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2019 Nissan Leaf Plus Review

The second-generation Nissan Leaf came out in 2018 with a new platform, 147 horsepower and a 150-mile range. Now, the 2019 Nissan Leaf Plus joins the Leaf on the platform, but outdoes it with more power, longer range and some new technology to boot.

Nissan is proud of their global leadership as a battery-electric vehicle (BEV) producer. They have sold over 380,000 units worldwide, including over 130,000 Leaf examples in the United States since the compact hatchback’s introduction in 2010. Nissan predicts tremendous growth for the BEV market over the next six years, as the number of BEV models available will go from 18 last year to 41 by 2025. Nissan itself is on track to produce eight new EVs by 2022 (including a global crossover vehicle), helping to make that prediction a reality. The 2019 Leaf Plus is the latest in this BEV push.

What’s New for 2019?

The Leaf Plus is based on the Leaf, with a few differences. On the exterior, the new variant gets subtle "Plus" badging beneath the trim level badge on the rear of the vehicle, along with blue trim on the lower front bumper. Inside, an 8-in touchscreen display replaces the standard Leaf’s 7-in screen, but other than that, it’s the same. The big difference is a new lithium-ion battery pack that is rated at 62 kWh — over 50 percent greater than the standard Leaf’s 40 kWh rating. Charge time at 240 volts is estimated at 11.5 hours from "empty" (versus 7.5 hours for the 40 kWh Leaf). On a 50 kWh DC fast charger, you can get to an 80-percent charge in 60 minutes (versus 40 minutes for the 40 kWh Leaf). If you can find a 100 kWh DC fast charger, an 80-percent charge takes 45 minutes. Nissan hasn’t quoted charge times for 120 volts (standard household current or Level 1) for the Leaf Plus, but the standard Leaf takes approximately 35 hours — so access to a 240-volt outlet would be essential for convenient charging times. See the 2019 Nissan Leaf models for sale near you

What We Like

Leaf Plus breaks the 200-mile barrier, as it is capable of traveling up to 226 miles on a single charge (versus 150 miles for the standard Leaf). DC Fast Charge is standard, which can greatly reduce charging times.

What We Don’t

Still too pricey, especially in SL Plus trim. Charging time on standard household current (Level 1/120 volts) takes a long time, so buyers will want to install a 240-volt outlet.

How Much?

Leaf S Plus: $36,550; Leaf SV Plus: $38,510; Leaf SL Plus: $42,550. Federal and state tax credits may apply.

Fuel Economy

Nissan Leaf Plus is a pure battery electric vehicle (BEV). The EPA hasn’t yet released an estimate for the vehicle’s miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) rating. The standard Leaf with a 150-mile range was rated at 112 MPGe combined.

Standard Features and Options

The Leaf Plus will be hitting dealerships in three trim levels: S Plus, SV Plus and SL Plus, matching the standard Leaf’s steps. But Leaf Plus will come with more standard content at each trim level than Leaf.

All Leaf Plus models come with the same 62 kWh Lithium-ion battery pack with a Quick Charge Port and a 120-volt/240-volt portable trickle-charge cable included. The S trim level gets 16-in alloy wheels, Automatic Emergency Braking, automatic on/off headlights, Nissan Intelligent Key with Push-Button Start, Bluetooth, Sirius XM, a hands-free Text Messaging Assistant, Automatic Temperature Control with HVAC timer and charging timer, an 8.0-in information display, 60/40-split fold-down rear seat and more.

Choosing the SV Plus trim level upgrades to 17-in aluminum alloy wheels, fog lights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, Intelligent Cruise Control and two additional speakers. The SV plus also gets a new icon-based version of Nissan’s infotainment system, Nissan Connect. The system is intuitive, always updated via Wi-Fi, and offers seamless connectivity. Map updates are included with navigation for three years. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. A new door-to-door feature is included with navigation, capable of guiding an owner on foot to their vehicle, then turn-by-turn to parking, and on foot to a final destination.

Select the top-of-the-line SL Plus, and you get LED headlights and LED daytime running lights, heated outside mirrors with integrated turn signals, leather-appointed seats, a heated steering wheel, a cargo cover, HomeLink, Bose premium audio with seven speakers, Intelligent Around View Monitor, Electric Parking Brake and High Beam Assist (HBA).

Safety

The Leaf Plus comes with a good array of standard safety, including the passive safety features that are expected (airbags, seat belts, LATCH System, energy-absorbing steering column, etc.) and active safety (anti-lock brakes, vehicle dynamic control, traction control and tire pressure monitoring systems). Additionally, SV models add standard Automatic Emergency Braking and optional Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, ProPILOT Assist, blind spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert and intelligent lane intervention. SL Plus makes all of that standard, and adds intelligent driver alertness on top.

Behind the Wheel

The Leaf Plus is a front-wheel-drive vehicle, and uses a single high-response 160 kWh synchronous electric motor that is tuned to produce 214 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque, a big increase over the standard Leaf’s 147-hp and 236-lb-ft of torque rating. A single-speed reducer operates as the motor’s transmission, so there are no gears or shifting required.

The Leaf Plus uses independent MacPherson struts with coil springs and a stabilizer bar in the front, and a torsion beam with an integrated stabilizer bar in the rear. Vehicle-speed sensitive electric power steering controls direction. Four-wheel disc brakes with an anti-lock braking system (ABS) and electronic brake force distribution (EBD) are standard. Braking on the EV is Electrically driven Intelligent Brake, which is a cooperative regenerative system. The braking system captures energy and returns it to the charging system during deceleration, helping to keep the battery charged during operation — a system that is familiar from hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles.

Like the standard Leaf, the Leaf Plus has a planted, stable driving feel, thanks to a low center of gravity. Cornering is flat and controlled, and steering feel is good for a front-drive/electric power steering setup. Acceleration is brisk — Nissan claims that it takes 7.5 seconds to get from 0-to-60 mph, which feels right. Getting up to freeway speeds is no problem, with passing power to spare. Braking is different in an EV than in a gasoline-powered car. The Leaf Plus comes with e-Pedal, a setting that you can activate and deactivate with a center console switch. Lift off the accelerator pedal, and the regenerative braking system engages, slowing the vehicle to a gradual stop — no coasting. For the most part, with e-Pedal engaged, you can drive with one pedal, using the brake pedal only for more urgent stopping needs. Normal mode returns the Leaf Plus to 2-pedal operation, while Eco mode is somewhere in the middle, muting acceleration somewhat while engaging regenerative braking less assertively than e-Pedal. With practice, e-Pedal can become a habit, which should result in increased range.

Other Cars to Consider

2019 Chevrolet Bolt EV — With a range of 238 miles, the compact hatchback Bolt EV matches up well with the Leaf Plus. It has a 60 kWh-battery pack, and a 200-hp motor, and a starting price of $36,600.

2019 Hyundai Kona EVHyundai’s compact crossover vehicle has garnered accolades for its 258-mile range, 64-kWh battery and 201-hp electric motor. Prices will start at around $36,400.

2019 Tesla Model 3 — The newest and least-expensive model in the Tesla lineup has a range of 331 miles per charge, and uses a 75-kWh battery pack and a 271-hp motor system. Prices were announced as starting at $35,000.

2019 Nisan Leaf — The standard Leaf comes with a 40 kWh battery pack and a 147-hp motor, good for a range of 150 miles on a single charge. Prices start at $29,990.

Autotrader’s Advice

The 2019 Nissan Leaf Plus takes the already good Leaf formula and boosts it to a new level — especially the psychologically significant 200-mile-plus range level, already occupied by the Chevrolet Bolt, the Tesla Model 3 and the Hyundai Kona EV. Since Leaf Plus prices start under $37,000, the step up from the standard Leaf is tempting for committed EV adopters. Sharpen your pencil carefully before leaping to a Leaf Plus or any BEV, as it will take many years to recoup the price difference from a comparable gasoline-only hatchback in fuel costs alone. The good feeling you get from driving an all-electric vehicle will have to be worth the price. Find a Nissan Leaf for sale 

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