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2020 Nissan Leaf

Review, Pricing, and Specs

  • Highs Competitive driving range on Plus models, roomy interior, optional semi-autonomous driving mode.
  • Lows Boring to drive, cheapest models offer poor driving range, neither audio option provides rich sound.
  • Verdict Relatively cheap and certainly cheerful, the Leaf is the bargain EV for budget-minded eco-activists.

Overview

With splashy options such as the Tesla Model 3, Jaguar I-Pace, and Audi e-Tron now dominating the electric-vehicle marketplace, it’s easy to forget that the Nissan Leaf has been offering all-electric motoring since 2010. Is it exciting? No, not exactly. But the 2020 Leaf is roomy, well-equipped, and relatively affordable. The Leaf goes head to head with EVs from mainstream brands such as the Chevrolet Bolt EV, Kia Niro EV, and the Hyundai Ioniq. An optional semi-autonomous driving mode offers similar driving assistance as Tesla’s Autopilot feature, but at a discounted price. If the Leaf’s standard driving range were only a bit longer than it is, it’d be sure to find more love in the growing EV marketplace.

What’s New for 2020?

Nissan is making a handful of driver-assistance features standard on the 2020 Leaf that were optional last year. Bundled together in the Safety Shield 360 suite of features, buyers will find automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, automatic high-beam headlamps, lane-departure warning, rear automated emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. Last year’s standard 5.0- and 7.0-inch infotainment displays have mercifully been replaced with an 8.0-inch unit that also features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. Pedestrians might also notice that the 2020 Leaf sings a new tune when it motors past at low speeds.

Pricing and Which One to Buy

The best deal here is the S Plus because it carries a reasonable price, the longest driving range, the more powerful motor, and still offers a decent set of standard equipment. Buyers of the S Plus will enjoy an 8.0-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, automatic climate control, keyless entry with push-button start, and automatic headlamps.

Engine, Transmission, and Performance

The standard 2020 Leaf models come with a 110-kW electric motor that pumps out 147 horsepower to the front wheels; a 40-kWh battery pack provides the power. Leaf Plus models come with a gutsier, 214-hp 160-kW electric motor and a larger 62-kWh battery. The former managed a 7.4-second zero-to-60-mph time at our test track, but it feels perkier than this number suggests thanks to the instantaneous power delivery of the electric motor. This result makes it quicker than the Volkswagen e-Golf, but slower than the Bolt EV, the BMW i3s, and the Model 3. Upgrading to the more powerful Plus models will no doubt result in quicker acceleration, but we won’t know until we are able to test them. The Leaf’s e-Pedal feature allows the driver to toggle back and forth between regenerative braking modes, one of which allows the car to coast when the driver lifts off the throttle and another that dramatically slows the car and uses that energy to recharge the battery.

Range, Charging, and Battery Life

Speaking of recharging, the Leaf can be plugged in to a regular 120-volt outlet or a 240-volt outlet, but the charging times vary dramatically between the two. On a 240-volt connection, Nissan says both the standard Leaf’s battery and the larger one in the Leaf Plus can be replenished in seven hours. A DC fast-charging connection is optional on S models and standard on SV, SL, and all Plus trims. The standard Leaf models all come with a 40-kWh battery which provides a relatively limited range of 150 miles. This might be enough range for some drivers with short commutes; it outperforms the 125-mile range of the e-Golf, but it’s less than half the range of the Model 3’s Long Range model. The Leaf Plus provides more driving range thanks to its larger 62-kWh battery pack. To unlock the Leaf’s maximum 226 miles of driving range, you’ll want to go with the S Plus trim level, as the SV Plus and SL Plus models are only rated for 215 miles.

Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG

Our SV Plus test vehicle exceeded its EPA highway rating of 94 MPGe by delivering 98 MPGe over our 200-mile highway fuel-economy test route. However, we only saw 180 of its claimed 215-mile range during this test.

Interior, Comfort, and Cargo

Although the cabins of the Leaf S and SVs are a sea of black plastic, the well-assembled and uniform textures help it avoid looking cheap. The SL model offers an optional light-gray leather interior with a matching dash pad that breaks up the monotony. The driver faces a hybrid gauge cluster where a large analog speedometer is located next to a 7.0-inch digital readout that can be reconfigured to show a variety of menus. The Leaf’s seats are deeply cushioned and La-Z-Boy comfortable; the spacious rear seat offers plenty of room for adult riders, too. Despite the fact that the Leaf’s back seat doesn’t fold to create a flat load floor, we found the cargo capacity to be among the best in its class. We fit seven carry-on suitcases behind the back seat and a whopping 19 with the back seat folded. For comparison, both the Bolt EV and the e-Golf held five in their cargo areas and maxed out at 16 with their back seats stowed. The Niro EV—which is technically an all-electric SUV—held slightly more cargo in our testing, but the Leaf still is tops among electric cars.

Infotainment and Connectivity

All Leaf models come with the same 8.0-inch infotainment display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration; navigation is optional. Nissan’s latest Nissan Connect software interface, while not particularly pleasing to the eye, is intuitive and quick to respond to inputs. Audiophiles may be disappointed with the Leaf’s standard six-speaker audio system; a seven-speaker Bose system is exclusive to the SL and SL Plus models but didn’t impress us during our test drive.

Safety and Driver-Assistance Features

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has only partially completed testing of the Leaf, but so far it’s earning scores of Good in that agency’s moderate-overlap and side-impact crash tests; the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) hasn’t crash-tested the Leaf. Nissan’s Safety Shield 360 suite of driver-assistance features are standard across the lineup and the brand’s novel ProPilot Assist semi-autonomous driving mode is available on SV, SV Plus, and SL trims as part of the Technology package; it’s standard on the SL Plus. Key safety features include:

  • Standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection
  • Standard blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert
  • Available adaptive cruise control with semi-autonomous driving mode

Warranty and Maintenance Coverage

Nissan offers a basic warranty package that covers the same amount of time as the rest of the Nissan lineup; however, the Leaf’s battery is covered for up to eight years or 100,000 miles.

  • Limited warranty covers 3 years or 36,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty covers 5 years or 60,000 miles
  • Battery warranty covers 8 years or 100,000 miles
  • No complimentary scheduled maintenance

It may be dull to drive and lack the panache of a Tesla or an electric Jaguar, but the 2020 Nissan Leaf is a bargain EV for budget-minded eco-activists.

Used Nissan Leaf Car

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    There are so many benefits of using an electric vehicle besides reducing your carbon footprint. Currently 100% electric vehicles (like all the Nissan Leaf) are except from paying road tax and the cost of charging the car is often much less than using traditional fossil fuels. Also as the Nissan Leaf doesn’t use a traditional engine repairs bills are often much less too as there are usually fewer parts in electric vehicles.

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