Not much has changed externally for the 2016 Nissan Leaf -- the Leaf is now entering its fifth year of production -- but the automaker announced September 10 that the electric car will be getting a new, larger battery option and a step up to what it claims is best-in-class range.
The new 30-kWh battery pack will be standard equipment on the upper-tier SV and SL trim levels and will bump the estimated cruising range to 107 miles between charges. Nissan's release makes no mention of new technology at work here, so it appears that this is just a 27-percent bigger version of the same advanced lithium ion battery as before. Nissan says that the bigger battery pushes the 2016 Leaf to the top of its class for EV range, edging out the 93-mile Kia Soul EV for the win. Though, if Chevrolet makes good on its claimed 200-mile range for the upcoming Bolt EV, Nissan may not hold the crown for long.
The Leaf's base S trim level will retain the current 24-kWh pack and 84-mile range, which is in line with the class average of around 80 miles. (That class includes other EV hatchbacks such as the Ford Focus Electric , Volkswagen e-Golf , Chevrolet Spark EV and Honda Fit EV .)
Beyond the battery, the 2016 Leaf's electric power train remains unchanged. Electric power is converted to 187 pound-feet of physical torque by an 80-kw (107-horsepower) AC synchronous motor and that torque reaches the ground at the front wheels via a single-speed transmission.
In the cabin, the latest Leaf sees a minor tech upgrade that makes the NissanConnect infotainment system and its mobile apps suite standard across all trim levels. Drivers will interact with the system via a 5-inch touch display in the base S model or a larger 7-inch screen in the SV and SL models. The upper trim levels also continue to offer Nissan's connected navigation system, with its database of charging stations, and the NissanConnect EV service, which allows drivers to remotely monitor and control their Leaf's charging state and other vehicle systems via an app or Web portal.
The new Leaf will also be available in three new exterior colors: Forged Bronze, Coulis Red and Deep Blue Pearl.
The 2016 Nissan Leaf S will start at $29,010 before a $7,500 federal tax incentive, but the connected features and cruising range improvements now make the upper trim levels so much more compelling than this base model. The SV model starts at $34,200 before the federal tax credit and the top-trim SL model with its leather interior, 30-minute Quick Charge port and LED headlamps steps up to $36,790 with the same available tax incentive.