2011 Nissan LEAF
The all-electric 2011 Nissan LEAF goes on sale here before year’s end. But, recently, we had a chance to try out the LEAF to see if this zero-emission ride lives up to its hype.
On the road, the bug-eyed, bulbous compact five-door hatchback looks a little larger than it did at autoshow displays. It’s longer than Nissan’s Versa five-door, but slightly shorter than the Chevrolet Volt.
But unlike the Volt, the LEAF has no backup gasoline generator. Just a compact lithium-ion battery pack mounted under the floorpan and rear seats. Nissan says the LEAF’s range is about 100 miles under good weather and driving conditions. The LEAF’s 80-kilowatt electric motor delivers a zippy response.
The Nissan LEAF drives very much like any other very competent compact car. It has solid acceleration. It feels well weighted. It feels very secure. Most buyers will get in it and not feel like they’re in anything unusual, and that’s a real plus. The LEAF’s futuristic five-seat interior is roomier than expected. Controls are sensible, including the mouse-like shifter. There is a Civic-like two-tiered gauge cluster, and a gadget-like center stack.
A panel up front flips up to reveal the charging port. Nissans says a full charge takes about 20 hours with a 110-volt circuit, and eight hours with 220. Starting price for the well-equipped Nissan LEAF is just under $33,000 before government tax incentives.
20 hours with a 110-volt circuit
8 hours with 220
Starting just under $33,000