2023 Nissan LEAF Review: This Little EV Has Everything You Need

2023 Nissan LEAF Review:

  • 2023 Nissan LEAF: ($28,040 – $36,040)
  • Pros: The Nissan LEAF is affordable, spacious, and provides plenty of tech features for the price.
  • Cons: Its range and power are not very competitive with the rest of the EV field

The Nissan LEAF is the EV that we recommend to anyone that’s not interested in a Tesla. And while there are plenty of other EVs to choose from, like the Chevrolet Bolt, Hyundai Kona EV, and Kia Niro EV, the Nissan LEAF has always had a special place in our minds. Maybe it’s because it was a pioneer in the electrified vehicle space when it debuted in 2010. Or maybe it’s because it’s a Nissan, which has been building cars for many years and knows a thing or two about quality.

Either way, one thing is for sure; the Nissan LEAF is easy to recommend because it offers a “no frills” approach to the EV market. The LEAF doesn’t need any fancy massive touchscreens or whoopie cushion functions to entertain its occupants. You can charge it and go, which is really all you need an electric vehicle to do.

2023 Nissan LEAF driving
2023 Nissan LEAF | Nissan

What’s new for 2023?

2023 Nissan LEAF wheel
2023 Nissan LEAF | Nissan

Nissan updated the LEAF’s styling for the 2023 model year. The improvements include a revised front grille, front bumper, and exterior lighting. There are also really cool-looking multi-spoke wheels now, in addition to illuminated badging.

Which 2023 Nissan LEAF trim level is right for you?

Shopping for a 2023 Nissan LEAF is simple, as there are only two trim levels to choose from:

  • LEAF S: $28,040
  • LEAF SV Plus: $36,040

Don’t let the $8,000 price differential between the two trim levels scare you away. The SV Plus model comes with a larger battery, which equates to more power and range, in addition to a few more interior features. Also, your LEAF purchase could qualify for a $7,500 federal rebate, which makes up for the price difference.

We had the chance to drive the Nissan LEAF SV Plus model around for a week and were impressed with the features and range that it offered.

What is it like to drive a Nissan LEAF?

2023 Nissan LEAF
2023 Nissan LEAF | Nissan

Although the 2023 Nissan LEAF SV Plus that we drove provided plenty of power, buyers shouldn’t expect Tesla-like acceleration from it. That being said, the 160-kW motor is rated at 214 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque, which is enough to push your head back into the seat a little when burying the accelerator. This thing isn’t built for performance like the Model 3, but its 0-60 mph time of 5.5 seconds means that getting onto the freeway, blowing past slow cars, and trudging up inclines are easy to do.

Otherwise, the LEAF is easy to drive and see out of. Its small hatchback shape makes it easy to pull in and out of busy parking lot situations, and its light steering effort makes it easy to handle. Surprisingly we didn’t mind the brakes too much either, considering that’s a soft spot in most electric vehicles. Instead, we found that the LEAF stopped well and felt comfortable on the road.

However, don’t expect luxury car-like quietness, as we detected a decent amount of road noise when driving, especially at highway speeds. Also, the car’s e-Pedal feature, which allows for one-pedal driving, was nice to have but became annoying because the car would slow down too quickly. We found that pressing the “eco” button did a better job of saving miles while maintaining normal driving behavior.

How long does it take to charge the Nissan LEAF?

2023 Nissan Leaf SV plugged into EVGO charger
2023 Nissan Leaf SV | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

According to Nissan, it should take around 7.5 to 11 hours to charge a LEAF to 100% using a 240-volt household outlet. Using a DC fast charger that you can find at grocery stores and other public places will bring that charge time down to around 40-45 minutes, depending on which trim level of the LEAF you’re charging.

The base LEAF S model supports up to 50 kW of charging, while the SV Plus supports up to 100 kW of charging so that it can charge much more quickly. When connecting a 50-kW charger to a LEAF SV Plus, it should take an hour to charge up to 80%.

In our testing, we found that estimate to be true, as it took us a little over an hour to charge our LEAF test car from 24 to 95% at 40 kW. Interestingly, the charge added a total of 241 miles to the car, even though Nissan rates its range at 212 miles.

Is the Nissan LEAF comfortable?

2023 Nissan LEAF interior
2023 Nissan LEAF | Nissan

The Nissan LEAF is surprisingly comfortable despite its small stature. The front seat area feels airy, thanks to its dome-shaped greenhouse. However, the rear occupants won’t be as comfortable. There’s a decent amount of head and legroom back there, but the seat bottom sits a little high.

Otherwise, we liked the placement of the climate control buttons and the 8-inch touchscreen. Everything is within easy reach, and the physical buttons are refreshing compared to accessing everything from a touchscreen (we’re looking at you, Tesla). One caveat, though, is that although the Nissan LEAF’s interior is comfortable and functional, it’s not lavish.

You won’t find any leather here, but you will find cloth seats and plenty of hard plastics around the cabin. There’s blue stitching on the seats and door panels, in addition to plush-looking floor mats, but overall, the LEAF’s cabin feels a little more homely than futuristic.

How much power does the Nissan LEAF have?

2023 Nissan LEAF side shot
2023 Nissan LEAF | Nissan

The Nissan LEAF has two different powertrains depending on the trim level you choose. The base S model comes with a 110-kW motor that gets its juice from a 40-kWh battery and produces 147 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque, while the higher trim comes with a 160-kW motor and 60-kWh batter.

As for range, the LEAF S can get up to 149 miles on a single charge, while the upgraded trim gets up to 212 miles.

The Nissan LEAF comes with plenty of features

Although the Nissan LEAF doesn’t have too many frills, it still comes well-equipped. The base LEAF comes standard with 16-inch steel wheels with covers, halogen headlights, LED taillights, and a trip computer.

As for the tech department, the LEAF S includes an 8-inch touchscreen with four speakers, a USB port, and Apple Carplay/Android Auto. Stepping up to the SV Plus trim level adds more amenities like 17-inch alloy wheels, heated side mirrors, LED headlights, and an 8-way power driver’s seat. It also comes with more tech features like a 360-degree camera, a couple of more speakers, and adaptive cruise control with steering assist.

Is the Nissan LEAF safe?

Yes, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the 2023 Nissan LEAF an overall safety rating of five out of five. Aside from that rating, buyers can rest assured that the LEAF is safe with its ProPilot Assist system, which includes adaptive cruise control with steering assistance, a forward collision warning, and blind-spot monitoring.

MotorBiscuit awards the 2023 Nissan LEAF an official rating of 8.1 out of 10

2023 Nissan LEAF
2023 Nissan LEAF | Nissan

The editors at MotorBiscuit rate the 2023 Nissan LEAF an overall score of 8.1 out of 10. The Nissan LEAF lives up to the easy-to-use ethos that it’s always been known for. Although it’s not as fast or fancy as a Tesla, in addition to other competitors in the EV field, the LEAF provides buyers with a well-crafted EV experience. Any buyers looking to get into the world of EVs without having to spend too much or deal with a large learning curve could find much to like about the Nissan LEAF.