2011 Nissan Leaf Review – Driving into the future with Nissan’s EV

Expert Reviews hybrid Nissan

2011 Nissan LEAF
By Jessika Lora


  • Roomy and flexible interior space
  • 100 mile range on a single charge
  • Solar panel converts sunlight into power to charge essentials without draining the battery
  • Turning heads and changing the minds of even the old-timers


  • Limited number of places to plug-in and recharge
  • Only a 100 mile range on a single charge
  • Using 110V household current, you can fly to Hong Kong in as much time it takes to charge a drained battery
  • Blind spot caused by rear hatch pillar

Driving up the 101 my dad saw the Nissan LEAF billboard next to the 4th street Bay Bridge on-ramp, “That car doesn’t use ANY gas?” At $4.25 a gallon and with no indication of a price ceiling he encouraged me to look into this car, “You know, you’re driving up and down the bay 120 miles each day, this could pay for itself in gas savings.”

Nissan LEAF electronic shifter

A few weeks later I found myself up in Portland for my sister’s graduation. My dad again asked if I had looked into the specs and price for a LEAF , “Heck Jessy, I might even get one for myself. I’ve been thinking it’s just the right size for driving to and from work and going to the gym afterward.” I pictured my father in Nissan’s new EV: my dad whose hobby is rebuilding classic Mustangs and who drives his 1970 Mach 1 to the gym and back 3 times each week for the last 10 years. Way to go Nissan, you’ve engaged a muscle car enthusiast and by doing so have piqued my interest as well! As luck would have it, I would soon have the opportunity to test drive this car and report back to my dad.

Having only seen the car in a billboard, I was eager to walk up and see it in person. Your first impression of this car will really depend on how you approach it, and I mean that literally: from the side this is reminiscent of a Subaru Outback which makes you think, “Hmmm, off road and sporty”. However, if you walk up to this car head-on your first thought might instead be “how cute!” From the back, the car looks a bit like a SMART car with regard to the body height and body to window ratio.

Nissan LEAF rear cargo area

Eager to start exploring the car I opened the trunk. How much junk could fit in this trunk? A lot, as it turns out. Nissan let’s you customize your LEAF and one of customizations is a trunk organizer. I like this add on as it allows you to open a flat clean trunk and become surprised when you realize there are compartments where you might otherwise find a spare tire. The car is also designed so that using this bucket compartment you can fold down the back seats to have a flush surface, which is great for hauling things around. I’ve actually managed to fit a door and three rolls of house insulation into a Prius and I can therefore see many advantages to having a flat trunk/back seat surface – another of which is camping in your car! The LEAF is a little bit longer and taller than the Prius, though both cars have roughly the same wheelbase.


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