Perfect for short, eco-friendly commutes.
Although sales haven’t lived up to Nissan’s optimistic goals, the Leaf is proving that many drivers can live with an EV on a day-to-day basis. The Leaf can perform like a normal car, exhibiting relatively brisk acceleration from its instantly available 207 lb-ft of torque. The EPA rates the Leaf’s driving range at 73 miles per charge, which proved accurate in a two-month test we conducted, but highway runs or excessive use of the climate-control system sapped the charge rapidly. Fully charging the battery takes twenty-one hours on a household 120-volt outlet or seven hours with a dedicated 240-volt charger. The short driving range and long charge times can give drivers “range anxiety” — the fear of being stranded with a dead battery. The lack of engine noise makes the Leaf extremely quiet, so much so that it has a sound generator to alert pedestrians to the car’s presence at low speeds. With seating for five and generous headroom, the Leaf is fairly roomy inside. Its hatchback design provides a decent amount of cargo space, and the rear seats fold to accommodate larger loads. The Leaf abounds with technology. LED headlights, push-button start, Bluetooth connectivity, and touch-screen navigation are all standard. If you can get over the fear of running out of juice, the Leaf is an outstanding car for short urban commutes.
new for 2013
Nissan has yet to announce any changes for the 2013 Leaf.
Front, side, and side curtain air bags are standard, as are stability and traction control, ABS with brake assist, and a tire-pressure monitoring system.
Nearly silent driving experience
First usable all-electric
Quick, smooth acceleration
Limited driving range
Long charging time
Long waiting list
Base Price Range: $36,000–$38,000 (est.)
TRIM LEVELS: SV, SL
BODY STYLE: Hatchback, 5-passenger
MOTOR: AC, 107 hp, 207 lb-ft; lithium-ion battery, 24 kWh
TRANSMISSION: 1-speed direct drive
PASSENGER VOLUME: 90.0 cu ft
CARGO SPACE: (rear seats up/down) 14.5/24.0 cu ft