2017 Nissan Leaf
The industry pioneer and still best-selling battery electric vehicle, the Nissan Leaf is available to just about anyone interested in reducing their carbon footprint. Celebrated for its innovation, not to mention affordability and accessibility, the Leaf proves that being green and rejecting costly trips to the gas pump is possible. A 100% electric vehicle means zero emissions – a true green car. Already competitively priced, consumers should bear in mind the applicable $7,500 federal tax credit, extended to those who purchase an environmentally friendly vehicle, like the Nissan Leaf.
Released in December of 2010 for the 2011 model year, the Nissan Leaf has rolled on basically unchanged. For 2017, this remains the case, with the exception of one notable and very appreciated upgrade with respect to range. This slow and steady evolution is likely in preparation for Nissan’s plans to release the second generation Leaf with significant updates and enhancements already in the works. Regardless, the 2017 Nissan Leaf is absolutely worthy of consideration for consumers who want to explore the electric car craze, without breaking the bank.
The appeal of the Nissan Leaf isn’t restricted to its energy-efficiency or new battery pack. From a design perspective, the Leaf actually has fewer components than other vehicles on the road, which means maintenance is minimal and ultra-affordable for the consumer.
The Nissan Leaf is a four-door, five-passenger hatchback, available in three trim levels. The entry S model comes equipped with a 3.6-kilowatt onboard charger, with an optional 6.6 kilowatt onboard charger available, which is standard equipment on the SV and SL trims. When the 3.6-kilowatt charger is plugged into a 240-volt Level 2 AC, it requires approximately 7 hours to achieve a full charge. The 6.6-kilowatt version only needs six hours to reach a complete charge. Nissan’s Charge package provides a DC fast-charger port, which delivers an 80% charge in a half hour. Once again, while standard on SV and SL trims, this is optional on the entry S model.
Other notable trim level distinctions include the following:
- Automatic Climate Control
- Backup Camera
- 16-inch Steel Wheels
- Heated Front Seats
- Cloth-Covered Interior
- 60/40-split Folding Back Seat
- 5-inch Infotainment Display
- USB Port – Ideal for charging a phone and streaming music
- 7.0-inch Infotainment Touchscreen with Navigation
- Heated Steering Wheel
- Heated Front Seats
- Exterior Heated Mirrors
- Charge Package
- NissanConnect Infotainment System
- 17-inch Alloy Wheels
- Fabric-covered Interior – Material used on the seats is similar to suede and called polyethylene terephthalate (PET), and is sustainably sourced
- Automatic LED Headlights (exclusively on the low beams)
- LED Fog Lights
- Heated Rear Seats
- Automatic-dimming Rearview Mirror
- Leather Interior
- A photovoltaic solar panel is included on the rear spoiler. This panel converts sunlight into energy, powering the 12-volt accessory battery, which provides juice to the headlights, climate control system, and stereo.
Additional bells and whistles are found in the Premium package and include perks like Nissan’s Around View Monitor 360-degree Surround-Camera and an energy-efficient (of course) Bose audio system.
The Leaf’s no-shift direct-drive architecture and drive-away torque make this electric hatchback a pleasure to drive. Both driver and passengers will notice how exceptionally quiet the Leaf is and will likely have to strain to hear the electric motor. The smooth ride supports this, with minimal wind noise entering the cabin. Regenerative braking also operates at a hush, another feature that will escape the ears of drivers and passengers. No matter where they are seated, passengers report a very cushioned, comfortable ride, thanks to the Leaf’s materials and overall interior design.
Despite the Leaf’s emphasis on efficiency, one area where it doesn’t skimp is the interior room. Passengers report spacious surroundings, especially with respect to legroom in both the front and back cabins. There is also a good amount of headroom both up front and in the back, thanks in part to the Leaf’s near-horizontal roofline. The cargo room measures 23.6 cubic feet, which extends to a full 30 cubic feet after folding down the 60-40-split rear seat. Once again, the Leaf beats its plug-in competitors, like the Toyota Prius Prime, Chevy Volt, and BMW i3 where cargo room is concerned. A low hood and abundance of glass enhance visibility, making the Leaf easy to maneuver through city congestion or highway traffic.
A reliable ride, the 2017 Nissan Leaf actually ranks higher than the Chevy Volt in reliability ratings. All 2017 Nissan Leaf models come with Nissan’s three-year/36,000-mile limited warranty, as well as a five-year/60,000-mile warranty on the powertrain and electric vehicle system components, along with an eight-year or 100,000-mile warranty on the lithium-ion battery.
For the 2017 model year, the Nissan Leaf has received a significant update with respect to range. Drivers and passengers in the 2017 Nissan Leaf can now literally go farther and travel longer without any charging interruptions. All new Leaf models now come standard with a 30-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which was first released in 2016 on select trims, specifically the SV and SL. The base S model stuck with the 24-kWh variant.
Equipped with this 30-kWh battery pack, all 2017 Nissan Leaf models boast an EPA range rating of 107 miles. This range is impressive and actually tops the Leaf’s plug-in competitors, like Toyota’s Prius Prime and Chevy’s Volt. The 80 kilowatt, 107 horsepower electric motor generates 187 lb-ft of torque. A front-wheel drive vehicle, the Leaf returns an EPA-estimated 112 MPGe. What exactly does MPGe designate? It’s simply a number that reflects how far a car is able to electrically travel on an equal amount of energy as found within one gallon of gasoline.
In performance testing, the Leaf returned a zero-to-60 mph acceleration of 10.2 seconds. Granted, Leaf drivers won’t win any drag races, but that’s not the point of purchasing a Leaf in the first place. Braking was impressive, with the Leaf able to stop from 60 mph in a short 122 feet.
Part of the beauty of this lithium-ion battery is that it offers twice the power, but only weighs half as much as nickel-metal hydride batteries that are found in most hybrid vehicles. The result is more muscle, less fat, and extra miles added to your journey.
Although the 2017 Nissan Leaf boasts all-electric efficiency from its updated battery pack, part of the efficiency factor results from the Leaf’s aerodynamic exterior design. Certainly, the solar panel helps boost the natural energy quotient in the Leaf, but the hatchback’s flat underbody, complemented by the front spoiler and rear diffuser enhance the Leaf’s aerodynamics, requiring less energy consumption. Even the LED low beams require half the energy of traditional or non-LED illumination.
Nissan continues to appeal to a range of drivers from all ages and backgrounds. The opportunity to represent one’s own personality and style is supported by Nissan’s impressive exterior color palette, which includes: Pearl White, Brilliant Silver, Gun Metallic, Super Black, Coulis Red, Glacier White, Deep Blue Pearl and Forged Bronze.
The Nissan Leaf remains a top selling, 100% all-electric vehicle that has proven ideal for commuters and consumers with green ambitions. While the 2017 Nissan Leaf continues that legacy, industry experts advise holding off for the launch of the second generation Leaf, which will undoubtedly prove even more compelling and competitive in this segment.
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