First car for a teenager - used First Gen Nissan Leaf or new Chevy Bolt?

Since Tesla does not make a compact city car (yet) I am trying to weigh taking advantage of the high Leaf depreciation versus looking for deals on the much longer range but poorly-selling Bolt. One of my concerns is battery longevity on the Leaf. Any thoughts? I drive a Model 3 AWD but even a used SR+ is too big and expensive for a first car.


  • If life matters more than money you can't go wrong with the safest car on the road: Tesla.
  • how about a Volt?
  • I have a 2016 Leaf and it’s lost about 30% capacity. That happened within two years and less than 20K miles. It’s stayed the same since then.

    If I drive conservatively around town i can eek out over 100 miles of range. On the freeway at 70-80 with the AC or heat on, it’s closer to 70 miles.

    Assuming the car won’t be used for long road trips, it could do the job.

    No way I can recommend a Bolt.

    Of course the cheapest Tesla you could find would be safer and better than either of those.
  • I respect the engineering of the Volt but I feel like the time has passed for hybrids and range extender engines.

    I love Teslas but buying a new driver a Model 3 is the modern equivalent of buying them a BMW 3 series. Damage and dings are almost inevitable and a fancy car costs more to repair than a mass-market one.

    @akgolf what do you have against the Bolt?
  • It’s a GM product. I purchased my last GM product in 1982 and vowed that was the last. Owned it a miserable two years.
  • Just did a quick search on Autotrader and found several used Model 3s for 30K.

    There were several Bolts for half that cost, not enough to convince me.
  • New Bolt Fer shure!

    CCS charging which is the future for EV’s in US. US mfg.

    Cooler car which is important for a teen.

    New tech than old Leaf.

    Newer and probably better safety systems on the Bolt.
  • Any car with a combustion engine is not an EV. Still need oil changes, smog checks, engine tuneups, etc.
    after the ignition fiasco I won't touch these esp since compliance vehicles won't last long esp if the ICE part of the company goes bust. If its cheap there is a reason for that.
  • ksrehman - Since you are considering a new car, how about the Hyundai Kona EV or Kia Niro EV. Both have received good reviews and are every bit as good as the Bolt. (I think they are better, my non Tesla car is a Kia Niro EV) AND, I think you can still get the full $7500 federal tax credit.
  • Have owned 2013 Leaf, 2017 Bolt and 2018 Model 3.
    Drove the Leaf 100,000 miles as a commute car. Extremely reliable but the range is awful, even when new. Sold the beast.
    Drove the Bolt 20,000 miles. Excellent commuter car and the posted range is real. Seats are a bit narrow and the instrumentation / shifter and other controls are just weird. Functional but not state of the art. Gave this to my 16 year old grandson as a birthday present and he is over the moon happy with it. He's a geeky environmental activist. He's also really skinny, so it fits him really well. I think his sister now expects to get my Model 3 when she turns 16. She's in for a sad surprise cuz that ain't gonna happen.
  • Either will work. A Leaf will probably be a bit cheaper. I'd consider a used Leaf for very cheap. When I was in high school, a Leaf would have met nearly all of my needs. At college, it would have worked except for driving home on holidays and getting it the 260 miles to get there would have been challenging.
  • Leaf is shit so is bolt. Model 3 don't be cheap
  • @WW_spb,
    Leaf is just fine for one charge per day in cooler climates. It is also dirt cheap.
    Sure, Tesla is definitely better overall but don't be so tribal.
  • Leaf is garbage. Used to own one.
  • I really liked my second generation Leaf.

    That said, the biggest barrier here would be insurance. It’s normal to put young drivers into the smallest available cars with the smallest engines until they’ve built up a combination of age, experience and no claims bonus.

    With new ICE sales being banned in a few years I had been wondering what will happen for young drivers as EVs tend to be fast and more expensive to insure. I’d been wondering if there would be more of a move toward de-powering based on driver profile.
  • @Wilber I am looking for a small 'city car' so Kona and Niro are too big. Maybe I should look at the new version of the Soul EV, or even a Mini with its short range but Anglo-German good looks. If Honda made an EV Fit or had brought the cute little Honda e to North America I would be down.

    My first car was a VW Polo in the UK ... smaller than a Golf, underpowered but stick shift and good to learn on and fairly reliable.

    Used BMW i3 might also be an option with over-engineered carbon fiber body but under-engineered range.
  • Oh, I saw that the Soul EV is delayed and you can't buy one in the the US anytime soon ...
  • ksrehman - OK, if you are looking for a small car, I see why you prefer the Bolt that is 8 inches shorter than the Kia Niro EV. BUT, the Niro still qualifies for the 7500 tax credit i think. the Bolt I think only qualifies for 1875 tax credit. So that might make the Niro substantially cheaper and worth the compromise. Also, the Hyundai Kona EV is the same length as a Bolt, so not too terribly big. and gets the 7500 tax credit. As for the Kia Soul EV. I actually leased one of those for three years. It was a reliable somewhat fun and practical car. BUT, it lost range almost as bad as the Leaf i used to own! But, maybe the latest Soul is better....... Sorry it is delayed! Is the eGolf still for sale in US?
  • While I completely respect @akgolf, I disagree with him on the Bolt. I think the Bolt would be a fine car for a teenager's first car. He/she can drive to college with it and use it while there assuming a charger can be found.
    1st gen Leaf would work for a kid around town. We have one of the first 2012 models (#2226). I just drove it to pick up some furniture 16 miles away today. Arrived home with 8 miles on the guess-o-meter. Yesterday, I drove to take wife to Dr. appt. checkup 32 miles away. I charged at a nearby CHAdeMO while she was at her appt and that worked too but it did require about 20 minutes of charging and luckily, there was a station ~2 miles away. Arrived home with about 15 miles on the guess-o-meter. We ran A/C full blast and drove with the freeway traffic the whole way both times.
    I take it instead of the Model 3 occasionally, when it looks like it will do the job - after all, at this point its a free car.
  • @Earl. No worries. Your experience with GM is probably better than mine.

    The Bolt is probably a fine car and if it was manufactured by another OEM I would have considered it. I’ve just had my fill of GM lemons and no longer wanted to give them my money. Of all of the vehicles I’ve owned, all of the GM models are at the bottom of the list.
  • I wouldnt recommend either car for that sticker price.
  • @akgolf I was not a fan of GM after they let people die rather than proactively recall the vehicles with the bad ignition switch ... but we're moving into a new era of vehicles now, and the Bolt has a lot of LG battery and powertrain components and should be reliable. It's pretty much a Korean car assembled in the US.

    @Wilber i think the 'new Soul' is similar to the Niro except in a smaller package. eGolf has been replaced by the ID3, which is not destined for the US.

    I am hoping for good deals on the Bolt. Used Leafs are cheap and plentiful too. Conversely I expect the Mini may be hard to get, there are not many dealerships around.
  • @akgolf,
    I don't know: Did GM take the best car you had ever driven away from you and crush it, then lie to the world that you and nobody else who had it liked it -- like they did to me?
    I find it very hard to believe I can say good things about the GM but I do know about a half dozen Bolt owners who are delighted with theirs and none who aren't. I wouldn't write it off too quickly.
  • @Earl.

    No I just had GM cars that refused to start on too many occasions and told by service too many times it was my fault.

    The last straw was when I was at work and my pregnant wife had a doctors appointment and the car wouldn’t start. A car less than two years old. I was in the military and unable to leave to help.
  • @akgolf,
    Yep, I haven't had such bad luck with one but I wouldn't put it past a GM vehicle. However, I've know people who have had terrible experiences with pretty much all car brands be it their products, manufacturers, dealers, including Toyota, Honda, Ford, Audi, Chrysler, VW, AMC, etc.
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