Driving range is expanded to 151 miles for Nissan's new-generation Leaf battery-electric car. (Lindsay Brooke)
What we're driving: 2018 Nissan Leaf SV
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Uncoiling the fat-diameter charge cord from its kit bag, I plugged the Nissan’s new Leaf into the 120-V outlet on my garage’s exterior wall. Handling the cord, which was dirty from the previous night’s charging, left black grime on my hands. Like fueling a diesel but without the smell and oily fingers.
“Of course, I’d have a Level 2 wall-mount charging station inside the garage if I owned this car,” I reminded myself, just as a ‘beep’ signaled the car was taking on electrons.
While I am still not an EV convert, I found much to like about the latest generation of Nissan’s pioneering battery-electric. At freeway speeds, the car’s cabin is quieter than that of many luxury cars. On a twisty road, the Leaf doesn’t embarrass itself, even though much of the platform is carryover from the previous generation and the car rides on Michelin’s low-rolling-resistance tires. For an EV, steering feedback is surprisingly accurate and the redesigned cabin feels airy and roomy.
By applying only moderate pressure to the Leaf’s rheostat ‘throttle’ pedal, I was able to travel 146 miles (236 km) between full charges in mixed-roads commuting. Not bad for late April in Michigan, where it both snowed and reached 65°F during my week with Leaf; Nissan advertises a 151-mile (243-km) range. A heavy right foot will sap the 40-kW·h air-cooled battery quickly, though. The e-Pedal function enables one-pedal operation and boosts brake regen capability.
The 60-kW·h battery due later this year will bring 200-mile (322-km) range—perhaps enough to steer more EV aspirants towards the Nissan store. — Lindsay Brooke
2018 Nissan Leaf SV
Base price: $32,490
As tested: $36,855
Highs: Longer range than previous; pleasant styling; world-class cabin NVH levels
Lows: Marginal interior materials, still uncompetitive range
The takeaway: Waiting for the bigger battery
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