Tesla Model 3 vs. Nissan Leaf

Auto / Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

Electric cars are the way of the future. With environmental awareness raising, companies and consumers are looking for a way support and produce a greener way to live. Two big competitors in the EV market are Tesla and Nissan. Both have released relatively competitive vehicles that appeal differently to consumers for different reasons. The Tesla Model 3 and Nissan Leaf are both excellent electric cars that offer different driving experiences.


Both EVs are well executed overall. Tesla and Nissan are going to be companies to watch as models evolve and become more advanced. The newest Leaf model looks a bit more sophisticated and mature than its previous model. The Model 3 adopts styling cues from the bigger Model S and Model X. The leaf is a bit boxier than the Model 3, while the Model 3 follows a style you would see in a luxury car. The Leaf hatchback look versus the Model 3 premium style will appeal to different types of consumers. What you are looking to do and get out of a car will surely inform your decision. While both a versatile, they make different statements. The inside of the vehicles tells a similar story of differences. The Leaf has the components you’d expect to find in a non-electric car, including a digital instrument cluster, a three-spoke steering wheel, a touchscreen, and a gear selector. They’re all where you’d expect to find them, too. The Model 3 takes a more minimalist approach to design with a large, television-like touchscreen that replaces every single button, switch, and gauge. The sloping center console and the chrome highlights add an upscale touch which features its more upmarket focus. The Leaf is more practical with its hatchback design and 23.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row. Meanwhile, Model 3 delivers the look and feel of a traditional sedan while offering a longer wheelbase, allowing more passenger space compared to the Leaf. Stylistically, Nissan improved upon the previous-generation Leaf with its exterior changes. The end result is close to contemporary Nissan models, such as Sentra. Model 3 features a more premium look.

Pricing and Timelines

The 2018 Nissan Leaf has a baseline price tag of $29,990, making it $700 cheaper than its previous model. That’s before incentives from the local and federal government are factored in. Getting one is straightforward. One can drive to a dealership, take a test drive, get the necessary financing, and drive home a new vehicle. The Tesla EV process is not quite as straightforward. The Model 3 starts at $35,000 before incentives and options (like the long-range battery pack). You can quickly go well beyond this price with a few extra features. Tesla is working on a backlog of orders as it ramps up production, and delivery wait times are getting dreadfully long. While some people are willing to wait patiently, others have taken their names off the waiting list. I guess it’s a matter of priorities, brand loyalty, or wanting to jump on the Tesla bandwagon, or off of it. But if you want an EV today, you’re likely to be driving in your Nissan before your Tesla arrives.


The Leaf offers Nissan’s ProPilot Assist technology. The safety technology that the leaf offers is pretty cool and offers several driving assisting functions. While the ProPilot is an extra cost, it’s a suite of electronic driving aids designed to help out when driving becomes tedious, dangerous, or plain boring. It functions in stop-and-go traffic on single-lane highways, and it’s active between 18 and 62 mph. It controls braking, acceleration, and steering. Full autonomy is the company’s end goal, though it’s several years away from becoming a reality.  The Model 3 is available with Tesla’s Autopilot technology as an option. When the right conditions are met, the Model 3 is capable of changing lanes, reading speed limit signs, navigating freeway offramps, and even parking all by itself. Autopilot is an additional $5,000, so it’s not cheap by any means, but it makes the Model 3 considerably more high-tech than the Leaf. Like Nissan, Tesla promises it will roll out full autonomy as soon as engineers, lawmakers, and consumers are finally in sync. Overall, you might want to do your research on your final price tag for any additional features you want on the Leaf or Model 3. Features that may be important to you can cost a pretty penny but can make a big difference to your driving and transportation experience.


Both the Leaf and the Model 3 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, crash mitigating brakes, rearview cameras, available daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and around view monitors.

Range and Power

Range anxiety is becoming less of an issue for consumers in the EV market. The Tesla Model 3 beats the Nissan Leaf in the range category. Tesla, although having a hard time making it on the actual road do to backup and stalls in production, will still take your deposit on a 220- or 310-mile Model 3. However, one might wonder why Nissan went with a model stuck at 150. Nissan acknowledged the issue when the company announced the 2019 Leaf would feature more than 200 miles of range, as 200 miles is becoming the least amount consumers are expecting. EVs will continue to evolve and maximize each new model at the market will continue to be more competitive than ever. If Tesla can work out its production backup, they will be a force to be reckoned with. The leaf and model 3 differ significantly in terms of power and get up and go. The Leaf’s drivetrain consists of an electric motor that zaps the front wheels with 147 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of instant torque. Its 40-kWh lithium-ion battery pack only provides 150 miles of range, which is much better than the last-gen model’s 107-mile range but still not enough to tick the coveted “long-range” box. Tesla has opted not to release official horsepower and torque figures for the Model 3. In its most basic configuration, the rear-wheel-drive sedan offers a 50-kWh lithium-ion battery pack that delivers up to 220 miles of range. Buyers willing to spend an extra $9,000 can unlock a 70-kWh battery with 310 miles of range. The Model 3 performs the benchmark 0-to-60-mph sprint in 5.6 seconds with the smaller battery, and in 5.1 seconds with the bigger unit. Nissan hasn’t released performance figures for the Leaf yet. There would be nothing worse than getting stranded away from a charging station. For peace of mind, the longer range would be comforting.


The Model 3 and Nissan Leaf have distinct differences. For some people, it will come down to brand loyalty. Many people have compared Tesla to revolutionizing the car industry like Ford did so many years ago. If you want to be with the trailblazers, people are waiting for the Model 3, even though it is not readily available and a bit pricier than the Nissan Leaf. Also, if you are interested in a more luxury look, the Tesla would likely appeal more to you. If you are ready to drive an EV today, don’t have an issue with a bit less range, and are looking for a friendlier price tag, the Nissan Leaf could be a good option for you. It’s practical, affordable, and available. But, it’s still not a Tesla.

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