The Nissan Leaf looks and drives pretty much like any other small hatchback, but it has a secret--it is an electric car. The electric drivetrain doesn't prevent the Leaf from performing like a normal car. Acceleration feels brisk thanks to the electric motor's instantly available 207 lb-ft of torque. The EPA rates the Leaf's driving range at 73 miles per charge, which proved accurate in a two-month test we conducted. However, high-speed highway runs or excessive use of the climate control system can sap the battery's charge rapidly. Fully charging the battery takes twenty-one hours on a household 120-volt outlet or seven hours with a dedicated 240-volt charger. The short driving range and long charge times can give drivers what is known as "range anxiety"--the fear of being stranded with a dead battery--but for many people, the Leaf is suited to use as a daily commuter. The lack of engine noise makes the Leaf extremely quiet--so much so that there's a special sound generator to alert pedestrians to the car's presence at low speeds. With seating for five and generous headroom, the Leaf is fairly roomy inside. Its hatchback design provides a decent amount of cargo space, and the rear seats fold to accommodate larger loads. As befits the world's first mass-market all-electric car, the Leaf abounds with technology: LED headlights, push-button start, Bluetooth connectivity, and touch-screen navigation are all standard. If you drive short distances and can get over the fear of running out of juice, the Leaf is an outstanding car for urban commuting.
Trim levels: SV, SL
Body style: Hatchback, 5-passenger
Motor: AC motor, 107 hp, 207 lb-ft; lithium-ion battery, 24 kWh
Passenger volume: 90.0 cu ft
Cargo space: (rear seats up/down) 14.5/24.0 cu ft
A battery heater, heated mirrors, heated front and rear seats, and a heated steering wheel become standard equipment on all Leaf models. The SL gains a standard quick-charge connector, which can charge the Leaf's battery to 80-percent capacity in about 30 minutes using a DC fast charger.
Front, side, and side curtain air bags are standard, as are stability control, traction control, ABS with brake assist, and a tire-pressure monitoring system.
EPA Fuel Economy
- Near-silent driving experience
- The first usable all-electric
- Quick, smooth acceleration
You Won't Like
- Limited driving range
- Long charging time
- Long waiting list
The best all-electric car you can buy.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Chevrolet Volt
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