2011 Nissan LEAF Review – vs. the Chevy Volt and Toyota Prius

Feature Articles hybrid Nissan

This brings me to my two main concerns with regard to driving the LEAF: the first is that the pillar between the rear door and the hatch is fairly wide and can cause a large blind spot. The second is with regard to the charging time, which can be as high as 14 hours.

LEAF charging station

For the uninitiated, the LEAF has three charging options: 110V, 220V, and 440V. At 110V, which is what you find in standard house outlets, the charge time for a fully drained battery is about 14 hours – which is fine if you have a garage and can charge your car overnight. Nissan advises drivers to consider installing a 220V outlet in your garage (same as your washer/drier outlet). For those who don’t have this outlet in their garage it’s a $2500 installation. The potential set back I see here is for folks that live in high rises and might not have access to a plug point in their parking garage. However, third party electric fuel providers are stepping in to fill this market, creating fill stations with 440V plug-ins where your car can fill up in half an hour for a small single digit fee. Imagine that…filling your tank in the single digits.

In addition, Nissan thought of ways to help you stretch your dollars even further through Eco mode: through a second click of the palm shifter you can control the throttle, a feature that is not seen in any other EV or hybrid. Eco mode also takes into account the load on the car and optimizes for the best mileage while taking advantage of the regenerative braking. In a rough test, our driving team saw a 20-30% improvement in charge conservation…amazing!

CarWings Nissan's iPhone app for the LEAF

This car is full of little perks and thoughtful engineering. One such perk that is standard for all LEAFs is the CarWings application available for your smart phone; it allows remote monitoring of the security system and charging status and can remotely power on the AC or heat through the solar panel charge. Goodbye car sauna and teeth chattering mornings!

In short, I told my dad that the LEAF was fun to drive, stable, quiet, and zippy. No new cars for me this year as I’m paying off my mortgage…but I did enjoy picturing myself floating about the city, happily running my errands, and filling the trunk with groceries to be unloaded in my garage where the Leaf would charge for the night, waiting for more adventures the next day.

RATING 4.25 4.25 3.75 3.5 3.75 4.25 3.95/B



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  • A Williams says:

    Just curious.. Your car today drive 500 mile on a tank of gas? Your expectations are extreme!!

  • Peter Anastopulos says:

    This a toy not a real car .Test drove the Leaf at Boardwalk Nissan and it stopped working in our drive through an office park in redwood City.They have not made this car feel real it feels like a GEM golf cart.I prefer the Volt but wish the nice design cues of the Leaf were in the Volt.Either way I will not own either till the price comes down into the 20k’s.I don’t feel the tech is mature enough yet but it’s close and I can see owning this type a vehicle reach’s 500 Miles on a charge and it mirrors the average American vehicles prices. Right now it’s a toy but will mature and be useful in the next 5 years.

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