By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 8.0
The 2013 Leaf is the epitome of Nissan's determination for the continual advancement of electric cars. Case in point, the 2013 Nissan Leaf boasts an extended range, faster charge times, and a new entry-level "S" trim that holds the title as the most affordable 5-passenger electric car on the market. Although the notion of owning and operating an electric car might seem a bit daunting, the Nissan Leaf delivers the same basic driving experience as its conventional rivals. In the end, however, the pitfall of every modern electric vehicle is limited range, and the Leaf's EPA-estimated sub-100 mile range disqualifies it as a feasible alternative for many car shoppers. While the 2013 Leaf is unable to evade its fundamental shortcomings, green-minded buyers who have been waiting to purchase a reasonably-priced electric car will take delight in Nissan's zero-emission marvel.
Whether you seek to reduce your carbon footprint, eliminate fuel costs, or simply despise gas stations, the all-electric 2013 Nissan Leaf won't disappoint. In addition, the Leaf's new pricing strategy proposes a strong affordability advantage over competitors like the Ford Focus EV, Honda Fit EV, and plug-in Chevrolet Volt.
If you have an unpredictable driving schedule, travel more than 100 miles per day, or live in a residence without 220-volt power support, we recommend setting your eco aspirations on a plug-in hybrid like the new Ford C-Max Energi, Prius Plug-in or the Chevrolet Volt.
Now in its third year of production, the Nissan Leaf undergoes a significant price reduction along with a number of enhancements for the 2013 model year. Key revisions to the lineup include a new entry-level "S" trim, a newly available onboard 220-volt charger that reduces charging time to roughly four hours, and improved energy efficiency thanks to refined aerodynamics, additional regenerative breaking capabilities, and better energy management.
Driving Impressions Save for the absence of engine noise, the 2013 Nissan Leaf drives and handles like any mainstream vehicle. 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. The electric motor's abundance of low-end torque provides brisk acceleration, particularly when pulling away from a stop. Although it restricts overall power output, activating the driver-selectable Eco mode can boost maximum range by nearly ten percent. The electric power steering is light and properly weighted for both highway and city driving. Press on the brakes and you'll notice that the 2013 Leaf lacks the vague, unnatural brake feel associated with most regenerative braking systems. Even the low-rolling-resistance tires serve up more grip than expected, allowing, if not encouraging, a modicum of spirited motoring.
This handy smartphone application allows Leaf owners to monitor their vehicle's state of charge, begin or end a charging session, and adjust the climate controls from virtually anywhere.
Although electric powertrains are inherently quiet, Nissan engineers worked to further reduce ambient noise levels by incorporating such sound-suppressing technologies as vortex-shedding body pieces, an acoustic front windshield, and an aerodynamic antenna. With the Nissan Leaf, tranquility comes standard.
The 2013 Nissan Leaf's contemporary exterior is complemented by a futuristic yet user-friendly interior. The spacious greenhouse can accommodate four full-size adults and a small amount of cargo. Furthermore, the tall roofline and generous expanses of glass give the cabin an airy feel. The front seats are relatively comfortable, though they don't provide much side support. In a nod to the Leaf's eco-friendly mission, the seat upholstery is crafted from recycled materials. And since a bag of golf clubs nearly exceeds the physical limitations of the diminutive 11.7-cubic-foot cargo bay, the rear seat features a 60/40-split design for transporting larger items.Exterior
Although it might seem as if Nissan's design team borrowed a few styling cues from a 1980s sci-fi film, the Leaf's unconventional shape was developed to optimize aerodynamic efficiency. Additional streamlining elements include contoured taillights, ultra-lightweight alloy wheels wrapped in low-rolling-resistance tires, and headlight fins that direct air away from the side mirrors. These wind- cheating components yield a slippery 0.29 drag coefficient while helping to minimize wind noise. Recharging the Leaf is a relatively simple process, as the charge port resides conveniently within the front grille area.
In base "S" form, the 2013 Nissan Leaf includes automatic climate control, keyless access with push-button start, heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel, and a 4-speaker audio system with Bluetooth connectivity and a USB port for portable music players. Mid-tier SV models add navigation, Pandora Internet radio compatibility for iPhones, and aluminum-alloy wheels, while the range-topping SL trim includes a solar panel on the rear spoiler, low-draw LED headlights, and a quick-charge port capable of delivering an 80 percent recharge in 30 minutes with a public DC fast charger. In terms of safety, every 2013 Leaf comes equipped with six airbags, a full range of electronic stability aids, and three years of complimentary roadside assistance.
The Nissan Leaf sees a handful of enticing new features added to its options list for 2013. Chief among them is Nissan's celebrated AroundView monitor, which provides a birds-eye view of the vehicle while parking, and a 7-speaker Bose premium audio system. Regardless of which model grade you choose, the 220-volt home charging station is a must-have for any electric car owner. This hardwired unit carries a rather lofty $2,200 price tag, though tax credits are available to help offset the cost.
Energized by a 24kWh lithium-ion battery pack mounted beneath the floor (warranted for eight years/100,000 miles), the Leaf's 80kW/107-horsepower motor churns out 207 lb-ft of torque from zero rpm. Power is directed to the front wheels via a single-speed reduction gear, enabling a 0-to-60-mph sprint of about 10 seconds with a top speed of 90 mph. In the end, the Leaf's forte is an ability to run on inexpensive energy, and Nissan claims a full recharge will cost approximately $3.00. For those who are unfamiliar with electric cars, cold temperatures and aggressive driving habits will have a significant impact on total range, so be sure to consider the facts before heading to the dealership.
AC synchronous electric motor
24kWh lithium-ion battery pack
80kW/107 horsepower @ 2,730-9,800 rpm
207 lb-ft of torque @ 0-2,730 rpm
EPA-estimated range: N/A
EPA city/highway fuel economy equivalent: N/A mpge
By Ed D. on Tuesday, February 17, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 31,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
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."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By Electric Duck on Sunday, January 25, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 21,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
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."
11 people out of 18 found this review helpful
By sdmacuser on Tuesday, January 13, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 24,000overall rating 4 of 10rating details
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."
12 people out of 23 found this review helpful
By giffmistress on Thursday, January 01, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 9,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Green, zippy, roomy, quiet, affordable, fun!"
Cons: "Battery life for highway driving."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"My average daily driving is 40 - 50 miles in town, this is a second car. In my area, charging stations are plentiful and convenient and mostly free. Plugging in at home overnight in a regular outlet is sufficient to completely charge it. No noticeable increase in my power bill. Very zippy, quiet, fun to drive, and surprisingly roomy. I frequently bring 4 teenagers and their backpacks home from school. My Great Dane loves to ride in the back seat! I can make 25-30 mile round trips on the interstate starting with a full charge. Hotter weather, running the a/c, depletes battery quicker at highway speeds. With in town driving my battery life is greatly extended, exceeding the displayed remaining range. Highway driving estimated range is pretty accurate especially if I use cruise control. An excellent second car!"
10 people out of 21 found this review helpful
By MineCraft on Wednesday, December 31, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive, cost very little"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I love the car. Cost about $1 to $2 per day to charge the car for my 65 miles commute. Thanks for the 100% torque all the time, pick up is quite snappy. Has no problem passing other cars on highway. Basically, no maintenance cost. Skip any maintenance packages dealer try to sell you."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Barbell on Thursday, December 04, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 6,700overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Solid built, Incetives help make price palatable"
Cons: "Range, Lack of or Vandelized Charging stations"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"I completely enjoy my Leaf. Its comfortable with good seat support, great quality finishes and features even on the base model its peppy with surprising acceleration and good handling. I am disappointed though that as more and more make it into the marketplace that fewer establishments are not expanding their charging stations or facilities to keep more than one or two accommodated. Its also a sad to see so many charging stations vandalized whether they are the Nissan charging stations or one at stores. Trading my range anxiety back in for a super small consumption of fuel and relying more on my hybrid car for the second year of my two year lease with Nissan."
19 people out of 27 found this review helpful