2020 BMW i3 vs. 2020 Nissan Leaf

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/03/31

The i3 has standard BMW Assist, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to remotely unlock your doors if you lock your keys in, 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 i3 and the Leaf 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 crash mitigating brakes.

Warranty

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The i3 comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Leaf’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

The i3’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the Leaf’s (12 vs. 5 years).

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the i3 for 3 years and 36,000 miles. BMW will pay for tire rotations, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Nissan doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Leaf.

Reliability

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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 i3’s reliability 29 points higher than the Leaf.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Nissan vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 7th in reliability, above the industry average. With 15 more problems per 100 vehicles, Nissan is ranked 15th.

Engine

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The i3’s standard electric motor produces 23 more horsepower (170 vs. 147) than the Leaf’s standard electric motor.

Fuel Economy and Range

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On the EPA test cycle the i3 gets better fuel mileage than the Leaf:

MPGe

i3

Electric Motor

124 city/102 hwy

s Electric Motor

124 city/102 hwy

Leaf

MPGe

Electric Motor

123 city/99 hwy

PLUS S Electric Motor

118 city/97 hwy

PLUS SV/SL Electric Motor

114 city/94 hwy

Brakes and Stopping

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The i3 stops much shorter than the Leaf:

i3

Leaf

70 to 0 MPH

163 feet

191 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

108 feet

129 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/03/31

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the i3 has standard 19-inch wheels. Smaller 16-inch wheels are standard on the Leaf S. The i3’s optional 20-inch wheels are larger than the 17-inch wheels on the Leaf SV/SL.

Suspension and Handling

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For superior ride and handling, the BMW i3 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.

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the i3 is 1.9 inches wider in the front and 1 inch wider in the rear than the average track on the Leaf.

The i3 handles at .80 G’s, while the Leaf pulls only .76 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

For better maneuverability, the i3’s turning circle is 2.4 feet tighter than the Leaf S’ (32.4 feet vs. 34.8 feet). The i3s’ turning circle is 2.3 feet tighter than the Leaf SV/SL’s (33.8 feet vs. 36.1 feet).

Chassis

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The BMW i3 may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 550 to 650 pounds less than the Nissan Leaf.

The i3s is 1 foot, 6.3 inches shorter than the Leaf, making the i3 easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Ergonomics

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To help each driver find a more comfortable driving position, the i3 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.

When two different drivers share the i3, the memory system makes it convenient for both. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position, outside mirror angle, climate settings and radio stations. The Leaf doesn’t offer a memory system.

The i3’s power parking brake sets with one touch and releases with one touch or automatically. The Leaf’s parking brake has to released manually.

The i3’s front power windows 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.

If the windows are left open on the i3 the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Leaf can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The i3’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Leaf’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the i3 has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The Leaf doesn’t offer cornering lights.

The i3’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Heated mirrors cost extra on the Leaf and aren’t offered on the Leaf S.

The i3’s standard rear and side view mirrors have an automatic dimming feature. These mirrors can be set to automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Leaf offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

A built-in pollen filter removes pollen, exhaust fumes and other pollutants from the i3’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 i3’s optional Parking Assistant can parallel park by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Leaf doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Economic Advantages

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/03/31

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the i3 is less expensive to operate than the Leaf because typical repairs cost less on the i3 than the Leaf, including $10 less for front brake pads.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/03/31

Consumer Reports® recommends the BMW i3, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Nissan Leaf isn't recommended.

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

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