The Nissan LEAF is the first all-electric vehicle to be built on a large scale by a major automaker. Unlike the Chevrolet Volt or Toyota Prius, the LEAF runs on electric power only, with four doors and room for five. Three trim levels are available: the S, the SV and up-market SL.
Motivation for each comes in the form of a 107-horsepower 80kW AC electric motor powered by a lithium-ion battery pack. Nissan claims this combination allows for an 84-mile range between charges on the S and an impressive 107-mile range on the SV and SL. Recharging can be done via either a 110-volt or 220-volt household outlet. At 110 volts, a complete recharge takes around 20 hours, while a 220-volt outlet achieves a full battery in just 8 hours. The LEAF comes only with a single-speed transmission that is said to function transparently-- much like a conventional automatic.
A total of 48 battery packs are located centrally in the chassis, which helps provide a good balance and decent handling. Torque from the electric motor is always instantly available, so the LEAF is no slouch; Nissan compares its performance to that of a similar car fitted with a 2.5L gasoline engine. City streets with stop-and-go driving are where the LEAF is most at home, although it's capable of 90 mph -- albeit at a significantly decreased range. Braking is achieved via standard 4-wheel power-assisted discs, which are also regenerative, providing power back into the system.
On the outside, the LEAF features unique styling and "Zero Emissions" markings, as well as special aerodynamic underbody panels and diffusers to help reduce parasitic drag. Inside, the LEAF features a 6-way adjustable driver's seat and a 4-way passenger's seat, both of which are adjusted manually. In keeping with the LEAF's green cred, the seats are made of partially recycled fabric.
Safety features include those that might be expected on any small car on the market today. Anti-lock brakes, traction control and an anti-skid system are all part of the package, as well as dual-stage front side airbags and curtain side airbags.
The LEAF S is the most basic trim level but still comes with electric windows and door locks, a push-button start with Intelligent Key, automatic temperature control, RearView Monitor and a 3.6kW onboard charger.
Both the SV and SL come with navigation. The SL features a Bluetooth hands-free phone system, cruise control with steering wheel-mounted controls and a 6.6kW onboard charger. SL models add fog lights, a roof-mounted solar panel to charge batteries that run accessory items, automatic headlights and an available "quick charge" port that can bring the batteries to 80% charge in just 30 minutes. Nissan's CARWINGS system allows remote connection into the LEAF's computer via cell phone, which can monitor charging status, start a charge and even activate heating and air conditioning systems to prepare for an upcoming drive.
A Premium Package is available on SV and SL models. It includes Nissan's Around View Monitor system and a 7-speaker Bose stereo.
2018 Nissan Leaf long-term update: One pedal (near) perfection
We're four months and over 4,000 miles into our long-term affair with a 2018 Nissan Leaf, and while our initial drive out of New York City had us feeling a fair bit of weather-induced range anxiety, since then it's been pretty smooth sailing for our EV.
If you haven't been following along, for the 2018 model year the Leaf received a thorough redesign, finally ditching its familiar and frumpy exterior and getting just enough of an interior upgrade to keep it relevant. More importantly, though, the range got a significant boost, up to an EPA-rated 161 miles.
One of the more interesting changes for 2018, though, was the introduction of a feature the company calls E-Pedal. And after a few months of driving, I'm convinced this is how all EVs should drive.
The affected pump can leak brake fluid onto a circuit board and cause a fire.
Nissan teams up with the European Space Agency to create a mobile astronomy lab in search of dark skies.
The automaker and the European Space Agency team up to create a cool mobile observatory with an ultra-powerful telescope.
With the public's seemingly insatiable hunger for SUV's, the compact car's days are numbered.
The Juke, Sentra, Versa and others are included in the recall of 2017-2018 vehicles.
A new car for under $13,000? What year is it?
We're well and truly in the groove with our long-term Leaf, getting the hang of one-pedal driving and discovering that this thing has cargo space for days.
Its plant in Smyrna, Tennessee has been producing Nissans in the US for 35 years.