2013 Nissan Leaf Review
Behold an affordable electric.No Comments
Ride is acceptably smooth, with rough pavement posing few problems. The Leaf is comfortable on the highway, and it doesn't suffer much on surface streets.
Nissan's Leaf draws attention, and not because of its sexy styling (this bland compact doesn't exactly have panache in the looks department), but because most everyone who knows what it is knows it's all-electric. That means the driver will be fielding plenty of questions about range and charge time.
While electric-car technology might be interesting, what's more pertinent to buyers is how the car actually drives in day-to-day commuting. Most Leafs will be consigned to family-hauling and urban commuting duties, just like their gas-powered brethren; while range matters, what happens when the car isn't plugged in matters more.
That shows on the back roads, too. The Leaf feels uncomfortable, with a bit too much body roll and understeer. Its handling is probably mid-pack or slightly below, so it's not terrible, but if you want something that handles well and is gas-free, investigate the Ford Focus Electric.
Ride is acceptably smooth, with rough pavement posing few problems. The Leaf is comfortable on the highway, and it doesn't suffer much on surface streets. It's a pleasant, if inoffensive runabout.
Range is always an issue with electric cars, and while we noticed that it didn't drop too quickly on city streets, we found that it dipped in a hurry at highway speeds. So fast, in fact, that we ran our tester almost dead. Range will be a concern for some folks, no doubt.
That nav system has special electric-only features - it can tell you where the nearest charging station is or how far you can travel on available range, for instance. It comes in handy - trust us, we know.
Our only beef was the dang-blasted automatic transmission shifter. It's like a computer mouse, but a lot more annoying. It's not at all intuitive.
That means for many, it will be a second car. Only city dwellers who never leave the urban jungle and have steady access to a charge port will use the Leaf as a primary car. That's a shame, because the upscale cabin and decent ride give the Leaf some solid cred.
As a compact, the Leaf is good, but not great. As an electric, it's above par - it's affordable, offers a standard amount of range, and has a real cabin (unlike the i). We can't love this car until it becomes more practical, but when it has juice, it's a decent compact choice - provided you don't drive too far.
Torque: 187 lb-ft.
Transmission: Single-speed reducer
Fuel Economy: 130 mpge city/102 mpge highway
Base Price: $34,840
As-Tested Price: $36,910 (including $850 destination fee)
Available Features: Navigation, Bluetooth, satellite radio, AroundView monitor, fog lights, heated front and rear seats, heated steering wheel, Pandora, USB, charging timer, 17-inch wheels.