Nissan updated its LEAF last model year with new styling and now offers its LEAF PLUS with even greater driving range. The second-generation Nissan LEAF is more attractive and has excellent aerodynamics, resulting in a drag coefficient of only 0.28. The latter includes a sealed underbody, diffuser-type rear bumper, and aero wheels. Improved aerodynamics also mean a quieter ride and improved vehicle stability.
The LEAF PLUS features an increase in battery capacity to 62 kWh compared to 40 kWh in the standard LEAF model. This results in an increase in EPA range from 151 miles for the LEAF to 226 miles for the LEAF PLUS.
While the interior dimensions of the latest generation LEAF remain essentially unchanged, the rear cargo area has been redesigned for more luggage space. Even with an increase in energy storage capacity, the LEAF PLUS battery pack is almost the same size and configuration as in the LEAF. The car’s exterior and interior dimensions are virtually unchanged. On the outside, the LEAF PLUS gets some small accents and distinctive emblems on the rear. Other subtle changes include a revised front fascia with blue highlights.
Connectivity and advanced driver assist systems are a big thing in this model. Nissan Intelligent Mobility focuses on three key elements including Nissan Intelligent Power (how Nissans are Powered), Nissan Intelligent Driving (how Nissans are driven), and Nissan Intelligent Integration (how Nissans are integrated into society). Nissan Intelligent Power includes the e-powertrain that provides 147 hp in the LEAF and 214 hp in the LEAF PLUS, with both exhibiting increased torque for improved acceleration.
Nissan Intelligent Driving includes ProPILOT cruise control that maintains distance to the vehicle ahead. If that vehicle stops, ProPILOT automatically applies the brakes to bring the LEAF to a full stop, remaining stationary even if the driver’s foot is off the brake. The car resumes driving when the driver touches a switch or lightly presses the accelerator to reactivate ProPILOT.
ProPILOT also helps steer and keep the vehicle centered in its lane at speeds between 19 and 62 mph. Other LEAF technologies include Intelligent Lane Intervention, Lane Departure Warning, Intelligent Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Intelligent Around View Monitor with moving object detection.
Using NissanConnect, a key part of Nissan Intelligent Integration, the driver can search for continuously updated information such as the location and operating hours of free charging stations and station availability. Owners can also access their smartphone to check the battery’s state of charge, schedule charging for minimum electric rates, find the nearest charging station, and pre-heat or cool the car. NissanConnect links drivers, vehicles, and communities to share power between electric vehicles and homes, buildings, and power grids. While connected to vehicle-to-home systems, the battery can store surplus solar energy during the daytime and use it to help power a home in the evening.
The dashboard is dominated by a 7-inch display for infotainment and the navigation system, if equipped, as well as Nissan’s Safety Shield, the vehicle’s state-of-charge, and a power gauge. The driver is faced with another 7-inch screen in place of conventional dials. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included with the higher-spec infotainment system that also includes navigation. LEAF PLUS gets a larger 8-inch touchscreen and an updated navigation system. Applications, maps, and firmware are updated over the air.
Nissan’s LEAF is the world’s best-selling electric vehicle and the automaker aims to keep it that way with approachable prices. The LEAF offers an MSRP of $29,900 with the longer-range LEAF PLUS coming in at $36,550, before federal and state incentives.