EV Review: 2018 Nissan LEAF

 In Electric Cars

Introduction

If it’s any indication, the 2018 Nissan LEAF earned the title of 2018 World Green Car of the Year at the New York International Auto Show. That obviously says something about the totally redesigned Nissan LEAF.

The Nissan LEAF has been around since the 2011 model year as a fully electric car. As one of the few EVs in the market at that time, it quickly became the best-selling EV in the world.  The design was very indicative of an electric car – ultra-modern, bulbous, and devoid of a grille opening. The charging port was also located right in the front.

2018 Nissan LEAF on highwayBut the 2018 Nissan LEAF corrects much of the issues the previous generation had. It boasts a longer range, much-improved looks, and has a more powerful electric motor as well.

There’s more competition in the electric vehicle market today than there was in 2011. The Tesla Model 3 has become the top-selling EV in North America, and other models such as the Chevy Bolt EV have range of up to 238 miles. With the competition heating up, the 2018 Nissan LEAF will need to be very special to stay at the front of the pack.

Exterior styling

Talk about a very refreshing redesign! If the first-generation Nissan LEAF was an ugly duckling, the 2018 LEAF is well on its way to being a ‘swan’. It sheds the distorted, bulgy liftgate for a traditional fifth door. The oddly long swept-back headlights are replaced by contemporary – but not outlandish – headlights that continue the grill line.

Speaking of the grille, there’s a fantastic metamorphosis up front too. The front-and-center charging port has been moved up higher on the car to the low center hood area. It frees up the front end for a familiar front grille, even if it isn’t active for cooling.

Another great thing about its appearance is the color palette. There’s an optional two-tone scheme that will be popular on the LEAF, and there are just blue accents on the exterior to indicate it’s an electric car. Overall, it’s quite an attractive design.

Fit and finish interior

There are three grades of 2018 Nissan LEAF available: S, SV, and SL.

  • The LEAF S has a great base level for features and technology. It includes automatic temperature control, a 7-inch in-cluster display screen, Bluetooth, and Nissan Intelligent Key with Push Button Start. Cloth seating with optional heated seats and a heated steering wheel is the standard on the S. Its audio system is a rudimentary 4-speaker system.
  • The SV trim ratchets it up a notch. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa integration are included, as are Intelligent Cruise Control, Nissan Navigation, NissanConnect EV, and a six-speaker audio system.
  • The SL trim goes further, adding leather heated seats and a heated steering wheel, Intelligent AroundView Monitor, Bose Energy Efficient Series Premium Audio with seven speakers, and other bits and pieces.

 For both the SV and SL trims, a Technology Package adds ProPILOT Assist, High Beam Assist, Intelligent Lane Intervention, and other driver-assistive features.

The 2018 Nissan LEAF’s interior is a mild surprise compared to other models. It feels like a higher-priced car than it is, and it’s very comfortable. Seats are firm yet cozy, interior trim feels a little plasticky, but it’s forgivable considering the intense amount of tech for the price.

Driving Experience

We already know that electric motors have high torque from 0 RPMs and up, but the 2018 Nissan LEAF reminds you of this fact. It accelerates extremely well from a stop, achieving a 0-to-60 time of around 8 seconds. The Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3 will be a couple seconds faster, but you aren’t buying an electric car for its ability to win races.

On the drive, there are a few things that will leave you open-mouthed. First, if you have a 2018 LEAF with ProPILOT Assist, you’re going to be awestruck. ProPILOT Assist acts as Adaptive Cruise Control but also adds a self-steering aspect to keep you in your lane. It’s very cool but may not be the reason itself to buy a LEAF. Secondly, the ePedal system is quite remarkable. You can use a single pedal for acceleration and deceleration, much like a golf cart, but in a different class altogether. It works in tandem with regenerative braking, recovering as much power as possible to achieve long-distance driving.

The 2018 Nissan LEAF has a range of 151 miles. On paper, that falls way short of the Bolt and Model 3 that it competes with. But in real life, there aren’t many times you’ll be driving more than 150 miles in a single day, let alone a single stretch. An extended-range battery is coming for the 2019 model year to address this, but it’s not here yet. The LEAF’s sales may suffer a little on this alone.

Features

MSRP $29,900 USD
Type BEV
Electric Range 151 miles / 244 km
Total Range 151 miles / 244 km
Time to Charge 7.5 hours (Level 2)
Electric Motor 110 kW
Battery Capacity 40 kWh
Top Speed 89 mph / 144 km/h
Warranty 3 years/36,000 miles or 60,000 km

Conclusion

If you’re a previous EV owner, the 2018 Nissan LEAF is a perfect upgrade. For first-time EV owners, it’s also a good option, especially with all the EV incentives currently in play. What will present the biggest challenge for the 2018 LEAF is its range.

The 2018 Nissan LEAF would be a very welcome addition as a family car or for an everyday commuter. You’ll also see it speckled into company fleets as a way to save on fuel costs.

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