This week we are reviewing the 2020 Nissan Leaf Plus. Our vehicle was assembled at the Nissan Tennessee in the United States and has an MSRP of $55148.00 CAD.
Fun Factor: 8
Can it Family: 7
Karaoke Friendly: 5
City Cruising: 9
We tested the Nissan Leaf extensively, in the city, on the HWY, and on some of the most beautiful back roads Québec has to offer. The “Route des Navigateurs” is where we enjoyed the Nissan Leaf the most. A twisty and undulating road maximized our range while giving us pleasant views of the Saint-Laurent-River, driving along quietly. As a bonus, this route is filled with picturesque sightings and gastronomy to satisfy everyone’s palate. Yes, the Leaf was quite inspiring during our little road trip.
On the outside, the 2nd generation Nissan Leaf might look less excentric than the first generation. It now shares many of the exterior design cues with Nissan’s SUV line up, making it more streamlined than their other products. On the inside, the interior remains quite similar to the previous generation; my brother-in-law drives a Leaf daily, he felt right at home in the 2nd generation. With most electric vehicles acceleration is their strong point, the Leaf Plus doesn’t disappoint; its 215hp and 250 lb-ft of torque reached a 0-100km/h acceleration of 6.9 seconds in our real-life test. Nissan has done their homework, reducing torque steer and wheel squeal from a standstill compared to other EV’s that are front-wheel-drive platform. These improvements translate into a smoother and stable acceleration up to about 40km/h. The rest of the acceleration will make you feel like you’ve been torpedoed into another galaxy thanks to its futuristic sound. The suspension has been tweaked more on the softer side; it avoids feeling wobbly since most weight is concentrated on the floor. This setup makes it possible to enjoy yourself around corners without too much body roll.
The Nissan Leaf seats 5, as someone at 5ft10, I felt the seating position was quite high and hindered my visibility slightly around the rearview mirror near the right side A-pillar. On the other hand, my spouse, who is 5ft tall, found the seating and visibility excellent. Seating in our Leaf Plus equipped with the leather seats was comfortable even on long journeys. The only annoyance we saw with the interior space was the center console taking too much space; on long trips, our leg leaning against it became uncomfortable.
Now for our total electric usage on 1059.8km resulted in a total of 179.7 kWh. If you calculate at a rate of $0.073 CAD (Quebec*) per kWh, it would cost $13.11 CAD to operate the Nissan Leaf. A note regarding our kWh usage, the number is slightly inflated because we used the remote climate control feature to cool the vehicle down before entering it. This was possible thanks to the Nissan Leaf App; it would not be with an ICE vehicle (internal combustion engine) unless you had a remote starter. In the city, we observed an electric consumption of 15.8 kWh, and 17.2 kWh on the HWY driving between 100-120km/h with the A/C on. Now, for those who don’t understand how kWh work and whose concern is how many km can I drive before recharging, in the city, you can expect 416km, and on the HWY, the announced range of 363km is possible if you drive around the 105km/h. Driving any faster will drain quite quickly. Recharging can also be done quickly using a CHAdeMO connector on a public charger and can get you to 80% in 45 minutes; this is quite useful on long trips. On a standard J-1772 (level 2) charger capable of 6.6 kWh, you can expect the car to be fully charged in 11.5h, and if you have no other choice as we did at the cabin, you can also charge the Leaf Plus using a regular wall outlet however this may take 2.5 days to be fully charged.
Often we hear people say that they aren’t ready to move to fully electric vehicles as it may limit long-distance trips. In our case, we found no difficulty managing a 300km+ one way trip with the kids (600km+ round trip). We only charged the vehicle at our designated stops, and most of the time, when our kids got back to the vehicle, we were done charging. With all the technology found in the Nissan Leaf Plus, it gave us some relaxing moments once we activated the semi-autonomous cruise control, it helps turn in around corners and adjust the vehicle speed based on the traffic in front. Compared to other systems we tested, it was reactive sometimes even a little too much; we can’t fault them for being overprotective. Our whole family enjoyed especially the lack of vibration & noise coming from the engine; it gave us the possibility to converse within the cabin comfortably. Without the noise of a gas engine, wind noise is more present but still acceptable until you hit 110km/h.
Some sound systems are great, some are not so great, and then there is Bose. As a regular reader, you may already know that our love for Bose products is quite limited. In the Nissan Leaf, we found that this system did a decent job; this may be due to the lack of engine noise. On the other hand, the infotainment is easy to use; this is aided by the fact that Android Auto and iOS integration is now done smoothly. The vehicle was equipped with a standard USB and a USB-C to ensure that your vehicle is future proof.
The doors of the Nissan Leaf open wide enough to get your child seat inside. Once inside, you’ll find a set of ISOFIX ports on the outer seats that are slightly hidden underneath the seats. They are not too difficult, and we were able to install a variety of cars without too much hassle. With the wide space, even front-facing seats will find a comfortable position in the rear. The trunk on the Leaf is roomy and deep; even the biggest stroller will find a home in there. Taking them out is a different story as the trunk is quite deep and may pose a challenge when taking out as they need to be lifted over the trunk lip.
If the Leaf is mainly used in the city, you can count on charging it maybe once a week as it will be the location where the Leaf is most efficiently. In certain instances, we were able to drive across town in heavy traffic, and our range would barely be affected. The additional range should satisfy the most skeptical or those not having the possibility to charge their EV on a daily basis. Our Nissan Leaf came equipped with a 360-degree camera that gave us an amazing view around the vehicle when parking in tight spaces. We would have given the Nissan Leaf Plus a perfect score for the city as it wowed us in our daily commute; however, 2 items stood in the way of giving it a perfect score one is a turning radius for a city car. The second item might be nitpicking on our part; however, it bothered us when parking; the camera button needs to be engaged when you move from R to D instead of staying active for an additional 2-3 seconds to complete the parking maneuver.
Why would we buy the 2020 Nissan Leaf Plus, or what we liked about it? The excellent range, the possibility of charging the battery from 20 to 80% in 45min, the reassurance that the batteries have an 8-year warranty, one pedal driving using the e-pedal, larger trunk for an EV.
Why would we not buy the 2020 Nissan Leaf Plus, or what we did not like about it? The turning radius, the fact that the batteries are not liquid-cooled, the wide central console.
Nissan has lent us this vehicle one week as a press vehicle. We have no affiliation with Nissan Canada. The above is a recollection of our personal opinion of the car referred above.
*Average rate in Quebec in 2020 assuming an average monthly usage of 1,000 kWh
Here are more pictures of the Nissan Leaf and some of the landscape we enjoyed during testing.