2018 Nissan LEAF Test Drive Reviews Are In, And The Verdict Is…

OCT 29 2017 BY MARK KANE 57

Several media outlets from Europe have now had the chance to test drive the Japanese-spec 2018 Nissan LEAF around Yokohama just prior to the debut of the production version in Europe for January of 2018.

2018 Nissan LEAF

As a result, we have picked up some first impression insights from CAR Magazine, Auto Express and Autocar to see whether or not the new LEAF will be well received.

The 2018 edition gets a full refresh, and a larger 40 kWh battery, good for some 150 miles (241 km) of EPA rated range, also a 110 kW electric powertrain, although it is still based on the previous generation’s architecture.

The new look was widely called more appealing. Also, the the interior was praised as more conventional, and thus – better.  Seating position (which is unchanged) is high enough to make a spacious cabin feel not so spacious.

On the definitely positive side, more power and torque translates to not only better acceleration (0-60 mph in less than 9 seconds), but the acceleration doesn’t fade that much at higher speeds as in case of previous LEAF (most of the improved oomph to 60 mph comes at the top end).

The regenerative brake ePedal works seamlessly (reminds many of very strong engine braking), but we need to wait for European version for a local evaluation, as there are tweaks envisioned between the Japanese-European and North American versions.

At higher speeds, the LEAF is set-up more for a comfortable ride than excitement or fun. The suspension is said to be stiffer in the European version, so it not necessarily will be as smooth as the test vehicle:

“Another impressive area is ride and damping, both of which feel very impressive indeed. For a family hatchback, it rides very smoothly, and manages to iron out nearly all surface sharper imperfections, including lane dividers and the like. It’ll be firmed up for the UK, but let’s hope not by too much.”

On the other hand, the numb steering feel is expected to become more direct.

The Pilot Parking system is great to opperate, but it’s slow in execution. Again, that functionality is to be updated before the European and US launch of the LEAF.

“Pilot Parking, and it does work very effectively. The camera picks up a potential space quickly once the system is engaged, and a single button push gets you in the space after that. Problem is, it’s slow in execution – engineers in Cranfield are already working on speeding it up for Europe.”

In Japan, the 2018 LEAF is equipped with a display rear view mirror, but it won’t be offered for Europe.

Autocar rated the new LEAF (as it was in Japanese-spec) at 4/5. With 40 kWh battery and competitive pricing it should be one of the best selling BEV both in Europe and U.S.  We imagine that when Nissan gets to offering the ~60 kWh/225 mile offering with even higher performance next Fall, it might have a shot at that final star.

source: CAR Magazine, Auto Express, Autocar

Categories: Nissan, Test Drives

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57 Comments on "2018 Nissan LEAF Test Drive Reviews Are In, And The Verdict Is…"

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Sounds nice, but the weakness is still the lack of active thermal management for the battery. Probably better to lease one of these than buy it.

Unless you live in AZ, NV, or interior southern CA, this is a total non-issue for the rest of us who choose to live in sub-110 degree weather.

People in states other than AZ/NV has been hit by severe battery degradation.

But almost exclusively on the 2011 and 2012 models. 2013+ has faired significantly better.

2013 Leaf: at a hair over 55k miles, I still have all 12 bars left.

I think it is also is a strong function of rapid charging and how those miles are added/when the car is recharged.

I bought mine used; first 34k miles by someone in California. My next 21k miles in Northern NV (Reno). So hot (over 100F at times), but not that hot, in the summers. Never fast charge, always plug in immediately at destination (work, home, repeat), rarely discharge over 50%. Methinks that driving/charging style is also helping out a lot.

2013 Leaf 75k miles and 9 bars. 60-70° here most of the time.

2013 Leaf at 69k miles. Still at 12 bars 🙂

2015 Leaf, lost one bar at 65K miles. For the past year and a half, 5 QC per week, 80 mile round trip commute.

That’s quite a lot of miles on your car. I drive almost 70 a day on my 2014.

I’m at 64K and lost my first bar at around 62K.

I live in SoCal in the San Gabriel Valley, and yes it does get really hot although I park by the ocean on most weekdays.

I’m hoping that one of these days, after my battery won’t be able to make the commute back and forth, that I can upgrade to a much higher capacity battery…

There’s a growing number of people with 2016s who are reporting similar degradation problems to the 2011s and 2012s.

the 30kw seems to degrade rapidely according to owners in procince Quebec, Canada.

The frequency of reports of premature battery fading in the Leaf has dropped in later model years, but it still happens frequently enough to give a serious image problem to the Leaf.

That’s why the resale value remains so abysmally low, even for later model years.

The battery issues on the “new” 30 kWh pack are in no way limited to hot climates. Mild climates like the PNW have owners reporting rapid degradation. Even those that are obsessive about limiting when they charge to 100%, never leaving it for even a couple of hours at over 80% SOC, timing charging so it finishes right before they drive and all the other battery preservation measures have experienced rather rapid loss of “bars”. Certainly hotter climates have a higher percentage of owners reporting issues, but the problem is widespread enough to be of concern to all potential owners. Will the 40 kWh pack and it’s “25% better thermal management” be an improvement? Only time will tell (but I believe there is good reason most other manufacturers have found it desirable to include battery cooling even with the added expense and complexity). I will consider the 2018 LEAF for a lease, but a purchase is off the table. The ~150 mile range will mitigate the impact of range loss, but is unlikely to do anything to improve the huge depreciation hit. As the market matures, I think we’ll start to see a real correlation between degradation and depreciation –… Read more »

Some 2016 Leaf (30kWh) Owners/ Leasers are also reporting much less than half of the annual typical battery degradation (between -3% or 4% annually ), from the 2013-15 pre-Lizard Leaf (24kWh) batteries.

My (30kWh) 24 month old 2016 Leaf (10/15 build date), is showing barely 1% degradation at 12k miles (Leaf SpyPro). And yes, Los Angles was hot and well over 100 last week.

You are smarter to lease regardless.

Otherwise the car will own you for a very long time.

I think the Leaf has a great niche as the best EV costing significantly less than a Model 3. To achieve that, they used a 40kWh battery (far more than any other EV in its price range) and kept cost as low as possible.

If they put in a TMS and raised the price, they’d lose that niche. It was a sensible decision, IMO.

LOL, I have a 2012 Leaf with 35k and a loss of 35%! That means that I only get around 50 miles instead of 75 miles. I live in the South. If you look at my stats tracker (MyEVStats.com) you’ll see that even people with newer models have losses of 15% or more. Models like Tesla’s have near zero battery loss

Well, everyone’s situation is different but my Leaf has held up fairly well. I have a 2015 S and live in Metro a Atlanta, so not Arizona hot but pretty darn hot. The car is almost 3 years old with over 30k miles and my last Leafspy reading showed 90% SOH at full charge. We don’t baby the battery at all; frequently charge to 100% and QC when we need to.

Agree we have two model S cars one with 90.000 miles and one with 80.000 miles on it and still no more than 3% degradation.

I live in Seattle, and during the summer the lack of battery thermal regulation has been an issue multiple times. I can barely make it Portland before the battery overheats. Forget heading home the same day.

I live in the PNW with a 2011 LEAF.

I have 93k miles and 30% degradation. Not sure what that shows. 🙂

Calendar life seems to be just as important as cycle life for the early packs.

It’s not just high heat, but also high humidity that causes a lot of Leaf packs to age prematurely.

Is it very humid in Seattle? Mr. Google seems to think so!


There is a guy here from FL that would strongly disagree with you. It looks like it doesn’t have to be 100F+ hot for the battery to be affected by massive range loss. A combination of fast charging and moderate heat will do the job too.

You would get close to 100 F in typical unconditioned Florida garage too for the whole summer.

If you need to charge it at DC charger every second time, I don’t think BEV is a car for you, you will be set for disappointment.

On the other hand, it will work fine in moderate climates where plenty of people live. Why pay extra for thermal management? Northern US on the coasts, UK, much of the Europe, Japan. Further North you may have hard time coping with range drop in winter again.

It’s likely the high humidity in Florida that’s the bane of the Leaf’s battery pack. From an engineering viewpoint I don’t understand why humidity makes a difference, but reports seem to be pretty conclusive that it does.

Depends on weather and charging habits.

Just talked to a guy in Texas a few weeks ago who was on his second leaf. The first one degraded significantly within the first few years due to free DCFC charging and the Texas heat. His second Leaf, around a year old if I recall correctly, had already lost a bar.

Don’t agree. Anywhere where it gets above 90F for prolonged periods of time will degrade these batteries faster than is acceptable.

It’ll be interesting to see what price is put on the 40kWh replacement. We’ll know once the first cars approach 100,000 miles.

You keep referring to the flawed 2100/2012 battery. The newer battery does not have that issue. Besides, experience and other technical improvements have been made to software as well. Do realize that a lot of ICE vehicles overheat and fail in similar conditions.

“The newer battery does not have that issue.”

A great number of actual Leaf owners can tell you that simply isn’t true. If you haven’t experienced the problem, then you’re lucky. Others are not.

Denying a problem exists does not actually make it go away.

I can’t agree more. Casual buyers will probably not be aware of thermal battery management, but for those who’ve done research, it’s a deal killer. Just look at early leaf battery degradation, and you would be crazy not to think it matters. Lease only.

M3 - reserved -- Niro/Leaf 2.0/Outlander - TBD

Lease it and 3 years – not an issue. 3 years is eternity in the BEV marketplace.

I was excited to see the new Leaf until I watched that hour-long Tesla Model 3 video. My thought is, $41,000 for the 220-mile non-black Model 3 premium is only $5,000 more than the top of the line Leaf. Many people would pay $5000 just to go the extra 70 miles. How much more are people willing to pay for the Tesla Model 3: frunk, supercharger network, all-glass roof, 12-way power seat, simple buying experience, etc etc etc?

Nissan will have the “advantage” of being able to sell now (no backlog of orders), getting ProPilot for less than Tesla’s $5,000, and making their cars look “nice” for less than Tesla’s $2,500 for paint and wheels.

And if you order now, how many years before you get your Model 3?

I have ordered a 2018 Leaf, expected arrival in January 2018. Will give my 2011 Leaf to my niece (production number #1826) which has lost 2 bars (about 75% original capacity per Leaf Spy app) after 85,000 miles and can still go 50 miles on most days. That’s my experience in mid-climate, I expect the degredation to be better with the new 2018 battery chemistry, and I can get my car in a few months for $30K.

Just get a Bolt EV. I just saw on a Bolt Facebook group a member who was a Leaf owner. He was thinking of getting the new Leaf but then checked out a Bolt EV. With dealer discounts the Bolt EV came within $2K of the price of a similar equipped 2018 Leaf so he pulled the trigger and bought the Bolt EV.

If your Bolt buying/Lease decision is based on cost as your primary value driver, when the 40 kWh 2018 Leaf arrives in the next 90 days, then your Bolt decision does make some financial sense. EV battery kWh/ $ is a good metric for evaluation ofan EV that you can actually purchase/lease in the next 3-6 months.

The 2018 Leaf (40kWh) may possibly become a value leader (MSRP less $3 or 4K) at the end of 2018 when the 2019 (60kWh) Leaf shows up on dealer lots in significant numbers. A lot may depend on the Model 3 “production hell” in the near term as well.

The Bolt EV is a better deal if you look at the range alone.

No driving automation and many people complain the seats are uncomfortable. One good thing about the LEAF is the seats are reasonably comfortable.

Range would need to be a top priority for the Bolt to win me over over leasing a LEAF.

Though “production hell” has probably bought a little time, the Leaf will also have the benefit of a longer eligibility for the EV tax credit. If they can offer a lease for a new Leaf at under $200/month, they’ll keep a lot of customers.

You have a point. But so many Leafs have had zero to little mechanical issues, short and long term, and have no need of a $400 annual check. So many Model X and S have had serious issues since it is a complex car. Last point, call it habit, but a lot of car owners would rather have a local Nissan dealerships than, as it is the case in many areas, one or two per state Tesla service center’s. Oh, sorry, one more thing. Because of aluminum is used, Tesla body work is quite expensive! Cheers.

Model 3 is primarily steel. Aluminum isn’t a deciding factor.

I didn’t find repairing my 2011 LEAF too expensive despite the aluminum used in the 2011/12 models. The most expensive part was the headlight at over $1,000.

Tesla repair costs are not due to the aluminum, it’s due to the limited number of certified shops. Tesla better get a lot more shops certified for the Model 3 or it’ll become its achilles heel.

43k on my 2013 leaf and we charge to 100% every night. Over 4 years we are at 8% degradation according to Leaf Spy Pro and we have exceeded the stated range a few times by 5-10 miles a few times. I think Nissan overstates battery degradation in general. But then again, I live in San Luis Obispo with an ideal climate year round.

Anyone who suggests lack of TMS is not an issue in cooler climates has never tried to road trip a Leaf with multiple DCFC’s
good luck

I had a chance to test drive the new Leaf for an hour this past week in Seattle, and while that’s not equal to an extended test drive I did get to try out most of the features. My test car was the exact same color as my current Leaf, so my first impression was just how similar the two cars look. The front headlights are different, it’s true, so from the front it’s now hard to tell apart from other Nissan cars. The inside is also nearly identical to my Leaf. The Nissan representative claimed the trunk was slightly bigger, but if that is true it’s a tiny increase and any space is taken up by the much bulkier new charging cord. The rear seats are also unchanged, and have no USB power outlets, ventilation, or heated seats even on SL trim with the cold weather package. In front, the driver now has a power seat. The glove box is larger, but the storage in the center console is about half the size. Several of the buttons (Start, heated seats, etc..) have moved around, while the infotainment is almost entirely unchanged. Volume now has a knob instead of up/down… Read more »

Glad to hear you liked it! The strong regen braking on the Bolt is probably my favorite feature. Leaf owners will love it! I hope GM adds Supercruise or ACC to the Bolt (or the Buick EV) within the next few years.

“I drove ~1000 miles over two days a couple weeks ago, and that was painful. The charging speed dropped to 18kW due to the temperature by the end of the first day! We drove slower on the return trip to try to maximize range, but it still took a long time.”

Yikes, yeah… I can see that being an issue. I don’t really understand this continued decision by Nissan.

I took our Bolt on a road trip a few weeks ago. The longest day of driving was about 380 miles and temps were in the mid-80s. Most charging was between 40 – 47 kW. The lowest charge rate we saw was just under 30 kW. But only because we were over 80% charged at that point.

Thanks for your 2018 Leaf review. An extensive Leaf test drive might be something to consider, as well as a closer evaluation of the Bolt, and its benefits and drawbacks for your specific driving needs.

The 2019 Leaf (60 kWh) should also be among those added to your EV short list, as EV range seems to be particularly important, for at least once a year.

Thanks for actually leaving a review. The article did not do much of a job of giving a review…

Maybe worth it to rent?

No CD? I bet they left out the 8-track, too.

The lack of liquid cooling kills me when it comes to fast charging. I had the same problem on my LEAF (28kWh) when I fast charged a mere 4 times in the day. By the end of the day the charge rates were down because the pack was hot. Each time I charged it would add 1 or 2 bars (I can’t remember) of battery pack temp. And by the time I got to the last charging station the pack was close to the red and the charging was slowing down. Meanwhile, I’ve charged my Bolt 3 times in a day (one 60 minute charge, the others 30) and each charge was the same as the previous. Lack of liquid cooling is not just a concern in high ambient temperatures but also when you want to DCFC multiple times. Nissan is making an inferior product for long-range driving no matter how big the pack is. I’ve taken my Bolt on an over 1,000 mile trip (round trip, over a few days) and my only concern with doing it again would be that chargers tend to get more busy over time. We’ll need an expansion of DCFCs just to keep up.… Read more »

These statements have one thing in common. They all make excuses about how the items in question will be better by the time it gets to Europe.

That might be smoke being blown up behinds.

Is this officially confirmed that 2018 LEAF has not battery thermal management? Or is it rather Internet experts opinion at this point?

It was confirmed to me by two different Nissan representatives at two different 2018 Leafs on hand. Neither knew for sure about the long range Leaf coming late next year (for $5000 more), but did say that there was no cooling of the battery in any form in the 2018 model. They claimed that the pack chemistry has been further improved so that it should not be an issue, but I strongly doubt that could fix the problem of slow “fast” charging after a couple charges in the same day.

I thought they added forced ventillation like the eNV200.

Well internet experts, such as myself, said 1 year ago they would not have it. It has been confirmed by just about everyone in every single review of the car since it came out at in Japan in September.

Soo.. we need one more review. Somebody get a 2018 Leaf for a day and drive all day from DCFC to the next and report details.