get the f**k out of the way.

2019 Leaf Battery pack

Driving the roads, hill and dale, an electric car handles just like a regular car- brakes brake, the steering wheel turns, the accelerator thingy does its thing.  The Leaf is not a large car, certainly not the Buick, more on par with the Prius, perhaps a smidge smaller.  The seats are comfortable and adjustable and even heated (an option we took to get the safety package).  Other than the overall quiet and the quick acceleration, an electric car is about as normal as a car can get, once you have it on the road.  Speaking of handling, the batteries on the Leaf are situated low in the body literally between the four wheels.  This helps keeps the Leaf on the road, in twists and turns.

2019 Leaf Dashboard

With regard to the instrument panel, Nissan has divided duties between the instruments that are in front of the steering wheel and instruments on an 8-inch touch screen where the radio would be.  The instrument cluster in front of the steering wheel gives you the standard time, speed, etc.  The central control panel is where the standard radio, phone, and climate controls are placed.  As with most recent cars, much of the audio, climate control, and cruise controls can be operated on the steering wheel itself. The differences between the 2019 Leaf and the 2015 Prius are only one of degree and probably due to the difference in ages of the two cars rather than the one being electric and the other a hybrid.  What the Nissan does have are additional screens in both panels to monitor and track electric usage.  The kWh gauge replaces the mpg gauge.  On the touch screen display there are gauges to monitor climate system electric usage versus other systems usage, overall usage and scenarios for added or reduced range from turning the climate system on or off.  Most of these additional gauges and displays are geared to help the driver control and monitor the overall range.  

1927 Chevrolet dashboard
1930 Ford Model A dashboard

As a historical note, the locating of controls and gauges to the right of the driver is not new.  In the 1920’s, all of the controls were in the center of the dash, not in the driver’s line of sight.  In summary, the location of controls and gauges in the Leaf, an electric, is very similar to that of the Prius.  The main difference is the addition of gauges that monitor electric usage.

And as a final point, when driving home from an errand and past a gas station, I usually smile as this vehicle will not be visiting there, unless I need a coffee or beef stick.  The routine we’ve settled into is to charge the Leaf overnight on our Level 2 charger we have in the garage.  With a charge, we are getting about a week’s worth of travel around town and running errands.

In another post, I discussed the issues of range, availability of charging stations in Pennsylvania, and cost of operation.  The intent of this blog was to demystify the actual driving experience.  Driving an electric car is much like driving a gas-powered vehicle, except it is quieter and has more pep.  All things being equal, I’ll stay with the electric car as a superior form of transportation, at least for local trips less than 75 miles.  Based purely on the driving experience, if you are in the market for the next car, Preacher Beckerman says you should take a look at an electric.

An Electric Runabout? In 2019?

Although not clear from the book cover, Tom’s electric runabout was painted glossy purple to distinguish it from the other race car entries.

The initial blog, “Ira Beckerman and the Electric Runabout” and the heading for future posts, “The Electric Runabout” uses words that seem positively archaic, especially when talking about cutting 21st century age technology.  Why that choice?

 In 1910, a publisher Edward Stratemeyer, began a series of children’s books featuring Tom Swift, an inventive and science-minded teenager.  In quick order, Tom creates a motor cycle, a motor boat, an airship, and a submarine boat before coming to his project for the 5th story, an electric car.  This vehicle featured a powerful new rechargeable battery that could go 100 miles per hour and had a 400 mile range. One hundred and ten years later, we are still striving for a car as good as Tom Swift’s.  Elon Musk, are you listening?

Key to Tom’s electric runabout was the use of a solution of potassium hydrate and a lithium hydrate boost to run an oxide of nickel with steel and oxide of iron negative electrodes.  The nickel-iron battery had been perfected by Edison in 1901.  Keep in mind that most electric cars of the time ran on lead acid batteries.  Lithium might have been a lucky guess for Tom, but it is the key to modern rechargeable batteries.  Tom’s new battery would take half the recharge time of other batteries.  The race that he entered was 500 miles around a track in Long island. Twenty cars were entered, including other electric cars, steam and gasoline powered.  In 1910, electric cars were at their zenith and it was not clear that gasoline powered vehicles would prevail.  Introduction of the electric starter in 1912 pretty much sealed the advantage of gasoline powered cars, along with the inherent problems of electric cars of the time, being range, recharge times of the lead acid batteries, and the initial higher cost of manufacturing.

A 1909 roadster at the Vanderbilt race. No windshield, two seats, relatively light.

The runabout that Tom Swift built was a common vehicle of the time, a light basic style with no windshield, top or doors and a single row of seats.  They were designed for light use over short distances, distinguishing them from the tonneau, touring, phaeton, coupe, and sedan.  Over time, the runabout was replaced by the roadster.  We don’t use the term runabout much anymore, but it is still used in Britain to refer to the same kind of small car used over short journeys.

Tom Swift was inspired by inventors such as Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Glenn Curtiss, and Alberto Santos-Dumont.  He inspired more recent inventors such as Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Steve Wozniak, and Ray Kurzweil.  Given that the current crop of electric cars are best used for light use over short distances, perhaps runabout would be a fair descriptor.  So thank you, Tom Swift.

Ira Beckerman and the Electric Runabout: An Introduction

On September 16, 2019, Linda and I bought our first all-electric car, a 2019 Nissan Leaf.  How we came to buy an electric car was the result of a the convergence of several events.  First, we had reached the emotional limit on the 2008 Buick Lacrosse we had acquired from Linda’s mom, a big lumbering couch that got 18 miles per gallon.  It ran and we owned it clear, but that was about all you could say about it.  Secondly, we had someone inquire about the car/couch, someone who wanted that basic transportation.  It got us thinking about what would replace it.  We have a 2015 Prius with about 60000 miles on it.  Our strategy for the last 20 years has been to have one newer car and one older car, rotating out the older one after driving it into the ground (figuratively, please!).

We had a long discussion as to whether we could actually manage on one car only, which would be cheaper if somewhat inconvenient.  We are both busy in our retirements and have enough appointments independent from one another as to make a single vehicle household impractical.  So a second car was going to be in our lives for a while. But an electric?

Why Should We Care?

We have been mindful of what is happening around us in the world.  The Environment Section of the Blog is a result of that mindfulness. If we are going to be better than OK Boomers, we need to continue to reduce our carbon footprint.  Last year, we put up solar panels, a start.  The next step seemed to be getting an electric vehicle, an EV.

On moral grounds, decarbonizing where we can seems compelling.  The average automobile uses something like 650 gallons of gasoline a year.  [The number is squishy, because no one really tracks it.  We don’t track average mpg for all cars, only new cars. We count total gallons used nationally, but not for the individual car. So any rough number will do.]  We do know that each gallon yields 19.64 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere.  So, roughly each gasoline powered car pushes a bit over 6 (2,000 pound) tons of CO2 into the air each year.  For comparison, 6 tons is slightly less CO2 than Pennsylvania produces every second of every minute of every day in a year.  While you might think that this means cars don’t produce much CO2, keep in mind that there are over 8 million passenger cars on the road in Pennsylvania, so the automotive car sector contributes 20% of all CO2 produced each year, which is not insignificant.  One car barely qualifies as a flea bite, but a swarm of cars can affect our climate.

The economics behind electric cars don’t seem to be in our favor. Gasoline is $2.70 a gallon, the lowest it’s been in 20 years.  The Administration is pushing coal, and is fighting CAFE standards.  Americans bought 43 pickup trucks for every electric car bought last year. Toyota sold more RAV4 SUV’s by March 10th than all of the electric cars of all models sold last year.  Registered electric cars in Pennsylvania topped 7,600 last year, all of 0.09% of registered cars statewide.  In Cumberland County, we were likely the 120th registered electric car.  What is wrong with this picture?

Fritchie Electric Car, ca. 1905

The Case for Electric Cars

Electric cars have been among us for over 100 years.  In urban areas, they preceded gasoline powered vehicles.  In 1900,  38 percent of cars were electric powered, with 22 percent powered by gasoline.  The remainder were steam powered.  Today, the technology for EVs is reasonably mature.  Practical electric cars, relying on lithium-ion batteries, have been on the road for around 10 years, beginning with the Tesla Roadster in 2008.  The issue with range is being addressed stepwise, so that now there are several choices for cars that get more than 200 miles on a charge.  Infrastructure is being developed nationwide, but unevenly, so that it is possible to see a day in the not too distant future where effective and quick chargers will be no more than 40 miles from anywhere.  And finally, electric cars do not emit CO2.

Cost has also dropped, largely due to the cost of manufacturing the batteries.  Both the entry level Chevy Bolt and Nissan Leaf Plus have MSRP’s under $37,000 (before any credits or rebates).  [See Ford Vs Ferrari?… for a side-by-side comparison of Leaf Vs Bolt.] The cost of ownership is also greatly influenced by Federal and state credits and rebates.  The tax credit landscape is uneven, as some cars have reached the 200,000 car limit for full rebates.  As of this writing, The Tesla rebate for the Model 3 has expired.  The Chevy Bolt has a $1,875 Credit until March 31, 2020.  The Nissan Leaf has a $7,500 Credit that is not set to expire in the near future.  In addition to the Federal Tax Credits, Pennsylvania is offering a $1,500 rebate at least through December 31, 2019.


To be clear, owning an electric car isn’t for everyone, at least not yet.  Range is an issue, but not insurmountable.  Few EVs have a range comparable to a gas-powered vehicle, which is usually over 300 miles.  More importantly, using an EV for travel depends on the presence and abundance of EV charging stations.  Charging stations come in two main types – Level 2 and Level 3.  Level 2 chargers run at 240 Volts and most vehicles can use them interchangeably.  However, it takes approximately 8-12 hours to fully charge a vehicle that has a 200+ mile range.  For a road trip, that’s a show stopper, unless your one-way trip distance is within that 200 mile range.  Level 3 chargers generally can put 80% of the electricity bank into the “tank” in 30-45 minutes.  This translates to stops every 3 hours to take a break and recharge.  Which is not bad for most drivers, who should take breaks every couple of hours of driving.  

These Level 3 Chargers run at 480 Volts and in Pennsylvania are not everywhere common.  For example, on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, there are exactly 5 stops with ESVE stations: Oakmont Plum, New Stanton, Bowmansville, Peter J. Camiel, and King of Prussia Service Plaza.  From Harrisburg travelling west, the first and only charging station is 170 miles away.  Travelling east on the Turnpike, the distance between Oakmont and the next charging station (Bowmansdale) is 240 miles, beyond the range of most EVs.  As one might expect, the bulk of the Level 3 stations are in and near Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Outside of these urban areas, you need to know and memorize the locations of Level 3 stations to plan a trip. Fortunately, or unfortunately, you don’t need to memorize a long list.

Driving habits also can and should play into the decision to own an EV.  If you are primarily using a car to run errands and get around locally, an EV can definitely fit.  We have the luxury of owning 2 cars – one for local driving (the Leaf) and one for trips (the Prius).  We also have the luxury of a garage and owning our own house.  So we have installed a Level 2 charger in our garage, for around $1,200 including wiring.  Currently, we are getting about 7-9 days between charges.  When the battery gets low, we just plug it in overnight.  There are incentives that Pennsylvania provides to put in publicly accessible Level 2 and 3 charging stations, which could include apartments and stores.  More places are needed.

Leaf under the Hood – The motor is under the big black box.

Let’s return to the economics of the electric car.  On the negative side is the range and the higher initial cost.  The base model Nissan Leaf Plus, with the 226 mile range, has an MSRP of $35,550.  A base model Nissan Sentra, somewhat comparable, has an MSRP of $17,990.  However, the MSRP is not the only number.  Taking the available Federal Credits and Pennsylvania Rebate brings the MSRP down to $26,550.  Secondly, EVs have a “fuel” economy about twice that of gas-powered vehicles.  To drive 100 miles in a Leaf, you would use about 27.4 kWh, which at $0.1275 per kWh (Pennsylvania’s average), would put you out $3.49.  The same Sentra, which gets a combined 30 mpg, would use 3.33 gallons of gas.  At the current $2.70 per gallon, you would be spending $9.00.  For a driver who puts 15,000 miles on a car a year, the savings in fuel would be $825 a year. Over 5 years, it would add up to over $4,000, to the advantage of the Leaf owner.  So our $17,000 original differential between Leaf and Sentra is now more realistically $4,000.  On top of that, you have a much simpler mechanical system, with no exhaust or catalytic converter, no fuel injectors, no radiator, no oil changes, etc.  Kelly Blue Book puts the Leaf at around $250 less in maintenance over the first 5 years.

When we discuss a car in the terms of economics, we are usually buying transportation.  We are not brand loyal, having owned a Toyota, Dodge, Plymouth, Mazda, Volvo, Subaru, Ford, and Buick. This usually means we are price sensitive, and so it was with this purchase.  I had to wipe the drool off the Tesla Model S, or the Jaguar I-Pace.  So although we were willing to pay more to reduce our carbon footprint, we were not willing to simply surrender bushels of money to make a point.

Ultimately, once we were all in, we see our responsibilities differently.  Having now purchased an EV, we feel that our civic responsibility is to act as a resource and answer questions for others that might be curious.  You might say we have become proselytizers for EVs.

The Bottom Line

If you are considering the next car, do not dismiss an EV as a choice.  Ask yourself first, “Are you using this primarily for around town and do you have a second alternative for long trips?  Do you have a place to charge an EV?” If the answers are yes, you may be a candidate for an EV.  If you aren’t ready yet, consider paying attention to the market and emerging models.  The direction is going to be toward electric and away from gasoline as we enter the 3rd decade of this century.

Ford Versus Ferrari? No, Nissan versus Chevrolet.

In Pennsylvania, as in much of the country, the choice of electric cars under $50,000 is sorely limited. Both the Hyundai Kona EV and the Kia Niro EV, which have more than 200 mile range and are both under $40,000, are currently the darlings of the electric car press. Neither are sold in Pennsylvania.  This leaves the Nissan Leaf Plus, the Chevy Bolt, and the Tesla Model 3 as the three contenders sold here at this time.

The Tesla Model 3 comes in 3 levels, with the Standard Plus coming in for a 250 mile range, making it the level that is comparable to the Nissan and Chevy. For the Model 3 specifically, the MSRP is $39,490.  Destination charges and fees are an additional $1,200 and the current Federal Tax Credit is $1,875 through the end of 2019.  There is also a $1,500 Pennsylvania rebate for the purchase of an electric car. All Teslas come with driver assistance features including emergency braking, collision warning, and blind-spot monitoring.  As these were important for us, I am including these features in the comparisons.

The sale price for the Tesla comes to $37,315, not including taxes or other registration fees. Of the three potential electrics, the Tesla was the most expensive.  Much has been written about the Model 3 and we did not test drive it.  We did not consider the Tesla Model 3 primarily due to the higher net cost, and some concerns about manufacturing quality; however, for the reader interested in the Tesla, do not let our judgments cloud yours.

Linda and I had the opportunity to test drive both the Leaf Plus and the Bolt and our comments are listed below.  Although I will be talking about the Leaf throughout, it should be understood that it is the Leaf Plus with the bigger battery and range that is our focus.

Nissan LeafChevy Bolt
Trim LevelSV Plus w/ Technology PackageLT with Driver Confidence Packages I and II
Motor214 hp front wheel drive200 hp front-wheel drive
Battery (kWh)6260
Range (miles)215238
Mpg-e104 combined119 combined
Curb Weight (lbs)3,7803,563
Wheelbase (in)106.3102.4
DC Charge Cable IncludedYes$750 option

There were a number of criteria important to our decision in choosing a vehicle.  Side-by-side, here are our judgments.

Safety Features. We wanted both vehicles to have advanced safety features such as blind spot monitoring and collision avoidance.

Included in the Technology package (which could not be added on to the base S model)-Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection , Intelligent Forward Collision Warning , Blind Spot Warning , Rear Cross Traffic Alert , Intelligent Lane Intervention 

Included in the Driver Confidence Packages I and II – Rear Park Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert, Low Speed Forward Automatic BrakingForward Collision Alert, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, Following Distance Indicator, Front Pedestrian Braking, IntelliBeam automatic high beam headlamps

Conclusion: Both Leaf and Bolt have all the safety features we would want.

Instrument:  The layout of the instrument panel is a concern for us.  We need to be able to drive the car and monitor performance and controls without being distracted.  We are concerned that a 100% touch screen approach would not be safe.

Instruments were clearly marked in front of the driver, with the usual range of speed controls, audio, and phone on the steering wheel.  The 8-inch touchscreen in the dashboard to the right contains more information on performance, phone and audio settings, and climate control indicators. The climate controls are actually on a button panel below the screen, but it is intuitive.

Instruments were clearly marked in front of the driver, with the usual range of speed controls, audio, and phone on the steering wheel.  The 10.2-inch touchscreen in the dashboard to the right contains more information on performance, phone and audio settings, and climate control indicators.

Conclusion: Both the Leaf and Bolt instrument panel layouts were intuitive and easy to use without distracting from driving.

Handling and Street Performance

The Leaf handled well and compared to other compact sized cars such as the Corolla or Civic.  We did not use the special e-pedal feature to brake, which would have reduced the distance to a stop.  

The Bolt was more nimble than the Leaf and handled and cornered well, as would be expected from a smaller car.

Conclusion: The Bolt was clearly the better driving experience.  Being lighter and smaller, it handled better than the larger and heavier Leaf.

Seating Comfort

The car could clearly seat 4 adults comfortably; putting in a 5thadult might have been a bit tight.  Leg room and head room both in front or back was good, but neither of us are tall people.

Even though the Bolt was a smaller car than the Leaf, there was still adequate seating room for 4 adults.  The potential for a 5thadult was definitely not there.

Conclusion: For everyday driving, with two adults, both the Leaf and Bolt are comfortable.  Should there be a need for carrying 5 adults, the Leaf could manage and the Bolt could not.

Driver Vision

Vision from the driver’s side to the rear and to the left and right rear was generally unobstructed. Even without the additional safety features, we were able to see around us.

Vision from the driver’s side to the rear and to the left and right rear was generally unobstructed. Even without the additional safety features, we were able to see around us.

Conclusion: Independent from the driver assist technologies, both the Leaf and Bolt had mostly unobstructed 360 degree views from the driver’s side.

Cargo Space

At 23.6 square feet, the Leaf has enough room for two suitcases, or several bags of groceries, without folding down the rear seats.  The folded seats do not go flush with the trunk floor, as there are batteries underneath. This diminishes the overall rear cargo area.

At 16.9 square feet, the Bolt can barely hold two small suitcases or three bags of groceries.  As with the Leaf, the folded down seats do not go flush with the trunk floor.

Conclusion: The Leaf has enough cargo space in the trunk area to do light shopping or travelling.  The Bolt has minimal cargo space in the trunk area, reminiscent of what you get in a two-seater roadster like the Miata.

DC Fast Charger (Level 2). An essential extra to be able to charge on the road.

Included in Trim Level

$750 additional

Cost as equipped

$32,205MSRP of $41,205 less $7,500 Federal Tax Credit less $1,500 Pennsylvania State Rebate

$36,415MSRP of $39,790 less $1,875 Federal Tax Credit (expiring December 31, 2019) less $1,500 Pennsylvania State Rebate


Both the Leaf and Bolt appear to be more than adequate cars for in-town driving and short trips.  The Bolt is smaller, but more nimble.  The Leaf has more cargo room and much more usable cargo room than the Bolt.  The Leaf uses the CHAdeMO fast charging standard, while the Bolt uses the more common CCS standard.  Currently, there are more CCS fast chargers out there than CHAdeMO fast chargers; however the caveat for now is that either car is more or less limited to short trips and in-town driving.  Unfortunately, this seems like the old VHS/Beta wars over standards, which hopefully gets resolved before most everyone is driving electrics. For now, place your bets.  

Before rebates and credits, the Bolt is $1,500 cheaper than the Leaf Plus with a longer range.  Because the Chevy Volt took most of the Federal credits sales for Chevy, the Bolt only has a $1,875 tax credit attached to it.  Sales of the Leaf have been slow since the beginning, I believe primarily due to the limited range of early Leaf models.  For now, the Leaf has a $7,500 Federal Credit, and when added to the Pennsylvania State Rebate, offers you a $9,000 discount on the vehicle.  On this basis alone, the Leaf Plus is the better value.


What ultimately decided the choice of vehicle for us was the cargo space, with the Leaf winning hands down. As either car would have to be our all-purpose shopping and transport vehicle, cargo space was important.  The configuration of the Leaf cargo space was also more friendly to activities such as grocery shopping.

If you generally have a small family (1 or 2 adults) and are planning to pair your driving with another vehicle for longer trips, go with Leaf Plus.  The 216 mile range takes it to the same class of electric car as other contenders. For now, you have to go to another state or spend much more (Tesla Model 3 or Model S) to get above 240 miles in range.

If you plan to make this your only car and plan to use it for trips and you can live with the smaller cargo space, go with the Bolt.  The charging standard (CCS) is more common and the range is greater.  The cost differential between the Leaf or Bolt is small enough to not be the only criteria