Nissan Leaf: Second Generation Raises the Bar

This hatchback could change your mind about electric cars

Nissan Leaf

Model years: 2018-2019

Vehicle layout: Compact 4-door hatchback, 147-hp electric motor, single-speed transmission, FWD

MSRP: $29,990 (base); $36,851 (well-equipped)

MPGe, city/hwy/combined: 125/110/112 

Crash-test ratings: NHTSA, IIHS: not yet rated

Basic warranty: 36 months/36,000 miles

Spare tire: Tire-inflator kit

Final assembly: United States

Range: 151 miles

nissan leaf 5050

The Nissan Leaf, introduced as a 2011 model, became the world’s best-selling EV, and—spoiler alert—the new, second-generation Leaf, introduced for 2018, is better in every way than the original. For starters, the Leaf now looks mainstream—even handsome—inside and out. The interior is spacious, with a cleanly designed, easy-to-read instrument panel and a number of thoughtful touches, such as the window-switch panel on the driver’s door that’s angled toward the driver for easier use. 

The new Leaf drives a lot better, too. The steering is nicely weighted, and acceleration is authoritative, if not blazingly fast. The Leaf is especially quiet in city driving and only slightly noisier on the highway. The seats are comfortable and supportive, and the ride is smooth, albeit on the firm side. 

Perhaps the Leaf’s coolest feature is e-Pedal, a great aid in stop-and-go traffic; when engaged, it enables drivers (via regenerative braking) to use the accelerator pedal to accelerate and brake, just by lifting their foot (it’s easier to use than it is to explain). Anything not to like? Backseat legroom is a little tight, and there’s not much cargo space.

Last but not least, the Leaf’s range is 151 miles. That’s not as much as the higher-priced Chevy Bolt or Tesla Model 3 (both 200-plus miles), but it’s higher than that of any other EV priced under $40,000. And for 2019, Nissan intends to produce a Leaf with a range of 200-plus miles.

Photos courtesy of Nissan

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