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Top Features of Base Model
- New 2019 Leaf Plus model with 226 miles of range
- Current version looks far more “normal”
- Choice of ranges at different prices for different buyers
- World’s highest-volume electric car
Nissan Leaf: Everything You Need to Know
About the Nissan Leaf:
The Nissan Leaf is a battery-electric vehicle that’s currently the world’s highest-volume electric car. This year, Nissan finally added a model, the Leaf Plus, with more than 200 miles of range. The base Leaf offers 150 miles for less money, which may be enough for commuters and local travels.
Last year’s comprehensive restyle gave the five-door electric hatchback much more “normal” looks. Now it resembles other small Nissans, which is a good thing. For the moment, the Leaf is Nissan’s sole electric car sold in the U.S.—as it has been since 2011.
The Leaf isn’t as sexy or advanced technically as any Tesla. But it’s from an established carmaker with dealers all over the country, and it’s considerably less expensive to boot. It also doesn’t have Tesla’s network of fast-charging stations to enable long road trips. But for local and regional use, the Leaf is comfortable, quiet, practical, and affordable.
What’s New in the Current 2019 Nissan Leaf?
For 2019, the big news is the addition of a Leaf Plus model with a higher-capacity battery that finally gets the Leaf over 200 miles of EPA-rated range.
The two main Leaf versions are:
Leaf: Largely redesigned and updated in 2018, the Leaf has a 40-kilowatt-hour battery pack powering a 110-kilowatt (147-horsepower) electric motor that drives the front wheels. It gets an EPA range rating of 150 miles.
Leaf Plus: This new addition has an even bigger battery at 62 kilowatt-hours. That gives the base S model 226 miles of range, dropping to 215 miles for the better-equipped SV and SL versions. The power of the electric motor is higher too, at 160 kilowatts (214 horsepower).
What Does the 2019 Nissan Leaf Compete With?
The two versions of the Nissan Leaf compete with several small battery-electric vehicles of varying ranges:
- Chevrolet Bolt EV (238 miles)
- Hyundai Ioniq Electric (124 miles)
- Hyundai Kona Electric (258 miles)
- Kia Niro EV (239 miles)
- Tesla Model 3 (220 miles and up)
- Volkswagen e-Golf (125 miles)
Exterior Design of the 2019 Nissan Leaf
Today’s Nissan Leaf looks just like any compact car you might find in a Nissan showroom. That’s a huge contrast to the first generation model, which was widely reviled for being “just too weird.”
Today’s Leaf is a square, upright hatchback with a rising window line, an angled tailgate, and a so-called “floating roof” above a thick pillar. A textured blanking plate where the grille of a regular car would be serves as a door to cover the charge port.
Seeing it on the street, you’d never know the Leaf was electric. Base models have steel wheels, while high-end versions have LED headlights, larger alloy wheels, and a bit more chrome.
Interior Style in the 2019 Nissan Leaf
Inside, the Leaf has a relatively conventional interior. The only giveaway to its power source is the mushroom shaped drive selector on the console, plus a few center-display screens with information specific to electric cars.
The Leaf seats four comfortably, five in a pinch. Seating is pleasantly upright rather than crouched down as in some cars this size, though the battery under the floor eliminates footwells. That means riders’ feet sit a little higher. Front seats are comfortable and supportive, though a power driver’s seat only comes in higher trim levels.
Materials include a mix of soft-touch surfaces and hard plastics, perhaps a few too many for a car that can cross $40,000 in its most lavish versions. The cabin is both good-looking and functional, though. Cargo volume is a generous 23.6 cubic feet, growing to 30.0 cubic feet with the rear seat folded down.
What Technology Comes in the 2019 Nissan Leaf?
Like other electric cars, the Nissan Leaf’s main technology advances are in the powertrain itself. As a mass-priced entry, Nissan put the advances into the battery pack and electric motor and kept the rest of the current car fairly conventional.
All Leafs come with automatic climate control, keyless ignition, and basic cruise control. Nissan has carefully chosen three trim levels (S, SV, SL) to offer three quite different vehicles. The S is basic transportation at a basic price, with a 5.0-inch static screen and a four-speaker radio. On the more upscale SV and SL, a 7.0-inch central touchscreen—with standard Bluetooth, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay—does pretty much the same things as in any other lower-end car.
Optional or standard features (depending on trim level) include leather seats, an upgraded Bose audio system, a heat pump for more efficient cabin heating and cooling, and navigation. The SL includes all the bells and whistles, most as standard equipment. The active-safety systems remain mostly in optional groupings at extra cost.
Nissan provides a portable charging cord that accommodates both standard 120-volt wall current, and also 240-volt power where it’s available—making recharging while parked overnight twice as fast. That’s a rarity, and commendable.
What Kind of Safety Features are in the 2019 Nissan Leaf? The Leaf was the first car in Nissan’s range to receive ProPilot Assist. This pairs adaptive cruise control with lane centering so the car will steer itself (as long as the driver keeps hands on the wheel to resume control if needed).
Every Leaf has automatic emergency braking as standard. Options include active lane control, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot monitors, all of which seem worthwhile.
The current Nissan Leaf has not been rated for crash safety by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and only partially rated by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The IIHS gives it a top rating of “Good” for the three tests it performed but did not test the effectiveness of the optional automatic emergency braking.
What is the 2019 Nissan Leaf Like to drive?
Any electric car is calmer and smoother to drive than a similar gasoline car, and the Leaf is no exception. Once the driver uses the mushroom-shaped knob that puts the car in forward or reverse motion (or park), the power is smooth and continuous.
Electric cars generate maximum power from 0 miles per hour, so the Leaf will surge away from stoplights if you choose. On the highway, the regular Leaf loses a little power at the highest speeds, but it’s peppy to more than 60 mph. The new Leaf Plus has adequate power for passing at any legal speed.
Nissan’s blending of regenerative braking and friction brakes is seamless. And the e-Pedal mode increases the regenerative braking to the point that drivers can employ “one-pedal driving,” just lifting up on the accelerator to slow the car. It takes only a few minutes to learn, and many drivers says it’s a simpler, easier, and calmer way to drive than shifting between the brake and accelerator.
With the battery weight at the very bottom of the car, handling is confident and cornering is fairly flat. The steering can be a little numb, but this isn’t a sport sedan to begin with.
Should I Buy a Current 2019 Nissan Leaf?
If you’re looking for an electric car to use for commuting or around town, the standard Leaf should fit the bill. For longer regional commutes or road trips, the Leaf Plus is the better choice.
Neither offers the nationwide fast-charging network that lets Tesla owners drive cross-country, but that’s not the Leaf’s primary mission. Nor does it cost anywhere near what the average Tesla costs.
If you’re waiting for a mass-priced electric car that you can also drive cross-country, it may be a few more years. But the Leaf is a sensible way to go all-electric, especially if leased—so it can be swapped for a more advanced model three years hence.
Should I buy a Used 2019 Nissan Leaf? Are There Any I Should Avoid?
There are lots of varieties of used Leaf models on the market now. The main thing to consider for any version is how much battery capacity remains out of the 12 bars it started with.
More recent cars with bigger batteries and 11 or 12 bars remaining will cost more but go further. Earlier cars with smaller batteries that may have only eight bars are cheaper, but they now have less battery range than their original rating.
Some of the earliest models with the most depleted battery capacities could be down to 50 miles or so. They will be very cheap indeed.
How Much Does the New 2019 Nissan Leaf Cost?
A 2019 Nissan Leaf S starts at $29,990 including a mandatory destination fee. The Leaf S Plus with the larger battery and longer range starts at $36,550. A top end Leaf SL Plus starts at $42,550, meaning with every option selected you can get above $45,000.
These prices are right in line with competing electric cars, but buyers may also find incentives that cut those prices notably.
All Leafs qualify for a $7,500 federal income-tax credit and a $2,500 California purchase rebate, among a variety of state and local incentives.
Pros and Cons of the 2019 Nissan LEAF
- Leaf Plus model finally offers more than 200 miles
- Newest models offer latest active-safety features
- Variety of ranges and trim levels gives broad appeal
- Leaf is well-known and sold nationwide
- Air-cooled batteries lose range faster than other electric cars
- Leaf underpinnings now nine years old
- Nissan is sole U.S. maker to use CHAdeMO fast charging standard
- Fast charging isn’t that fast: 2 or 3 miles a minute, usually
The History of the Nissan Leaf: Nine years of Leaf
The Nissan Leaf was the world’s first modern high-volume electric car. Launched for 2011, the first two years of Leafs were built in Japan. For 2013, production moved to Tennessee, with a few minor updates.
The early cars had 24-kilowatt-hour packs from 2011 through 2015, for ranges of 74 to 84 miles. In 2016, an optional 30-kilowatt-hour pack boosted that to 107 miles. It became standard for 2017. All those versions of the first-generation leaf had the original, distinctive design with soft body curves and protruding “frog eyes” up front.
In 2018, the Leaf was comprehensively redesigned inside and out, and Nissan added various active-safety features. The current model with a 40-kilowatt-hour battery delivers 150 miles.
For 2019, the added Leaf Plus model took the capacity to 62 kilowatt-hours, for 226 or 215 miles of range, depending on trim.
Specs & Key Features of the 2019 Nissan LEAF
- Body Style
- 110kW AC Synchronous Motor
- 147 hp
- Single Speed Reducer
- Passenger Doors
- Passenger Seating
- Front Wheel Drive
- City MPG
- Hwy MPG
- Air Conditioning
- Back Up Camera
- CD Player
- Cruise Control
- LCD Monitor
- LED Lights
- Remote Keyless Entry
- Tinted Glass
- Engine: 110kW AC Synchronous Motor
- Transmission: Single Speed Reducer
- Front-Wheel Drive
- 8.19 Axle Ratio
- Battery w/Run Down Protection
- Gas-Pressurized Shock Absorbers
- Front And Rear Anti-Roll Bars
- Electric Power-Assist Speed-Sensing Steering
- Strut Front Suspension w/Coil Springs
- Torsion Beam Rear Suspension w/Coil Springs
- Regenerative 4-Wheel Disc Brakes w/4-Wheel ABS, Front And Rear Vented Discs, Brake Assist and Hill Hold Control
- Brake Actuated Limited Slip Differential
- Lithium Ion Traction Battery w/6.6 kW Onboard Charger, 35 Hrs Charge Time @ 110/120V and 8 Hrs Charge Time @ 220/240V
- Wheels: 16" Steel w/Covers
- Tires: 205/55R16 AS
- Spare Tire Mobility Kit
- Clearcoat Paint
- Body-Colored Front Bumper w/Chrome Bumper Insert
- Body-Colored Rear Bumper
- Black Side Windows Trim and Black Front Windshield Trim
- Chrome Door Handles
- Body-Colored Power Side Mirrors w/Manual Folding
- Fixed Rear Window w/Fixed Interval Wiper and Defroster
- Light Tinted Glass
- Variable Intermittent Wipers
- Fully Galvanized Steel Panels
- Lip Spoiler
- Liftgate Rear Cargo Access
- Tailgate/Rear Door Lock Included w/Power Door Locks
- Fully Automatic Aero-Composite Halogen Headlamps w/Delay-Off
- LED Brakelights
- Radio: 4 Speaker Audio w/5" Color Display -inc: USB connection port for iPod interface and other compatible devices, Bluetooth hands-free phone system, streaming audio via Bluetooth, SiriusXM satellite radio and hands-free text messaging assistant
- Radio w/Seek-Scan, In-Dash Mounted Single CD, MP3 Player, Clock, Speed Compensated Volume Control, Aux Audio Input Jack, Steering Wheel Controls and Radio Data System
- Integrated Roof Antenna
- 2 LCD Monitors In The Front
- Front Bucket Seats -inc: 6-way manual driver and 4-way manual front passenger seats
- Driver Seat
- Passenger Seat
- 60-40 Folding Bench Front Facing Fold Forward Seatback Rear Seat
- Manual Tilt Steering Column
- Gauges -inc: Speedometer, Odometer, Traction Battery Level, Power/Regen, Traction Battery Temperature, Trip Odometer and Trip Computer
- Power Rear Windows
- Front Cupholder
- Rear Cupholder
- Proximity Key For Doors And Push Button Start
- Remote Keyless Entry w/Integrated Key Transmitter, Illuminated Entry, Illuminated Ignition Switch and Panic Button
- Remote Releases -Inc: Keyfob Charge Port Door
- Cruise Control w/Steering Wheel Controls
- Automatic Air Conditioning
- Glove Box
- Driver Foot Rest
- Interior Trim -inc: Metal-Look Instrument Panel Insert, Metal-Look Console Insert and Chrome/Metal-Look Interior Accents
- Full Cloth Headliner
- Cloth Door Trim Insert
- Metal-Look Gear Shift Knob
- Cloth Seat Trim
- Day-Night Rearview Mirror
- Driver And Passenger Visor Vanity Mirrors w/Driver And Passenger Auxiliary Mirror
- Full Floor Console w/Covered Storage, Mini Overhead Console w/Storage and 1 12V DC Power Outlet
- Front Map Lights
- Fade-To-Off Interior Lighting
- Full Carpet Floor Covering
- Carpet Floor Trim
- Cargo Features -inc: Spare Tire Mobility Kit
- Cargo Space Lights
- Driver And Passenger Door Bins
- Power 1st Row Windows w/Driver 1-Touch Up/Down
- Delayed Accessory Power
- Power Door Locks w/Autolock Feature
- Trip Computer
- Outside Temp Gauge
- Digital/Analog Display
- Seats w/Cloth Back Material
- Manual Adjustable Front Head Restraints and Manual Adjustable Rear Head Restraints
- Front Center Armrest
- Perimeter Alarm
- Engine Immobilizer
- 1 12V DC Power Outlet
- Air Filtration
- Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
- ABS And Driveline Traction Control
- Side Impact Beams
- Dual Stage Driver And Passenger Seat-Mounted Side Airbags
- Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB)
- Low Tire Pressure Warning
- Dual Stage Driver And Passenger Front Airbags
- Curtain 1st And 2nd Row Airbags
- Airbag Occupancy Sensor
- Rear Child Safety Locks
- Outboard Front Lap And Shoulder Safety Belts -inc: Rear Center 3 Point, Height Adjusters and Pretensioners
- RearView Monitor Back-Up Camera