Hybrids & Electrics

The 2021 Nissan Leaf Isn’t Used To Having Competition

The Nissan Leaf was the first electric vehicle to be released on a large scale in 2010. Over 10 years later, despite dozens of fresh competitors, the Nissan Leaf still has a good reputation.

However, critics like Autotrader worry that the Leaf might be too stale for the current EV market. Its 2018 redesign gave it a fresh new face, but what else sets it apart from its rivals? 

What Autotrader likes about the Nissan Leaf

The Nissan Leaf has two hybrid powertrains, both of which supply enough power for the average driver. The cheapest S and SV trims come with a 100 kW motor combined with a 40-kWh battery, producing 147 hp. This might not sound fast on paper, but the instant torque delivery makes the Leaf exceptionally quick.

The Nissan Leaf Plus trims have slightly larger batteries that capable of 214 hp. The larger battery pack makes the Leaf a little hard to handle, but Autotrader still enjoyed driving it. Testers especially appreciated the e-Pedal, which conveniently serves as both an accelerator and decelerator pedal.

On the inside, the Nissan Leaf has generous accommodations for up to five riders. While the cabin has a lot of plastic bits, the silver trim along the dashboard makes it more visually appealing. Cloth seating is standard, but you can upgrade to leather seats in the Plus trims.

Autotrader also liked the Nissan Leaf’s functional cargo capacity. Drivers have access to 24 cubic feet of storage behind the rear seats and 30 cubic feet with them folded. The second row has a 60/40 split seat, but Edmunds says that it doesn’t fold completely flat.

The Nissan Leaf has a lot of safety options, even on the base trim. All Leaf models are equipped with forward-collision warning, lane-keeping assist, automatic emergency braking, rear-cross traffic alert, and pedestrian detection. The available Nissan ProPilot Assist bundle includes LED headlights, driver drowsiness warning, and some autonomous driving features.

Other standard technology includes smartphone integration, satellite radio, Bluetooth, and a few USB ports. The Plus trims come with built-in navigation and there’s a standard Bose audio system on the Leaf SL Plus.

Disappointing aspects of the Nissan EV

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One area where the Nissan Leaf falls short of its competition is its electric range. The standard powertrain is only rated for 149 miles, while the bigger battery pack provides 226 miles. When using its quick-charge port, the battery reaches 80 percent in as little as 40 minutes.

While these were great figures at the time of its release, newer EVs get far greater range. The Chevy Bolt costs around $5,000 more than the Leaf, but it has 259 miles of all-electric range. 

The base Tesla Model 3 is more expensive than both these cars, but it still has 250 miles of range. Additionally, it’s faster and handles better than the Nissan Leaf. At the Leaf’s price point, it’s hard to justify buying one when there are so many better alternatives.

The Nissan Leaf has one notable advantage

The Nissan Leaf has garnered a loyal fan base during its lifetime, which still makes it popular today. EVs are relatively new in the automotive world, so prospective owners want to buy one with years of good reviews. Many models have either great or average reliability scores according to Consumer Reports.

A used Nissan Leaf is also a perfect entry-level car for new EV customers. The fact that the Leaf still offers a lot of updated technology also makes it a good buy. However, in terms of electric performance, the Nissan Leaf is trailing behind its rivals.