2019 Nissan Leaf vs. 2019 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Nissan Leaf are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Smart ForTwo Electric Drive doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

The Leaf has standard Active Head Restraints, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Active Head Restraints system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The ForTwo Electric Drive doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The Leaf has standard Automatic Emergency Braking, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The ForTwo Electric Drive offers an available collision warning system without the automated brake feature that would prevent or reduce the collision if the driver fails to react.

The Leaf SV/SL’s optional lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane and gently nudges the vehicle back towards its lane. The ForTwo Electric Drive doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

The Leaf SL has a standard Around View® Monitor to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The ForTwo Electric Drive only offers a rear monitor and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the front or sides.

The Leaf (except S)’s optional blind spot warning system uses digital cameras monitored by computer to alert the driver to moving objects in the vehicle’s blind spots where the side view mirrors don’t reveal them. The ForTwo Electric Drive doesn’t offer a system to reveal objects in the driver’s blind spots.

To help make backing safer, the Leaf (except S)’s optional cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The ForTwo Electric Drive doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

The Leaf SL’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The ForTwo Electric Drive doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Leaf and the ForTwo Electric Drive have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, rearview cameras and available daytime running lights.

The Nissan Leaf weighs 1050 to 1145 pounds more than the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive. The NHTSA advises that heavier cars are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts. Crosswinds also affect lighter cars more.

Warranty

Nissan’s powertrain warranty covers the Leaf 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than Smart covers the ForTwo Electric Drive. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 5 years or 60,000 miles. Coverage on the ForTwo Electric Drive ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

The Leaf’s corrosion warranty is 1 year and unlimited miles longer than the ForTwo Electric Drive’s (5/unlimited vs. 4/50,000).

There are almost 42 times as many Nissan dealers as there are Smart dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Leaf’s warranty.

Engine

The Leaf’s standard electric motor produces 67 more horsepower (147 vs. 80) and 118 lbs.-ft. more torque (236 vs. 118) than the ForTwo Electric Drive’s electric motor. The Leaf PLUS’ standard electric motor produces 135 more horsepower (215 vs. 80) and 132 lbs.-ft. more torque (250 vs. 118) than the ForTwo Electric Drive’s electric motor.

As tested in Motor Trend the Nissan Leaf (base engine) is faster than the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive:

Leaf

ForTwo

Zero to 60 MPH

7.5 sec

9 sec

Quarter Mile

15.8 sec

17 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

87.6 MPH

77.9 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Leaf with its standard engine gets better fuel mileage than the ForTwo Electric Drive (124 city/99 hwy vs. 124 city/94 hwy MPGe).

The Leaf’s standard maximum EPA estimated driving range is 151 miles on a full charge. The Leaf PLUS’ maximum EPA estimated driving range is 226 miles on a full charge, almost 4 times as far as the ForTwo Electric Drive’s 58-mile range. The Leaf’s standard maximum EPA estimated driving range is 150 miles on a full charge.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Leaf’s brake rotors are larger than those on the ForTwo Electric Drive:

Leaf

ForTwo

Front Rotors

11.1 inches

10.2 inches

Rear Rotors

11.5 inches

9” drums

The Nissan Leaf has standard four-wheel disc brakes for better stopping power and improved directional control in poor weather. Only rear drums come on the ForTwo Electric Drive. Drums can heat up and make stops longer, especially with antilock brakes that work much harder than conventional brakes.

In an emergency stopping situation, many drivers don’t press the brakes with enough force to stop the vehicle in the shortest distance. The Leaf has a standard brake assist system to detect emergency braking situations (by how hard and how quickly the brake pedal is pressed) and then automatically apply maximum braking immediately in order to help prevent a collision. The ForTwo Electric Drive doesn’t offer a brake assist feature.

The Leaf stops shorter than the ForTwo Electric Drive:

Leaf

ForTwo

60 to 0 MPH

129 feet

131 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Leaf has larger standard tires than the ForTwo Electric Drive (205/55R16 vs. 165/65R15). The Leaf SV/SL’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the ForTwo Electric Drive (215/50R17 vs. 185/50R16).

The Leaf S’ standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 55 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the ForTwo Electric Drive’s standard 65 series front and 60 series rear tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Leaf S has standard 16-inch wheels. Smaller 15-inch wheels are standard on the ForTwo Electric Drive. The Leaf SV/SL’s 17-inch wheels are larger than the 16-inch wheels optional on the ForTwo Electric Drive.

The Nissan Leaf’s wheels have 5 lugs for longer wheel bearing life, less chance of rotor warping and greater strength. The Smart ForTwo Electric Drive only has 4 wheel lugs per wheel.

The Leaf has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The ForTwo Electric Drive doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

The Leaf has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the Leaf flat and controlled during cornering. The ForTwo Electric Drive’s suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Leaf’s wheelbase is 32.6 inches longer than on the ForTwo Electric Drive (106.3 inches vs. 73.7 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Leaf is 2.6 inches wider in the front and 4.7 inches wider in the rear than the track on the ForTwo Electric Drive.

The Leaf SL handles at .76 G’s, while the ForTwo Electric Drive Passion Coupe pulls only .71 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

Passenger Space

The Leaf has standard seating for 5 passengers; the ForTwo Electric Drive can only carry 2.

The Leaf has 47 cubic feet more passenger volume than the ForTwo Electric Drive (92.4 vs. 45.4).

The Leaf has 1.5 inches more front headroom, .9 inches more front legroom, 6.3 inches more front hip room and 6.3 inches more front shoulder room than the ForTwo Electric Drive Coupe.

Cargo Capacity

The Leaf has a much larger trunk with its rear seat up than the ForTwo Electric Drive Coupe (23.6 vs. 9.2 cubic feet).

The Leaf’s liftgate lifts up in one piece, completely out of the way of loading and unloading, while sheltering the cargo loading area. The ForTwo Electric Drive’s tailgate’s top part raises up, but the bottom part lowers, getting in the way of loading and making an uneven surface for sliding cargo.

Ergonomics

The Leaf’s standard power windows have a locking feature to keep children from operating them. Smart does not offer a locking feature on the ForTwo Electric Drive’s standard power windows.

The Intelligent Key standard on the Leaf allows you to unlock the driver’s door, trunk and start the engine all without removing a key from pocket or purse. This eliminates searching for keys before loading groceries, getting in the vehicle in bad weather or making a hurried start to your trip. The Smart ForTwo Electric Drive doesn’t offer an advanced key system.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the Leaf has a standard rear wiper. The ForTwo Electric Drive Cabrio doesn’t offer a rear wiper.

The Leaf has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The ForTwo Electric Drive only offers an automatic headlight on/off feature as an extra cost option.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the Leaf SV/SL detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The ForTwo Electric Drive doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the Leaf has standard extendable sun visors. The ForTwo Electric Drive doesn’t offer extendable visors.

The Leaf’s optional rear view mirror has an automatic dimming feature. This mirror can be set to automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on it, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The ForTwo Electric Drive doesn’t offer the luxury of an automatic dimming rear view mirror.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the Leaf SV/SL has a standard Intelligent Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The ForTwo Electric Drive doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the Nissan Leaf, based on reliability, safety and performance.

The Nissan Leaf outsold the Smart ForTwo by almost 12 to one during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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