Nissan Leaf review by CNet

Although the Nissan Leaf is one of the most technologically advanced vehicles on the roads today, CNet found it suprisingly easy to use and drive. They found that the Leaf accelerated well under all conditions – Zero-to-60 estimates of about 8 seconds may make the Leaf seem slow on paper, but the torquey grunt that you get during a zero-to-45 mph drag on public roads paints a completely different picture. The 80 kW of output from the electric motor converts to about 107 horsepower and has 207 pound-feet of torque which is available from a dead stop.

As far as looks, CNet wasn’t impressed, but they did note that some of the design was more functional than pretty – the bulging headlights help slice out a place in the slipstream for the side mirrors to help reduce drag, and the oddly small wheels and tires (compared to the large side panels) are to increase rolling resistance and increase the overall efficiency of the Leaf.

Overall, CNet gave the Leaf a rating of 4 out of 5 stars, and ‘Excellent’ rating. They like the acceleration, the accurate range estimates, and the well-equipped cabin tech and telematics at the entry level.

They weren’t impressed with the nav system’s search or the audio quality.

CNet concluded the Nissan Leaf offers a blend of addordability and all around performance for city dwellers and suburbanites looking to lower emissions, but the cruising range limits its appeal for long hauls.

2013 Nissan Leaf updates announced

In Yokohama Japan, Nissan announced the release of the updated Nissan Leaf. Currently only available in Japan, these features are expected to trickle over to the North American market as well.

The Nissan Leaf is in its second iteration.

Since debuting in December 2010, Nissan has sold over 43,000 Leaf electric vehicles around the world making it the number one selling EV worldwide.

The new iteration of the Nissan Leaf will offer the same excellent performance and driving fell, along with smooth acceleration and great handling. The S Grade Nissan Leaf has been added for the new model version – it joins the G and X models. Nissan said there is no performance sacrifice in the S model but didn’t mention how they are able to lower the price.

Some of the upgrades in the new Nissan Leaf are:

  • Available genuine leather seats
  • BOSE® Energy Efficient Series sound system
  • Around View Monitor which assists parking at roadsides
  • Enhanced regenerative braking performance
  • A power-saving heating system.
  • Driving range of 228km at a full charge (JC08 mode)

How much does the Nissan Leaf cost?

People always ask me how I like my Nissan LEAF and then they can’t get me to stop talking about it. What do I say? I LOVE IT!

Then, the next question is always, how much did my electricity bill go up? I love the reaction I get when I answer this one. It has actually gone down about $100 per month. I know, it doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it has. We switched to a whole-house time-of-use rate for electric vehicles and, since my husband and I both work full time, our bills have gone down.

This is just part of the story too. I also get free parking at work (worth $200/month — along with convenience, that is priceless), a state rebate, tax credit, and savings from not putting gas in my minivan that I used to drive 65 miles a day. It all adds up to good sense. My Nissan LEAF is not only an amazingly fun car to drive, but is also an amazingly smart thing for our pocketbooks.

We are very careful (most of the time), to use big appliances during off-peak hours, which for us is between midnight and 7:00 a.m. (thank goodness for timers). We also only charge our car during off-peak hours. So, it costs only $1.10 to $1.92 to fill’er’up and go.

OK, if I had a nickel for every time someone asked me that over the 10 years I’ve been talking about EVs, I could have bought my Nissan LEAF outright with those nickels. It’s not for trips to LA, and how often do you drive to LA from northern California anyway? We sold our gas car, so now I say, “We rent a car or use car sharing for our longer trips – it works for us pretty well.”

And then the next question is usually, “How far does it go?” So we all know the range is about 100 miles, but I usually tell people it can comfortably go 70 on any terrain with any driving style. And then I often get the sarcastic, “What if you want to drive to LA?”

Passenger space in the Nissan Leaf

The only trouble was that we had never even had the car packed with 5 people, let alone 5 adults.

Getting everyone into the car for the first time was, admittedly, rather interesting.  Just sorting out the seating order and seat belts, and where to put everyone’s elbows was a bit of a challenge.

Isolated somewhat in the driver’s seat, I admit that I got to avoid some of the worst of the chaos in the back, but everyone soon enough got settled in and we were underway.

Over the course of the next six hours and 50 miles, the Nissan served as our hop-and-go tour bus.

Through all these travels, thanks to some fantastic weather that allowed the windows to be rolled down and some elbows to be deployed, everyone survived in good form and excellent spirits.

In truth, past the first few minutes of “it’s so quiet!” and “look at that display!”, I think everyone forgot that there was anything special about the car. Could there be any better accolade for an EV?

Top 4 questions a Nissan Leaf driver will be asked

I’ve been answering a lot of questions: “What car is that?” and frequently “Does it use gasoline?”, and the practical questions, “How do you charge it?” and “How far can you go?”

1. It is a Nissan LEAF, an easy one to answer.

2. Yes, it is all electric, no gas. Since I’ve been learning about the Nissan LEAF for the last year and a half, this question is a good reminder that a lot of people are still just starting to hear about actual mass-produced electric cars. At this point it is always fun to point out there is no gas, no oil change, no gas station stops, no smog check, no exhaust, no transmission, and did I mention no gasoline?

3. How do you charge it? You just plug it in, and yes, this can be a standard wall outlet. You get a 110v charger included with the car. Practically, you really want a 220v dedicated Level 2 charger. The more powerful charger gives you more flexibility to charge and go.

4. How far can you go? Around town, I never even think about it. In fact, I often don’t plug it in overnight. If I’m going on a longer trip,  I plan for less than 80 miles. As you may have heard, high speed makes a big difference with fuel economy.

Plenty of room in the Nissan Leaf for luggage and 2 kids

We drive our Nissan LEAF for every trip that is less than 100 miles. Think about your average drive. We never realized how many average drives are fewer than 100 miles until we purchased this car. Unless we are going on a long road trip, the Nissan LEAF is exactly what we need. It is now our primary family car even though we have a new large SUV with third-row seating. We never drive that unless it is impossible to use the Nissan LEAF.

Recently, we took a family vacation to end the summer. We wondered whether the battery would slowly lose its charge if left for a long period of time at the airport. With a 7-day vacation ahead of us, we decided to pack the Nissan LEAF with our luggage and drive it to the airport. The car easily held a week’s luggage, two adults, and two children, including the children’s car seats.

Once we parked it at the airport we took note of the mileage estimate remaining. The car indicated we had 62 miles to empty. Seven days later when we returned to the airport, the car showed we had 61 miles to empty. We essentially lost no charge whatsoever.

The amount of money we saved in gas offset the cost of one day’s parking. The little things start to add up and you notice ways that you are “beating the system.”

We also like the idea that our Nissan LEAF was probably noticed by a lot of people during the week it was parked at the airport. Once people see this car in person, they always become more interested.

I Drive a Nissan LEAF on the Wind. See How I Soar.

At the end of August last year I took delivery of a new black Nissan LEAF and I’ve now crossed 9,000 miles. I LOVE my new car. Prior to commuting in the Nissan LEAF, I drove a smallish truck that got about 20 miles to the gallon. The Nissan LEAF allows me NOT to have to hyper mile anymore and I am saving over $220 a month on gas! I used to spend over $250 on gasoline and the electric is only costing $20-30 a month. I took the Nissan LEAF in for its 7,500-mile checkup recently and those run $20, which sounded pretty happy to me.

Last Saturday TH (the husband) and I got up and went to Denny’s for breakfast, where we were able to charge the Nissan LEAF while we ate. Then we ran a few errands and headed to the bowling alley. We charged the Nissan LEAF for free across the street while bowling and then headed home again. Later that night, I took the Nissan LEAF to a friend’s house one town over and got home with plenty of juice. Yesterday TH and I stopped to shop at Kohl’s for a bit and were able to enjoy free charging there as well. I’m really enjoying the new charging stations that seem to have appeared around the Austin metro area in January. TH and I are planning a road trip to San Antonio sometime soon when we have a free weekend (probably after cedar season). There is charging where we park for the Riverwalk.

I drive 27 miles each way to work every day, and a lot of that is freeway. I usually get home with 20-30 miles left to go. I plug in again each night and off I go again. I love no longer having to stop for gas on the way to work or after a long day at the office. I was pleasantly surprised by how little energy the AC uses on a hot day. The heat seems to use a little more energy than I was expecting, so if I’m planning on running an errand after work and don’t feel like charging on a super-cold day, I’ll cycle the heat on/off to save power. But since I live in Texas, I’m happy the AC is so efficient.

I’ve even figured out that I can go to my favorite local yarn shop over lunch on top of my commute and still have enough juice to get home. I never really had range anxiety because I figured, worst case scenario, I could knit on the side of the road while I waited for roadside assistance, which is available as part of the Nissan LEAFs warranty coverage, to show up. Now that I have driven my Nissan LEAF for a while, I still always have knitting, but that is no longer the reason. 🙂

I also LOVE the zero-emissions factor. Whether you believe in global warming or climate change or not, pollution just doesn’t seem like a good thing, so I’m really excited not to be adding to it…and the trees that grow on the dash while I’m driving are fun.

The touch-screen interface and all the music options that I have (USB, CD, satellite, FM) are really nice and I’m enjoying the Bluetooth®. There’s also a nifty map that shows you where charging stations are so you can see if there’s one near where you are.

Building Community Through the Nissan LEAF

 

We were one of the first families in Washington to receive their Nissan LEAF. We recently celebrated our first year of ownership on January 19, 2012.

Owning our Nissan LEAF has been a life-changing experience for our family. We gleefully drive past gas stations. We are proud of reducing our emissions while getting where we need to go. And we love talking about the benefits of EV ownership with whoever will listen.

But one of the biggest changes was the community building we’ve experienced through the Nissan LEAF. These include:

  •  Met online communities through MyNissanLEAF.com and Facebook, and exchanged information about all aspects of Nissan LEAF ownership.
  • Organized the first Seattle Nissan LEAF owners event at a local coffee shop. (February 2011)
  • Talked to elementary school kids about electric cars at a local school. (April 2011)
  • Planned the second Seattle Nissan LEAF owners event with the core group and a much larger crowd of prospective Nissan LEAF in a local Fourth of July parade with several other LEAF, Tesla and electric-vehicle owners. (July 2011)
  • Showcased the Nissan LEAF at a neighborhood social and answered dozens of questions about the car. (July 2011)
  • Attended the Northwest premier of Revenge of the Electric Car. (June 8, 2011 Seattle International Film Festival & met Chris Paine, the director.
  • Wrote a blog post for a national website about the steps for installing a charging station.
  • Attended several charging infrastructure ribbon-cutting events. The best ribbon cutting was the Blink Level 2 one at Qwest (now Century Link) Field, where I met Chris Paine (director of Revenge of the Electric Car). The mayor of Seattle was there as well. This was the first public Blink install in WA state.

I’ve also attended additional ribbon cuttings in Renton, WA (downtown city parking garage) that turned into a procession from the downtown location to a shopping mall, where another set of chargers was unveiled (again Blink). The only other major supplier here in the NW so far is Coulomb, and I have missed their events.

Caption: Seattle Nissan LEAF Owners Meet-Up

In short, owning the car has been like becoming part of an extended family. Best of all, we now see Nissan LEAFs nearly every day — and we always give a friendly wave.

– Patrick & Debbie Van Der Hyde

It’s the little things

Sometimes in life, you get lucky. Sometimes you get the last copy of that movie you wanted to see at the video store on Friday night. Sometimes you find the exact flavor of ice cream you were craving. Sometimes you run across your favorite brand of yarn in in the perfect color in the clearance bin. Sometimes you buy a car because you want to help the environment and you end up LOVING it.

It is the little things that make the difference…like the fact that I can fit my aviator sunglasses in the sunglass-holder thingy. I can also fit my black Audrey Hepburn Breakfast at Tiffany’s wannabe shades in the holder. The Nissan LEAF is not one of those cars that you are going to have to buy tiny “cool” special driving shades for just because the sunglass holder is too small.

Then there’s the fact that there are FOUR cupholders in the front half of the car. Now, I’m sure that my love of beverages borders on the excessive, but I like variety in my beverages. I’ve been known to leave work with both a cold Diet Dr. Pepper and a bottle of water for the drive home. My passengers appreciate that there are actually open cupholders in the car for them to use.

Another newly discovered feature is that big side of the divided container in the back perfectly holds a half-sheet cake. This is very handy if you are ever hosting a party and you don’t quite have the hang of holding a cake while driving. Right now you are probably thinking that I could just put it on the floor, but I have some kind of weird aversion to putting cakes on floorboards of cars. People’s feet have been there. What about the seat? All seats are slightly tilted, what if the icing shifts? I seem pretty OCD right now, but the lovely flat spot in the back holds the cake nicely in place if you want to take a corner a little faster than you probably should with a cake on board. I mean, in theory it would. I, um, well, OK, I may have taken a corner a little fast, but the cake was fine.

I almost forgot to mention preheating the car…from my phone. I love it! Now that I can precool/preheat my car from inside the house, I find myself imagining all the times I’m going to precool it this summer…you know, in a week or so. In the meantime, the bluebonnets were lovely and I’ve logged over 13,500 miles on my Nissan LEAF!

Range Aplenty

One of the most common questions I am asked as the owner of a Nissan LEAF is, “What’s your range?” Since it’s complicated, I usually offer up the basic, “Anywhere between 75 and 100 miles, depending on how I drive, how full I charge it, and the weather.”

And indeed, that was a question we were asking ourselves and others as we considered buying an electric car as our primary car. But now that we’ve had an electric car through three seasons, I realize that the answer to that question is not a number, but something much simpler: “plenty.” Let me explain.

I’m a mom and self-employed, which means I have no commute, but I still drive, and sometimes I have what we call “100-mile days.” Tuesday is a carpool day, and this week I had to add in a meeting, a doctor’s appointment and a run to the library. I also wanted to return something to IKEA, and I had a few files that I needed to review and get to a client before the close of business. Because I knew this was a lot of miles to cover, last night I used my smartphone to tell the car to charge to 100% (I usually only charge to 80%, to improve battery life). I said a little prayer for a warm spring day, since it improves battery performance, and turned out the light.

I awoke to a cold, snowy morning. While I sipped my coffee, I used the same phone app to preheat the car, knowing I might need to sacrifice some heat to maximize range. I also tucked gloves into my coat pocket. The first leg of my trip was a 29-mile drive past the airport to a high school for a committee meeting. At the end of the meeting, a check with my phone revealed a 63% charge remaining. I could easily make a side trip to IKEA Seattle and make the return. I could also take advantage of its restaurant, WiFi and charging station to grab lunch, send the files to the client, and get enough charge to make it home — with heat.

Ninety minutes later, I’ve had a tasty salmon lunch, the files are delivered, and I have an 86% charge. I hit the freeway, and 23 miles later I’m home, where I can plug in. But I’m not home long. I have just enough time to toss the laptop and meeting folder (and the requisite IKEA impulse purchase), and grab the library books and change of clothes for physical therapy, and I’m off on my afternoon run.

I pass the 75-mile mark somewhere after dropping the spare kids, and though it looks like I have plenty of charge for the rest of the day, I remember the mantra: charge when you can. So, even though we’re only in the library for 20 minutes, I plug in there as well.