Nissan Unveils a Leaf That Goes the Distance

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Ignoring next week’s North American International Auto Show, Nissan instead chose the high-tech confines of Las Vegas’ Consumer Electronics Show to reveal its latest Leaf. And it’s a Leaf that’s finally able to play with the big boys.

Called the Leaf e+, but carrying the Leaf Plus name when it goes on sale in the U.S. and Canada, this Leaf variant boasts more battery — 62 kWh of it. With all of that additional stored energy comes the ability to expand your horizons.

Currently, Nissan’s second-generation Leaf carries a 40 kWh battery capable of propelling the vehicle some 151 miles, according to EPA specs. Upgrading to a Leaf Plus, which American buyers should be able to do come spring, extends the driving range to approximately 226 miles.

This places the hatch ahead of the still-theoretical base Tesla Model 3 (220 miles) and places it in the running among lower-priced EVs like the Chevrolet Bolt (238 miles) and Hyundai Kona EV (258 miles). Kia’s Niro EV (239 miles) and upcoming 2020 Soul EV (200-plus miles) are other long-ranged considerations.

While the new-for-2018 Leaf improved on its predecessor’s range of 107 miles, buyers wanted the option to upgrade. Nissan didn’t wait long to grant their wish. By keeping the original battery pack in the model line, the automaker can still market the Leaf as a value-packed offering with something for everyone. For 2019, a base Leaf S stickers for $30,885 after destination but before a $7,500 federal tax credit.

In a statement, Nissan said the “Plus” moniker will appear alongside the same trim range seen on the lower-ranged model. Thus, you’ll have a choice of S Plus, SV Plus, and SL Plus.

Sliding into a Plus model nets a driver more than just range, too. A larger, 160 kW motor generates 215 horsepower, up from 147 hp in non-Plus models, while torque rises from 236 lb-ft to 250 lb-ft. According to Nissan, passing acceleration (50 to 75 mph) is 13 percent quicker, and the top speed rises 10 percent. Green driving needn’t be sluggish — and it certainly once was (an early first-gen Leaf in Eco mode was the slowest vehicle I ever drove).

Like other Leafs, the Leaf Plus arrives with e-Pedal technology, allowing drivers to brake just by lifting their foot off the accelerator.

While Nissan wasn’t stingy with the new Leaf Plus’ specs, it did leave one set of figures out of its reveal: the price. Expect to hear more about that closer to the spring on-sale date, but a premium of at least a few thousand seems likely.

[Images: Nissan]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Jan 09, 2019

    It will be a great buy as a used car. Otherwise - why bother if you can buy superior Tesla apr. for the same money.

  • Master Baiter Master Baiter on Jan 09, 2019

    As I predicted, EVs will be helped along by ICE cars being regulated out of existence. Check out the Audi A6 review in CD. Thanks in part to a turbo, 48 V hybrid system and stop/start, this glorified Passat is close to 80 large. Might as well say “screw it, I’lll go with an EV.”

    • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Jan 10, 2019

      I would do because EV will be much simpler and much much much more reliable than that monster ICE Audi.

  • Probert When I hear the word "patriot", I think of entitled hateful whining ignorant traitors to democracy. But hey , meant to say "Pass the salt."
  • Lou_BC A brand or inanimate object isn't patriotic. A person can buy said object based upon patriotism. I'd prefer to buy local or domestic. Is supporting one's fellow countrymen patriotic or logical? I'd rather buy from an allie than a foe. Is that patriotic or logical?
  • Ajla I don't have any preference on vehicle assembly beyond that it not be built in a handful of certain nations that I don't like for nonautomotive reasons. However, I don't think the "patriotism" survey had as much to do with assembly as it did with iconography. Which might be a more interesting question.
  • Verbal "Automakers also appear to be continuing to push higher-priced vehicles with larger margins, rather than trying to meet demand for their more-affordable models."What more-affordable models would those be? In the case of the domestics, there aren't any. They cut almost all of their passenger car lines to focus on high-margin pickups and SUVs. On one level this makes sense. If I earn low margins on some of the vehicles I make and high margins on others, just stop making the low margin ones and the problem is solved, right? Except the average buyer can't afford, nor do they even want, to buy an $80,000 truck.
  • Tane94 I doubt we see the 0%/60 month summer financing deals this year with the Fed not cutting interest rates so far this year. The deal was very common on model year leftovers pre-pandemic.