2012 Nissan Leaf

The 2012 Nissan Leaf is one the newest Upscale Small electric cars from the company. With its unique exterior and standard features, many users praise the Leaf as one of the best electric varieties when it comes to acceleration and braking, feeling almost like it was gasoline powered.

The car's drawbacks, however, can be recognized in the impractical interior design as well as its less than stellar capabilities in range.

Specifications

General Info
Vehicle Type: Hybrid Hatchback Base Price: $35,200.00
Fuel Tank Capacity: NA MPG: 106 city / 92 hwy
Dimensions
Length: 175 in. (444.5 cm) Wheel Base: 106.3 in. (270 cm)
Height: 61 in. (154.9 cm) Width: 69.7 in. (177 cm)
Curb Weight: 3385 lbs (1535 kg) Ground Clearance: 6.3 in. (16 cm)
Luggage Capacity: 14.5 cu ft Maximum Seating: 5 people
Performance
Engine: Electric Battery Pack: 360V Li Ion
Horsepower: 107 HP Torque: 207 lb-ft
Drive: FWD Transmission: 1-Speed Auto
Available Trims & Engine
Option:Leaf SL MSRP: $37,250; MPG: 106 city / 92 hwy

Engine

This is Nissan's only electric car that comes in both SL and SV trims. Those accustomed to the conventional gasoline powered vehicles are pleasantly surprised as to how similar the accelerating and braking mechanics of the Leaf are with gasoline models.

The car boasts an output of 107 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque produced by the 80-kW electric motor. It is equipped with a 24 kWh lithium-ion battery. Since there is no gasoline engine, the Leaf does not come with the conventional transmission scheme.

Performance

Charging of the Leaf's batteries can be done with any standard home outlet. The Leaf can also be installed with a quick charging station but will require additional costs for purchase and installation. At an average, a 220 volt outlet can charge the Leaf fully for 7 hours, while the 110 volt outlet can fully charge the car for 20 hours. With the quick charge station, charging to 80 percent takes only half an hour.

The average range or distance the Leaf can travel before the battery drains is 73 miles. However, this value can be significantly affected by on board weight, driving profile as well as environmental conditions. The Leaf also comes with a regenerative brake function which captures the friction created to slightly recharge the battery.

Exterior

The Nissan Leaf possesses a distinctive look and feel. The company's goal was to create an iconic look that would set the trend in popularizing electric car technology. The exterior is designed to fit and cover the recharging ports and places headlines strategically to decrease aerodynamic drag by channeling air along the sides.

Interior

The interior was designed with a futuristic theme in mind. While the car comes with a host of technological functionalities that are uncommon for upscale small cars, the presence of the battery further impedes on the small back seat area which is already a known issue even with conventional models.

Though the Leaf can seat five, the back area provides very little room for adult passengers. Cargo space is also quite limited due to the presence of the battery.

Safety & Reliability

The car scored "Good" in all crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and scored a five star average with the federal government.

The leaf comes with the standard 6 airbags, traction control and anti-lock brake system commonly seen in this vehicle type. J.D. Power gave the Leaf a score of 3 out of 5 in terms of Predicted reliability.

Pros

  • Accelerating and Braking has the same feel as that of conventional gasoline cars
  • The Regenerative Brake System is smoothly implemented
  • Unique Exterior Design
  • Excellent Safety Testing Performance
  • Several Standard Interior Features
  • Complete with Standard Safety Features

Cons

  • Cramped Back seat
  • Limited Cargo Area
  • Charging could take very long without Quick Charge Station
  • Highly Variable Range

The electric car technology is slowly being introduced as an alternative to the gasoline powered engine. The 2012 Nissan Leaf is Nissan's venture into this new age tech.

Anyone looking for a dependable eco friendly car may find the Leaf's performance and features to be its winning point against its competitors in this slowly growing market in automotive technologies.

Competition

The Chevrolet Volt (MSRP $39,145; 95 city / 93 hwy), Toyota Prius (MSRP $32,000), and the Honda Insight (MSRP $23,690; 41 city / 44 hwy) are some of the other hybrids available in the market.

Overall Rating
72 out of 100

What others say:

“The 2012 Nissan Leaf is, quite simply, the first battery electric vehicle built in volume by any major carmaker; if you can get comfortable with its range of 70 to 100 miles, it's the greenest car you can buy.”Car Connection

“No more gas stations; spacious, quiet cabin; ample features; snappy acceleration; intelligent navigation system. Limited cruising range; limited recharging points; home charger is a necessity; small trunk for a hatchback.”Edmunds