2018 Nissan Leaf Preview
- Redesigned electric vehicle (EV) in S, SV, and SL trim levels
- Estimated driving range of 150 miles
- Recharges in 16 hours using standard household outlet, or overnight with a 240-volt home charging station
- New e-Pedal, ProPilot Assist, and Nissan Intelligent Integration technologies
- Available Nissan Safety Shield driver-assistance and collision-avoidance systems
- More powerful version with longer driving range is coming for 2019
- New Leaf goes on sale in early 2018, priced from $30,875 before tax credits
Nissan has been building electric vehicles for nearly a decade. The Leaf arrived for the 2010 model year and has become the world’s most popular EV, selling more than 280,000 units according to Automotive News. Since then, Nissan has updated the Leaf on several occasions, but the car is rapidly becoming outdated.
It is time for a new Nissan Leaf, and it arrives in early 2018.
When it goes on sale, the redesigned 2018 Leaf will be offered in S, SV, and SL trim levels. It will remain a 5-door hatchback. It will still hold five people. And it will supply the cargo space of a compact crossover SUV.
It will not, however, match a Chevrolet Bolt EV for driving range or a Tesla Model 3 for style, which might help to explain its relative bargain of a base price, which is $30,875 before factoring in tax credits and incentives.
Nissan wants the new 2018 Leaf’s design to give the impression of a high-tech device. Highlights include the automaker’s “V-Motion” design elements, which are now familiar from other Nissan models, a clear blue 3D mesh grille panel that identifies the Leaf as an electric vehicle, boomerang-shaped headlight and taillight signatures, and a floating roof treatment.
Sitting on a wheelbase equal to that of the original Leaf, and boasting an identical coefficient of drag (0.28), the 2018 Leaf looks like a mashup of the previous car, a Maxima, and a Murano. It still carries too much visual weight over the front axle, giving the car odd proportions, but there is no doubt that the new Leaf is more appealing than the old one.
Nissan continues to supply the car with a front charging port, and quick-charging capability is available. Buyers choose between eight colors, including a spiffy black-and-white 2-tone treatment.
Employing a “Gliding Wing” interior theme, Nissan says the Leaf’s cabin is “clean, relaxed, (and) high-tech.” Promising a quieter interior than before, Nissan says five people will comfortably fit, that interior storage is improved, and that cargo capacity grows to 23.6 cu. ft.
Buyers choose between Black and a Pale Gray/Dark Gray two-tone treatment. Blue exposed stitching ties the interior to the car’s blue-accented grille panel. An analog speedometer is housed next to a configurable 7-in. color multi-information display, and a new infotainment system with a 7-in. display screen is standard.
Compared with the previous Leaf, the new Leaf’s interior loses its distinctiveness. It looks more conventional, like any other car, save for its unique transmission selector.
Upgrade from S to SV trim and the Leaf adds 17-in. aluminum wheels, intelligent cruise control, quick charge port, navigation system, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone-projection technology. Option packages provide further upgrades, including a long list of technologies that are discussed below.
Choose the Leaf SL for leather upholstery. This version also comes standard with LED headlights, Bose Energy Efficient Series premium sound system, portable charging cable compatible with 240-volt charging stations, blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert, and an Around View Monitor with moving-object detection.
Under the Hood
Nissan calls the 2018 Leaf’s drivetrain an “e-Powertrain.” It includes a 40-kWh Lithium-ion battery powering a 110-kW electric motor; total output measures 147 horsepower and 236 lb.-ft. of torque. Those figures represent a 38% increase and a 26% increase, respectively, over the outgoing model.
Driving range is estimated to be 150 miles, which “should satisfy the daily driving needs of the majority of Leaf owners,” according to Nissan. The battery provides greater energy storage capacity but is the same physical size as the one used in the outgoing model, preserving space inside of the car. Nissan says it takes about 16 hours to recharge using a household outlet, or about half that using a 240-volt home charging station.
Nissan promises improved acceleration and “driver enjoyment” from the new Leaf. The automaker says that the car’s center of gravity is lower, the electric steering has a more linear feel with enhanced feedback, the suspension provides greater composure over uneven surfaces, and electric motor torque control is improved for smoother driving characteristics.
Knowing that the Leaf will be compared to EVs such as the Chevrolet Bolt and Tesla Model 3, Nissan has announced that for the 2019 model year a more expensive version of the Leaf will offer a higher-powered battery with longer driving range.
ProPilot Assist is new not only to the Leaf, but also to Nissan. Essentially, it automatically maintains a safe distance between the Leaf and the vehicle ahead, helps the driver to steer and remain centered in the lane of travel, and can bring the car to a complete stop and remain in place even if the driver isn’t pressing on the brake pedal. Once traffic resumes motion, the driver activates ProPilot Assist again by briefly pressing the accelerator or touching the activation switch.
Additionally, the new Leaf offers a comprehensive roster of Nissan Safety Shield technologies. They include automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, Intelligent Lane Intervention, and a 360-degree surround-view camera with moving-object detection.
Nissan will equip every 2018 Leaf with e-Pedal, which will allow the driver to accelerate, decelerate, or stop by adjusting pressure on the accelerator pedal. A planned ProPilot Park system manages the Leaf’s steering, braking, and accelerator for autonomous-assist parallel, perpendicular, and angled parking maneuvers.
When equipped with a navigation system, the NissanConnect infotainment system includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone-projection technology. NissanConnect Services provides the locations of free charging stations and their availability, while a smartphone app allows owners to remotely check battery status, initiate off-peak battery charging, and pre-condition the cabin with heat or air conditioning.
Additionally, Nissan Intelligent Integration technology provides the Leaf with vehicle-to-infrastructure technology, preparing the car for a fully connected future.
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