For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Nissan Leaf are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The BMW i3 doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.
The Leaf SV/SL offers an optional Around View ® Monitor to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The i3 only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.
Both the Leaf and the i3 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control and electronic stability systems to prevent skidding.
Nissan’s powertrain warranty covers the Leaf 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than BMW covers the i3. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 5 years or 60,000 miles. Coverage on the i3 ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.
There are over 3 times as many Nissan dealers as there are BMW dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Leaf’s warranty.
The Leaf’s maximum EPA estimated driving range is 84 miles on a full charge, 2 miles further than the i3’s 81 mile range.
For better traction, the Leaf has larger standard tires than the i3 (205/55R16 vs. 155/70R19). The Leaf SV/SL’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the i3 (215/50R17 vs. 155/60R20).
The Leaf S’ standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 55 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the i3’s standard 70 series tires. The Leaf SV/SL’s tires have a lower 50 series profile than the i3’s optional 60 series front and 55 series rear tires.
For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Leaf’s wheelbase is 5.1 inches longer than on the i3 (106.3 inches vs. 101.2 inches).
The Leaf SL handles at .80 G’s, while the i3 pulls only .78 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.
Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the Leaf is rated a Mid-size car by the EPA, while the i3 is rated a Subcompact.
The Leaf has standard seating for 5 passengers; the i3 can only carry 4.
The Leaf has 8.4 cubic feet more passenger volume than the i3 (92.4 vs. 84).
The Leaf has 1.6 inches more front headroom, .1 inches more rear headroom and 2.1 inches more rear shoulder room than the i3.
The Leaf’s standard power windows have a locking feature to keep children from operating them. BMW does not offer a locking feature on the i3’s standard power windows.
To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the Leaf has standard extendable sun visors. The i3 doesn’t offer extendable visors.
The Leaf has standard heated front seats. Heated front seats cost extra on the i3. The Leaf also has standard heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the i3.
On extremely cold Winter days, the Leaf’s standard heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The i3 doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.