New 2018 Nissan LEAF Hatchback New 2018
Nissan LEAF Hatchback

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KBB Editor's Overview

By Editorial Staff

The all-new 2018 Nissan Leaf may not garner the same headlines as the 2018 Chevrolet Bolt when Chevy announced a 238-mile range for it. Still the Japanese automaker has made tremendous strides to address the previous Leaf’s shortcomings, namely its range and styling. More than 200,000 Leafs have been sold since it was introduced in 2011 and is by far the highest-volume pure electric sold to date. By giving the car a more conventional look and boosting range to 150 miles, the Leaf is moving into the realm beyond automotive novelty to a practical, alternative-power vehicle that can address most motorists’ needs. But there’s even more to the story of the company turning over a new Leaf -- Nissan has actually cut prices while offering unique technology to boot. The new model represents a win-win for both Nissan and consumers alike.


You'll Like This Car If...

As the recipient of the 2018 World Green Car award, the new Nissan Leaf will fit your needs if you’re looking to get off the fossil-fuel habit and want an electric that still costs less than an average vehicle even without the federal $7,500 tax credit. The 150-mile distance between recharging does much to reduce the range anxiety associated with the original.

You May Not Like This Car If...

The new Leaf probably won't cut it as your only vehicle in the household. While it will go farther between plug-ins, the time it takes to replenish the battery even with quick charging still makes the car marginal at best as a road-tripper. If semi-regular trips out of town are part of your lifestyle, you’re probably better off with a plug-in hybrid.

What's New for 2018

The design is all-new. The 2018 Leaf is slightly larger, more conventional-looking and thanks to a 40-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, the range is increased by 40 percent, moving from 107 to 150 miles. This is nearly double of the initial 84-mile range of the first Leafs.

Driving It

Driving Impressions

With its longer range, the Nissan Leaf may entice doubters to try an EV for the first time. What they will discover is instantaneous power delivery from the motor. The Leaf is snappy right off the line and has excellent mid-range passing power. The driving experience is best described as serene. There’s no engine noise, or for that matter, the whine associated with electric motors that you might have experienced with earlier electrics. You might hear some far-off wind and tire noise, but that’s about it. The redesign also has netted a vehicle that feels more substantial than the original. The steering is light, which is in keeping with the Leaf’s primary mission of urban and freeway commuting. While the Leaf is not a performance car by any stretch of the imagination, its low center of gravity and stance give it a planted feel that translates to driver confidence. It acts and drives like a real car and not a science project.

Favorite Features

The Nissan Leaf makes use of aggressive regenerative braking that allows you to drive the car with just the accelerator. Back off and the car will come to a complete halt and stay there until you depress the accelerator again. The layout includes a conventional brake pedal, but once you master ePedal, you’ll discover the joys of one-pedal driving.

This system, offered on SV and SL models as part of the technology package, includes adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist that allow you to relax as you cruise along the highway. As long as you stay in a particular lane and ProPilot is engaged, you don’t really have to steer, the car will do that for you, although you do need to keep your hands on the wheel. It’s a step toward more autonomous technology you’ll see on later Leafs and other Nissans.

Vehicle Details


Along with the exterior makeover, Nissan has upgraded the quality of its interior. Workmanship and materials are top-notch -- there are plenty of soft-touch surfaces and large, easy-to-read-and-use displays. The dash itself has been redesigned into a gliding-wing shape with a prominent touch screen that measures five inches on S models and seven inches on SV and SL versions. A large analog speedometer is flanked on the left by a supplemental digital display that can be configured to show range and other vehicle systems’ status. The gear selector is a joystick mounted in the center console, and there are conventional buttons for the climate controls in the middle of the dash, along with USB ports and power points. The Leaf retains its 5-passenger seating, though the middle position in the rear is best for short trips only. There is a hump in the rear floor that provides access to the battery pack and which compromises foot room. S and SV models feature cloth seats while the range-topping SL offers leather upholstery. The front buckets are comfortable and supportive, and there’s plenty of utility to be had from the folding 60/40-split rear seats.


Accused of looking more like an amphibian than a car, Nissan’s Leaf has undergone quite a metamorphosis in its redesign. The 2018 model looks more like a conventional hatchback or crossover SUV, with a split rear C-pillar that gives it a floating-roof look similar to the larger Murano. The bug-like headlights, which were actually aerodynamic elements, have been narrowed and dropped lower in the fenders and are now fitted with LED units in higher-trim models. The front sports Nissan’s signature V-motion chrome bar but instead of a grille, there’s a black panel with blue mesh-like highlights beneath. The hatch covering the plug access has been redesigned to be larger and better integrated into the hood and front fascia cutlines. The plug panel itself now sits at a 45-degree angle making it easier to insert and remove the charging cord. While it looks more like a regular car, that fact that the design is unique to the Leaf will help identify it as an EV.

Notable Standard Equipment

The all-new 2018 Nissan Leaf is again available in S, SV and SL trims. Base models come with 16-inch wheels, a 40-percent boost in range and a 37-percent increase in power, as well as the ePedal technology and emergency automatic braking. SV models include 17-inch wheels, leather-wrapped steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, and NissanConnect with Navigation and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility. Top-line SL models include LED headlights, heated outside mirrors, leather seating, 8-way-power driver seat, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, premium 7-speaker Bose audio system, blind-spot monitoring, around-view camera, driver-attention alert and rear cross-traffic warning.

Notable Optional Equipment

On base S models, you can opt for a quick-charge port and portable-charge cable that has adapters for conventional 120- and 240-volt outlets. An All Weather Package on the S and SV includes heated seats and steering wheel, heated outside mirrors and rear heating ducts. The SV Tech option includes LED lighting, 8-way-power seats, the portable-charge cable, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot warning, electric parking brake, lane-keeping assist, rear cross-traffic warning and ProPilot and steering assist as well as full-speed range and hold on the adaptive cruise control. The SL Tech package includes ProPilot and Steering Assist, full-range adaptive cruise, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection and Intelligent Lane Intervention.

Under the Hood

The 2018 Nissan Leaf uses a 110-kW AC synchronous electric motor powering the front wheels. Output is rated at 147 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque. The 40-kWh lithium-ion battery pack has an EPA-rated range of 150 miles. Fast-charging can get the Leaf to an 80-percent charge in 40 minutes. Nissan backs the battery pack with an 8-year/100,000-mile warranty.

AC synchronous electric motor
40-kWh lithium-ion battery pack
147 horsepower
236 lb-ft of torque
EPA city/highway fuel-economy equivalent: 125/100 mpge
EPA-estimated range per full charge: 151 miles


Pricing Notes

The 2018 Nissan Leaf S is priced at $29,990, $690 lower than the model it replaces even though it has a longer range, more power and the ePedal technology. The SV model starts at $32,490, or about $1,700 less than the previous one. The top-line 2018 Leaf SL goes for $36,200 or about $590 less. All prices exclude $885 delivery. Buyers are still eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit, plus any state and local incentives, which for the base S could push the price down to $22,490 or less. More power, longer range and the new tech should have a positive impact on the Leaf’s resale value. While the 2018 Chevrolet Bolt offers longer range, it’s also more costly at $37,495 for the base model before the federal tax credit. Do check the Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for the new Nissan Leaf.

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