Driving The 2018 Nissan Leaf: ProPilot And E-Pedal FTW

2018 Nissan Leaf in blue


One of the challenges in reviewing how an electric car drives is that you are almost honor-bound to use the word “smooth.”

2018 Nissan Leaf dashboard

2018 Nissan Leaf dashboard

It’s a defining feature of an all-electric powertrain, thanks to the way a single-gear electric motor set-up moves the wheels. But, on the other hand, you can’t just ignore that word because the technical synonyms – steady, calm, mellow, dulcet, suave – are decidedly worse. So, please forgive me, but the new 2018 Nissan Leaf is indeed a smooth ride. How smooth? Well, from the 15 minutes I got to spend behind the wheel of the hotly anticipated new EV on the highways around Las Vegas today, it’s as smooth as you could ask for.

Somehow, amid all of the other improvements Nissan made to the world’s best-selling EV, it got the smoothness even smoother. There, now I’ll try to not use that word for the rest of the review. On to some other thoughts from the driver’s seat:

* – Nissan’s main message with the new Leaf – as we’ve duly noted – is that with ProPilot assisted driving technology and the one-pedal driving option called e-Pedal, the EV is supposed to simplify your automotive life.

Fifteen minutes is not enough to prove this out, but after getting acquainted with how to turn things on and off, we certainly didn’t have any stress letting the 2018 Leaf assist us on the highway. And that’s the thing. The new Leaf is by no means a self-driving car. It’s got advanced adaptive cruise control with automatic braking. When you push the blue “safety shield assist mode” button and then set the cruise control, the car goes from a traditional “dumb” car to one that sort of speaks to you as you drive.

Get to close to exiting the lane you’re in? Steering wheel vibration. Don’t correct the lane departure angle? Two beeps. Let the car find the lane markings on the highway, so it knows where to go? One beep. It’s all pretty intuitive or, as Nissan HMI engineer Larry Smythe put it during the drive, once you understand how things work, it’s all “quick, simple, certain, and trusted.”

2018 Nissan Leaf shifter

* – To start the Leaf, as always, you push the on/off button at your right knee and then use a bubble-like pod to select your gear. From there, you can engage Eco Mode by pressing a button (which you’ll have to do if you want this slightly neutered acceleration feel that can give you perhaps 10 percent more range per charge, since you can’t force it to default to on every time) or e-Pedal by flipping a switch.

Smythe said that Nissan purposefully made these two options different kinds of toggles so that you can mess with them without taking your eyes off the road (compare this to the pod shifter, which will require a lot of double-checking with the schematic to remember where D and R are located). While e-Pedal isn’t on by default, you can set “Retain Mode” to turn it on whenever you switch on the car.

* – E-Pedal is the obvious highlight here, and the mix of friction and regenerative braking that works to slow the car all the way to a stop is amazingly comforting and I found myself trusting it at stop signs and on the highway. I kept my foot ready to engage the brakes, but never needed it either on the highway or in the strip mall-adjacent streets where we pulled over to get a few pictures.

2018 Nissan Leaf in red

* – With the ProPilot engaged on the highway, platooning with the flow of traffic is a breeze. The system is not very aggressive (there’s not way to get it to pass the car in front of you without taking control of the whole experience), so people in a hurry will feel the need to override what could be seen as AmateurPilot, but if you’re just commuting to work and all the lanes are full, ProPilot makes things easy.

2018 Nissan LEAF rear seating

* – The rear seats are totally roomy for two adults. Squeezing three full-size humans in there will work, but not recommended for a long time.

Up front, the Leaf feels open and elegant in a minor key. The surfaces in the SL trim we tested were nice to touch, but not amazing. Basically, for the price and the customer base, we think drivers will be happy.

We’ll have a more detailed driver report once we get more than like a thousand seconds in the car.

For now, the word on the street is that the new Leaf is better than before, in pretty much every way. You won’t want to go back to the first-gen once you’ve tasted the upgrades in store here.

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44 Comments on "Driving The 2018 Nissan Leaf: ProPilot And E-Pedal FTW"

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You won’t want to go back to the gen 1 Leaf after sampling the upgrades, but will you want to just go on to what is graduating to the next EV level? This may present a better choice and alternative, which is not settling for an engineering and range limited compromised vehicle. Nissan, ever so slightly, subtly ignores the whole charging equation, by not even addressing the existing issues.


I want to graduate from my Ford Fusion to the next level too. Perhaps an Audi A6. Ford is an engineering compromise compared to the A6 and Ford has subtly ignored this.
*rolls eyes*

Find a better EV for the same or less money.


Hehe, good one




What is the max speed of proPilot? Seeing conflicting reports. Press says 62 mph.


The maximum speed that can be set with adaptive cruise control is 62 mph. Car can go faster.


Wow that is dumb. I can’t use adaptive cruise at highway speeds?


I presume the logic is that it has maximum effectiveness in heavy traffic on say suburban loop interstates like 635 in Dallas or I4 in Orlando etc where it’s very much accordian/slinky traffic and will help you stay calm and relaxed and safe in that traffic. Whereas when it opens up into something like I-95 North/South outside urban areas where everyone is doing 90 mph then it is a) less safe to rely on a computer so ill advised and b) less applicable.

My spidey math sense says they also did their homework on how it is going to have an impact on insurance rates given recent conflicting Tesla insurance press and they are playing it safe for now from an insurance risk underwriting perspective rather than taking a lot of heat from buyers and the press if/when an insurance company slams them for some accident at speed with that feature enabled. Basically it’s operational risk management.


I presume that is the logic.

It’s dumb logic.

Adaptive cruise is always a good idea. Why would you ever want the car to creep up on or hit the car in front of you when it could slow down instead?

This isn’t self-driving. You’ll have to pay attention anyway. Why not have the computer and person both pay attention?

Alonso Perez

Because at high speeds the sensors need to see >muchfaster<. Less data and less time, basically, so less reliable.


At the very minimum it should operate at 65 mph, and 70 should also be possible. Higher than that I can see an argument that the driver should be fully engaged and/or Nissan doesn’t want to encourage excessive speed.

But, not even operating at full freeway speeds is ridiculous.

Brave Lil' Toaster

That’s because it’s full freeway speeds in America. Nissan is Japanese.


This is stupid. I do plenty of fast commuting. People suddenly slam the brakes for no apparent reason. Having an adaptive cruise that works at high speeds 80-90mph makes perfect sense.

The adaptive cruise should work at ANY speed. This car is such a disappointment, and the more I learn, the worse it gets.


Is there is a non-Adaptive Cruise control which will work at western USA freeway speeds? On my Volt, if the radar is messed up due to mud/rain/carwash, the adaptive cruise control won’t work, and there is no alternative to using my foot on the throttle (horror of horrors).
Every Saturday I drive 90 miles each way on 75 mph freeway with almost no traffic. If old fashioned cruise control was available, this would work. Collision avoidance braking would protect me when I forgot I needed to slow down for the 2 semis climbing a hill at 40 & 41 mph.


That seems fast enough (100kph/62mph). No one drives faster than that on any highway in the USA /s

Michael Will

Lol wut? In California 80 is not uncommon.


Nope. CHP routinely pass me at 100mph

M3 - reserved -- Niro/Leaf 2.0 - TBD

LOL – where you live, Clearwater?


I think some readers of your comment do not understand that /s (presumably) means /sarc, or end of sarcasm.

LOL right back at them.


Thank you. /s = sarcasm. I guess I should have spelled it out but thought the statement was obvious enough even without it!


This will be totally useles in Europe…

David Cary

The best use of this functionality is in significant traffic. The kind that goes less than 62 mph and that does happen in Europe.

But I do think it is a pretty silly number. Tesla’s is 90 I believe. 75 would have been a good compromise.

But the truth is – bumper to bumper traffic is where I always turn it on.


I think it is a technology issue and whether their cameras/radar and software can process fast enough to handle higher MPH. Or combo of them being conservative and worried about it failing in various scenarios on a highway. Indirectly they are forcing you not to use it on highways. Obviously competitors handle it tho (GM, BMW, Tesla).


Hmmm… I have video evidence to the contrary. I was able to set speed to 85 mph (accidentally of course) and the car did hit 70+ before slowing down due to traffic



Woah, really? That just dropped this car off of my list if ProPilot Assist doesn’t work like pretty much everybody else’s adaptive cruise and won’t let me use it on the highway…

John Ray

According to reports on another website this is not true and the system works up to 90 mph. In fact, there is a video of a test drive on the “my nissan leaf” forum where the tester sets it to 85 mph. I believe the 62 mph comes from the Japanese version.


Wow imagine that….a product reveal and an actual test drive of a real product. Huh. There is more LEAFs on the stage of that reveal than… oh wait that’s called bashing….ill leave the blanks to be filled by the faithful.


Careful. They’ll ban you.

Jay Cole

I doubt “they” will, they are pretty reasonable people, (=

John Ray

Jay – Can you answer the question of the maximum speed of Pro-pilot?


Jay Cole

89.47 mph for NA

John Ray

Thanks. I like how they carried it out to the second decimal place. Now the peanut gallery can scream, “it doesn’t even work up to 90mph”.


Jay you are correct! I am glad you had the answer. When I asked the LEAF tech, the best he could come up with was “about 90”


Banned by a web site, oh the horror and the shame. /s


This isn’t the Model 3 “Owners” Club Facebook group.

Nigel Cairns

your article would be more useful if it contained more information I see no point in a 1000 second review. Perhaps the most important property of a car is its reliability. How are you going to assess that? Consumer reports does.

Jay Cole

You get that we flew to Las Vegas for the launch, managed to drive it for like 15 mins just after it was revealed, then published this straight out right? It’s not January when you can go to a dealer and pick one up and drive it for a few hundred miles.

Pretty sure there won’t be a CR reliability report on the 2018 LEAF today – maybe pick up a magazine in March for that one, (=

Feel free to look at the content flow (linkie) we have been putting out on the new 2018 LEAF the past 24 hours or so, we are doing the best we can atm for coverage (as we do for all new major models…usually well into the territory of people accusing us of been “fanboys” of whatever plug-in happens to be debuting).

I get what you are saying, but…

Just as a sidenote: We will pick up a 2018 LEAF ourselves in January and start throwing some serious miles on it, so the long-term data points will be coming.


When you say “we”, do you mean IEVs “we” or yourself as a personal purchase?

If the latter, why the new Leaf over the Bolt or Model 3?

Jay Cole

Well, its kinda all the same thing in the end, (= But I like to rotate around/flip the new models as they arrive, then call them businesses expenses, lol. No particular reason on the Bolt EV for myself, but ahead of the launch and thereafter we have had a lot of opportunity to interact with the Bolt, driving events, loaners, etc.

But the 2018 rotation as it stands is:

~January 2018: Nissan LEAF
~March 2018: Outlander PHEV (don’t laugh, it might show up this time)
~June 2018: Tesla Model 3 P/AWD
(waiting on a smart ED Cabrio)

Outside chance the Pacifica Hybrid gets in there somewhere still (originally had that planned for early 2017, but well…y’know how that roll-out went, so it ended up getting lost a bit, might never happen now)


One feature that would be nice is a greater than 200 mile range. It is coming, but only in 2019. That is starting to become a familiar story for EVs in the UK:
Tesla Model 3? RHD also in 2019
– GM Bolt? No RHD at all
I have a 1st gen Leaf and absolutely love it, but we do need to have a long distance ICE as well. With >200 miles, the ICE can go.


Local Faux news said the new Leaf has no brake pedal. Lol.


One outlet (LA Times I think) reported the new Leaf only has 4 seats. lulz



There’s nothing for Tesla to look out for as competition in this car at all, it can not even compete with the Chevy BoltEV, never mind a model-3 that can access all supercharger network across entire north america. 283K of sales globally in 7 years or 40.3K/year globally is pretty pathetic, and around 12-15K/annual in usa that is pretty sad really. Packed with technology?, what advanced cruise control?, that’s been available on Fords for past 4 years, yeah ok. Yeah, the so called “value proposition” for the new leaf is none existent. On the surface when u look at it initially it looks cheaper, but in reality With Quick Charging added to it and only 150mile range, the “Value” no longer looks valuable. When u divide the price by Kwh or Mile, it does not looks so rosy. ( Below all with Quick Charge included) 2018 Leaf: $32,490/40kwh=812.25/Kwh, $32,490/150mile=216.6/mile 2017 Bolt: $38,245/60kwh= 637.41/kwh, $38,245/238mile=160.7/mile 2018 M-3: $36,200/55kwh= 658.18/kwh, $36,200/220mile=164.54/mile or’18 M-3: $36,200/50kwh= 724/kwh , $36,200/215mile=168.37/mile New Leaf, just like the old leaf, is nothing more than a budgetEV at a premium price, the only difference is that is a lot less overpriced compared to the old one. If nissan aspires… Read more »