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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 New for 2011

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 71 Ratings for the 2011 - 2016 models.

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

Awesome, Economical & Super Dependable!

By on Wednesday, June 1, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 28,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Most Everything, No Oil Changes, No Transmission"

Cons: "Only 70 miles on a full charge"

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

"We bought a used, 2 year old Leaf SL and it's our favorite toy. Quick sub 50 MPH acceleration, comfortable, spacious, quiet and quirky. I'm addicted to not buying gas. But installing a 240 volt charger is a must, must have! The 240 volt charger will juice up the Leaf with 25 miles range in an hour/ or full charge in 3 hours. But that's provided your model has the quick charge option. The Leaf is one of three cars that we own, and it would be somewhat limiting if it were our only vehicle, due to the range constrictions of 70 miles. And 70 mile range means you're driving very conservatively, in ECO Mode and with the Brake Regenerative function, as well. I'm no stranger to high end vehicles. I currently own an older model Boxster and Infiniti Q45, and adore them both. I've also owned a Nissan 350Z, Mercedes E class, BMW 735IL, Saab Turbo convertible, Honda Prelude, Toyota Cellica GTS, and Audi. So, when I say the Leaf is overall, one of the most favorite cars I've ever owned, you can get an idea of what I've experienced. If 70 miles range meets your everyday needs, consider the Leaf. You can always use charging stations when necessary, but that can be a bit of an inconvenience. Don't forget, you must invest the $500 for the 240 volt charger, and another $150 or so for an electrician or qualified handyman to install the plug for it."

7 people out of 7 found this review helpful

Excellent car.

By on Thursday, May 12, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 14,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Quiet, reliable, easy to drive, economical"

Cons: "None for my mission"

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

"It is a perfect car for my needs. I never have to stop at a gas station. I don't have to change/check oil. I only use the standard 110 VAC charger, no big deal. It has ample power and range. These electric cars are the future, a little sad but it the future. We enjoy the quietness and the ease in driving. I also have a pick up truck and sports car, but for our work commute, errands and grocery getting this thing is perfect. I have had two field campaigns for software and a warranty repair for the air conditioner."

5 people out of 13 found this review helpful

Great little electric car!

By on Friday, April 22, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 16,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "fun to drive, clean air, quiet"

Cons: "range"

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

"I absolutely love driving this car - it drives so much better than my Prius! Especially when making a turn, it feels solid. Has great acceleration and drives like a regular car. I also love the room inside despite looking small from the outside. Never ran out of juice but then again, I planned my trips ahead of time. I just really wish they had an option with extra range or engine!"

4 people out of 7 found this review helpful

Nice car,but does not meet Nissan specs. on milage

By on Thursday, March 10, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 35,000

10 5.0
overall rating 5 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
5/10
Value
1/10
Reliability
1/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
2/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Nice to drive, lots of options"

Cons: "Will not go the distance indicated on batter range"

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

"Nice little car but don't expect to go any further than 35 miles on a charge. Nissan should replace the battery so the can would go at least 60 miles as indicated, but they will not. I have owned several Nissan's, but will never buy another one because of how Nissan has treated me regarding this car and it's battery problems. DO NOT BELIEVE WHAT THEY TELL YOU ABOUT THE RANGE"

7 people out of 14 found this review helpful

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."

8 people out of 13 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."

27 people out of 39 found this review helpful

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