I hear people say the Nissan Leaf is the best commute car ever. That’s setting the bar pretty high — but after a week of driving the 2019 Leaf Plus model around town, I whole-heartedly agree.
Part of the Leaf’s second generation introduced for 2018, the new Leaf Plus model offers a larger battery pack and more powerful motor. But here is what stands out most to me with the 2019 version: it’s got quick, smooth acceleration; a broad complement of driver assistance features; more range than similarly priced EVs; and offers a super quiet driving experience.
So if you are shopping for a compact electric hatchback EV, the Leaf is a strong contender.
The regular 2019 Leaf offers 150 miles of range on a charge, which is less than some of its competitors, but Nissan fights back with the Leaf Plus model, which has a larger battery pack and greater range.
The two differ mainly in their battery. The regular Leaf has a 40-kWh battery that is good for about 150 miles of range. Nissan upgrades the Leaf Plus with a 60-kWh battery that provides 215 miles of range. The Plus also has a more powerful 214-horsepower electric motor compared to the regular model’s 147-hp motor.
Each is available in one of three trim levels: S, SV, and SL. The S starts out with 16-inch steel wheels, automatic headlights, LED taillights, a rear spoiler, keyless entry and start, a rearview camera, a tilt-only steering wheel, automatic climate control, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, 60/40-split rear seats, a five-inch central display, Bluetooth, USB port, and four-speaker sound system with a CD player and satellite radio. Forward collision warning with automatic braking standard.
The optional Charge package (standard on the Leaf Plus S) includes a DC fast-charger port (CHAdeMO standard) and a portable charge cable capable of connecting to 120- and 240-volt sources.
The SV comes with the Charge package, 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, adaptive cruise control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a seven-inch touchscreen, navigation, NissanConnect (Nissan’s Web connectivity and remote-access system) and a six-speaker audio system with HD radio and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration.
As the top model, the SL adds the All Weather package and the SV Technology package (minus ProPilot Assist for the regular Leaf). Also standard are a 360-degree parking camera, leather upholstery, a Bose seven-speaker sound system and a cargo cover. The only option for this trim is the regular Leaf’s SL Technology package, which adds the ProPilot Assist driving aids.
As with most EVs, smooth, instant power and a total absence of shifting make the Nissan Leaf easy to drive, specially with its more powerful electric motor. The car delivers a smooth ride, and the front seats are genuinely comfortable. It is a very serene place to spend time thanks to the inherent quietness of its electric propulsion system. The Leaf also offers an impressive amount of cargo space when the seats are in use.
MSRP ranges from $29,990 to $42,550. My Leaf Plus topped out at $44,315, after adding a couple of extra options like premium paint and splash guards, and with destination charges, of course.
Grant Miller is the publisher of Miami’s Community Newspapers. He may be contacted by calling 305-662-2277 or via email at Grant@CommunityNewspapers.com.