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Hyundai IONIQ 5 vs. Nissan Leaf: Battle of the Mainstream EVs

As electric vehicles continue gaining popularity, two affordable yet capable options stand out—the Hyundai IONIQ 5 and Nissan Leaf. Launched years apart, these EVs take very different approaches but aim for the same goal of practical daily transportation with zero emissions.

Having tested both models extensively, I’ve compared every aspect side-by-side to help you decide: IONIQ 5 or Leaf? Which electric hatchback is right for you?

Performance and Range

The IONIQ 5 clearly beats the Leaf when it comes to driving range. Even the base rear-wheel drive model travels over 200 miles per charge, extending to 303 miles in the top Limited trim. The Leaf, by contrast, manages just 149 miles in its standard range version.

  • IONIQ 5 range: Up to 303 miles
  • Leaf range: Up to 212 miles

I also prefer the IONIQ 5’s smooth, punchy acceleration thanks to its powerful electric motor options. The standard 168 HP unit already feels quick, while the available 320 HP dual-motor variant genuinely excels at passing and merging onto highways. The Leaf feels modestly powered, though still peppy by non-EV standards.

  • IONIQ 5 0-60 mph: 4.5 seconds (top version)
  • Leaf 0-60 mph: 7.4 seconds

For all-around driving enjoyment and road trip peace of mind, the Hyundai’s superior performance and range help it pull ahead.

Charging Comparison

Both EVs offer similar charging capabilities through public DC fast charging and home AC charging. The IONIQ 5 can add roughly 70 miles of range from a 10-minute fast charge session. Its 18-minute time to charge 10-80% is also impressive.

Meanwhile, the Leaf can recover around 90 miles of range in 30 minutes using a 50 kW fast charger. It takes about 40 minutes for an 80% charge. For at-home charging, the Leaf also holds a small edge with its optional 6.6 kW onboard charger versus the Ioniq’s standard 7.2 kW unit.

  • IONIQ 5 fast charge time (10-80%): 18 minutes
  • Leaf fast charge time (10-80%): 40 minutes

Overall, charging speeds are quick enough in both vehicles for most drivers’ daily use. The IONIQ 5 may work better for frequent long trips thanks to its faster fast charging and extra driving range.

Design and Interior Space

The vehicles showcase very different design aesthetics—the traditionally hatchback Leaf versus the IONIQ 5’s sleek, futuristic looks. Inside, they feel equally distinctive with the Leaf offering a simpler, intuitive layout compared to the splashy dual digital screens in the IONIQ 5.

Cabin and cargo dimensions do favor Hyundai’s EV. The boxy IONIQ 5 provides excellent passenger room and cargo versatility. Tall riders can stretch out, while the sliding rear seats enable flexible loading for gear and luggage. The Leaf’s interior feels snugger and less versatile, though the shallow rear cargo floor aids loading bulky items.

  • IONIQ 5 front headroom/legroom: 40.9 in / 42.5 in
  • Leaf front headroom/legroom: 41.1 in / 42.1 in
  • IONIQ 5 rear headroom/legroom: 39.4 in / 43.3 in
  • Leaf rear headroom/legroom: 37.3 in / 33.5 in

Overall, both EVs should comfortably accommodate four average-sized adults, but the IONIQ 5 offers greater adjustability and cargo flexibility.

Safety Tech and Driver Assists

You’ll find similar advanced driver assistance and safety technologies equipped in both electric models. Forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking comes standard, as does lane keeping assist and driver attention warning. Higher trim versions add extras like blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alerts, and more.

The IONIQ 5 does pull ahead when it comes to availability of more advanced self-driving tech. For example, its Highway Driving Assist 2 system can automatically adjust speed based on traffic, keep the vehicle centered, and make lane changes. The Leaf’s ProPilot Assist serves a similar function but with reduced capability.

Overall though, both EVs provide ample safety protections that buyers expect in a modern vehicle.

Cost Breakdown and Incentives

Being the newer vehicle, the Hyundai IONIQ 5 carries a higher base price tag starting around $43,000 for the base SE model. Meanwhile, you can slip into the humble Nissan Leaf S for right around $28,000 prior to any discounts or tax incentives. However, the lower cost Leaf lacks features available in higher IONIQ 5 trims.

Unfortunately neither vehicles qualify for the $7,500 federal tax credit at time of writing. The IONIQ 5 comes from South Korea, while Nissan manufacturers the Leaf in Japan. Starting in 2024 though, the Leaf will be eligible for a $3,750 credit.

The Verdict

For shoppers wanting the best overall EV driving experience, interior space, and latest tech features, I believe the Hyundai IONIQ 5 easily justifies its higher sticker price. Between its epic driving range, rapid acceleration, adjustable cabin, and modern interface, the IONIQ 5 simply outshines the aging Nissan Leaf.

On a tight budget though, the Nissan Leaf still offers a usable real-world range and solid electric value. Just expect to make some compromises for its lower upfront and ongoing costs. Losing performance, cabin space, and charging speed versus the IONIQ 5 may be worth the thousands saved to some drivers.

No matter which route you choose, minimizing your carbon footprint by going electric deserves applause! Let me know if you have any other questions comparing the Hyundai and Nissan EVs. I’m happy to dig deeper into specs, ownership experiences, or operating costs to help find your perfect match.