Advertisement

Why ads?
Popular at KBB.com
  • 10 Most Affordable Cars of 2014
  • The 40 MPG Cars of 2014
  • 10 Best SUVs Under $25,000
  • Compact Car Buyer's Guide
Go
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.

2012 Nissan LEAF

Overview
Share this page
Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

Buying this car?

2012 Nissan LEAF Review

By

KBB Expert Rating: 8.1

At a time when the only electric vehicles other manufacturers are showing are the concepts appearing at the auto shows, Nissan has put talk into action by producing the first all-electric mass-produced car. Introduced last year, the Nissan LEAF EV (electric vehicle) ushers in a new dawn of clean, eco-friendly non-oil burners perfect for short jaunts in the urban jungle. While the range of the 2012 Nissan LEAF electric car can't match that of a conventional gasoline-powered hybrid (or even that of a plug-in hybrid like the Chevrolet Volt), it can tackle the normal driving range most people cover in a day, or roughly 100 miles before needing to be recharged. Despite a flurry of critics who say electric cars are not feasible, Nissan has sold every one of the 20,000 2011 LEAFs it built before they ever hit the showroom. But, don't worry, more LEAFs are slated for 2012 production, so the line to future just got a little shorter.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you really want to make a statement about lessening our dependence on foreign oil, climbing into a 2012 Nissan LEAF electric car will definitely send a strong message. If you don't commute more than 100 miles a day, live in an area with easily accessible electrical ports and don't mind waiting from 30 minutes to eight hours to "fuel" your car, the 2012 Nissan LEAF EV is your ticket to the eco-Super Bowl.

You May Not Like This Car If...

Those with unpredictably long commutes, or who live in more rural settings where it's hard enough to find a bathroom let alone a 220-volt outlet, should probably set their green ambitions on a plug-in hybrid like the 2012 Toyota Prius plug-in or the Chevrolet Volt.

What's New for 2012

The 2012 Nissan LEAF gains heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel, battery heater, heated outside mirrors and rear-seat HVAC ducts. The SL trim receives a Quick Charge Port.

Driving the LEAF

Driving Impressions Other than its electric motor, the 2012 Nissan LEAF rides and handles pretty much like any other 5-door economy car. Whether in urban stop-and-go traffic or on a windy back...

road, we found the LEAF to be utterly unremarkable, and we mean that in a good way. When loaded with passengers, the LEAF didn't struggle or strain as would a conventional 4-cylinder. Instead, its electric motor delivered all the torque a little car could ask for, resulting in brisk acceleration. In ECO mode, the LEAF conserves energy so the power is not as potent, but you can travel farther. We found that the LEAF's electric power steering feels a bit numb on center, but the steering wheel response is nicely weighted with quick turn-in. Using the Versa Sedan's suspension components gives the LEAF a comfortable and smooth ride with a little bit of sportiness for good measure. 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 2012 Nissan LEAF EV 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 2012 Nissan 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.

2012 Nissan LEAF Details
2012 Nissan LEAF photo Interior

The 2012 Nissan LEAF's super-quiet, feature-laden cabin is the equal to the car's contemporary exterior, with a high level of user friendliness. The 2012 LEAF electric car's mid-size dimensions create an open and inviting space suitable for four adults. The formed front bucket seats are comfortable but not big on side or back support. In a nod to the LEAF's eco-friendly mission, the seat coverings are made of recycled materials. The rear seat includes a 60/40 split-folding setup for times when the smallish 11.7-cubic-foot cargo bay just won't do. While basic controls, such as the air conditioner and the radio, operate just like in any other car, the megaload of vehicle and systems information that can be called up at any time does require spending a bit of time with the rather thick owner's manual.

Exterior
2012 Nissan LEAF photo

The 2012 Nissan LEAF didn't have to be styled so distinctively but it seems fitting that such a unique car should also have a unique look. The LEAF's flowing unconventional shape and 0.29 coefficient of drag have little to do with the car's electric parts and more to do with keeping wind noise at bay. Further wind cheating enhancements include low-drag LED headlights and taillights, and low-rolling-resistance tires wrapped around ultra-lightweight alloy wheels. The 5-door hatch design maximizes the LEAF's interior occupancy options, while the port for charging the LEAF resides in the center of the car's nose.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

Beyond its advanced all-electric powertrain and on-board charger/charging cord, the 2012 Nissan 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 6-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio package with iPod/USB connectivity, Bluetooth and available XM Satellite Radio, sophisticated trip computer, electric climate-control system, heating elements for the seats, steering wheel and mirrors, 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, foglights and automatic headlights.

Optional Equipment

2012 Nissan LEAF electric vehicle extras are minimal to say the least. SL buyers 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 rpm
Projected per-charge range: 72 miles
EPA city/highway fuel economy equivalent: 106/92

Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

Buying this car?

2012 Nissan LEAF Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.7
Out of 10

Based on 59 Ratings for the 2011 - 2015 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.4/10
    Quality
    9.0/10
  • Reliability
    9.2/10
    Performance
    8.9/10
  • Comfort
    8.9/10
    Styling
    8.6/10

My second LEAF and LOVE it!

By on Wednesday, April 22, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,200

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
10/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Quiet, fun, Economical"

Cons: "range could be better"

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

"I bought a 2015 SL after leasing a 2013 SV. In 2 years I put 30,000 miles on my last LEAF. I had absolutely NO maintenance issues with the car. It has more features than other cars its size. It is fun to drive. You have to come into it knowing what you are getting. I routinely go 80 miles in mixed driving without a problem. My daily commute is 64 miles round trip and I never have a concern. Sure the range is lower in the winter and is a bit less with the heat or AC on, but hasn't even ben an issue with my commute, Nissan has reworked the battery chemistry since the first model came out in 2011 and there is much less battery degradation. I saw none in 2 years. To address that someone said the battery costs $12000, not true. A replacement is $6000 installed, but it is warrantied for 8 years/100,000 miles from a bad cell and for 5 years/60,000 to hold a capacity of at least 70%. I have seen so loss in 2 years so I am confident it this cars battery quality. Of course I know that range will eventually decrease but the value is outstanding. I installed a 220 charging station in my garage and it charges quickly. If it was completely run down, it would charge in 4 hours, but I rarely ever run it down, so charge times are less. There are also free charging station ALL OVER the Dallas area. A charging station can be had for $500 but then it is yours forever. But you may need to install a 220 outlet if you don't have one. Sometimes Nissan gives these stations away with the car. So I pay 2.5 cents/mile for electricity vs 15 in my pickup. Also there are plenty of incentives. $7500 federal rebate is still available. It is actually a credit. So if you pay that much in Federal Taxes, you WILL get that amount back (or off) your tax bill when you file the next year. If you only pay say $6000 in taxes, that is all you will get back. I also received $2500 Texas rebate which runs until June 2015 unless renewed. Several other state offer rebates as well. Add that to offers from Nissan, you can get this car cheap. It is what it is, a commuter car. Its not a Tesla and wasn't meant to be. But it does its job extremely well."

13 people out of 13 found this review helpful

very high quality, cheap to operate and maintain

By on Tuesday, April 14, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
Not Rated
Reliability
Not Rated
Quality
Not Rated
Performance
9/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "$ 0.02 per mile and very low maintenance"

Cons: "45 mile range on 80% charge"

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

"after 3.5 years of operation its cost $0.02 per mile for home charging. the quality, smoothness and noise are excellent. easy and fun to drive."

9 people out of 15 found this review helpful

Extremely Advanced Car - So Quiet and Quick Enough

By on Monday, March 02, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 11,500

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
8/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Quick, Quiet in a luxurious way, edgy, spacious"

Cons: "You can't plan over 60 miles on hot/cold day"

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

"If you drive a car in the city and want to park in tight spots, quickly accelerate from 0 - 30mph, require lots of trunk and head space, plus does not pollute or damage the lungs of your cycling, walking and running fellow humans then this is your car. We buy wind power and charge our car overnight with a 110v and only use the charging stations when going to Whole Foods or the Science Center."

7 people out of 12 found this review helpful

Fun to drive, and near zero maintenance

By on Tuesday, February 17, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 31,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "fun to drive, no gas cost"

Cons: "Satellite radio sounds tinny"

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

"This has been the best new car I have ever purchased (about 4th). All worked as published, and you can see a lot of thought went in from the bottom up to make this an efficient car that still feels like a "real" car. There are several indicators to let you know how efficiently you are driving - so up to you whether you want to be a lead foot or not - and how much energy distance you have left. The only thing that has worn in 31,000 miles are the tires."

7 people out of 8 found this review helpful

Nissan leaf is a great car and its 100% electric.

By on Sunday, January 25, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 21,000

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
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Iphone App, Power, Charge at home, quite, 0 emissions"

Cons: "My left foot gets a bit chilly in winter"

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

"I have had my 2014 Nissan Leaf SV since Feb 2014 and regularly tell people it is the best car i have even owned. I have a 85km round trip commute each day and have recently reached 21,000km. This car impresses me on a daily basis and we even use it to drive up the ski hill after work, after 20min top up at home on the level 2 charger. Outdoor weather proof charger from home depot is $950, no garage required. I regularly use the leaf to drive around 4 10yr olds to soccer with all the balls and gear in the trunk. Have even used it for a few 200km family road trips, just takes a bit of planning to map out the quick charge stations. Currently looking to buy a 2nd one for my wife as it's a great car and highly recommend it."

14 people out of 22 found this review helpful

Safety considerations? Doing one's HW B4 Buying.

By on Tuesday, January 13, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 24,000

10 4.0
overall rating 4 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
4/10
Value
3/10
Reliability
4/10
Quality
5/10
Performance
5/10
Styling
6/10
Comfort
3/10

Pros: "Commuter lane access"

Cons: "Safety concerns at speeds over 40MPH"

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

"Simply doesn't matter if you feel like Jane Jetson when driving because such feelings can be overly misleading and irrelevant. Before you purchase any vehicle take the time to look at all crash tests for the vehicle in question. In this case the 2014 Nissan Leaf. Might wish to Google the following web site review / report on the Leaf. It's titled, "2014 Nissan Leaf small overlap IIHS crash test." The following crash test results caught my attention and concern, especially when transporting others as well as myself at speeds in excess of 40MPH."

15 people out of 32 found this review helpful

Share this page

Advertisement

Why ads?
Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

Buying this car?