2019 Toyota Prius Prime vs. 2019 Nissan Leaf

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Prius Prime Advanced has standard Safety Connect™, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The Leaf doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the Prius Prime and the Leaf have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, rearview cameras, available blind spot warning systems, rear parking sensors and rear cross-path warning.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, and its headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Prius Prime the rating of “Top Pick” for 2018, a rating granted to only 100 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Leaf has not been tested, yet.

Warranty

Toyota pays for scheduled maintenance on the Prius Prime for 2 years and 25000 miles. Toyota will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Nissan doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Leaf.

There are over 13 percent more Toyota dealers than there are Nissan dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the Prius Prime’s warranty.

Reliability

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Prius Prime’s reliability 22 points higher than the Leaf.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Nissan vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Toyota 8th in reliability, above the industry average. With 6 more problems per 100 vehicles, Nissan is ranked 10th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Nissan vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Toyota second in reliability. Nissan is ranked 14th.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Prius Prime running on electricity gets better fuel mileage than the Leaf (145 city/121 hwy vs. 124 city/99 hwy MPGe).

The Prius Prime’s maximum EPA estimated driving range on a full tank of fuel and a full charge is 652 miles, after which it can be refueled at any gas station in minutes. The Leaf’s range is only 151 miles, after which the minimum recharge time is 40 minutes for only an 80% charge at a specially configured quick charge station not available in most areas. A full recharge at a conventional charging station can take up to 35 hours.

Brakes and Stopping

The Prius Prime stops shorter than the Leaf:

 

Prius Prime

Leaf

 

70 to 0 MPH

184 feet

191 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

124 feet

129 feet

Motor Trend

Suspension and Handling

For superior ride and handling, the Toyota Prius Prime has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The Nissan Leaf has a rear torsion beam axle, with a semi-independent rear suspension.

The Prius Prime Plus handles at .79 G’s, while the Leaf SL pulls only .76 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

For better maneuverability, the Prius Prime’s turning circle is 1.4 feet tighter than the Leaf S’ (33.4 feet vs. 34.8 feet). The Prius Prime’s turning circle is 2.7 feet tighter than the Leaf SV/SL’s (33.4 feet vs. 36.1 feet).

Chassis

The design of the Toyota Prius Prime amounts to more than styling. The Prius Prime has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .25 Cd. That is lower than the Leaf (.28) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the Prius Prime get better fuel mileage.

The front grille of the Prius Prime uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The Leaf doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

Passenger Space

The Prius Prime has 1.1 inches more front legroom, 2 inches more front hip room, 1.6 inches more rear hip room and .5 inches more rear shoulder room than the Leaf.

Ergonomics

To help each driver find a more comfortable driving position, the Prius Prime has a telescoping steering wheel. Much better than just a tilt steering wheel or adjustable seat, this allows a short driver to sit further from the steering wheel while maintaining contact with the pedals. The Leaf doesn’t offer a telescoping steering wheel.

The Prius Prime Advanced has a standard heads-up display that projects speed and navigation instruction readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Leaf doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The Prius Prime’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Leaf’s passenger windows don’t open or close automatically.

To lock it, the door handles on the Leaf must be held while closing the door. On the Prius Prime you just lock the door and close it, which makes it easier to lock up, especially when your hands are full.

The Prius Prime Advanced’s standard wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically according to the amount of rainfall on the windshield. The Leaf’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

Consumer Reports rated the Prius Prime’s headlight performance “Good,” a higher rating than the Leaf’s headlights, which were rated “Poor.”

The Prius Prime’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Nissan charges extra for heated mirrors on the Leaf.

The Prius Prime has a standard center folding armrest for the rear passengers. A center armrest helps make rear passengers more comfortable. The Leaf doesn’t offer a rear seat center armrest.

A built-in pollen filter removes pollen, exhaust fumes and other pollutants from the Prius Prime’s passenger compartment. This helps prevent lung and/or sinus irritation, which can trigger allergies or asthma. The Leaf doesn’t offer a filtration system.

The Prius Prime Advanced’s Intelligent Parking Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Leaf doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the Prius Prime owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the Prius Prime with a number “5” insurance rate while the Leaf is rated higher at a number “10” rate.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Prius Prime is less expensive to operate than the Leaf because it costs $108 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Prius Prime than the Leaf, including $3 less for front brake pads and $686 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends both the Toyota Prius Prime and the Nissan Leaf, based on reliability, safety and performance.

The Toyota Prius outsold the Nissan Leaf by almost six to one during 2018.

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

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