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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.

2012 Nissan LEAF

Overview
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2012 Nissan LEAF Review

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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

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2012 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."

8 people out of 8 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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