Nissan Leaf 2018: The next generation

For years the Nissan Leaf has been trying to let you know that it's an electric car. Job well done. They have introduced style, driveability and brand new tech to make you fall in love with a whole new generation. The Nissan Leaf is the electric car that will herald electric cars into the future. You won't have to argue with yourself about style, or affordability. Especially when you factor in the increasing cost of fuel, oil changes, and how simple it is to find a charging station. This doesn't mean you have to fear the future. Or call yourself an environmentalist. Rather, now you can be a practical shopper who completely understands sitting in traffic doesn't mean you have to sit amongst the pack.


Are there any exterior updates for the 2018 model?

Are there ever! To say that the Leaf stood out would be an understatement, everything thing about it said different; it screamed electric car. Nissan has drastically restyled and made the 2018 Leaf look more like an actual car, definitely more in line with the rest of the Nissan line. Gone are the bug-eyed lights and curvaceous shape of old: in fact, only the wide charge-port door hints at this being an electric car.


What about the interior?

The hard plastic of previous models and has been replaced with soft-touch surfaces, and upgraded, stitched upholstery on the seats and steering wheel. Much like the outside, the interior has been entirely updated, with the dashboard consolidated into one easy to use 7-inch color screen positioned neatly next to a traditional analog speedometer. The 2018 Leaf is as spacious as ever, but Nissan hasn't fixed those shallow rear foot-wells. Love it or hate it, they have opted to keep that infamously funky gear selector knob that looks like a leftover set piece from a Star Trek film.


How is the Powertrain?

The Leaf is a 100% battery-powered electric car with no tailpipe and no emissions, and even the most conservative estimates have it pulling 150 miles on one charge. Compared to its predecessor, the 2018 Leaf's 110 kilowatt/147 horsepower powertrain gives you considerably more power and clocks up 236 lb/ft of torque, compared to 187lb/ft of the 2017. Its 40-kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery sits neatly in the same space as the original 24kwh of previous Leafs and charges to 80% in 40 minutes. Charging on a conventional 120-volt home system can take up to 16 hours, but saves the Leaf owner the inconvenience of installing a charging station in their homes.


How does it drive?

To answer that, there are some critical elements of the Leaf to review. The first is Nissan's e-Pedal system, designed to make driving less stressful by reducing it to one foot. Turned on and off by a push button on the center console, the car slows down when you're not actively accelerating, which is perfect for heavy traffic and urban driving. The second is ProPilot Assist, which gently steers you back into your lane if you stray and will adjust your speed to maintain the correct distance from the car in front of you. The first car in the Nissan lineup to include ProPilot, the Leaf works brilliantly with it, and it really does become a driver's best friend. Importantly, the ProPilot is not a self-driving mode: it monitors that your hands are on the wheel and if you get lax it will give you a visual warning, then an audible signal, and finally will tap the breaks is the first two don't do the trick. All of this adds up to a comfortable and smart drive with superb handling and braking.


How many trims are on offer?

The 2108 comes in three trims: the base S, the midlevel SV, and top of the line SL. The base S comes in at a little over $30,000 and is pretty well stocked, with 16-inch steel wheels with plastic covers. A four-speaker audio system comes with a 5.0-inch static display, AM/FM/Satellite radio, Bluetooth and a USB port to sync with your smartphone. An optional weather package is available for the S with heated seats, steering wheel, and wing mirrors. The SV comes with 17-inch alloys and fog lights, and loads more tech: a six-speaker stereo, 7.0-inch touchscreen, and Apple CarPlay come standard, along with a navigation system. An optional tech bundle ups the ante with power adjustable driver's seat, LED headlights as well as daytime running lights, active lane control, rear cross-traffic alert, pedestrian detection, and a weather package. The SL gets snazzy with turn signal lights on its wing mirrors and a leather interior, and a Bose premium audio system comes standard along with a surround view camera system. Now, you can take a 360?? Look at all of the people trying to figure out if your car is actually electric!

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