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Federal Tax Credit Up To $7,500!

The 2011 Nissan Leaf electric car qualifies for a federal tax credit of up to $7,500, effectively reducing the net base price from $33,720 to $26,220. In addition, some states offer their own purchase incentives, which can be combined with the federal credit. Other electric vehicle-related perks that vary by city or state include single-occupant access to carpool lanes, free metered parking and significantly reduced vehicle registration fees. Home charging stations, which cut charging times in half compared to standard wall outlets, are also eligible for attractive incentives. Nissan offers a useful state-by-state guide to Leaf-specific incentives and perks at nissanusa.com.

2011 Nissan LEAF

Overview
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2011 Nissan LEAF Review

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KBB Expert Rating: 7.1

The first pure electric-powered vehicle introduced by a major automaker, the 2011 Nissan LEAF heralds the dawn of a new era of ultra-clean motoring. Although distribution will be geographically limited and its numbers will be supply-constrained to only 20,000 units during the initial year of sales, all of those units have already been spoken for by eco-minded buyers and Nissan is gearing up its Smyrna, Tennessee, assembly plant to produce 50,000 of these five-passenger mid-size hatchback sedans here annually starting in 2012. With a 100-mile nominal range, driving characteristics that effectively mirror conventionally-powered cars and a surprisingly affordable price tag made even more attractive by various incentives, the LEAF is a legitimate and very real alternative choice, particularly for those considering its primary rival, the Extended-Range Electric Vehicle (E-REV) 2011 Chevrolet Volt.

You'll Like This Car If...

No question that card-carrying Greenies who think EVs are the future and the future is now will love the new Nissan LEAF. Others will simply have to decide if a vehicle with its admirable cost-to-benefit ratio makes the most sense as a second or third commuter car or as a substitute for a conventional hybrid.

You May Not Like This Car If...

Drivers with unpredictable daily schedules, long commutes and/or budgets that will support only one car will be better off with a standard compact/mid-size vehicle, some type of hybrid – or the LEAF's high-profile but pricier rival for eco plaudits, the Chevrolet Volt.

What's Significant About This Car?

The electric-powered Nissan LEAF is nothing less than a revolutionary step in the advancement of modern ultra-clean automotive design. It combines user-friendly technology in a practical, affordable package that should appeal to anyone who can live within its per-charge range limitations.

Driving the LEAF

Driving Impressions Nissan has always contended that its ultra-clean character aside, the LEAF would deliver the same basic driving experience as any conventional competitor. Having put it through a variety of real-world...

paces, from urban stop-and-go to rolling two-lane backroads to formal freeway hauling, we can confirm that promise of functional transparency has been kept. Initial acceleration is brisk, ride compliance good and it's surprisingly capable when the going does get twisty. While calling it "sporty" would be an overstatement – especially in ECO mode – the LEAF does respond to all control inputs in a confidently predictably manner. Admittedly a tad numb on center, the LEAF's electric power steering is direct and decently weighted while its Versa-based suspension bits keep body roll fairly well in check. The effect of its regenerative braking, while noticeable, is hardly intrusive. Even the low-rolling resistance tires serve up more grip than expected, allowing, if not encouraging, at least a modicum of spirited motoring.

Green to the core
Nothing is absolutely emission-free, but with its pure electric powertrain the new Nissan LEAF comes as close as possible to zeroing out its carbon footprint. To complement that exemplary level of eco-friendliness, nearly 95 percent of all components in this groundbreaking vehicle are recyclable.

Enlightened touch-screen navigation system
In addition to guiding you to your destination and presenting various points of interest along the way, the navigation package in the LEAF graphically depicts the range limits of your out-and-back travel per charge as well as the location of all nearby commercial recharging locations.

2011 Nissan LEAF Details
2011 Nissan LEAF photo Interior

The 2011 Nissan LEAF's well-isolated, full-featured cabin matches understated contemporary flair with a high level of user friendliness. A technical mid-size offering, it seats five, teaming decently formed front buckets with a utility-enhancing 60/40 rear bench seat that will pamper a pair of full-size adults, accommodate a trio of kids or fold to upsize cargo space from 11.7 to 24.0 cubic feet. Like much of its interior trim, all of the people perches are covered in fully recycled/recyclable material. Basic control functions are all logically arrayed, although getting comfortable with the megaload of vehicle and systems information that can be called up at any time does require a bit of personal orientation.

Exterior
2011 Nissan LEAF photo

Distinctively – and some might contend controversially – styled, the LEAF's five-door hatch design was created to optimize total operating efficiency. Its aerodynamic lines coupled with various other streamlining elements yield a 0.29 coefficient of drag while helping to minimize wind noise that can become much more noticeable when you eliminate the sounds normally created by an internal combustion engine. Low-draw LED headlights and tail lamps bookend the package to further help extend the LEAF's potential operating range. Properly filling its nicely flared fender wells are 205/55 Bridgestone Ecopia low-rolling resistance tires wrapped around lightweight aluminum wheels.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

Beyond its advanced all-electric powertrain and on-board charger/charging cord, the LEAF's lengthy features roster includes a full array of power assists, driver-selectable/eco-encouraging digital readouts, real-time navigation/vehicle-information systems, a six-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio package with iPod/USB connectivity, Bluetooth and available XM Satellite Radio, sophisticated trip computer, electric climate control system, Intelligent Key push-button starting, the ability to use web-enabled smartphones to monitor and control various on-board systems/functions. In addition to its vehicle dynamics/traction control systems, the LEAF also has front/front-side/side-curtain airbags. The $940 step up from SV to SL trim brings a RearView Monitor, rear-spoiler solar panel, fog lamps and automatic headlights.

Optional Equipment

2011 Nissan LEAF extras are minimal to say the least. A Cold Package for both the SV and SL adds heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, heated mirrors, extra rear-seat heater ducts and dedicated temperature management circuitry, while SL buyers also can opt for a supplemental Quick Charge Port capable of delivering an 80 percent recharge in 30 minutes at dedicated public charging stations. Also on offer is a 220V home charger. Projected to cost about $2,200 installed – half or less after various credits – this hard-wired unit cuts recharging time to roughly eight hours compared to the 20 needed on a basic 110V plug-in.

Under the Hood

Energized by a 24kWh Lithium-ion-manganese-graphite battery pack mounted beneath its floor and warranted for eight years/100,000 miles, the LEAF's 80kW/107-horsepower motor/generator develops 206.5 pound-feet of torque from zero rpm. Sent to the front wheels via a single-speed reduction gear, it makes this 3,370-pound Nissan surprisingly quick off the line, takes it to 60 mph in around 10 seconds and lets it reach 90 mph. While temperature extremes and driving conditions will impact real-world range, a selectable ECO mode that that rolls back throttle response and steps up the regenerative braking effect can help stretch its nominal 100-mile per-charge potential by roughly 10 percent. Nissan says recharging will run $3 or less and that unless gasoline dips below $1.10/gallon, the LEAF's "fuel" costs will be less than a conventional car that averages 25 mpg.

AC synchronous electric motor/generator
24kWh lithium-ion-manganese-graphite battery pack
80kW/107-horsepower @ 2,730-9,800 rpm
206.5 lb-ft of torque @ 0-2,730 rpmn
Projected per-charge range: 72 miles
EPA city/highway fuel economy equivalent: 106/92

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2011 Nissan LEAF Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.7
Out of 10

Based on 67 Ratings for the 2011 - 2016 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.2/10
    Quality
    9.0/10
  • Reliability
    9.1/10
    Performance
    9.0/10
  • Comfort
    8.9/10
    Styling
    8.7/10

Battery capacity loss is real

By on Tuesday, December 15, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 40,000

10 5.0
overall rating 5 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
5/10
Value
2/10
Reliability
2/10
Quality
2/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Comfortable, surprisingly good pick up"

Cons: "sticky brakes, extreme loss of range"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1

"Great driving comfortable car; however, battery capacity loss is real and makes the car impractical. Even within the 3 bar loss allowed under the capacity warranty, the Leaf's miles have dropped to 40 miles (less in the winter). Also, the brake tends to stick while stopping, which require mashing the brake pedal into the floor to fix. Not a big deal, but a nuisance non the less."

4 people out of 5 found this review helpful

Depreciation nightmare

By on Sunday, November 15, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 29,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
1/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "GPS"

Cons: "Worthless resale value for purchasers"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1

"Although the car is low maintenance and cheap to drive the range has always been about 70% of what Nissan claims. I bought the 8 yr 100k mile warranty 0 deductible but have not needed to use it once. Drive out price with TT&L and 0 down was 42,187. I owe 20,321. today and the can only get 10k on a a private sale. My payment is 552.00 a month on a 4% loan. I should have waited 7 months at the time and gotten the Tesla my wife wanted but I was in too big a hurry to stop polluting. Nissan should do more to help the early adopter purchasers get out of this cash burning machine."

20 people out of 27 found this review helpful

Took a gamble...pleased so far

By on Tuesday, October 20, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 23,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Great value, no smog, different"

Cons: "Range anxiety, understand its limitations"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"We purchased a used 2013 S with quick charge and backup camera with 20k miles for $10500. It's hard to find this kind of value. A lot of people have range anxiety or aren't early adopters of EV's. The resale reflects this. We use the car for everyday driving. It's perfect for our needs. We have a second car for long range driving. The car has lots of pep from 0 to 40. The cabin is very spacious and we aren't little people. I love the idea that we are saving about $100 a month on gas and we are doing our part to help the environment as well. What's not to like?"

8 people out of 12 found this review helpful

Amazing Car, Amazing Value

By on Sunday, October 04, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Great Value, silent, smooth powerful drive."

Cons: "GPS system could improve."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Always wanted an electric car, just never thought I could afford one (don't want to lease). When the time came for a newer vehicle, I was amazed to see how inexpensive the used (lease return) Leaf was going for. I ended up purchasing a two year lease return, in the color I wanted, with only 10070 miles, in new condition, for $11,900. Everyone in my family loves the car. It is fun to drive with the sharp handling and instant torque/power. The Leaf is our primary car and is used for for all daily driving needs (my 10 mile commute, trips to the store, kids sports/music etc.). So glad to no longer visit a gas station or oil change stations. We do still own a 2002 CR-V that gets driven once in a while. Other than a couple long trips, over the course of three months, I have put only two tanks of gas in the Honda. I am disappointed to learn that the new 2016 extended battery will not be compatible with the older models as that would make trips to Tahoe and the Bay Area a bit easier, but as long as the charging network increases, we plan on enjoying this car for many years to come."

10 people out of 12 found this review helpful

Overall a pretty nice vehicle

By on Tuesday, September 29, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 50,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
7/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
6/10

Pros: "very cheap to own, esp if used. good acceleration"

Cons: "long charge, medium range"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"I enjoy not buying any gas. however, the range of the leaf can be problematic at times where I live. The vehicle itself handles like a champ for a fwd hatch. Very low center of gravity helps it take turns like a boss. The cars interior is nice. Its clean and simple and after I got used to using the screen for almost everything I appreciated it more. The seats I dont find too comfortable; no lower back support without feeling like im folded up in the seat. The speakers are pretty impressive. they can pump the noise out for stock speakers. The car looks so adorable! Its fun to wash, the cloth just slides right over all of its nice curves. The mileage thing took me awhile to understand, i mostly ignore it and just go off of how long it says for remaining charge time. In closing, unless they can pull a little more range out of some of the newer models, I might not consider buying a new one without better infrastructure in my area. But overall a very fun car!"

9 people out of 15 found this review helpful

After watching for three years I took the plunge.

By on Wednesday, July 08, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "fun to drive, ultra reliable by all accounts."

Cons: "You need to owe the IRS $7500 for full tax break"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Actually it was the BMW i3 ads that got me moving. The family said that was my car (the Tesla was not an option). After seeing both the i3 and Leaf at the auto show it was clearly the Leaf. In my case a 2015 SL with surround cameras and the Bose sound system. The fit and finish appear flawless. My range is around 100 miles. The air conditioning is excellent as well as the sound system (I'm not convinced it is worth the money though). My home only had an 80 amp service so to take advantage of a 6 kw level 2 charger I needed to modernize up to 200 amp (with a 50% contribution by the State). My family is tall so the extra headroom inside front AND back gives you an appreciation the roofline design. I think the instruction manuals total over 700 pages, but if you are the husband or wife of a geek you just get in and drive. It is that simple. The Carwings navcom system? That could use some improvement. This car is a real tour de force of Nissan engineering. Everywhere I look I see thoughtful design and excellent execution. 2 cents per mile fuel cost (in my case nuclear!) and service requirements pretty much limited to tire rotation and annual battery checkup are of course worthy of mention. So I tell my friends...great car for urban/suburban driving if you have a second car for road trips and a place to hang a 220 volt charger. I couldn't be more pleased with my purchase."

20 people out of 24 found this review helpful

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