- Pure-electric vehicle with 84 miles of range
- Standard Bluetooth connectivity and push button start
- Seats five passengers, good cargo room (24 cubic feet)
The all-electric 2015 Nissan Leaf hatchback glides into the model year with a barely audible electric hum, rather than the bang and clatter of a gas engine.
The Leaf is the best-selling pure electric vehicle in the world and one of the few that’s being mass produced for the whole country. Many of the electric vehicles from other manufacturers are still limited to smaller geographic areas, but the Leaf is sold pretty much in all corners of the US now.
There are not many updates for 2015; SV and SL models now get hands-free text message support standard, and all models now feature a “B-Mode” selectable drive setting which makes the regenerative braking system more intrusive so it recharges the battery a little bit more, increasing efficiency. Styling is the same, the Leaf keeps the same bug-eyed look and hatchback shape it’s had since it debuted. The raised headlamps are not just for appearances though; they help to route air around the side mirrors while the car is in motion, which reduces road noise.
But what makes the Leaf unique is still that electric drivetrain. An electric drive motor turns the front wheels and outputs 107-hp and 187 pounds-feet of torque. It is powered by a 340-volt lithium-ion battery pack located in the floor of the car for lower weight distribution. Charge times vary based on outlet type. On a standard 120-volt household socket, it’s 21 hours, versus seven hours on a 220-volt charger that requires a station installation at your home. An optional 6.6 kW onboard charger lowers that time to less than five hours. Public quick-charge stations, more of which are being installed in various locations, can charge a depleted battery to 80 percent capacity in around half an hour.
Inside, the Leaf has seating for up to five passengers and a long list of standard features, including heated front and rear seats, Bluetooth connectivity, USB port, and a heated steering wheel. Leather upholstery is optional, along with helpful tech features like Pandora internet radio and a navigation system. To keep drivers informed of how much range is left in the Leaf, the dashboard screen can display available power, current use, and remaining miles to empty.
Standard safety features include six airbags, a rearview camera, antilock brakes, and an electronic stability system. The battery pack has also been designed with safety in mind; it disconnects automatically if the airbags deploy or it senses a submersion in water to prevent electrocutions.