Nissan sells two versions of the Leaf EV. The new Leaf Plus gets a bigger, 62-kWh battery and has an EPA-estimated range of 215 miles. That’s a big difference compared with the standard Leaf’s 40-kWh battery and 150-mile range, and it puts the range of the Leaf Plus closer to similarly priced competitors. But when it comes to everyday use, the Plus is outclassed by other "affordable" EVs, such as the Hyundai Kona Electric and Kia Niro EV.
The larger battery gives the Leaf Plus its extra range, but it takes 10.5 hours to charge from empty. Still, the more powerful motor gives it a quicker 0-to-60 mph time by one second. Both versions take off silently and immediately as is typical of EVs. They also have the same humdrum handling, and once past a superficial pliancy, the car is rather stiff over sharp bumps. The compact hatchback’s cargo area is deep and roomy. But our test car’s optional Bose audio system creates a lump that takes significant space from the cargo floor.
Owners can charge on a regular 120-volt outlet, but that takes around 30 hours to refill the Leaf. The supplied home charging kit includes a neat dual plug that can easily convert a 240-volt heavy-duty plug. So owners with a 240-volt outlet (such as for a clothes dryer or oven outlet) near where they park their Leaf won’t have to buy a dedicated charger.
The elevated driving position provides a good view of the road ahead. But we found it a rather awkward fit because the steering wheel doesn’t telescope for reach, and the center console rubs against the driver's right knee. In addition, the rear seat is a bit snug. An 8-inch touch screen is standard on the Leaf Plus. However, drivers can only access EV-specific data and customize the safety features through a smaller display in the instrument panel, which we found awkward to use.
Forward collision warning and auto emergency braking come standard, but blind spot warning is optional. The optional ProPilot Assist system can help keep the car in its lane and adjust speed to keep pace with traffic. We found it to be a convenience in stop and go traffic.