2019 Nissan Leaf Plus shows how far EVs have come
The Nissan Leaf was the first truly mass-market electric car when it was introduced in the last days of 2010. In almost ten years on the market, Nissan has sold over 400,000 Leafs, making it the best-selling EV ever made. Now the 2019 Leaf Plus is here, and it shows that Nissan has kept up with the times. The Leaf is still made to compete with any EV on the market.
Ten years ago, the EPA rated the first Leaf with a range of 73 miles on a full charge. Today's basic Leaf will travel 150 miles and the EPA says the Leaf Plus will take you 215 honest miles on a full charge. In reality, you should be able to get 226 miles.
That range keeps the Leaf in competition with the Chevrolet Bolt at 238 miles. Only the Teslas go farther on a charge, and only the Tesla Model 3 can be purchased for less than $50,000.
But the Leaf Plus isn't only about range. It's also about advanced driver assistance features, and there are two of these to call out. Nissan has developed one-pedal driving, and it works. The E-Pedal feature allows you to drive the Leaf using only the accelerator. Simply lift off the "gas" pedal and the car stops smoothly. Step on the pedal again to move out. It will take you about 10 minutes to get used to single pedal driving, but you're going to love it. If you plan ahead, you can drive everywhere and rarely touch the brakes.
The second feature is ProPilot Assist, which is a combination of adaptive cruise control and active lane keeping assistance for the highway. With this feature, the Leaf will do most of its own steering, provided you're on something like an Interstate highway with limited curves. Note that this is not a self-driving mechanism; not even Tesla really has that, despite what some people believe. You must keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road. Tesla's Autopilot is similar and again, much more expensive.
These features place the Leaf Plus solidly in the lead among affordable EVs. Beyond the advanced features, the Leaf is still fun to drive. The electric motors offer plenty of power, and the small footprint makes the Leaf nimble and easy to park. The Leaf offers plenty of passenger and cargo space to meet all kinds of practical needs. Finally, you can cut your fuel bill to about $30 a month.
If you live and work in the Portland metro area, a Nissan Leaf could easily be your only car. In fact, with Federal and State financial incentives, plus our rapidly expanding charging network, I'll go ahead and say it's crazy not to consider an EV for your next car.
2019 Nissan LEAF SV Plus
Base price: $29,990
Price as tested: $42,580
Type: Compact hatchback EV
Engine: Electric motor (214 hp, 250 lbs-ft)
Transmission: Direct drive
EPA estimated mileage: 114/94 MPGe
Overall length: 176.4 inches
Curb weight: 3,811 pounds
Final assembly: Smyrna, Tennessee