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 Tesla Model S doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.
The Leaf has standard Active Head Restraints, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Active Head Restraints system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The Model S doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.
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 Model S 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 Model S have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding and rearview cameras.
The Leaf’s corrosion warranty is 1 year and unlimited miles longer than the Model S’ (5/unlimited vs. 4/50,000).
There are over 17 times as many Nissan dealers as there are Tesla dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Leaf’s warranty.
A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Leaf’s reliability 35 points higher than the Model S.
On the EPA test cycle the Leaf gets better fuel mileage than the Model S 60 (124 city/101 hwy vs. 98 city/101 hwy MPGe).
In an emergency stopping situation, many drivers don’t press the brakes with enough force to stop the vehicle in the shortest distance. The Leaf has a standard brake assist system to detect emergency braking situations (by how hard and how quickly the brake pedal is pressed) and then automatically apply maximum braking immediately in order to help prevent a collision. The Model S doesn’t offer a brake assist feature.
The Leaf has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The Model S doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.
For better maneuverability, the Leaf S’ turning circle is 2.9 feet tighter than the Model S’ (34.1 feet vs. 37 feet). The Leaf SV/SL’s turning circle is 1.6 feet tighter than the Model S’ (35.4 feet vs. 37 feet).
The Nissan Leaf may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 1100 to 1550 pounds less than the Tesla Model S.
The Leaf is 1 foot, 9 inches shorter than the Model S, making the Leaf easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.
The Leaf is 7.6 inches narrower than the Model S, making the Leaf easier to handle and maneuver in traffic.
Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the Leaf is rated a Mid-size car by the EPA, while the Model S is rated a Small Station Wagon.
The Leaf has 2.4 inches more front headroom and 2 inches more rear headroom than the Model S.
To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the Leaf has a standard rear wiper. The Model S doesn’t offer a rear wiper.
The Leaf’s standard side window demisters help clear frost or condensation from the side windows in the winter. The Model S doesn’t even offer side window demisters, so the driver may have to wipe the windows from the outside to gain side vision.
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 Model S doesn’t offer extendable visors.