Nissan Leaf: The electric car for everyone

CNNMoney's Peter Valdes-Dapena takes a look at the 2018 Nissan Leaf which starts at $29,990 and can go for about 150 miles on a single charge.

Posted: Apr 25, 2018 11:45 AM
Updated: Apr 25, 2018 11:45 AM

The Nissan Leaf is is the best-selling electric car in the world. If you're talking about mainstream electric vehicles, the Leaf has been it for years.

Now there's an all-new version of the Leaf with more sophisticated styling and more range than before. And its $30,000 price tag still undercuts the competition from Tesla and General Motors -- although those cars still go farther on a charge. The Leaf also has some technology called ProPilot Assist, that's similar to Tesla's Autopilot driver assistance system but not quite as refined.

The biggest advantage of the Leaf is that you won't have to wait until sometime next year to get one. Just saying.

The Leaf isn't particularly fun to drive, the way most EVs are. The Leaf is the "mild sauce" version of an electric vehicle. Part of that is because it has less power. With electric cars, bigger batteries mean more driving range, but they also mean more power and punchier acceleration. So it might be no surprise the Leaf feels less exciting.

To be honest, most Nissan cars are pretty dull these days. I'm not sure why but over the past few years, Nissan has decided to put all the excitement into its cars' exterior design -- they look pretty sharp. The engineers seem to focus purely on fuel economy and comfort, and in that respect the Leaf fits right in. The suspension is tuned for comfort and the steering feels as sharp as a Play Doh knife. If you don't mind that, and lots of people won't, you won't mind the Leaf.

Its 151 miles of range isn't as much as more expensive EVs, but I was able to comfortably get through an entire weekend of ordinary errand running, plus a round-trip commute to work, without recharging. (One thing you learn driving electric cars is that most of us don't travel nearly as many miles each day as we think.)

The Leaf's interior design is also less exciting than the Model 3's or even the Bolt EV's. Beyond a shiny puck-shaped gear selector, most of the it feels like it could be in any Nissan economy car. There is a nice and fairly large touchscreen, but there's nothing that makes you feel like you just leaped into the future.

The Leaf does have the ProPilot Assist feature, which is also available in some other Nissan models. Think of it as Tesla's Autopilot on a budget. It's also largely similar to driver assistance systems from Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Lexus and others.

The driver has to keep hands on the steering wheel, but ProPilot will do the work of keeping the car in the center of its lane. (It won't change lanes for you like systems on some more expensive cars will.) It also maintains a distance behind traffic ahead. By itself, it's not revolutionary -- more expensive systems are smoother and feel more natural, but what's impressive is to find it on such an affordable vehicle.

The Leaf is roomy for its size, comfortable, practical and a good value at its price, particularly when tax benefits are factored in. Is it exciting? No. But it provides a view to the future when people will buy electric cars just because they make sense not because they're cool.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 26980

Reported Deaths: 1159
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin9099657
Ramsey3351149
Stearns205614
Nobles15775
Anoka152779
Dakota144664
Washington70035
Olmsted68911
Rice5243
Kandiyohi5141
Scott4712
Clay44930
Mower4462
Wright3492
Todd3441
Sherburne2492
Carver2402
Benton1853
Steele1700
Freeborn1590
Blue Earth1490
Martin1355
St. Louis11914
Lyon1012
Unassigned9611
Pine930
Nicollet8811
Cottonwood820
Winona8115
Crow Wing815
Watonwan790
Carlton750
Goodhue736
Otter Tail731
Chisago691
Polk632
Itasca5610
Dodge540
Chippewa521
Morrison480
Le Sueur471
Douglas460
Meeker460
Becker440
Jackson420
Murray410
McLeod410
Isanti360
Pennington300
Waseca290
Mille Lacs241
Rock230
Faribault220
Wabasha200
Swift191
Beltrami180
Sibley170
Brown172
Fillmore171
Norman150
Pipestone130
Kanabec121
Aitkin120
Marshall120
Cass112
Big Stone110
Wilkin113
Wadena100
Pope100
Koochiching90
Redwood70
Yellow Medicine70
Renville70
Mahnomen61
Lincoln60
Red Lake40
Traverse40
Grant40
Clearwater30
Houston30
Hubbard30
Lac qui Parle30
Roseau30
Stevens10
Lake10
Kittson10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 21114

Reported Deaths: 593
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk4614140
Woodbury286137
Black Hawk178849
Buena Vista10672
Linn97879
Dallas95226
Marshall91418
Wapello63615
Johnson6198
Muscatine56741
Crawford5512
Tama41129
Scott38510
Dubuque35921
Louisa35011
Pottawattamie31910
Sioux3060
Jasper26917
Wright2210
Washington1968
Warren1671
Plymouth1522
Story1311
Allamakee1204
Mahaska9913
Poweshiek928
Hamilton760
Webster741
Henry732
Boone720
Bremer716
Clarke690
Des Moines681
Taylor660
Clinton651
Guthrie553
Cedar501
Benton431
Cherokee410
Monroe415
Jones370
Shelby370
Osceola360
Jefferson360
Marion350
Dickinson350
Buchanan341
Iowa340
Clayton343
Cerro Gordo331
Madison292
Lee290
Sac280
Davis280
Emmet270
Fayette270
Clay270
Monona260
Harrison260
Hardin240
Lyon240
Winneshiek240
Lucas222
Mills200
Grundy200
Franklin200
Humboldt201
Pocahontas200
Delaware191
Floyd191
Hancock180
Appanoose173
Butler161
Kossuth160
Carroll151
Ida150
Greene150
Keokuk140
Jackson140
Page140
Audubon131
Cass130
Chickasaw130
Howard120
Winnebago110
Calhoun100
Union100
Van Buren90
Adair90
Montgomery92
Adams70
Palo Alto70
Ringgold40
Fremont40
Mitchell40
Worth30
Unassigned20
Wayne10
Decatur10
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