EV Review: 2018 Nissan LEAF

 In Electric Cars

Introduction

It’s been a long time coming for the Nissan LEAF. The old vehicle design was odd and off-putting to many car buyers. As well, the outgoing Nissan LEAF was lagging in technology, which is never a good thing for an electric car. Plus, the fully-charged range was nothing remotely close to today’s expectations. 

The 2018 Nissan LEAF is a complete redesign from the ground up. The styling is now contemporary and mainstream, and the interior incorporates the technology buyers in the electric car market expect. Impressively, the 2018 Nissan Leaf adds 40 percent more range than the 2017 model year, totaling 150 miles on a full charge.

However, is it enough to help the Nissan LEAF maintain its position as the best-selling electric car in the world? Since its initial release among sparse competition, the EV marketplace has grown by leaps and bounds. It competes with the likes of the 2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV and the 2018 Tesla Model 3. Other manufacturers such as Volkswagen and Volvo promise to flood the EV market with cars within the next few years. Will the 2018 Nissan LEAF be competitive for the upcoming generation of electric cars?

Exterior Styling

The old and outgoing Nissan LEAF looked like it was a futuristic design from an 80’s sci-fi film, and that certainly affected its clientele. But for the new 2018 Nissan LEAF, that all changes. The new design is fresh, clean, and modern. It reflects what customers want in a car today – a compact design, a spacious cabin with its tall back-swept roofline, and refined, expressive looks.

2018 Nissan LEAFThere are still hints of blue that indicate it’s an electric car, but it’s not gaudy. The four-door hatchback styling is popular among the demographic looking for this type of vehicle, although the choice of a sedan would also be welcome.

Fit and Finish Interior

Like the exterior, the Nissan LEAF’s interior was badly in need of a makeover. That’s exactly what it received for 2018. Gone are the hard plastics and ancient Versa-like designs. Nissan has brought a touch of class into the LEAF and added underlying details that brag about its EV underpinnings.

The seats have Vibrant blue stitching and the materials are notably higher quality than before. Glossy piano black trim adds to the allure of the new LEAF. It’s comfortable on all seating positions, front and rear, and the cargo space is versatile. It’s everything you expect in a new model.

There’s an impressive EV display in the fully-configurable instrument cluster, a 7-inch full-color touch display quarterbacks the infotainment system, complete with navigation and the vehicle’s state of charge. NissanConnect and energy-efficient heating and air conditioning systems are also key components in the 2018 Nissan LEAF’s interior.

What you don’t see is also important. The EV batteries are mounted under the floor, yet it doesn’t feel like it encroaches or changes the interior’s flow.  

Driving Experience

In as much as it’s a modern car with forward-thinking technology, the 2018 Nissan LEAF still leaves something to be desired where performance is concerned. The powertrain itself is sufficient; it’s a 147-horsepower, 236 lb.-ft. of torque electric motor that does really well when power is commanded. The regenerative braking system, called e-Pedal by Nissan, is remarkably efficient and easy to grasp. Nissan also offers ProPILOT Assist, making stop-and-go highway traffic easy to navigate.

The problem is in the driving experience itself. Like the old version of the LEAF, the 2018 Nissan LEAF feels dead and mushy. There is no real feedback in the steering system. The suspension is soft and body roll comes into play unexpectedly, even for an EV with a low center of gravity. It could be easily addressed with a Sport trim in future years.

While the 2018 LEAF has an estimated range of 150 miles, it falls short of the Chevy Bolt’s 238-mile range and Tesla Model 3’s 200-mile range. Nissan is already talking of an extended-range LEAF for 2019, obviously for a higher price.

 Features

MSRP $29,990 USD
Type BEV
Electric Range 150 miles / 243 km
Total Range 150 miles / 243 km
Time to Charge 8 hours (Level 2)
Electric Motor 109 kW
Battery Capacity 40 kWh
Top Speed 93 mph / 150 km/h
Warranty Unavailable

Conclusion

Undoubtedly, any of the Nissan LEAF’s competitors have their hands full trying to knock the LEAF off the EV throne. For its price, the 2018 Nissan LEAF is a nearly ideal model for the EV customer. That includes people who want an environmentally-conscious fleet vehicle, a fuel-conscious family car, or a unique commuter car that can serve double duty. And once the extended-range model is released, the Nissan LEAF may be unstoppable.  

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