Overall: The most successful mass-produced electric car in the world is poised to become even more successful for 2018. Although the original was competitively priced and provided reasonable power and cabin space, it’s awkward appearance likely dissuaded some buyers from going electric. The new Leaf, which is now built in Nissan’s Smyrna, Tenn. Plant, looks great with what Nissan calls “cool tech” styling. The front end has been given an actual (but non-functioning, since there’s no radiator) grille that stylistically makes a huge difference. Although the Leaf looks larger than it is, the car gains only slightly in length, width, height and wheelbase. As for performance, the new Leaf delivers 40 percent more range (up to 150 miles) and 26 percent more peak torque (236 pound-feet), thanks to a new 147-horsepower electric motor and larger-capacity lithium-ion battery pack. Charging the batteries from empty takes about eight hours using a 240-volt home charger, or 16 hours on household current. In addition, a Level 3 fast charge unit will supply 80 percent of the batteries’ capacity in just 40 minutes. Base models will come well equipped, with a number of autonomous driving technologies, including a self-parking feature offered as options. In 2019, Nissan plans to offer a more powerful battery option that it estimates will extend the Leaf’s range to about 300 miles.
Base price (incl. destination): $31,000 (excluding government tax credits)
Type: Four-door compact hatchback
Engine (h.p.): 80-kilowatt electric motor (147)
Transmission: Single-speed controller
MPG (equivalent, city/highway): n.a.
Weight (lb.): 3,430