Nissan's LEAF holds the distinction of being the first widely available and affordable all-electric car. Overall, it's a civilized vehicle with very low running costs. It's very quiet, rides comfortably and is easy to enter and exit. The main drawbacks are its limited driving range of only about 75 miles per charge and long recharge times. This makes it best used as a commuter car or an urban runabout.

Road Test Results

Performance
Acceleration Acceleration Acceleration tests are conducted on a smooth, flat pavement straightaway at the track. Time, speed, and distance measurements are taken with a precise GPS-based device that’s hooked to a data-logging computer.
0 to 60 mph 0 to 60 mph (sec.) The time in seconds that a vehicle takes to reach 60 mph from a standstill with the engine idling.
Transmission Transmission Transmission performance is determined by shifting smoothness, response, shifter action, and clutch actuation for manual transmissions.
Fuel Economy Fuel Economy We perform our own fuel-economy tests, independent of the government's often-quoted EPA figures and the manufacturers' claims. Using a precise fuel-flow measuring device spliced into the fuel line, we run two separate circuits to represent city and highway consumption.
CR's Overall Mileage CR's Overall Mileage CR's overall mileage is a composite of measured fuel usage on a prescribed city course and highway cruising; and CR's 150-mile test trip of mixed driving, if tested. In recent road tests, we've discontinued the 150-mile trip test.
CR's City Mileage CR's City Mileage Measured fuel usage on a prescribed city course.
CR's Highway Mileage CR's Highway Mileage Measured fuel usage on a prescribed highway cruising.
Annual Fuel Cost Annual Fuel Cost The cost and amount of fuel used in 12,000 miles and is calculated from CR's overall mileage.
Braking Braking The braking rating is a composite of wet and dry stopping distances and pedal feel. Braking distance is from 60 mph, with no wheels locked.
Emergency Handling Emergency Handling Several factors go into the rating, including the avoidance maneuver speed and confidence, as well as how the vehicle behaves when pushed to its limit,
Comfort / Convenience
Ride Ride Our expert judgment of how well the suspension isolates and absorbs road imperfections and how steady it keeps the body on various road surfaces.
Noise Noise Our expert judgment of the vehicle's interior noise level in everyday driving.
Front Seat Comfort Front Seat Comfort Our judgment of how comfortable the front seat is for drivers of various heights.
Rear Seat Comfort Rear Seat Comfort Our judgment of how comfortable the rear seat is for two passengers to sit across.
Interior Fit and Finish Interior Fit and Finish An expert evaluation of the interior quality and craftsmanship.
Trunk/Cargo Area Trunk/Cargo Area Our rating is based on the amount of luggage or cargo space that a vehicle has in the trunk or cargo area.

Owner Reports

Worse Better
Reliability History Reliability History The reliability charts are based on responses on hundreds of thousands of vehicles from our latest Annual Auto Survey. Consumer Reports subscribers reported on any serious problems they had with their vehicles during the past 12 months that they considered serious because of cost, failure, safety, or downtime, in any of the trouble spots included in the table below. The results are presented relative to the average model that year. Extra weight is given to the more serious areas such as major engine or transmission problems. Based on this data and further analysis, we predict reliability for the latest year. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.
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Reliability Trouble Spots
Engine Major Engine Major Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.
NA
Engine Minor Engine Minor Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.
NA
Engine Cooling Engine Cooling Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.
NA
Transmission Major Transmission Major Transmission rebuild or replacement, torque converter, clutch replacement.
NA
Owner Satisfaction Owner Satisfaction To learn about satisfaction, CR has collected survey data from our annual survey on more than half a million vehicles. Our subscribers provide great insights into their satisfaction by answering one simple question: If they had it to do all over again, would they definitely buy or lease the same model? In addition, respondents also rate their cars in six categories: driving experience, comfort, value, styling, audio, and climate systems. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.
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Driving Experience Driving Experience Includes acceleration and handling
Comfort Comfort Includes seats, climate control, noise, and ride
Value Value Did you get what you wanted relative to the price you paid?
Styling Styling How it looks inside and out
Safety Equipment
ABS and ESC standard. Side and head protection air bags standard.
Road Test

Nissan's LEAF holds the distinction of being the first widely available and affordable all-electric car. Overall, it's a civilized vehicle with very low running costs. It's very quiet, rides comfortably and is easy to enter and exit. The main drawbacks are its limited driving range of only about 75 miles per charge and long recharge times. This makes it best used as a commuter car or an urban runabout.

Seating
2 front, 3 rear
Drive Wheels
Front
Warranty

In most cases, automotive warranties are based on the vehicle identification number (VIN), and the warranty will be valid regardless of ownership. The dealership can tell you exactly how much warranty is left.

Read more about extended warranties
Body Styles
4-door hatchback
Transmissions Available
  • 1-speed Direct
Engines Available
  • electric (107 hp)

Owner Reported Trouble Spots

The Reliability score is based on our latest subscriber survey of 2011 Nissan Leaf owners. The owner comments describe problems respondents experienced with this vehicle.

Power Equipment

Cruise control, clock, warning lights, body control module, keyless entry, wiper motor or washer, tire pressure monitor, interior or exterior lights, horn, gauges, 12V power plug, remote engine start, alarm or security system

What Owners Say

Hybrid/electric battery replacement

"The battery lost 4 of its 12 charging bars, so Nissan is replacing the battery with a new one"

Peter R., CA (2011 Nissan Leaf SL Electric)
Hybrid/electric system and battery (excluding replacement)

"My battery has degraded more than I expected, thus reducing my driving range. I was able to drive 80 - 90 miles, but in less than 3 1/2 years I can only drive the car 40 miles. Unfortunately, my situation is not unique and it appears to be a defect"

Raul R., CA (2011 Nissan Leaf SL Electric)

"Range is unacceptably low and haven't been able to get Nissan to replace batteries"

William K., CA (2011 Nissan Leaf Unsure Electric)

Climate System

Blower (fan) motor, A/C compressor, condenser, evaporator, heater system, automatic climate control, refrigerant leakage, electrical failure.

What Owners Say

Heater system

"Sometimes the heater doesn't heat"

Karl B., OR (2011 Nissan Leaf SL Electric)

"For a $7000 car, a $4000 heater repair seems over the top. The 2011 and 2012 Leaf use a small "PTC" water heater, with a history of failure. A private party and dealer each spent hours trying to figure out if my core was even getting electricity. The car needs substantial disassembly to fix the heater, thought it's a known failure point"

Anonymous, CA (2011 Nissan Leaf SL Electric)

Electric System

Alternator, starter, hybrid battery and related systems, regular battery, battery cables, engine harness, coil, ignition switch, electronic ignition, distributor or rotor failure, spark plugs and wires failure.

What Owners Say

Gauges

"Speedometer stopped working"

Timothy Y., OR (2011 Nissan Leaf SL Electric)
Exterior lights (other than headlights)

"We noticed the third brake light was not lighting up. The dealer estimated ~$400 to fix it. I investigated and found that the wiring wasn't hooked up because a wire was not pulled through correctly. Easy fix but had to disassemble part of the rear ha"

Harry H., CA (2011 Nissan Leaf SL Electric)

Drive System

Driveshaft or axle, CV joint, differential, transfer case, 4WD/AWD components, driveline vibration, traction control, electronic stability control (ESC), electrical failure.

What Owners Say

Driveshaft or axle

"front axel makes a "thunk" or "click" noise when starting/stopping. dealer is incompetent and could not/would not fix the problem, even though this is a known problem with nissan leaf/versa"

Anonymous, CA (2011 Nissan Leaf SL Electric)
Electrical failure

"Battery capacity drop not prorated"

Anonymous, HI (2011 Nissan Leaf SV Electric)

Suspension

Shocks or struts, ball joints, tie rods, wheel bearings, alignment, steering linkage (includes rack and pinion), power steering (pumps and hoses, leaks), wheel balance, springs or torsion bars, bushings, electronic or air suspension.

What Owners Say

Bushings

"sway bar bushings bad"

Anonymous, OR (2011 Nissan Leaf SV Electric)

Paint/Trim

Paint (fading, chalking, cracking, or peeling), loose interior and exterior trim or moldings, rust.

What Owners Say

Paint (fading, chalking, cracking, or peeling)

"Paint fading & chipping due to salt air - we live close to the ocean"

Anonymous, CA (2011 Nissan Leaf SL Electric)

In-car Electronics

CD or DVD players, radio, speakers, GPS, communication system (e.g., OnStar), display screen freezes or goes blank, phone pairing (e.g. Bluetooth), voice control commands, steering wheel controls, portable music device interface (e.g., iPod/MP3 player), backup or other camera/sensors.

What Owners Say

Display screen goes blank

"The 12volt battery died, immobilizing the car without warning. No displays came on and car would not start"

Anonymous, HI (2011 Nissan Leaf SL Electric)

Body Integrity

Squeaks, rattles, wind noises, loose or cracked seals and/or weather-stripping, air and water leaks.

What Owners Say

Squeaks or rattles

"same problem - thunk noise coming from axle"

Anonymous, CA (2011 Nissan Leaf SL Electric)

Brakes

Antilock system (ABS), parking brake, master cylinder, calipers, rotors, pulsation or vibration, squeaking, brake failure or wear.

What Owners Say

Master cylinder

"Brake warning indicator light came on during 3rd year battery check. Brakes still mechanically worked, drove to dealer for repairs. Electric car master cylinders have lots of electronics due to regeneration. $1800 part, replaced under warranty"

John M., WA (2011 Nissan Leaf SV Electric)

Engine Minor

Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.

Engine Major

Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.

Fuel System

Check engine light, sensors (includes O2 or oxygen sensor), emission control devices (includes EGR), engine computer, engine computer, fuel cap, fuel gauge/sender, fuel injection system, fuel pump, fuel leaks, stalling or hesitation.

Exhaust

Muffler, pipes, catalytic converter, exhaust manifold, leaks.

Body Hardware

Power or manual windows, locks and latches, tailgate, hatch or trunk, doors or sliding doors, mirrors, seat controls, safety belts, sunroof, convertible top.

Engine Cooling

Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.

Transmission Minor

Gear selector or linkage, leaks, transmission computer, transmission sensor or solenoid, clutch adjustment, rough shifting, slipping transmission.

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