Nissan introduced the Leaf Electric Vehicle in 2010 as the first modern mass-market electric vehicle. The format of the Leaf has remained pretty much the same over the past seven years, because it works.
The Leaf offers 107 miles of range on a full charge, and good performance. The Leaf's 107 horsepower and 187 pound-feet of torque deliver a peppy economy car driving experience that you will enjoy. There's no transmission to worry about — you just move a lever to select forward or reverse.
But few people buy electrics for their performance — and those who do usually choose Tesla. What most people care about with an electric is the reduction of fuel costs. What they worry about is range. The Leaf has a great story on each of those points. The MPGe (Miles Per Gallon Equivalent) ratings are 124 in city driving, and 101 on the highway, but those numbers are largely academic.
What you care about is that the Leaf will take you up to 107 miles on a full charge, or about $3.50 worth of electricity. In my experience the range drops to about 80 miles under the worst conditions: at night, in the rain, with the cabin heat on, because lights, wipers, and heaters all use electricity. We see a lot of those conditions in Portland, so let's work with that number.
According to AAA, the vast majority of us drive about 30 miles in a day, on average. Portlanders who commute to Salem would have a problem, but the rest of us who live and work in the Portland area could easily do our daily driving in a Leaf. Many studies have shown that the overall cost of ownership is far lower with an EV, in large part because EV owners don't buy gas, and electricity is much less expensive.
On the road, you'll notice that the Leaf is quiet. There's no engine noise to vibrate through the cabin. You'll hear the road noise more clearly at first, in part because automakers equip cars with low-rolling-resistance tires to maximize their range and economy. But when you've used up the first set, you can buy tires that transmit much less noise into the cabin, even on our rough Portland roads.
The bottom line on the Nissan Leaf is that it can be your daily driver,
save you money relative to a gas-powered car, and it's both comfortable and fun to drive. You can charge it up with a standard home outlet, and the number of public charging stations grows every year. It is also eligible for the $7,500 Federal income tax credit. If you have not test-driven a Nissan Leaf, I urge you to give it a try.
2017 Nissan Leaf SL
Base price: $37,655
Price as tested: $39,425
Type: Four-door hatchback
Engine: Electric Motor (107 hp, 187 lbs-ft)
Transmission: Direct drive
EPA estimated economy: 124/101 MPGe
EPA estimated range: 107 miles
Road noise: Quiet
Curb weight: 3,405 pounds
Final assembly: Smyrna, Tennessee