A New Leaf: The 2019 Nissan Leaf SL

Front 3/4 view of 2019 Nissan Leaf
The 2019 Nissan Leaf.
It's a twice-in-a-decade thing---at least for us.  Incredibly, the last time we were in a Nissan Leaf was the summer of 2011.

Was it something we said?

Might have been, because if you read the review linked above, it was a primer on range anxiety.  The Leaf of eight years ago had an EPA-estimated range of 73 miles on a charge, and a series of mishaps meant lost opportunities to charge.  And when we could charge, it was on household current.  High-voltage vehicle charging stations were very rare at the time.

So let's just say right up front:  The new Leaf is a whole lot better than the old one.

Electric motor in 2019 Nissan Leaf
2019 Nissan Leaf electric motor.
The 2019 Nissan Leaf has a 147-horsepower synchronous motor and an EPA-estimated range of 150 miles.   It'll take eight hours to get a full charge from virtually nothing at a 240-volt Level 2 charger.  You can expect to double that on household current.

But---near my home and near the day job are commercial Fast Charging stations where you can get an 80% charge in 40 minutes.  So---leave a little early for work or grab lunch near the charging station in town and charge up the car there and it's relatively easy to keep close to a full charge (as with a gas tank, I never allow the car to get below 25%).

Interior of 2019 Nissan Leaf SL
2019 Nissan Leaf SL interior.
The interior of the new Leaf is a much nicer place to do your driving.  It's much less gimmicky---more like what you'd expect to find in any compact car.  And in the-top-of-the-line SL, which is what we tested, it;s quite nicely appointed, with leather-appointed seating surfaces, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, power windows, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, automatic on/off headlights, automatic climate control, front heated seats, a heated steering wheel and an eight-way power driver's seat.

The base price for the 2019 Nissan Leaf SL is $36,200.  The base S model starts at $29,990 and the mid-level SV is $32,490.

Our tester had extra-cost options---$200 for splash guards, $190 for carpeted floor mats and a cargo area mat, $80 for a safety kit, and $650 for the SL Technology Package with ProPILOT Assist, Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Electric Parking Brake, Intelligent Lane Intervention and High Beam Assist.

With $895 in destination charges, the bottom line came to $38,215.

I'd write more about Nissan's ProPILOT Assist, but there was a bug in our tester that shut the system down after only five minutes of driving.  I haven't heard of that being a common problem, so I'm chalking that up to an isolated case and hoping to get another opportunity in a Nissan vehicle equippes with ProPILOT Assist to give it a proper review.

Rear 3/4 view of 2019 Nissan Leaf SL
2019 Nissan Leaf SL.
So where does that put the Nissan Leaf?  Well, it's still significantly down on range.  The Chevy Bolt we reviewed in January has an estimated 238 miles of range per charge.  But the Bolt is a bit more expensive---with the top-of-the-line Premier model having a base price of $40,905 and the as-tested price of the one we drove coming to $43,510. 

Nissan knows this, and has introduced the Nissan Leaf Plus, which has a range of 226 miles.  The SL version of the Plus starts at $42,550.  My guess is that a loaded Leaf Plus SL and Bolt Premier would end up very close to each other in price.  But again, the Bolt is still capable of 12 more miles per charge.   

And both the Leaf and the Bolt are getting strong competition from the Tesla Model 3.  The mid range (264 mile) model starts at $40,000 as of this writing and the long-range model (325 miles) begins at $43,000.  And Tesla is now (finally) offering the standard range Model 3 (220 miles) for $35,000.

The best comparison is most likely between the Leaf Plus SL, the Bolt Premier and the mid range Model 3.  And which you'll prefer---which is more useful and user-friendly on a daily basis---will be a matter of taste.