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2018 Nissan Leaf Review

by Frank
2018 nissan leaf

The best-selling electric vehicle on the market, the Nissan Leaf, has returned with fresh new features and a model redesign for 2018. It’s still the innovative electric vehicle that takes you further on a single charge, but now it has more style and more range. Check out all of its great and not-so-great features.

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The 2018 Nissan LEAF is determined to hold its spot as the go-to electric vehicle in an ever-growing segment of hybrid fuel vehicles. It’s just entering its second generation with new style upgrades, better performance capabilities and advanced safety technology. It might not be as sexy as a Tesla, but it certainly tries to make a mark all its own. Let’s take a closer look at some of its features.

Nissan LEAF Trim Levels

2018 nissan leaf trim levels

The Nissan LEAF is available in three different versions – the base model S, mid-level SV and range-topping SL. At a glance, you might not notice the difference. The base model comes well-equipped with 16-inch wheels, automatic emergency braking, USB port and four-speaker sound system. The SV upgrades the base model with 17-inch wheels, a navigation system and the much-coveted Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability. Also, just because you’re in the market for an electric vehicle doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have some creature comforts. The SL model trim comes with leather seating, premium BOSE audio, an around view monitor and a portable charging cables.

Exterior Style

Where’s the tailpipe? There is none. The LEAF is an electric vehicle, but you wouldn’t know it from the new style redesign for 2018. Amazingly, by toning down its exterior features, the 2018 Nissan LEAF actually looks decent. That means no more bug-eye lenses and curvaceous fenders. The lines are much subtler. It does have the signature V-Motion grille of all the Nissan vehicles and a low-sweeping roofline that is quite attractive. From the profile, you might confuse it for a Toyota RAV-4 or a Honda CR-V, a look that was almost certainly intentional.

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Nissan LEAF Interior

nissan leaf interior 2018

The inside of a 2018 Nissan LEAF reveals soft-touch surfaces, a user-friendly layout and subtle blue accents that hint at eco-friendly, advanced technology underneath. The base model still looks rather basic, but when you consider the heated, leather seating and steering wheel of the SL model, you can almost squint your eyes and imagine you are in a true luxury vehicle. There’s 33 and a half inches of rear legroom, and the rear seats fold down, opening up to a generous 30 cubic feet of cargo space.


Here’s how it all works. The LEAF has a 110 kilowatt AC synchronous electric motor that gets 147 horsepower and 236 lb. ft. of torque. That’s a substantial improvement over the previous motor’s capabilities. The LEAF also has a 40 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery at its core. It’s more powerful than its predecessor but occupies the same volume.

Nissan boasts a range of 151 miles, but that will vary depending on driving conditions. Still, that’s an improvement of 40% over last year. If you’re charging the battery with conventional means, it will take you 16 hours to reach full charge. You can cut that time in half if you can get your hands on a Level 2, 240-volt charging station. If you’re lucky enough to find a public DC charging station, then you can get a 90-mile top-up in just half an hour.

The LEAF handles quite well, thanks to its low center of gravity and front-wheel drive setup. It has quick acceleration from zero but will start to lag when you get above 50 miles per hour. Another interesting performance feature is the E-Pedal. It comes standard on all model trims and enables the driver to use regenerative braking to charge the batteries while you go. You can also put on the Eco Mode to conserve battery life.

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Nissan LEAF Infotainment System

nissan leaf infotainment system

The 2018 Nissan LEAF is well-connected once you get above the base model. By just upgrading to the mid-level SV trim you go from four speakers to six, from basic AM/FM to HD Radio, and you get Android Auto and Apple CarPlay features. All models get steering wheel-mounted controls, but the 7-inch control stack is easy to navigate. It has both touchscreen and manual controls.

The SL model trim benefits from a premium BOSE audio system, which really should be available across the whole line up. Another impressive feature is the Nissan Connect Service. It’s a mobile app that can do everything from adjust your seat and set the temperature in your vehicle to provide customized alerts for your next charge and help you find charging stations in your area.


It’s nice to see that so many great safety features are standard on all 2018 Nissan LEAF models. You get a rearview camera, forward collision warnings, and even automatic emergency braking. Jump up to the higher trims and you can include blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, pedestrian detection and adaptive cruise control. The SL model comes with an around view monitoring camera, as well. The available Tech Package bundles the most advanced safety features together to create Level 2 Driving Autonomy. That means that if your hands stay on the wheel, the LEAF can effectively drive itself on well-marked roads. Nissan calls its highest level of lane keeping – ProPilot Assist.

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Final Thoughts

The Nissan LEAF now looks more like a regular vehicle and not some science experiment. As the category broadened, the price of the LEAF has dropped to keep it competitive. It lacks the range of the Chevrolet Bolt EV but comes in about $6,000 cheaper to compensate. It’s not a thrill to drive like a Tesla, but it has the reliability you would come to expect from the highest-selling electric vehicle. Although it hasn’t undergone crash-testing yet, the LEAF still scores high marks for its semi-autonomous driving and safety features.

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