By Cars.com EditorsMay 4, 2011
About the video
Cars.com's Joe Wiesenfelder takes a look at the 2011 Nissan Leaf. The Leaf has been added to Cars.com's long-term green-car test fleet.
<v man>Cars.com Auto Reviews. Hi, I'm Joe Wiesenfelder with cars.com. This is the cars.com Nissan Leaf. It's a battery electric vehicle. You charge it up. You drive as far as you can on battery power. There's a lot to talk about with this thing.
We bought it for longterm review. Go to cars.com green for information on range, charging, stuff like that. For now, for our purposes today we'll talk about the things you see, hear and feel. In terms of what you see like most efficient cars, the Leaf is a little bit dorky looking and the most defining characteristic is the bulging headlight clusters. The purpose of which is to be unsightly. Actually, that's just the bonus. The real purpose is to deflect the airflow around the side mirrors which is supposed to be good for aerodynamics and keeping wind noise down. Now onto what you see. Fortunately, you see a lot in the Leaf and we say that partly because you don't see quite as much in the Chevy Volt. High roof, a lot of glass. Unfortunately, the pillars are kinda out in front of you and a little bit thick. That's common for aerodynamic cars again. Now one of the best aspect is the view to the rear. In an efficient car, say a Chevy Volt or a Prius, usually you get that split window thing which no one really likes even if you get used to it. Here, you have a conventional lift gate and a pretty big rear window. You really appreciate it if you're accustomed to the other approach. Now what you feel in this car is one of the big surprises. You feel excellent. Off the line acceleration at top speed of about 90 miles per hour. If you think an efficient car has to be pokey, it is not. The handling also quite good, quite fun, ride quality, comfortable. It's really kind of remarkable. In terms of what you hear, generally speaking, that's pretty good too. Not a lot of road noise at high highway speeds. You do get some wind noise even with the funky headlights. The real drawback is the amount of noise that comes in through the windows and doors. If you have a truck next to you or cars passing, you hear that. It's actually quite intrusive. Here's something else you hear. When you start the car, give it a second. (calm rhythm plays) From the land of enchantment. The rear end also quite distinctive. And when you lift the lift gate, you find a pretty respectable cargo area. It's deep. Goes forward pretty far then you run into this bulkhead. And when the seats are folded, they're pretty high too. It cuts down on your vertical space but it is still good to have the versatility of a hatchback. And when it's closed, the cargo cover puts all your valuables out of sight. We've had the Leaf for a few weeks. Our impressions are quite positive. We all enjoy driving it. It's cold here in Chicago or at least it has been. Even though we don't have a winter package which isn't available yet, it's performed quite well. Again, there are a range of issues, charging, cost of ownership. We're addressing all those at cars.com green. Go check it out and we'll have some more things to show you on video as well. <v man>For more car related news, go to cars.com or our blog kickingtires.net.
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