View Full Version : Consumer Reports reviews the Volt and Leaf

08 March 2011, 1916
I just received the April issue of Consumer Reports. On pages 14 and 15 they offer their initial impressions after driving both cars several weeks this winter.

They say the Volt is not cheap. They paid $48,700, which included a $5000 dealer markup. One thing that caught their attention immediately was a weak heater, which didn't keep their engineers very warm on frosty days. They said that they enjoyed its quiet operation, brisk acceleration and taut yet supple ride. However, they say that when the car is operating on only electric power its range is between 23 and 28 miles. The reduced range is likely due to the electric heater sucking power from the battery. When the IC motor kicks in, fuel mileage drops to only 30 mpg. Their Volt has been averaging around 2 miles per kWh. They also say that the trip computer would calculate fuel mileage based only on the gasoline used and not on the electricity used.

Their Volt has been taking almost 13 kWh and about 5 hours to recharge, using a Level 2 charger. They estimate that at 11 cents per kWh, the Volt costs about 5.7 cents per mile to run on electricity and 10 cents per mile using the IC motor - which they say is about what it costs to operate a Honda Fit, which costs less than half as much. Also mentioned is that the Volt can only accommodate 4 passengers due to the size of the battery taking up some space in the passenger compartment. Finally, when the outside temperature drops below 26 degrees, the IC motor comes on to produce more cabin heat.

Consumer Reports also commented on the Nissan Leaf. They are waiting their Leaf to be delivered, but borrowed one in SL trim, which is priced at $35,270. They thought the car is great for short trips, but the range drops from 36 miles to barely 19 miles during frigid weather. Using a 220-volt charger, charging times were between 7 and 9 hours and the Leaf has taken almost 22 kWh per charge. The recommend getting an additional DC charging port that allows the car to be charged in 27 minutes at a public charging station.

Consumer Reports averaged 3 miles per kWh or about 3.7 cents per mile. During one long cold snap they averaged just 65 miles per charge. They say the Leaf comes well equipped and includes a standard navigation system, which shows the car's driving range in concentric circles. The smaller circle shows how far you can venture out for a round-trip. Nearby public charging stations are also shown on the mapping system, as well as estimated power draw and estimated charging times.

They liked the Leaf a lot and say that it accelerates well, climbs hills effortlessly, handling is responsive and the heater gives ample warmth, unlike the Volt's. Also the Leaf seats five and getting in and out is very easy. Rear seat room is generous despite the narrow cabin. Their initial take is that the Leaf is a fun urban car that works best as a second or third vehicle in a temperate climate.

09 March 2011, 0403
Interesting info Richard, thanks for posting.

We are having the Operations Manager for the Leaf here giving a presentation on the 28th. Should
be interesting.
"Second or third vehicle in a temperate climate."

Not sure about a "Third vehicle", but we do live in a temperate climate.

09 March 2011, 0856
One other comment. As I was composing my summary of the Consumer Reports articles, I kept getting the feeling that the range numbers seemed to be a little conflicted. They mention that the Leaf's range drops from 36 miles to 19 miles in cold weather and then later on say that they averaged 65 miles per charge. I was a little confused by that, as I was about the Volt traveling at a cost of 5.7 cents per mile on electricity, while the Leaf did it for 3.7 cents per mile. It seemed to me that the numbers should have been a little closer. But perhaps the Volt weighs a lot more than the Leaf and that explains the discrepancy.

I agree about the comment that the Leaf would make a good third car. I can see someone having three (or in my case, six) motorcycles, but I don't know why anyone would want three cars.

09 March 2011, 2132
we're going to make our leaf (which they just pushed out from early to late April for me :( ) the second car for our family. I'm gonna trade in or sell my subaru.

And hopefully, i'll have my bike online soon too! And yeah, you could call Northern Cal "Temperate". :)

09 March 2011, 2325
The range discrepancy must be a typo. The Leaf has an advertised range of 100 mi, subject to variances in climate, topology and driver habits. On the low end they say it's about 60-70mi, and the high end as much as 120mi. Battery pack is estimated to deteriorate to 80% after 5-8 years.

As for the number of cars, it's not unusual for a family to have more than 2. Gas cars are cheap*