Nissan has completely redesigned its successful Leaf electric vehicle for 2018, adding over 40 miles of range and a long list of features, and dropping the price by several hundred dollars. This is the first major redesign of the car since its debut in 2010.
Since 2010, more than 290,000 Leaf EVs have been sold worldwide, with well over 100,000 of those in the United States. That makes the Leaf the most popular EV in the world right now. With many important updates, the 2018 Leaf is very likely to spark a surge of sales.
First, let's talk about range. The old Leaf was rated for 107 miles on a full charge, and the new Leaf is rated for 150 miles. Nissan has expanded the battery pack from 30 kWh to 40 kWh, but kept it the same size. That means the new Leaf can take you from Portland to Seattle on a single charge, or down to Salem and back with energy to spare. Obviously, you can get even more range from a Chevy Bolt or a Tesla, but those cars cost more as well.
The new Leaf also offers 37% more power, up to 147 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. The Nissan may be green, but it's also very quick.
Another new feature in the Leaf is the ability to perform Level 2 charging without a dedicated charging station. The Leaf offers a charging cable that will plug into a standard 120-volt outlet or a 30-amp 240-volt outlet — the kind that most houses have for the clothes dryer.
On the tech side, Nissan offers a phone app for both Apple and Android that allows you to check on your car's charge and perform functions like pre-setting the cabin temperature — which is nice in any season.
Another new feature is Nissan's e-Pedal. This 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 takes about 10 miles to get used to this action, but you're going to love it.
The second feature is ProPilot Assist, which is a combination of adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assistance. Nissan requires you to keep your hands on the wheel, but the Leaf will do most of the steering. This technology is still immature, but it's pointing the way to autonomous operation.
Even with all that, Nissan has dropped the price on the 2018 Leaf at every trim level. The most popular SV trim will be priced $1,710 lower than the 2017 model, at $32,840, plus $885 in destination costs. The top level SL trim will cost $590 less than this year's model. Lease options will be available as well.
The 2018 Leaf goes on sale in January, and is eligible for the $7,500 federal tax credit. Oregon has also approved a rebate of up to $2,500, but the exact amount and eligibility criteria have yet to be finalized.
The bottom line on the 2018 Nissan Leaf is that if you liked your old Leaf, you'll really love the new one. The new Leaf is faster, more versatile, goes farther, and it's cheaper than the original. If you've never owned an EV, maybe it's time to turn over a new Leaf for 2018?
Base price: $30,875
Price as tested: $37,738
Type: Compact hatchback
Engine: Battery electric motor (147 hp, 236 lbs-ft)
Transmission: Direct front wheel drive
EPA estimated mileage equivalent: 124/101
Overall length: 176.4 inches
Curb weight: 3,508 pounds
Final assembly: Smyrna, Tennessee