Car And Driver Says New Nissan LEAF Is A Giant Step Forward

white Nissan Leaf hatchback

FEB 28 2018 BY MARK KANE 47

2018 Nissan LEAF

Improvements made to the new Nissan LEAF in the recent Car and Driver’s review were called a giant step for the LEAF and a small leap for EV kind.

2018 Nissan LEAF

There are a lot of positive changes like the styling, higher capacity battery for more range, more power and quicker acceleration, as well as silence and more.

Car and Driver notes that the e-Pedal mode is so convenient that “once you try it, you won’t want to go back”.

But there were some weaker points. The new LEAF, until the 60 kWh battery option becomes available, can’t beat the Chevrolet Bolt EV or Tesla Model 3 in terms of range. The Bolt EV tested earlier by Car and Driver was claimed to be more fun to drive (so, we assume that Model 3 is, too).

The biggest complaint from Car and Driver seems to center on the interior:

“That said, the Leaf’s interior quality feels on par with a $20,000 Sentra’s, which is a reminder that when you buy a Leaf, you’re essentially buying a $20K car and a really expensive battery.”

Read Also: Here Are The 8 Cheapest Electric Vehicles On Sale In The U.S. Today

ProPilot driver-assist systems seem to cautious in its current version:

“On gradual curves or a straight road, ProPilot Assist centers the Leaf in its lane and, if you ignore the Nissan’s warnings, will allow for hands-off steering for a few seconds at a time, provided it can read the lanes. Its ability to do so is shown on the digital half of the gauge cluster, but it signals with an annoying beep every time it loses the trail. As with all adaptive-cruise-control systems, speed rises and falls relative to traffic, but we found that ProPilot Assist slowed the Leaf down too early and too often, to the point of being seriously aggravating. ProPilot Assist won’t steer through sharp curves, though in the name of science, we tried it in the canyon anyway. The system does slow the car for tight corners, but it prefers speeds and g-forces that will make you think a Sears driving-school instructor is operating the brake pedal. There’s nothing “Pro” about it.”

Overall, it’s a very practical and capable electric car within the affordable price range.

Source: Car and Driver

Categories: Nissan, Test Drives

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47 Comments on "Car And Driver Says New Nissan LEAF Is A Giant Step Forward"

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Francois Charland

Is propilot offered on that 20000$ car? Think not!

ziv

I am glad that I don’t commute enough that I would want to turn over driving to the car. Driving is one of the more enjoyable parts of the day. A comfortable seat, good tunes and a constantly changing view. And you set the pace and choose the path.
Now if I commuted more than 15 minutes each way, I might be singing a different tune.

Mike Raymond

It’s on the new Rogue.. so we will start seeing it on other vehicles like the Altima.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

This will be a big hit for 2018.
It’s not going to rocket to the top it it will hit it’s peak hover there up and down by a few hundred and stay there for quite some time.

WadeTyhon

“That said, the Leaf’s interior quality feels on par with a $20,000 Sentra’s, which is a reminder that when you buy a Leaf, you’re essentially buying a $20K car and a really expensive battery.”

This is kind of the case for all the major affordable long(er) range BEVs. Neither the Bolt nor the Nissan have particularly impressive interiors.

The Bolt has a very good touchscreen surrounded by a visually unique looking interior that isn’t for everyone. It also uses lots of hard plastics.

The Model 3 interior is very clean and of mostly good quality. But the sparseness is a double edged sword and requires the touch screen for almost everything. Functions are not as intuitive as they could be but future software updates may fix these issues. Still, many people prefer physical buttons when possible.

Sacrifices have to be made in order to make these cars both affordable and profitable. 🙂 All three automakers took different paths to reach the same goals. So, pick your poison I guess!

theflew

Good points. The biggest issue I have with Tesla’s interior is it assumes we’re at level 5 autonomy. It looks great in a concept car for day to day it’s just inconvenient.

Manuel

Outstanding remak! Me thinks equaly! When (IF) full autonomy is here this spartan interior (no buttons) will be the best choice… till then, it’s like poor day to day usefulness…

Robb Stark

Taking your eyes off the road for 7 seconds is perfectly fine with Level 3 autonomy.

You don’t need Level 5 for that.

If you live on your smartphone Tesla dash is fine.

If you still listen to CDs Model 3’s dash probably doesn’t work for you and might just scare you.

Texas FFE

The ProPilot system interests me the most on the 2018 Leaf. No other BEV at this price range offers this level AV system. But the lack of CCS charging and the lack of a real tow rating will probably keep from buying a Leaf.

Texas FFE

and AWD.

John

No one really needs AWD in this type of cars. In winter it’s all about tires.

Texas FFE

You have got to be joking! I’m constantly spinning the front tires and setting off the traction control on my FFE. When you spin the tires in a FWD car you just don’t go anywhere but on a rear wheel car you swap ends, very dangerous.

For all those that want to argue about RWD car, I most have seen at least half dozen RWD cars this last week that spun out in the rain. Stupid people driving stupid cars at stupid speeds.

Nate

Sounds like driver error and bad tires if they cannot handle rain. Where I am at now it rains a lot 7 months of the year and I do not see anyone spinning out of control on rain. Well maybe once a year but certainly not 6 a week.

We do not get much snow and when it does I see more suvs/cuvs in the ditch than anything else. Their drivers think they have traction with awd until they enter a corner too hot or do not realize their stopping distance on all season tires sucks.

I have never had an issue with the right tires here on anywhere else I have lived including the northetn rockies.

Texas FFE

You must not get out much. I have driven cross country in the winter and I have seen literally hundreds of wrecks in a single trip. Most of those wrecks were RWD vehicles.

Nate

Cool story bro.

I have driven way more miles in the northern states than just a single cross country trip, which by the way, i I have done that too.

Texas FFE

I have counted driving between the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean seven times, I have driven half that distance many more times and I drive between Texas and Colorado at least a couple of times a year. Of all hundreds of wrecks in storms I have seen I have never been in wreck in a storm driving my FWD or AWD cars. I have not been in a wreck in over forty years and I contributed a lot of that to not driving RWD cars.

Nate

Well, the Leaf is not even rwd which makes this thread tangent you took so funny.

I have driven 4 wheel drive, awd, fwd, and rwd and never crashed on any. This is despite living in places that have months of snow. The kind of weather that if it occured in Texas would cause school and business closures are no big deal there.

John is right though. Google awd vs winter tires if you want actual experts and not just stories. Eyewitness accounts are one of the least reliable kind if evidence after all.

John M

Why do you want AWD?

Jacked Beanstalk

Be sure to lease this turd because it’s air-cooled battery will suffer serious capacity degradation. In exchange for shortened battery life, the car offers flaccid performance, econobox handling, and grocery-getter looks.

Sorry to be so negative, but Nissan has had a long time to get the Leaf right, and instead they half-arsed it like a compliance car.

LOL, I still can’t get over that battery with a cooling fan. I can just see the engineers’ horrified faces as some midlevel bean counter orders them to “just quit complaining and put a fan on it!”

Mint

What EV has better performance at that price point? It even beats the Volt from 50-70mph.

The 2018 Leaf is the best EV below $35K. Look at the competition before calling the Leaf half-arsed.

ProPilot is amazing, on par with current AutoPilot for single lane driving. ePedal is the best speed control innovation since automatic transmission (and a big step above other “one-pedal” systems). And looks are fine, even good.

Battery degradation is mostly Nissan’s problem, as they have to pay for the 8 year warranty and sell off-lease cars. They obviously don’t expect it to be very prevalent for these new cells.

I’ll bet you anything that the Leaf will destroy every non-Tesla EV in sales this year. Just watch.

Jacked Beanstalk

It’s performance is likely gimped to limit battery degradation, and that degradation will likely depend on how it’s driven and how deeply the battery is cycled on a daily basis.

My biggest issue with Nissan is that they’re poisoning the EV market with their non-existent TMS. Those used Leafs will earn all EVs a reputation for degraded range because most consumers won’t know that it’s due to the car being poorly engineered. Word will spread, “don’t buy a used EV, their range is no good!”

It’s just like the hyper-milers who drive their EVs 45 on the expressway. They may save energy on that drive but other drivers will assume they drive slow because EVs aren’t capable of being driven like real cars. The long term effect is to slow EV adoption and burn more carbon.

That’s why I always drive my Volt FAST. I’m an ambassador for the future and it’s important I convince other drivers that EVs are every bit as capable as gassers.

Kevin Z

The larger battery will help preserve battery life, ie less heat from current draw, and quick charging. I live in Michigan and owned a 2013 Leaf that lost only one capacity bar in 5 years/66,000 miles so I don’t think I’ll have any problems with the new Leaf’s battery.

Gibber

Agreed. My best friend’s 2014 just lost it’s first bar at 88,000 miles here in -warmer than most places- So. Cal. degridation hasn’t been an issue since the first few model years but some people like beating dead horses.

kk

“flaccid performance, econobox handling, and grocery-getter looks”

but grocery getting and commute in bumper to bumper traffic is what I use it 100% of the time, are you suggesting we do break neck driving feats on public roads?

Mint

His performance and handling remarks aren’t even true in the first place.

From the article:

“A zero-to-60-mph run takes an adequate 7.4 seconds, but it’s the torque that impresses. A mere tap of the accelerator releases a dry gulch of instant push—236 pound-feet’s worth—that’s good for a quick 2.8-second jump from 30 to 50 mph, enough to flatten your occipital bun into the headrest.”

“the Leaf isn’t ever out of sorts. Steering feedback is good and the low-grip chassis is unerringly stable, plus the motor’s torque can launch the Leaf out of corners with ease.”

David Cary

Agree – EV acceleration always feels and lives much better than actual specs. It is much more impressive to go 0-60 in 7 secs without drama or shifting or noise than it is to get there in 6 secs in an ICE.

And low COG is awesome for handling. It is also great for braking.

Lou Grinzo

Consider the source. I’ve been reading C&D, Motor Trend, etc. off and on since the early 1980s, and they all play to specific audiences.

C&D is for the Serious Car Guy, for whom anything less than Ferrari-class performance is barely tolerable, even though they drive Civics and Elantras and 12-year-old pickup trucks in real life. In other words, with these magazines we’re definitely talking about “car porn”.

pjwood1

I don’t buy the “cheap interior, because of expensive battery” argument. If like the Bolt, 1 or <2 thousand in additional interior costs would likely have done wonders.

theflew

I think the biggest misconceptions with the Bolt is it’s a “cheap” interior. Weight probably has more to do with it than cost. GM’s materials could have cost just as much as if they used soft touch plastics, but it could have weight 25 lbs more.

Jacked Beanstalk

Interesting point, and likely true to some extent. I figure that’s why they don’t offer power seats – too much extra weight. But they could have spent a little more on better manual seats and gotten a lot more comfort without much extra weight.

Oh and since the Bolt is largely targeted at the American market, it must be said that the most significant weight savings are usually found between the front seat and the steering wheel. It’s funny when at an autocross you see a car with a totally stripped down interior and only a driver’s seat, all to save weight, yet the driver turns out to be a 250 pound soda-sucking behemoth. So much for the weight savings.

pjwood1

The Bolt’s front seat-back also has a rock to it.

Worse than heavy driver/stripped down cars is a 200++ pound rider, on a 15lb bicycle. It’s only money.

Djoni

Funniest thing that is too common.

Guy’s spend thousands dollars to get 2 pounds off a road bike, yet they are 50 pounds overweight!!

Thinking it would go faster until he get on to it, probably faulting the bike being slow.

Go figure.

Jacked Beanstalk

But you’ve gotta admire the salesman who sold him the lightweight bike.

Unplugged

The Bolt’s interior looks and feels cheap, not getting around it. Excuses might be made that plastic is lighter than softer materials, but that’s mere speculation and who cares?

The Bolt interior looks like a $20K Sonic.

Mint

Yeah, but $1-2k would probably make a huge dent in sales for the Leaf. Nissan needs significant price separation from the Model 3 and Bolt, and keeping the starting price below $30k was important for marketing. Ditto for battery cooling.

I’m not sure the Leaf’s target audience cares much about interior quality anyway. It’s good enough in my book.

Lou Grinzo

I’m currently shopping for a replacement for my 2013 Leaf, so a 2018 Leaf is definitely on the “possible” list.

When you look at the 2018 $30,000 Leaf S, you see a car that was really shoehorned into that price spot. The S at that price doesn’t include seat and steering wheel heaters, or even the basic EVSE. Adding the cold weather package for the heaters (a must-have where I live) plus the charge package which adds a QC port and the EVSE, adds almost exactly $2,000 to the price. I would be surprised if they make and ship to cold parts of the US more than a few token S models without these two “optional” packages. So the $30,000 S is effectively a $32,000 car before promotions and tax incentives.

Kevin Z

Lou,
I was in the same boat as you until last week when I found an SV model with heated seats for $31841. With zero % interest and the $7,500 tax credit, I think it’s a good deal.

Phil

I sat in a 2018 Leaf and thought the interior was really nice. I guess different people have different expectations.

Get Real

I also sat in one and I have a Bolt.

The Leaf’s interior was nicer and the front seats were VASTLY more comfortable.

I have a 2016 LEAF and I really like it, but the range definitely sucks.

The new 2018 LEAF is a minor improvement of the same base car, which is a major disappointment after seven years. I wish Nissan would have been more aggressive in improving the LEAF. They could have been selling 3-5K LEAFs per month in the US, instead of dropping to 1K.

Mint

1k in Jan is due to production delays. By March you should be seeing 4k.

And no, it’s not a minor improvement. 40% more power gives a colossal difference in driving experience. How often do you get that between generations of any car? ProPilot is on par with Autopilot, leagues beyond the previous system. ePedal is extremely useful.

It’s a completely different car, sharing only a skeleton and a few bits here and there. No offense to your car, but the old Leaf is junk compared to the new one.

I completely disagree Mint.

The LEAF has been selling only 1K per month for years now, not just in January. If they had of done a refresh and 40K battery in 2015, they would have sold 3-4K for all of those months.

The power improvement is great and definitely needed at freeway speeds. But, it’s the same old motor. It just has more power because of the bigger battery. ProPilot and ePdedal are great new features. Hats off to Nissan for them.

No, it’s not a completely new car. It’s the same old LEAF with a new front and back end. It’s definitely an improvement in looks, but it’s CoD is only slightly improved, which is why it’s freeway range sucks.

I would much rather have a new LEAF than my old one. But, I would much rather have a Bolt or a Model 3 than a new LEAF. Nissan had a chance to close that gap, but they only went half way.

Iletric

If you like torture, having no place to put your right knee, and have your left elbow about 6 inches lower than you right, and enjoy 50’s Caddy mushy steering, then by all means get Leaf 2.

Leaf 2 was supposed to be a sure bet. Instead I had no choice but walk away. We are now a 2 Bolt family. Leaf 3 anyone?

Djoni

So you’re 7 foot 6″ and you have a long right leg and a short left arm?

I get it.

Normal people fit just fine in this car up to 6′ 6″ or so.
My friend is 6′ 8″ and surely not comfortable in it, but he ain’t in many car anyway.

Maybe it’s not for you, and you have more room in a Bolt, but by no mean more confort. That’s for sure.

Shane
I am an increasingly impatient Model 3 reservation holder. After doing the calendar/production math and wondering if the $7,500 (prob not) or $3,750 (maybe) tax credit will still be available when my number comes up for the 220-miler, I decided to spend last Saturday test-driving a friend’s Model 3 and cross-shopping the 2018 Chevy Bolt and 2018 Nissan Leaf. From the outside, the Model 3 is sexy, classy, and just plain beautiful. The Leaf is actually pretty good looking (especially compared to the original Leaf). The Bolt looks unusually small compared to the Leaf and Model 3, like a mini-car but with a huge, flat windshield. It was right at home in between the Spark and Sonic, both in size and in looks. On the inside, all three had “premium” interior options. The Leaf won out, slightly better overall than the Model 3. (I also have a 2017 Nissan Rogue, so the familiarity probably has something to do with my choice.) The Model 3’s barren dash gave me a peaceful, zen feeling. While I liked the steering wheel, it is so fat that my wife, who has small hands, said it was too big to grip with assurance. The Bolt… Read more »
Kenneth Bokor

Shane your conclusion and recommendation is spot on. I’ve been saying the same thing. I’ve driven all 3 and different folks have different needs. They are all great EVs!

Very true, guys. Thanks for the share.