The
Nissan Leaf
may not be the EV that is all the time within the information, however these little
hatchbacks
are all over the place. With out hype, drama or a charismatic billionaire constantly drawing consideration to it, the Leaf has quietly persevered as a stable, reasonably priced EV alternative, crossing the 300,000-unit gross sales mark (globally) earlier this yr. It’s arguably the king of reasonably priced
electrical automobiles
.

For the 2018 mannequin yr, the Leaf will get the primary full redesign since its 2010 launch. The brand new mannequin nonetheless has a superb steadiness of vary and value however steps its recreation up the place it counts. You now get much more vary, a a lot much less frog-like exterior design and considerably higher security tech to bear on a brand new era of opponents.

Electrical efficiency

The brand new Leaf is powered by a 110-kilowatt electrical motor that sends 147 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque to the entrance wheels through a single-speed discount gear transmission. I’ve grown to like the graceful, instantaneous manner that EVs generate torque and ship acceleration, and the Leaf is not any exception. Zero-to-60 blows by in a good 7.5-ish seconds, not dangerous in any respect for an eco-car.

The motor’s conduct and output might be personalized through drive modes (regular or Eco), transmission settings (D or B) or the e-pedal toggle. No matter mode I selected — even the Eco mode — the Leaf feels peppy with remarkably responsive acceleration.

Underpinning the EV is a strut entrance suspension and a torsion beam on the rear. The Leaf will not win any dealing with contests, however it feels nimble sufficient round city. The heavy battery pack hidden beneath the ground retains the mass good and low, making the automobile really feel planted round corners and secure on the freeway. The trade-off, in fact, is that the Leaf is a really heavy little hatchback, which you discover when driving dynamically. Steering and trip emphasize consolation over “really feel,” which is OK given the modest efficiency targets.

Battery pack, charging, vary

Some of the essential numbers on any EV’s spec sheet is vary, and the Leaf makes a stable displaying at 151 miles per cost. That will not appear to be so much in a world the place a Bolt or Mannequin three can roll for over 220 miles, however the Leaf strikes a pleasant steadiness between value and vary that is within the candy spot for a lot of city e-motorists. 151 miles is sufficient vary for a commute of respectable size with a bit additional for errands and emergencies earlier than recharging.

Some of the delicate elements of the Leaf’s redesign is the location of the charging ports. The charging door higher integrates into the hood and entrance bumper’s traces and the ports behind it are actually angled upward for simpler entry with out you having to bend over. It is small issues like this that make an enormous distinction.

Most
2018 Nissan Leaf
fashions supply two methods to cost their 40-kWh lithium-ion battery packs: SAE or ChaDeMo. An SAE J1772 charging port is commonplace with a 6.6-kW onboard charger. At a 240-volt charging station, this connection can juice a useless battery in about eight hours.

An non-obligatory 240-volt transportable charging cable is accessible and undoubtedly value contemplating. With the beefier cable, the Leaf can plug straight right into a 240-volt wall outlet, giving a full-speed cost wherever you possibly can plug in a dryer. This additionally means you do not essentially have to purchase and set up a devoted EV charging wall field if in case you have a free 240-socket in your storage.

SL and SV fashions add the ChaDeMo DC fast charging port. Connecting the Leaf to a appropriate public charger permits a high-voltage fast cost to 90 miles of vary in 30 minutes. In case your native DC charger does not kick you off at 30 minutes like many do, you possibly can push the quick cost to 120 miles (an 80-percent cost) in 40 minutes earlier than the charging slows manner down to guard the battery.

The e-pedal

New to the Leaf is the e-pedal, one-foot driving mode — one thing different EVs already use, however with totally different names. When activated, the e-pedal mode engages sturdy regenerative braking when the motive force lifts their foot from the accelerator, slowing the automobile immediately. With observe, this driving mode permits for very easy acceleration and deceleration whereas boosting cruising vary through regeneration.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Nissan’s
system prompts the brake lights when slowing dramatically and might interact the hydraulic friction brakes when the automobile is stopped to carry the Leaf in place at a cease signal or site visitors mild. The truth is, it is very doable to drive the automobile for days with out ever touching the brake pedal — other than if you flip the automobile on.

Nonetheless, the e-pedal takes a variety of getting used to. The quantity of deceleration tends to fluctuate relying on the battery’s cost stage. A totally charged battery cannot use power gathered from a robust regen, so the automobile slows much less dramatically. Because the battery stage drops, the quantity of regen turns into extra pronounced. This may make getting a really feel for the e-pedal difficult over the primary few journeys, however it’s simple to get used to and I realized to get pleasure from it after only a single weekend of operating errands.

NissanConnect cabin tech

The Leaf’s cabin is pretty plain. It does not really feel low cost or poorly made, however the Leaf’s financial system automobile roots are most clear within the boring dashboard supplies and useful, however uninspired cockpit design. Contemplating the beginning value, I am all proper with this.

One of the best tech choices come on-line on the SV or SL trim stage. Right here, the Leaf steps as much as a 7-inch NissanConnect touchscreen infotainment setup. Whereas this technique ticks a variety of the proper function containers and positively will get the job accomplished, it is nonetheless removed from finest in its class.

There are some very helpful linked features accessible that enable drivers to remotely monitor their Leaf, schedule charging instances and extra through smartphone, smartwatch and even Amazon Alexa. Nonetheless, the dashboard software program itself is pretty simplistic with dim, low-resolution graphics.

Onboard navigation is respectable, however not noteworthy. It does function a search perform for close by charging stations with restricted availability and pricing knowledge for some networks and areas. Nonetheless, I discover that smartphone apps often outperform the onboard system, displaying extra station areas and extra correct, up-to-the-minute charger availability info. I used a mix of Chargepoint or EVgo — Nissan’s app of alternative — throughout my testing.

Android Auto
and
Apple
Carplay are commonplace with the 7-inch system and make up for the simplistic OEM software program, bringing higher navigation, added audio apps and extra to the dashboard with a single USB connection.

Out there ProPilot Help

All Leaf fashions function a normal rear digital camera and computerized emergency braking. An non-obligatory improve can add pedestrian detection to the auto-brake system. The mid-tier SV trim stage provides adaptive cruise management that works throughout the total velocity vary and in stop-and-go site visitors. The highest SL mannequin provides blind-spot monitoring and a 360-degree encompass view digital camera to the function set.

Non-obligatory ProPilot Help, accessible to SV and SL fashions, is certainly value contemplating. ProPilot combines adaptive cruise management with superior lane-keeping steering help and driver alertness monitoring. When the system is lively, the Leaf will use energy steering help to actively maintain it centered in its lane on the freeway. ProPilot is a “single-lane, hands-on system” in Nissan’s phrases, that means it is not “autonomous” tech. It could possibly’t change lanes for you and requires the motive force’s fingers on the wheel always to function.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

I examined what occurs if you go hands-off with ProPilot when lately evaluating the system in Nissan’s Rogue. After a second, it’s going to ask you to place your fingers again on the wheel — first gently with a chime after which firmly by pulsing the brakes. Hold ignoring it and the ProPilot will try to securely convey the automobile to a cease, slowing in its lane and activating the hazard lights. I discover this preferable and far safer than the straightforward “shut off” that some competing lane-keeping methods use, because it does not ship incapacitated drivers careening off the highway.

The tech package deal that provides ProPilot additionally brings computerized excessive beams to the security dance. Given the Leaf’s city mission, this is not probably the most important system, however it’s a superb get contemplating many drivers do not correctly use their excessive beams, if even in any respect.

How I would spec it

The 2018 Nissan Leaf is accessible in three trims: The $30,875 S (together with $885 vacation spot cost) is the entry level and probably the most reasonably priced. The $37,735 SL with Tech package deal comes fully-loaded with all the bells and whistles.

The candy spot is the SV mannequin. For $33,375, you get a lot of the essential stuff: DC fast charging, NissanConnect with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and adaptive cruise. Add the $2,200 SV Tech package deal to spherical out the function set with ProPilot Help, the upgraded 240-volt house charging cable and pedestrian detection. As I would spec it, you are taking a look at a beneficial $35,575 for the SV with Tech package deal earlier than EV incentives or rebates.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

That is within the ballpark with Hyundai’s 120-mile Ioniq Electrical Restricted ($36,885), which I additionally like. The Leaf can also be so much cheaper than a comparably-equipped
Chevy
Bolt ($43,905) or Tesla Mannequin three ($55,000), although these two stand a category above the Leaf with regards to vary, efficiency and tech. (A rumored extra highly effective, and dearer, Leaf “E-Plus” with over 225-miles is predicted in 2019, and which may be value maintaining a tally of.)

As is, the common-or-garden Leaf provides simply sufficient of every little thing — a cushty quantity of vary, acceptably good cabin tech and an excellent security suite — with out breaking the financial institution and with out all of the hype. In search of an reasonably priced, good, no-nonsense electrical automobile? Hail to the king.

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