Nissan LEAF Goes Head-To-Head Against Hyundai IONIQ Electric


A battle between two of the cheaper electric vehicles money can buy today.

Don’t let the subtitle confuse you. Both the Nissan LEAF and the Hyundai Ioniq are stellar vehicles. But, in ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) powered vehicle terms, they are not that cheap as both come with around a $30,000 starting price tag. But, even with that price tag, for many owners and reviewers, these two are quite a revelation.

The Nissan LEAF is highly refreshed when compared to the previous model. It’s a huge step in both design and features, as it comes with some pretty impressively upgraded traits. The Hyundai IONIQ, on the other hand, is a vehicle that leads the way in terms of cost and efficiency. After all, it is the most efficient EV in 2018 – as confirmed by an EPA reported power usage of just 25 kWh of electricity per 100 miles, enough to beat the BMW i3, Chevrolet Bolt, and the Volkswagen e-Golf.

Nissan and Sibeg partner to develop a new electric ecosystem with 110 Nissan LEAFs in Sicily, Italy

The Nissan LEAF comes equipped with a 110 kW AC synchronous electric motor, producing 147 horsepower. It comes with a 40 kWh battery pack, giving it an estimated range of 151 miles and an EPA estimated 125/100 MPGe in city and highway driving. Quite a lot more than that offered by the Kia Soul EV or the VW e-Golf – considering the LEAF’s lower price tag. Before federal tax credits, the LEAF S starts at $29,990 and comes equipped with the Nissan e-Pedal, 7” information display, and automatic temperature control.

The new Hyundai IONIQ Plug-in Hybrid

The Hyundai Ioniq Electric is the most efficient electric vehicle money can buy. It also comes with one of the most affordable price tags in the EV world: you can get one with a base price of $29,500 before federal tax credits. For that amount of money, you get a vehicle powered by a permanent-magnet synchronous motor that produces 118 horsepower, thanks to a 28 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery for an EPA estimated range of 124 miles and 136 MPGe. The base model is well equipped, right from the factory: automatic headlights, a set of a LED running lights and taillights, a tilt-and-telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel, Bluetooth, and a 7-inch central display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

No wonder the crew at Slashgear had fun reviewing these two vehicles. A complete head-to-head review can be found right here. And we must warn you, these two make for a rather thrilling argument for a small, battery-powered, all-electric city car. With more models arriving in the segment almost every month, these two will soon be facing some rather stiff competition. However, right now, for $30,000, there’s not a lot of fully electric vehicles that can touch either of these two cars.

Categories: Comparison, Hyundai, Nissan

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59 Comments on "Nissan LEAF Goes Head-To-Head Against Hyundai IONIQ Electric"

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Nissan sells fifty times more Leafs than Hyundai sells Ioniq Electrics. Until Hyundai decides to actually manufacture and sell the Ioniq comparison like this are meaningless.

More like 3 times as many…

Good point and I was just thinking that. The near impossibility of buying a car renders the comparison moot.

Hyundai is a Better Product Than the NISSAN LEAF…With Advanced Battery & Motor Technology to Be Sure !…NISSAN is a Better Promoter of their Product..

I wouldn’t say it’s just a matter of promoting the product, it’s a matter of actually producing it in any substantial quantities. From all the chatter I hear, it sounds like it’s nearly impossible to find an Ioniq EV for sale outside of California (and a few other states).

It’s pretty impossible to find even within California. Most dealerships don’t even get them at all and those that do have waiting lists.

Nissan is a better promoter and builder, apparently.

Nissan has a decade head start. The fact that The Hyundai has caught up so fast in technology is fantastic. You can bet that within a year they both upgrade their batteries. If Hyundai went to a 40 KWh battery they would blow Nissan away.

Unlike Hyundai, they also produce them for the US in meaningful numbers, DUH!

But if it isn’t for sale in your state, then it’s as useless as unicorn dreams.

That’s pretty funny. I have never heard a Nissan dealer promote a LEAF or seen a LEAF TV commercial since the superbowl in January 2011.

50 times may be true in the US, but it’s not quite that bad in many other areas. Nonetheless, your point is still valid.

Here’s how I see the battle of the three best value EVs (Ioniq, Leaf, Bolt):
1. If you really want AutoPilot-like functionality, the Leaf is the only option
2. If DC charging speed is your top priority (either for for 300+ mile trips or because you can’t charge at home or work), get an Ioniq
3. If neither 1 nor 2 is true, get a Bolt if you live in North America and don’t mind the looks, seats, or price premium over the Ioniq. Aside from these factors and #1, it’s the best EV by far.
4. If you don’t like the Bolt, but really want a car notably quicker than the Ioniq, get a Leaf
5. If none of the above apply, get an Ioniq if it’s available
6. If you still haven’t chosen, the Leaf wins by default

Finally, lease the Leaf if that’s the choice. They may well have figured out battery life issues without a TMS, but Nissan does not deserve the benefit of the doubt.

Currently the lease deals are not good but they can apparently be bought quite a lot below MSRP

7. If you really want a BEV, but can’t afford a Tesla, and you don’t live in California, your choices are few.

The Hyundai IONIC is pure unobtainium right now, here in North America. Maybe in 2019, Hyundai might deliver some meaningful Ionic numbers, hopefully to get sales somewhere near the Leaf/Bolt 2018 annual tally (approx. 15k).

Why would they do that when they LOSE MONEY ON EVERY EV THEY SELL. Plus, lithium ion polymer battery cars will always be a niche. The legacy autos are waiting for a battery breakthrough before going all in.

Did you know that Air planes were once considered a niche, a hobby for the rich only at one time. Look what happen now.

Hyundai realized that North Americans want longer ranges. I think they’ll be much more motivated to promote their Kona here.


My cousins in Europe complaining about driving more two hours. They said it’s too long. Not if you live in the state. So with 100+ range something is just not enough for the U.S. unless you live in Pueto rico or Hawaii. They have to come up with 250 plus range.

I got my ioniq electric pretty easily without a waiting list in ontario

Ya, they seem to be pretty easy to get in Canada. The Hyundai in Victoria don’t have any issues getting more and there are a few on the lot.

My vote goes for the Ionic…but for the US consumer it doesn’t really matter how good the Ionic is as long as it’s not offered for sale in decent numbers. It really is too bad because i think it has alot of potential.

Pointless is efficiency and price per km of range if a car is unobtainable …. in the meantime, 30kWh Soul EV can be had in many place and right now. If I was waiting for the other two cars be available, I’d still be driving my old ICE …

I thought the Nissan Leaf had hardly changed at all, besides cosmetically.

Hardly changed at all: Except for the increased power, increased range, one pedal driving available at all trim levels and pro pilot on the more expensive models. I traded in a 30kwh 2016 SL for a 2018 S to get the last of the Ontario incentives and the evolution is noticeable. It would be nice if comments were based on at least some factual knowledge or personal experience. Just sayin………..

Yeah, the newer 30 kWh Leaf is basically just putting lipstick on the pig. Still significantly below par range for a BEV, still no active battery cooling system. And what about “Rapidgate”? Is the problem with premature battery pack aging even worse than it was with older Leafs?

Gotta admit, tho, the lipstick (the new body style) does make the pig look much nicer. 🙂

Did you even try to read the post of “paul k” before saying something totally false ? You don’t even know the correct size of the 2018 model battery. BTW it’s 40 kWh.

A general question: Would you be surprised if you found out that some posters on this forum do not have real-life, first hand knowledge of the EV’s they opine about?

By the way of introduction: I have done almost 25K miles in a Bolt and I have driven an i3, a new Leaf and a TM3. All great cars, truthfully 🙂

No, they are pretty obvious. There is alot of crap out there and unless you actually drive ev you won’t know what’s true and what’s fiction.

By the way — the Leaf-2.0 has 40 KWh gross capacity; the Leaf-1.0 was 24 KWh net (usable); the Leaf-1.1 was 30 KWh net; the Ioniq has 28 KWh net; Kona SR = 39 KWh or LR with 64 KWh.

Nextmove (EV rental who rent out dozen of Leaf’s ) are stating the Leaf-2.0 for 37 KWh net (usable).

So everybody state net/usable capacity and only Nissan decided to state gross capacity nowadays, because it looks better for comparison.

Yes, say anything to slow the adoption of EV’s,.

Do you even think before trashing the Leaf?

It’s 40 kWh, not 30. Range is ABOVE par for the price (compared to the eGolf, Ioniq, FFE, etc), not below.

It’s so much more than lipstick. All-new models almost never get 40% power increase. ProPilot sets it apart from every other value EV. 150 miles is much better than 107. One pedal driving changes the driving paradigm. Despite shared parts, it’s a completely different car to drive. I wouldn’t take a 2017 for even $15000 less.

Rapidgate is a non-issue for the primary purpose of the Leaf: this is the ultimate commuter car.

You insinuate battery aging is worse without any evidence to back it up. Why would Nissan double production if that was the case? Not only would the warranty cost be enormous, but the damage to their reputation could sink the brand.

(■_■¬) Nolltronymous

Hyundai seems focused on selling the hybrid and PHEV versions of the Ioniq here in the US — not the BEV version. I think (I hope?) they are planning a bigger splash with the Kona EV next year.

They even sell just a handful or those, Less than 10% of the Prius/ Prius prime numbers.

Funny it’s the other way around in NL: plenty of Ionic’s – feels like even more than leafs – and almost no Prius Prime’s

Ahum.. my i3 uses 14.5 kWh per 100km, that translates to 23.2 kWh per 100 miles… and I am certainly not a hypermiler. So I cannot confirm the claim that the Ionic is the most efficient EV.

Is that plug-to-wheel efficiency or battery-to-wheel? The EPA figure uses the former. I don’t know the charger and battery losses for the i3.

The Idaho National Laboratory thoroughly measured a 2014 i3’s charging efficiency. At full charging power, 30 A @ 240 V single phase, charging efficiency was 93.8%. Efficiency was defined as “the useful power output divided by the total power input. In order to minimize the total amount of energy needed to complete a given task it is desirable for the efficiency to be as close to 100% as possible. The efficiency in this testing is the efficiency of the on-board charge module.”

My eGolf runs 12,0 kWh/ 100 km( 19,2 kWh/ 100 miles) counted as plug-to-wheel( 2000 km/ 1250 miles) . The car says something around 11,5( 18,4) and Leaf was around 16( 25,6) in similar drive.

The highest consumption I got with eGolf was 22( 35,2) and for Leaf 28( 45 kWh/100 miles) at 128 km/h( 80 mph) on a 100 km trip mid speed 120( 75mph). So, the ioniq being the most efficient ev, I’d say the eGolf is a close second and Leaf way far behind, even behind Zoe.

The current Hyundai Ionic Electric has a 28 kWh battery pack.

There will be a battery pack upgrade (2019?). At least, that’s what I have read.

If the future Hyundai Ionic Electric will be equipped with a 60 kWh battery pack, just like the future Nissan Leaf, then the future Hyundai Ionic Electric will have a substantial better range than the future Nissan Leaf. The reason for that is the more efficient design of the Hyundai Ionic Electric.

I can’t see where a 60 kWh battery would go – the existing one lives above the rear axle and under the rear seats. I don’t think there are provisions under the floor to accommodate additional modules.

More batteries in glove compartments and drivers pockets.

In late 2017, Hyundai said (no details) there was a planned battery upgrade to the Ioniq in late 2018; several European owners were told by their dealers it would probably be 39kWh (same pack as in the Kona/Niro base version), which would have meant ~180mi EPA range. There’s been no word since.

Since the Ioniq has a very long waiting list even for the 28 kWh version, it looks like Hyundai decided to delay the upgrade for now, and, instead position the Ioniq as lower-cost in their range vs. the Kona (& Niro). The 124mi range together with decent DC charging makes it reasonable as a local-use BEV with occasional longer trips.
People more knowledgeable about traction batteries have said 60kWh+ pack isn’t really possible in the Ioniq using current tech, while still leaving reasonable passenger/cargo space.

Pointless article. You guys should compare cars that are actually available.

The IoniqEV is never available, even in NorCal where EVs are hugely popular.

I’d be happy to buy an Ioniq EV — actually test drove a 2017 last week at Carmax. Sadly, the local Hyundai dealer said that they are not authorized to service the EV model.

Have to mention that to their service manager and GM!

I like that Hyundai is not just putting a bigger battery to go farther but they are going farther with a smaller battery, if I were in the market I would definitely put Hyundai at the top of the list but being that my 2014 Leaf does what it needs to without a single problem I will just stay put, plus its paid for.

I bought a 2017 Ioniq as a temporary car until the Ioniq BEV is available. That was 15,000 miles ago. I love the car, but disappointed with the failure of Hyundai to finish the promise of a 3 car platform.

The header image is clearly not the IONIQ EV.

Thanks for pointing that out. Good catch.
We’ve updated the image.

One has 150 mile range when new and in moderate temperatures only. The other, 124 miles in same. One with passive air flow battery temperature management, the other still air cooled but with fans using interior passenger cabin temperature to blow air over the batteries. They also use outside air to condition the pack’s. I see these as huge problems and factors that will insure low resale values when it’s time to sell the cars. Thus, they are lease plays. “Rent” the car for three or four years and turn it in. If you choose to own an EV, the Bolt seems the better play. GM may not be committed to mass production of the Bolt, but it is readily available to purchase today should you want one and available nearly everywhere. The glycol active cooling and heating through the pack and not air blown over it is crucial to happy batteries and a long-lasting car. You get what you pay for. Air cooling is a cost cutting move, yet if price is paramount in your search for an EV, its really nice there is an entry level around $30,000 before tax credit. The tax credit looms it’s ugly head… Read more »

If you ever tried building a passively cooled PC, you’d know that there is a *world* of difference between passive air cooling and even the slightest active airflow. How do you know it’s not good enough to keep the battery healthy?

Also, it’s not just a cost-cutting measure. Air cooling also saves quite some weight — which in turn helps efficiency…

“The Hyundai Ioniq Electric is the most efficient electric vehicle money CAN’T buy.”

There, fixed it for you. Good luck finding an Ionic Electric for sale anywhere, ever. They sold 21 in the US in August. Not because only 21 people wanted to buy one but because there were only 21 available for sale in the entire United States. In April, 7 sales. Yeah, 7. So good luck finding one.

It takes more than money to buy one.

Between the two of them, which one is sold in Pennsylvania?

There’s your winner.

I wish they would sell/make the Ioniqs here in Alabama. I would love to see a million of them on our roads. A million more LEAFs too. Great commuter cars and second family cars.

Brand loyalty is important for consumers. We need each brand to offer 3 or 4 models of EVs and Plug in Hybrids. The sooner we can put to rest the last fossil full burning vehicle the better.

Hyundai’s 25 minutes to 85% charging and liquid thermal battery management is way superior compared to Nissan rapid-gate crippled battery system. Yes Nissan had years of head start but now falling behind a lot. Is it corporate greed? Also Nissan kind of betrayed EV owners, they secretly raised the Leaf battery prices even they know there is thermal management issues.

Until Nissan gets a truly functional thermal management for the battery I will not consider another Leaf, Hyundai will likely be my next electric because they are much more forward thinking rather than penny pinching like Nissan.