The Nissan Leaf is a compact five-door hatchback electric vehicle (EV) manufactured by the Japanese automobile company Nissan. The Leaf was unveiled in 2010 and is currently in its second generation, from October 2017.
The Nissan Leaf was one of the first electric vehicles to be unveiled on the US market, and for most people, the Leaf was their first experience with EVs and proved a turning point. In those earlier days, EVs were expensive, and only the wealthy could afford them, but then Nissan launched the Leaf, and suddenly a larger group of people could afford an EV. This business tactic worked for Nissan, as the Leaf became the top-selling electric vehicle in the world before its reign was interrupted by the Tesla Model 3. But Nissan has chosen to keep the Leaf as affordable as possible, by not competing with the premium models. And with the release of the 2022 model, the Leaf is still a lot cheaper.
To prove that Nissan is doing their best at keeping the Leaf affordable, let’s look at its base price when it was unveiled in 2010, and compare it to its base price in 2021. Although it’s almost 11 years since its introduction, the 2021 base model retailed for $31,620 compared to the 2010 base model which cost $32,780, pre-tax incentives. Fast forward to 2022, the base model is now sold at $27,400. Kudos to Nissan for bringing down the cost of the Leaf.
The Leaf was initially available in three trim levels; the base S, medium SV, and top-spec SL. with the introduction of the second generation model in 2018, three extra trim levels were added. These are; S Plus, SV Plus, and SL Plus trims. The S and SV trim comes with the option of either the Leaf or Leaf Plus battery pack, while the SL trim is only available with the Leaf Plus battery pack.
Significant price reduction for the 2022 model year. The price of the Leaf has been reduced by about $4,200+ on all trims, with some of them sold at $6,500 less compared to 2021. Prices start at $27,400, making the Leaf the cheapest EV in the US in 2022. Apart from the price reduction, the 2022 Leaf is now offered with CHAdeMO quick-charging port as standard on all trims. The SV Plus trim come with several new standard features that include the Technology Package, the semi-autonomous ProPilot Assist, LED headlights, and heated exterior mirrors, amongst others.
The 2022 base model Leaf comes fitted with an electric motor powered by a 40 kWh lithium-ion battery with 147 hp. An optional system that boasts two electric motors and a 62 kWh lithium-ion battery with214 hp is available.
With the standard 40 kWh lithium-ion battery, the Leaf can travel up to 239 km on a single charge. While the larger 62 kWh lithium-ion battery travels up to 346 km in SV Plus and SL Plus trims and 363 km in the S Plus trim.
Lowest MSRP Of Any EV
The 2022 Nissan Leaf is currently the cheapest EV on the market. Its prices have been slashed significantly by about $4,200 up to $6,500, bringing the Manufacturers’ Recommended Retail Price (MSRP) for a base Leaf model down to $27,400 before tax incentives. Applying for local incentives and the $7,500 tax credit for plug-in purchases, you could buy a Leaf for less than 20 grand.
Adequate Standard Safety Tech
All Leaf models are offered with plenty of safety features as standard, which include a rearview camera, reverse automatic braking, forward collision warning, rear parking sensors, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitoring, and lane-keep assist. Optional safety features on the higher trims include ProPilot Assist and an advanced cruise-control system that can steer, accelerate, and brake on the highway.
The Leaf is a 5-door 5-seat hatchback. Its cabin is spacious and nice, with plenty of headroom throughout, thanks to its tall, horizontal roofline. The Leaf can accommodate 668 liters of cargo, with rear seats in place and 849 liters with rear seats folded, although the rear seats do not completely fold flat.
Nice To Drive
The base model Leaf can accelerate from 0-100 kph in 7.8 seconds, while the Leaf Plus attained it in 7.0 seconds flat, which is not too bad compared to the competition. Braking is smooth, and if you engage the e-Pedal function, routine braking is performed by easing off the accelerator. This adds control and a certain degree of fun to the daily drive.
As is the case with most EVs, the Leaf offers a smooth drive and instant power, with the absence of transmission shifts making it tremendously easy to drive. The low-lying batteries improve the car’s aerodynamics by striking the coordination and balance necessary to bring about confidence when taking turns.
As is the case for most EVs, the atmosphere within the Leaf’s cabin is so tranquil, thanks to the absence of engine noise and transmission interruptions to the flow of power. But also the motors are so silent! Fortunately, the Leaf is well insulated, and the only noise that enters the cabin is the friction noise between the tires and tarmac, which is very little.
It Uses A Non-standard Fast-charging Port
DC fast chargers offer a rapid charging experience with the capability of recharging an EVs battery in about 20 minutes to an hour.
The 2022 Leaf comes fitted with a CHAdeMO connector that can use DC fast chargers, but unfortunately, this connector is becoming less common in public stations compared to the newer CCS plug. Optionally, the Leaf is also fitted with a J1772 port, which is more common, but it’s only good for slower charging.
Poor Driving Range On The Base Trim
If you opt for the cheapest Leaf, forget about traveling long distances at once. The base S trim Leaf has a 239-kilometer range per charge, according to the EPA estimates. This might be enough for some people, but it’s underwhelming low compared to newer models in the class that promise 400 kilometers or more per charge.
But if you opt for the pricier Leaf S Plus, you are promised 363 kilometers of driving range.
Rear Seats Don’t Fold Flat
Most car interiors are designed in a way that their cabins are made practical, by installing seats that can be configured in various ways. This is not the case with the 2022 Nissan Leaf.
The rear seats of the 2022 Leaf do not completely fold flat. This is a hindrance to its practicality, as it reduces the car’s ability to accommodate more cargo.
Limited Small-item Storage
Like all other small cars, the 2022 Leaf comes with several cabin storage compartments such as bottle holders, door pockets, front seat jacket pockets, and a center console box. But these options are not adequate, especially for storing small items. The glove box is average in size and the center console box is small.
It’s Not An Entertaining Car To Drive
While the newly introduced Plus trims are somewhat fast on highways, they are nowhere close to offering a sporty feel. It’s designed to be comfortable, especially with comfort mode engaged. When you take corners at speed, you are quickly reminded that the Leaf was not designed for such tasks, but rather the spirited runs in a straight line. The steering wheel is very light and ideally suited for urban driving, which takes as back to the fact that the Leaf is not a sporty car.
When one thinks of early EVs, most people’s thoughts will be thinking of the Tesla Model S as the revolutioner, but we must not forget that the Nissan Leaf was there before, and kickstarted the EV industry. The Leaf is Nissan‘s answer to the masses, a car aimed at normal people.
In the 12 years since the Leaf was unveiled, several new EVs have entered the market. But, apart from the Chevy Bolt and Mini SE, the rest come with a premium price tag. But not only that, they also feature a giant touchscreen interface, funky exteriors, nicer interiors, and sporty handling. But the Leaf has maintained its status as the people’s electric car, with a retail price that can be afforded by a large portion of the population.
The Nissan Leaf is a comfortable, generously equipped, practical, no-nonsense hatch that can accommodate five occupants with a big trunk, luxury items, and safety kits as well.
Written by: Samuel H. Mponezya