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2018 Nissan Leaf Ownership: Living With the e-Pedal

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author photo by AutoTrader July 2018

In the time that we've had our 2018 Nissan Leaf, there are some familiar things about it and some things that take getting used to. One of the most unique features of the Leaf is the e-Pedal. The e-Pedal, in Nissan's words, "Allows the driver to launch, accelerate/decelerate and stop the vehicle by using only the accelerator pedal." In other words, you press the pedal to accelerate like in any other car, but when you lift up your foot, the car slows down like you're hitting the brakes. This makes it possible to drive the Leaf without ever hitting the brake pedal.

The benefit of the e-Pedal is that it uses regenerative braking to charge the battery for the electric drivetrain. When the Leaf detects you're using the e-Pedal to slow down enough to come to a complete stop, it engages the car's regular brakes to ensure a safe stop.

So, what is it like to actually drive with the e-Pedal? It takes a little getting used to, but once you get past the learning curve, it can be a good way to get the best possible electric range from your Nissan Leaf. However, we found that the e-Pedal works better in some driving scenarios than others.

Our editor, Dwight, found that the e-Pedal worked a bit better and more naturally in the city than it did on the highway. In highway use with light traffic, he found that the Leaf often slowed down either too gradually or too abruptly when the e-Pedal was engaged. Around town and in traffic, however, it was a bit easier to use and made a noticeable difference in retaining the car's electric power. In his 20-mile commute, he was able to only use about 18 miles of electric range. That might not sound like much, but with an EV, every mile counts.

Dwight was also impressed with the portable charging cord of the Nissan Leaf. He liked that it worked with a 240V outlet and could also be used in a normal 120V household outlet, adding to the car's versatility. However, 120V charging is very slow. When our editor Ben tried it, he only got about six miles of range from a 4-hour charge. In the same amount of time, he could have gotten about 80 miles from a 240V unit.

As for the drivetrain itself, we found that it has the fun, torquey acceleration that EVs are becoming famous for and it's especially fun to drive with the windows down with virtually no engine noise. Like with any engine, we lost some range with the air conditioning on. If you have the range to spare, it's not really an issue, but it could be a problem if you're trying to conserve your battery on a hot day.

Electric cars are still a pretty new technology and the 2018 Nissan Leaf is a good step forward. The e-Pedal hasn't been perfected quite yet, but it's an interesting piece of tech, and we're looking forward to seeing what Nissan and the rest of the industry can do with it in the future.

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2018 Nissan Leaf Ownership: Living With the e-Pedal - Autotrader