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.
Think of an electric car and the Nissan Leaf will likely come to mind. Now in its fourth model year, the Leaf made the electric vehicle (EV) mainstream thanks to its digestible price, easy driving manners and overall user-friendliness. If not for its near-silent operation or the fact it never needs gasoline, you might think the Leaf were any other 5-passenger compact hatchback. The battery-powered Leaf has consequently found a place among commuters and the eco-conscious alike, but it's not for everyone. Primarily, the Leaf's sub-100 mile range and hours-long recharge time remain hurdles. But for buyers ready for an EV, the 2014 Nissan Leaf trumps others such as the Chevrolet Spark EV and Fiat 500e in both size and its nationwide availability.
You'll Like This Car If...
Looking to reduce your carbon footprint and never visit a gas station again? The 2014 Nissan Leaf is the everyman's EV to beat. And thanks to a lower entry price that took effect last year, Nissan's electric car undercuts rivals such as the Ford Focus EV and Fiat 500e.
You May Not Like This Car If...
If you have an unpredictable driving schedule, travel more than 100 miles per day or live in a residence without 220-volt power support, better options are the Chevrolet Volt, Toyota Prius Plug-in or Ford C-Max Energi. These plug-in hybrids can travel hundreds of miles thanks to their onboard gasoline engines.
A rearview camera becomes standard across the lineup. Nissan has removed the Long Life Mode, which allowed charging to 80 percent instead of 100. The company says the feature's rationale – the impact on long-term battery durability – was less than initially expected and thus not needed.
Driving the LEAF
The first thing you'll notice about the 2014 Nissan Leaf is its smooth, quiet operation. Since there's no gasoline engine, there's none of the associated noise or vibration. After that...
... initial surprise comes another in just how normal the Leaf feels otherwise. Whether in stop-and-go traffic, on windy roads or at higher speeds on the freeway, the Leaf is a capable yet mostly unremarkable partner – and we mean that in a good way. Like other electric vehicles, the Leaf has quick initial acceleration thanks to its torque-rich electric motor. Drivers seeking to eke out extra mileage can select Eco mode, which increases regenerative braking and reduces output of the motor and climate system. Another mode, "B" on SV and SL trims, increases the aggressiveness of the EV's regenerative-braking system and is handy when going downhill. The Leaf's low-rolling-resistance tires have more grip than expected, allowing a modicum of spirited cornering.
CARWINGS TELEMATICS This smartphone app available for iPhone, Android and Blackberry enables Leaf owners to check their vehicle's state of charge, begin or end a charging session and adjust climate controls from almost anywhere. The service is free to owners for three years.
WHISPER-QUIET OPERATION EVs are quiet by nature, but Nissan's engineers took the Leaf to the next level by using sound-suppressing technologies such as vortex-shedding body pieces, an acoustic front windshield, and an aerodynamic antenna. With the Nissan Leaf, tranquility comes standard.
2014 Nissan LEAF Details
The 2014 Nissan Leaf has a futuristic and airy cabin. This EV can technically seat five passengers, but it's more comfortable for four. The car's tall roofline and abundance of glass make the interior feel open and provide good visibility. The front seats are adequate, but could use more side support. Instead of a traditional shift lever, the Leaf uses a small orb that toggles up for Reverse, down for Drive, and to the side for Neutral. Park is engaged with the press of a center button. In back, cargo space is good at 24 cubic feet, and the rear seats fold in a 60/40 split for larger items.
Though now a few years into its lifecycle, the Nissan's electric hatchback still boasts contemporary lines and design touches that set it apart from almost everything else. Its squat, 5-door profile is aerodynamic and functional, but where the Leaf most stands out is in its lighting treatments. The front headlights are nearly as long as the car's hood, and in back there are slender, contoured LED taillights and turn indicators. In front above the grille is the Leaf's charging port, and since there is no gasoline engine to create emissions, there is no tailpipe.
The 2014 Nissan Leaf comes in three trims. Base S models are nicely equipped with rearview camera, Bluetooth wireless communication, and heated front and rear seats. A 4-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system includes USB and auxiliary inputs, and a 4.3-inch display. Midlevel SV models add a 7-inch display, six speakers and navigation. Also included in the SV are cruise control and CARWINGS charge status/timing/locator app integration. Top-line SL trims include leather, 17-inch wheels, LED headlights, a solar panel on the rear spoiler to support the 12-volt system, and HomeLink remote transceiver. The Nissan Leaf's steering wheel doesn't telescope, but it is wrapped in leather and offers heating as standard.
Just a handful of major options are offered on the 2014 Leaf, and selection is simple since they are bundled into three packages. Base S models can be upgraded with a 6.6 kW onboard charger for faster recharging. SV trims can be had with LED headlights, fog lights and a quick-charge port for specialized high-speed chargers. Top-line SL models can be outfitted with Nissan's snazzy Around View Monitor backup camera system and a 7-speaker Bose premium audio system.
Under the Hood
Energized by a lithium-ion battery pack mounted beneath the floor (warranted for eight years/100,000 miles), the Leaf's 80kW/107-horsepower motor churns out a stout 187 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 base form the 2014 Leaf has a 3.6 kW onboard charger, and that means slower charge times of eight hours on a 220-volt line. Optional on the S and standard on the SV and SL is a 6.6 kW version, which allows charging in five hours. With the optional Fast Charge receptacle (standard on SL models), the Leaf can be charged to 80 percent in 30 minutes. On the other end, charging on a standard 110-volt outlet can take over 20 hours.
AC synchronous electric motor 24kWh lithium-ion battery pack 80kW/107 horsepower 187 lb-ft of torque EPA-estimated range: 84 miles EPA city/highway fuel economy equivalent: 126/101 mpge
The 2014 Nissan Leaf's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts near $30,000 for a base S model, around $33,000 for the midlevel SV trim, and $36,000 for a top-line SL. These prices drop substantially when factoring in the $7,500 federal tax credit for electric vehicles. State incentives can lower the Leaf's price by thousands more. Less quantifiable are electric vehicles' potential access to carpool lanes with a single occupant. Back in the hard-numbers equation, the Leaf's starting price is several thousand dollars lower than that of the Chevrolet Volt, Ford Focus Electric and diminutive Fiat 500e. The Leaf is inexpensive by EV standards, but it's not the least-expensive out there. The tiny-but-fun Chevy Spark EV starts lower. Before buying, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying. On the resale front, the Leaf is expected to have below-average residual value.
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."
Pros: "Economical driving, comfortable, fun to drive,"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"When I shopped for an electric vehicle I considered the Volt, C-MaxEnergi, and the BMW I3. I ended up choosing the Leaf because I wanted a vehicle that was truly all electric. I could not afford a Tesla.... The Leaf ended up on top because of the quality of the ride; it is all electric; interior space for 5; excellent truck space; and value. The Volt was a close second. However, the Volt had only a 38 mile all electric driving range. I typically drive 40 - 60 miles per day. So the Volt fell short unless I charged at work. Also I felt like I sat down in the Volt vs. up in the Leaf. The Leaf can accept an occasional 3rd person in the rear seat.
I could not be more pleased with my decision after having driven the vehicle for a year. I am typically seeing currently a range of 103 - 105 miles. During the winter with -5 to 20 degree temperature days I was realizing an 85 mile range... Quite good.
The fit and finish is excellent. The navigation and hands free features are good. My only complaint is that when I sync my iPhone to the tele-metrics in the Leaf names are always stored last name first. So the call command always has to begin with the last name...
The handling around winding roads as I drive home into the country is quite good. Acceleration is surprisingly good when "eco" is turned off. Regenerative braking is excellent... My commuting distance is 16 miles each way... I typically recovering about 4 miles on my commute... IE my range left shows only 12 miles being consumes... And this is in both directions.... I should add that I do typically avoid the highway going home... At 65 mph you do pay a penalty on range... For me the back roads and the highway take about the same time so I take the back roads....
I might add that I own a second vehicle so extended range is not an issue for me. I strictly use the Leaf for daily driving to and from work plus weekend errands... IF I was limited to one vehicle I would have certainly picked the VOLT."
Cons: "Unbearable cabin pressure with rear windows open"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"This car is the best vehicle I've ever owned with two exceptions. First, the obvious limited driving range which I knew about going in. The second is very disconcerting. You cannot drive over 35-40 mph with just the rear windows open. The noise and extreme cabin pressure is literally unbearable. It is like sitting under a fully rev'd helicopter. You cannot believe the pressure. If you open the front windows, it goes way. I think it may be coming from the wheels but I really don't know for sure. I tried to tell this to the local Nissan dealer, but they just didn't want to hear it or they knew about it already and didn't want to admit it. If you buy a Nissan Leaf, take it for a ride over 40mph with just rear windows open. Good luck with that..."