KBB Editors' Overview
By Keith Buglewicz - Updated Date: 8/8/2014
The 2015 Nissan Leaf's rounded hatchback shape is on its way to becoming just as iconic for electric cars as the Toyota Prius is for hybrids. And why not? The Leaf made the electric vehicle (EV) mainstream thanks to its affordable price, easy driving manners and user-friendliness. Roomy and comfortable, it could be any other 5-passenger hatchback, except it doesn't require gasoline, and it's nearly silent on the road. Popular among commuters and the eco-conscious, the Leaf still isn't for everyone. Long charge times mean you have to wait for a while to get going again, and if you're getting 100 miles out of a charge, you're darn lucky. Nevertheless, the Leaf trumps others such as the Chevrolet Spark EV and Fiat 500e in both size and nationwide availability.
You'll Like This Car If...
Do you stand in line to get the latest iDevice? Do you not just separate your recyclables, but sort them into glass, paper, and plastic, too? The 2015 Nissan Leaf appeals to eco-friendly early adopters who can live with its limitations, not a huge group, but a sought-after one.
You May Not Like This Car If...
If your daily drive often takes you past 100 miles, or if you don't have 220-volt power in your house, a pure electric car like the Leaf may not be the best pick. Check out a plug-in hybrid instead, like the Chevrolet Volt, Toyota Prius Plug-in or Ford C-Max Energi.
What's New for 2015
The base model Leaf S now gets the same "B-Mode" as the rest of the lineup, which engages an aggressive regenerative braking mode. Leaf SV models also get new standard 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, and Leaf SV and SL models get hands-free text messaging and voice-activated destination entry.
If you've never driven an EV before, starting up the 2015 Nissan Leaf is an experience. Rather than the rev of an engine, it simply informs you that it's ready to go. When you pull away, all you hear is the rumble of the tires, the slight whine from the electric motor, and eventually, the rush of wind passing by. Then the novelty wears off, and you realize that whether you're in traffic, on windy roads, or at freeway speeds, the Leaf is mostly unremarkable, but in the best way possible. Like other electric cars, the Leaf has quick initial acceleration thanks to its torque-rich electric motor. A mileage-sensitive driver should avoid hard acceleration, and instead engage the Eco mode, which increases regenerative braking and reduces output of the motor and climate system. The B-Mode increases the aggressiveness of the EV's regenerative-braking system even further, handy for long downhill grades.
The 2015 Nissan Leaf comes with a smartphone app for iPhone, Android and Blackberry which allows Leaf owners to do things like check their Leaf'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.
All electric cars are quiet, thanks to the lack of a noisy engine, but the Nissan Leaf is even more so thanks to sound-suppressing technologies such as vortex-shedding body pieces, an acoustic front windshield, and an aerodynamic antenna.
For vehicle details and pricing notes…