New 2017 Nissan LEAF Hatchback New 2017
Nissan LEAF Hatchback

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KBB Editor's Overview

By Editorial Staff

When the Nissan Leaf debuted in 2011, it brought electric vehicles to the masses. Easy to drive, whisper-quiet, respectable cargo capacity thanks to its hatchback design, and refueling that's as easy as plugging in a power cord, the Leaf has moved nearly a quarter-million units worldwide, making it the best-selling EV yet. In the years since, pure electric vehicles have risen like beanstalks on fertile ground, some successful (the Tesla Model S, and nearly six figures at that), some not (Mitsubishi i-MiEV, anyone?). While the Leaf still touts the positive traits that made it compelling initially, this EV now faces its fiercest rival yet in the Chevy Bolt, whose range is more than double the Nissan's and whose technology and design are fresher.


You'll Like This Car If...

If you drive less than 100 miles a day and want an electric vehicle (EV) at a mainstream price, the Nissan Leaf is about as mainstream as it gets for battery-powered cars. As the first major EV, it's also a known quantity.

You May Not Like This Car If...

Range anxiety is real, and real life can necessitate longer trips. Chevy’s Bolt offers 238 miles in range and costs just a few thousand more, while the gas-electric Chevy Volt is even less of a financial stretch and offers over 400 miles of range. The upcoming Hyundai Ioniq also boasts newer technology.

What's New for 2017

The 30-kWh lithium-ion battery that arrived in higher trims last year and enabled a total range of 107 miles is now standard on every 2017 Nissan Leaf, replacing the former system that was rated at 84 miles of range before needing to be recharged.

Driving It

Driving Impressions

Driving Nissan’s Leaf electric vehicle for the first time can be an eye-opening experience. With no engine noise, the car simply alerts you that it’s ready to go, at which point a simple press of the accelerator starts one gliding silently down the road. Only the faint whine of the electric motor and the slight whir from the tires indicate momentum, followed by the rushing wind as speed increases. Thanks to its torque-happy electric powertrain, the Leaf is quick off the line and rather sprightly. However, to achieve the promised 107-mile range, one should avoid hard acceleration. Engaging the Eco mode will increase efficiency through regenerative braking and a reduction of the motor and climate systems. B-Mode activates an even more aggressive regenerative braking cycle, most useful on long, slow descents. But you need to be mindful of range. Run out of juice, and you'll need to call a tow truck.

Favorite Features

The Nissan Connect EV is a smartphone app available for iPhone- and Android-based systems that allows remote monitoring of battery state and the ability to begin charging the car or start its heating or cooling systems from your phone. The system is standard on 2017 Nissan Leaf SV and SL trims.

You'll never hear an engine rumble in a Leaf electric car because, well, there's no traditional combustion engine. This makes driving a Nissan Leaf surprisingly serene. Outside noise is further reduced thanks to a specially insulated windshield and dual-isolated mounting system for the electric motor.

Vehicle Details


Nissan’s battery-powered car boasts large windows and a high roof, granting good outward visibility and an airy cabin. Four can fit comfortably, five in a pinch, and behind the rear seats is nearly 24 cubic feet of cargo space. Folding the 60/40-folding rear seats creates slightly more room -- 30 cubic feet. We'd like more side support from the otherwise comfortable front seats. The Nissan Leaf doesn't use a traditional shift lever. Instead, a spaceship-like orb toggles up for Reverse, down for Drive, and to the side for Neutral; engage Park by pressing a center button. The steering wheel tilts but doesn't telescope.


The 2017 Nissan Leaf's squat 5-door hatchback design looks sleek and futuristic despite its age, and if anything is something of a familiar presence. While not particularly exciting, it stands out thanks to its lighting treatments. The headlights sweep way into the body, and the taillights form part of the entire rear design of the car, standing tall against the hatch. Above the grille opening is the Leaf's charging port and, thanks to the lack of a gasoline engine, there's no tailpipe. Base Leaf S models roll on 16-inch steel wheels, while the SV and SL trims have 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels.

Notable Standard Equipment

The 2017 Nissan Leaf remains available in a trio of trims: S, SV and SL. The least expensive Nissan Leaf includes a rearview camera, heated front seats, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, automatic climate control, cruise control and an AM/FM/CD audio system with 5-inch screen and USB and auxiliary inputs. Now that the S comes with the larger battery power as standard, it's more compelling, but we'd still recommend the mid-level SV model, which adds a quick-charge port, 7-inch infotainment screen with navigation, apps, Nissan Connect EV smartphone integration, upgraded cloth interior, heated steering wheel and upgraded audio system.

Notable Optional Equipment

If you do decide on the base Leaf S model, do yourself a favor and get the optional 6.6-kW onboard charger, which will reduce recharging time on a 240-volt outlet from about eight hours to roughly six. At the top end, a Leaf SL includes leather seats (heated in the rear), fog lights, automatic headlights and HomeLink universal garage-door opener. Options on SV and SL models include a 7-speaker Bose premium audio system and Nissan's nifty Around View rearview camera.

Under the Hood

The 2017 Nissan Leaf uses an 80-kW AC synchronous electric motor to power the front wheels; it’s good for 107 horsepower and a stout 187 lb-ft of torque at zero rpm, resulting in a 0-to-60-mph sprint of about 10 seconds. The 30-kWh lithium-ion battery pack has an EPA-rated range of 107 miles. The base Leaf's 3.6-kWh onboard charger takes about eight hours on 220 volts, while the 6.6-kWh version, optional on the S and standard on the SV and SL, reduces that to less than six hours. The faster-charging receptacle can also get the Leaf to an 80-percent charge in 30 minutes when attached to a CHAdeMO fast charger. Recharging on 110 volts takes more than 20 hours. Nissan backs the battery pack with an 8-year/100,000-mile warranty.

AC synchronous electric motor
30-kWh lithium-ion battery pack
107 horsepower
187 lb-ft of torque
EPA city/highway fuel-economy equivalent: 124/101 mpge
EPA-estimated range per full charge: 107 miles

Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.


Pricing Notes

The 2017 Nissan Leaf base S version has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at $31,545, the SV is $35,065, with the top-line SL at $37,655 and reaching over $39,000 with options. The good news is these prices don't include tax-credit incentives. The bad news for the Leaf is that the all-new Chevy Bolt brings over the twice the range (238 miles), a roomier interior and fresher technology. Chevy's electric car begins at $37,495 (again, without incentives) and would be our choice when comparing the two. Another excellent alternative is the Chevy Volt, which starts just over $34,000 and will take you much farther thanks to its supplementary gasoline engine. Whatever you choose, check the Fair Purchase Price before buying to make sure you're getting the best deal. As we've seen with other all-electric cars, the Nissan Leaf's resale value is poor, far below that of the Chevy Bolt.

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