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2020 Nissan Leaf Review

As one of the first entrants into the burgeoning electric vehicle segment at the beginning of the last decade, the Nissan Leaf is now in its second generation and remains a competitive entry. The 2020 Nissan Leaf is offered in two different versions. The regular Leaf comes with a 40 kWh battery and up to 149 miles of range, while a longer-range version, known as the Leaf Plus, comes with a 62 kWh battery and offers up to 226 miles of range.

Further bolstering the Leaf’s desirability is its array of standard active safety features, a good infotainment system, a more conveniently located charge port, LED taillights, e-Pedal technology and available ProPILOT Assist. Altogether, it makes for quite the value package. While we’re hoping to see Nissan introduce some more EVs in the near future (it’s now been a decade with just this lone entry), as far as compact electric hatchbacks go, the Leaf is impressive.

What’s New for 2020?

For 2020, every Nissan Leaf now comes standard with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist, rear automatic emergency braking, forward-collision warning and blind spot monitoring. S and SV models gain a new 8-in infotainment screen, while Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are also now standard across the board. All models now come with driver and front-passenger knee airbags and rear seat-mounted outboard side airbags. The Leaf SV’s Technology Package now includes the 360-degree camera system and driver attention monitor previously limited to the SL. Nissan has also updated the tone and volume of the Leaf’s pedestrian safety sounds. Finally, there’s a new extra-cost exterior color available, called Sunset Drift ChromaFlair. See the 2020 Nissan Leaf models for sale near you

What We Like

  • Good range from Leaf Plus
  • Value-oriented pricing
  • Standard active safety tech
  • Clever features such as ePedal
  • Handsome styling
  • User-friendly cabin

What We Don’t

  • Compact hatchback body style limits appeal

     

  • Starting to feel complacent in this quickly evolving segment

     

How Much?

$32,525-$44,825

Fuel Economy

The Leaf is a pure electric vehicle. Two different models are offered: the regular Leaf and the extended-range Leaf Plus. Output for the base Leaf is 147 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque, while the Leaf Plus makes 214 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque. The regular Leaf uses a 40 kWh battery pack for a total range of up to 149 miles, while the Leaf Plus employs a 62 kWh battery for a max of 226 miles of range.

Charge times vary, depending on your charging equipment. A 40 kWh SV model comes with a 50 kW quick charge port, while every Leaf Plus gets a 100 kW quick charge port.

Charging a Leaf with the included 120V charge cable with standard three-prong home outlet will take a very long time. This scenario is really best suited for top-offs. With an upgraded 240V home outlet (the kind that powers your dryer, for example), a Leaf with a 40 kWh batter will take 8 hours to charge, while an upgraded Leaf Plus with the 62 kWh battery will take 11.5 hours. Your best bet for charging is with a DC quick charging station, which you’ll find at many public charging locations. With one of the DC quick chargers, a 40 kWh Leaf with the 50 kWh quick charge port will be 80% charged after 40 minutes, a 62 kWh Leaf Plus with the 50 kWh pack will take 60 minutes to get to 80%, and a Leaf Plus with the 100 kWh quick charge port will take 45 minutes to get to 80.

Calculating fuel economy differently for EVs, the Environmental Protection Agency rates the regular Leaf’s mileage at 125 miles per gallon of gasoline-equivalent in the city and 100 MPGe on the highway, with an annual electricity cost of $600. The Leaf Plus comes in at 118 MPGe city/97 MPGe hwy, with an annual electricity cost of $600. The battery pack comes with an 8-year/100,000-mile warranty.

Standard Features & Options

The Leaf is offered in a total of five different trims. The basic Leaf with the 40 kWh battery pack is offered in S and SV trims, while the Leaf Plus, which comes with the larger 62 kWh battery, is offered in S Plus, SV Plus and SL Plus trims.

The S ($32,525) comes standard with hill-start assist, e-Pedal, 16-in steel wheels, power outboard mirrors, a 6-way manually adjusted driver’s seat, a trip computer, cruise control, push-button start, power windows, power door locks, a 12-volt power outlet, automatic climate control, a backup camera, hands-free text messaging, six airbags, a security system with immobilizer, automatic emergency braking, a 4-speaker audio system with a USB port, an 8-in color display, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth connectivity, satellite radio capability and 60/40 split folding rear seats. Finally, for 2020, even the base Leaf comes with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning, rear automatic emergency braking, forward-collision warning, lane-keeping assist and blind spot monitoring. An optional Charge Package adds a 50 kW quick charge port and a 240 Volt portable charge cable.

The SV ($35,115) builds on the S-grade content, adding the quick charge port, 17-in alloy wheels, fog lights and an upgraded 6-speaker audio system. Options include an electronic parking brake, a rear cargo cover, heated seats, a heated steering wheel, heated outboard mirrors, LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, high beam assist, an 8-way power driver’s seat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, HomeLink Universal Transceiver, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, a 360-degree camera system and a driver attention monitor.

The Leaf S Plus ($39,125) comes with everything the regular Leaf S has but also adds that 62 kWh battery back for a total of 226 miles of range, plus a 100 kW Quick Charge Port and a 120-volt/240-volt portable trickle-charge cable.

The Leaf SV Plus ($40,675) is simply the SV trim with the bigger battery.

The top-spec Leaf SL Plus ($44,825) gains LED headlights and LED daytime running lights, heated outside mirrors with integrated turn signals, leather-appointed seats, a heated steering wheel, a cargo cover, a universal garage door remote, a Bose-branded premium audio system with seven speakers, Intelligent Around View Monitor, an electric parking brake and high-beam assist.

Safety

While the federal government still hasn’t crash tested the Nissan Leaf in any fashion, the third-party Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has tested it in its moderate front overlap and side test, as well as head restraints and seats test, and it earned a score of Good in all three categories.

In addition to a number of airbags, backup camera and forward emergency braking, every new Leaf comes with the usual suspects of stability control, traction control and so forth.

For 2020, every Leaf also comes with an array of active safety features, including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning with lane-keep assist, rear automatic emergency braking, forward-collision warning and blind spot monitoring. Radar-based adaptive cruise control and automatic high beams are added on upper trims. Finally, the Leaf comes with Nissan’s ProPilot assist system, in which radar cruise control and lane-keeping assist work hand-in-hand to help pilot the vehicle down the road in highway driving.

Behind the Wheel

The Leaf’s cockpit is a nice blend of comfort and high tech. It’s not so futuristic as to be distracting, but its mushroom cap-like shifter and upright touchscreen in the center of the dash lets you know something different is going on. An eerily quiet passenger space and smooth ride make for a pleasant environment.

 

The linear acceleration of the electric motor means smooth, quick starts. All of the torque comes alive the instant your foot gooses the accelerator. This is the ideal platform for a continuously variable transmission, because there’s no constant screaming of an internal combustion engine at the peak of its rev range. Acceleration, even hard acceleration, is chaos free. And we love the e-Pedal feature.

Other Cars to Consider

2020 Chevrolet Bolt — You can’t have an EV discussion and not mention the Bolt. It’s bigger than the Leaf and a little more expensive, but a range boost for 2020 means that it now offers up to 259 miles of range on a single charge, per the EPA. There’s no other way to look at it — the Bolt is an impressive EV.

2020 Kia Niro EV — While it’s front-wheel drive only, the Niro is shaped like a compact crossover, and it’s one of the more understated EVs on the market. Maximum range for the Niro EV comes in at an impressive 239 miles.

2020 Toyota Prius Prime — The Prius Prime is a plug-in-hybrid version of the venerable Prius. The Prime offers up to 25 miles of electric-only range with a full charge. Once that’s spent, the gas generator kicks in, and the Prius Prime returns up to 54 mpg running on gas alone.

Used Tesla Model 3 — Even in its most basic trim, the Tesla Model 3 carries a higher price tag than the Leaf, but it’s such an impressive vehicle that prospective Leaf buyers would be wise to check out a used example. The standard-range rear-wheel-drive Model 3 offers up to 250 miles of range, while all-wheel-drive Long Range and Performance trims are available as well.

Autotrader’s Advice

The 2020 Nissan Leaf is a competitive EV that offers great technology and features, especially with the updates its been given for the new model year. Given that most competitors now offer in excess of 200 miles of range, we’d have a hard time not choosing the Leaf Plus The SV trim also seems to be the best value. For just $1,550 more than the cost of a base S model, you get nicer wheels, navigation, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and more, while the $1,600 SV Technology Package adds additional features, such as ProPilot Assist and a surround view camera system. Find a Nissan Leaf for sale

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