Competes with: Chevrolet Bolt EV, Hyundai Ioniq Electric, Tesla Model 3
Looks like: New EVs have spurred one of the earliest mainstream electric cars to up its game
Drivetrain: 147-horsepower electric motor and 40-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack; front-wheel drive
Hits dealerships: Early 2018
Starting price: $30,875, including $885 destination charge
The Nissan Leaf was one of the first mainstream electric cars when it debuted for the 2011 model year, but new fully electric and plug-in hybrid competitors have joined the market since then, some with driving ranges much greater than the 2017 Leaf’s 107-mile estimated range.
Nissan looks to close some of the range gap with the redesigned 2018 Leaf, which can travel an estimated 150 miles on a single charge. A more powerful (and more expensive) longer-range version of the new Leaf is slated to arrive as a 2019 model following the 2018 Leaf’s launch early next year.
The 2018 Leaf is also more powerful, gets new styling and offers new self-driving features. It’ll have a starting price of $30,875, including an $885 destination charge, when it hits dealerships. Nissan revealed details of the second-generation 2018 Leaf at an event Tuesday in Las Vegas.
Nissan says the 2018 Leaf’s exterior design draws inspiration from the brand’s IDS Concept car from a few years ago. Familiar Nissan design cues include a plunging V-Motion grille flanked by boomerang-shaped daytime running lights and pillars designed to give the roof a floating appearance. Sixteen-inch steel wheels are standard, and 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels are available.
The Leaf has room for up to five people, and Nissan says passenger space is roughly the same as the outgoing Leaf. There’s blue stitching on the seats, doors, armrest and steering wheel, and the illuminated starter button is blue, too.
The instrument panel features an analog speedometer and a 7-inch configurable color screen. There’s also a center screen that shows vehicle and entertainment information, and navigation-equipped models include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity. Meanwhile, the NissanConnect system lets you search for available charging stations.
Under the Hood
The 2018 Leaf’s electric motor makes 147 horsepower and 236 pounds-feet of torque, which is 38 percent more horsepower and 26 percent more torque than the previous Leaf’s motor. As in other electric cars, the torque from the Leaf’s motor is available from zero rpm, improving acceleration.
The 2018 Leaf’s 40-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack is the same physical size as the prior Leaf’s 30-kwh battery, and it’s located in the middle of the car for improved directional stability. The Leaf should be able to drive around 150 miles on a full charge, according to Nissan, and a depleted battery will take 16 or eight hours to recharge on 240-volt service at 3 or 6 kilowatts, respectively. As with the prior Leaf, you can manage charging and precondition the cabin with a smartphone app.
The 2018 Leaf offers ProPilot Assist, a self-driving system that can manage the following distance from traffic directly ahead all the way down to a complete stop. The system can also help steer the car and keep it in the middle of the lane. The driver is expected to remain attentive when ProPilot Assist is active.
Available active safety features include automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, blind spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert. A 360-degree camera system is also available.