The introduction of the LEAF represented the beginning of an age many car experts were skeptical would even happen – true mass production of a 100% electric vehicle. Not only did it happen but the LEAF was grabbed up with gusto by consumers, with Nissan selling out of its original 20,000 car run before they were even done making them. While the clean-running little car does have its limitations, it’s still an attractive and functional vehicle for its (growing) niche market.
Besides its minimal carbon footprint and the fact that it actually has five doors – a rarity among true electric vehicles – the LEAF also features an ample audio package with USB and iPod connectivity, heated seats, steering wheel, and mirrors, and a rocking navigation system that shows you your travel limits as well as where to find a plug so you can “refuel” if need be.
Changes for 2012
The heated seats and steering wheel/mirrors are all new in 2012, as well a quick charge port added to the SL trim.
What We Like
The best part, obviously, is the independence from traditional fuels. The little touches like the navigation system and the ability to interface with vehicle controls via your smartphone really make this car fun as well as eco-friendly. The handling is typical of any car in its size class and the traction control and air bags offer peace of mind as far as safety goes.
What Concerns Us
The one big problem with electric cars is the range of travel – you can go roughly 100 miles without having to recharge. This is perfect for most people in order to commute to and from work, however you’ll still have to keep the old gas-guzzler around for long trips to grandma and grandpa’s.
The LEAF features an AC synchronous electric motor/generator, a 24kWh lithium-ion-manganese-graphite battery pack offering 107 HP and 206.5 lb.-ft. torque. The fuel efficiency equivalence is 106/92.
There are no recalls on the 2012 Nissan LEAF.
One of the biggest issues brought up in complaint reports about this model is a problem with the brakes continuing to function even after the driver lets up off the brake pedal and attempts to accelerate using the “gas” pedal. Other drivers have experienced the opposite problem – soft response in the brakes, with delayed stopping.