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The Prius offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Leaf doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.
The Prius 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 and the Leaf have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee 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, lane departure warning systems, rearview cameras, available blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.
For its top level performance in IIHS driver-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, rear impact and roof-crush tests, its standard front crash prevention system, its “Acceptable” rating in the new passenger-side small overlap crash test, and its headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Prius the rating of “Top Pick” for 2019, a rating granted to only 138 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Leaf has not been fully tested, yet.
Toyota pays for scheduled maintenance on the Prius 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 15 percent more Toyota dealers than there are Nissan dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the Prius’ warranty.
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’ reliability 48 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 Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Nissan vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Toyota second in reliability, above the industry average. With 29 more problems per 100 vehicles, Nissan is ranked 15th.
From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Nissan vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Toyota third in reliability. Nissan is ranked 11th.
The Prius’ maximum EPA estimated driving range on a full tank of fuel is 655.4 miles, after which it can be refueled at any gas station in minutes. The Leaf PLUS’ range is only 226 miles, after which the minimum recharge time is 45 minutes for only a 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 53 hours and 40 minutes. The standard Leaf’s range is only 149 miles.
The Prius stops much shorter than the Leaf:
70 to 0 MPH
Car and Driver
60 to 0 MPH
The Prius XLE/Limited’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Leaf SV/SL’s 50 series tires.
The Prius LE FWD has a standard space-saver spare (not available on L Eco/XLE/Limited/e-AWD) so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the Leaf; it requires you to depend on roadside assistance and your vehicle will have to be towed.
For superior ride and handling, the Toyota Prius 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 Limited handles at .90 G’s, while the Leaf pulls only .76 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.
The Prius Limited executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.9 seconds quicker than the Leaf SL PLUS (26.3 seconds @ .64 average G’s vs. 28.2 seconds @ .6 average G’s).
For better maneuverability, the Prius’ turning circle is 1.3 feet tighter than the Leaf S’ (33.5 feet vs. 34.8 feet). The Prius Limited/XLE FWD’s turning circle is .7 feet tighter than the Leaf SV/SL’s (35.4 feet vs. 36.1 feet).
The Toyota Prius may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 550 to 750 pounds less than the Nissan Leaf.
The design of the Toyota Prius amounts to more than styling. The Prius has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .24 Cd. That is significantly lower than the Leaf (.28) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the Prius get better fuel mileage.
The front grille of the Prius 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.
The Prius has .2 inches more front legroom, 1.7 inches more front hip room, .7 inches more front shoulder room, .1 inches more rear headroom, 1.9 inches more rear hip room and .5 inches more rear shoulder room than the Leaf.
The Prius has a much larger trunk with its rear seat up than the Leaf with its rear seat up (27.4 vs. 23.6 cubic feet). The Prius has a much larger trunk with its rear seat folded than the Leaf with its rear seat folded (65.5 vs. 30 cubic feet).
To help each driver find a more comfortable driving position, the Prius 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 (except L/LE) offers an available heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation 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’ 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.
If the windows are left open on the Prius 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. (This window function must be activated by your Toyota service department.) The driver of the Leaf can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.
The Prius’ power window, power lock and power mirror switches are lit from behind, making them plainly visible and easier to operate at night. The Leaf’s power lock switches are unlit, making them difficult to find at night and operate safely.
The Prius XLE/Limited’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.
To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the Prius (except L/LE) offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The Leaf doesn’t offer cornering lights.
The Prius’ 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 Prius has a standard center folding armrest for the rear passengers. A center armrest helps make rear passengers more comfortable and it can provide a boundary between children. 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’ passenger compartment. This helps prevent lung and/or sinus irritation which can trigger allergies or asthma. The Leaf’s air conditioner doesn’t offer a filtration system.
The Prius LE/XLE/Limited’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.
Insurance will cost less for the Prius owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the Prius with a number “5” insurance rate while the Leaf is rated higher at a number “10” rate.
The Prius will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the Prius will retain 44.07% to 45.12% of its original price after five years, while the Leaf only retains 25.21% to 25.92%.
According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Prius is less expensive to operate than the Leaf because it costs $109 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Prius than the Leaf, including $310 less for a water pump, $68 less for front struts and $123 less for a power steering pump.
IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Toyota Prius will be $7463 to $9245 less than for the Nissan Leaf.
Consumer Reports® chose the Toyota Prius as its “Top Pick,” the highest scoring vehicle in its category, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Nissan Leaf isn't recommended.
The Toyota Prius outsold the Nissan Leaf by almost six to one during 2019.
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