The world’s foremost Leading Environmentally friendly Affordable Family car, or LEAF, is still busy generating positive electricity. What originally fueled the crisp, clean buzz is that the LEAF is 100% electric and available for public use. And, because it is still a pioneer, the Nissan LEAF gives flashes of brilliance mixed with a few inevitable kinks, though this year’s version is the most polished yet.
Take a look at what the 2012 Nissan LEAF has to offer, and then stop by Carwoo to pick up your very own future car from the comfort of wherever you’re sitting right now.
New For 2012
LEAF gets heated front and rear seats, along with a heated steering wheel.
Those with $35,280 can latch onto LEAF’s SV trim. With the SV you’ll get things like 16” alloy whels, keyless entry, push button start, Bluetooth, and navigation. The other option is the LEAF SL, at $37,250, which is everything SV plus extra niceties like a rearview monitor, solar panel spoiler, and fog lamps. If it all sounds a bit pricey, keep in mind that a $7,500 tax credit can take a nice chunk out of overall costs.
Nissan LEAF Technology
Leaf is powered by an 80 kW synchronous motor with a 24 kWh lithium-ion battery. Translated, LEAF drivers will receive 107 HP and 207 lbs. of torque. Expect around 100 EPA miles per battery charge (138-162 officially), but beware conditions (traffic, battery age, driver tendencies, extra cargo, even high temperatures) make estimates subjective.
Nissan LEAF Fuel Economy
In terms of numbers, the EPA gives LEAF an MPGe equivalent of 106/92/99 (city/highway/combined) MPG.
Leaf covers around 1/3 of area compared to conventional gasoline engines. No gas, no tailpipe emission, which classifies LEAF as a Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV).
Sounds great! Now the downside…
Charging & Recharging
What do you do when LEAF runs out of juice? No gas cap means Leaf-ers can’t just glide up to a gasoline pump to replenish. Instead, it’s either finding a not-yet-prevalent recharging station or heading home before you’re coasting with the wind.
At home, a charging dock is probably necessary and will run owners around $2,000 for installation, though tax credits can take care of up to 50% of costs.
With the home charging dock (220V), expect 7 hours to fully charge a depleted battery. Those lucky enough to have ‘quick-charge’ station nearby will need about 30 minutes to get 80%. A typical 120V charge will take around 20 hours.
The ideal situation would be to recharge LEAF overnight while you recharge yourself, like a cellphone.
2012 LEAF Features
Back to the good, Leaf’s Navigation System uses GPS to track your location, indicating driving range- including battery status and road conditions. Maybe most importantly, the display also indicates where the next nearest charging station lies, including addresses. When panic sets in, set a course to a hopefully nearby station and let LEAF carry you back to life.
In other words, if you plan on purchasing a LEAF, understand that it’s best suited (for now) to shorter distance daily commuters and those with enough leverage to afford another vehicle for longer road trips and the like.
LEAF seats 5 and is pretty roomy, though it won’t matter a whole lot on 100 mile or less trips. Exterior aesthetics will be debated, but to me it resembles a porpoise with its hatchback shape filtering forward into a bottle-nose front.
Nissan LEAF Safety
LEAF standards include anti-lock disc brakes, stability/traction control, and a standard airbag setup featuring front-side impact and side curtain bags. Options include a rearview camera for LV trims. LEAF scores big safety points from both governmental crash testing, scoring a perfect 5/5 overall, and the IIHS, which has made the 2012 model a Top Safety Pick.
LEAF’s Bottom Line
It isn’t the first fully electric car and it certainly won’t be the last, but Nissan can claim LEAF as the first widely distributed electric vehicle. That’s something to be proud of, but novelty wears out quickly, and competition will only gain ground. In fact, the Ford Focus Electric is charged and ready to go. Thankfully Nissan has been making strides to produce their version of the best livable daily electric alternative. All in all the 2012 LEAF is a good place to start. So viva la electric revolution!