The 2015 Nissan LEAF has been around for five years now but it remains one of the few truly affordable electric vehicles on the market. The subcompact hatchback Leaf enjoys not just an appealing purchase price due to its federal tax break qualifications, but also a respectable level of real world utility. The Nissan Leaf's battery range, cargo and passenger capacity, and overall performance lift it from 'novelty' to 'legitimate' status amongst small car shoppers who live in major urban areas where EV recharging stations and short trips are daily facts of life.
Let's take a look at 10 things you need to know about the 2015 Nissan Leaf.
01. The 2015 Nissan Leaf Looks Like An EV
If there's one criticism level at the 2015 Nissan Leaf's hatchback styling, it's that it looks a little too much like an electric car. There's no question that the Nissan Leaf's designers were going for a futuristic vibe when they first put pen to paper on the EV, which in combination with its many aerodynamic tweaks give it a look that's in keeping with other battery-powered vehicles on the market. As a result the Leaf grabs draws more attention than a stealthy hybrid like the Ford C-Max would. If you're comfortable with this then it's not going to matter, but be aware that driving a Nissan Leaf is a little like being in a road-going fishbowl.
02. The 2015 Nissan Leaf Offers Pure Electric Power
The 2015 Nissan Leaf is motivated by a single electric motor that is powered exclusively by a battery, which is a fundamental difference between the hatchback and a hybrid car like the Prius (which offers a plug-in model, but still features a gas motor to help drive the wheels). 107 horsepower and 187 lb-ft of torque are on tap from the Nissan Leaf's electric drivetrain, and while that might not sound like a lot performance is actually quite peppy due to 100 percent of torque being available as soon as you mash the pedal (electric motors don't need to spool up like a traditional gas engine).
03. The 2015 Nissan Leaf Delivers A Usable Battery Range
Even with nearly 200 lb-ft of torque available, the 2015 Nissan Leaf offers a respectable 84 miles of battery range before needing to recharged. This is according to the EPA, which also assigned the Nissan Leaf a 114 combined city and highway MPGe rating, or 'miles per gallon gasoline equivalent.' MPGe is intended to reflect the efficiency of an electric vehicle compared to a traditional gasoline-powered model by assigning a gallon of gasoline a certain kilowatt hour value (33.7 to be precise). The Leaf has only gotten more efficient since it was first introduced, thanks largely to advances in battery chemistry and power management technology.
04. The 2015 Nissan Leaf Allows For Intelligent Charge Scheduling
The 2015 Nissan Leaf might not require gasoline, but that doesn't mean that you're driving it for free. The Nissan Leaf still needs to suck power from the grid, and depending on where you happen to live there could be multiple pricing tiers from your local utility related to when you choose to charge the car. Since the least-expensive electricity pricing tends to occur later at night, during so called 'off-peak' hours, it makes sense to charge the Leaf then to take advantage of the savings. Rather than forcing you to stay up until 1 am sitting in your garage, plug in hand, Nissan allows you to program the Leaf to only start the charging process at a specific time. You can even use your mobile phone to start, stop, and program the Leaf's charging schedule remotely.
05. The 2015 Nissan Leaf Provides Several Battery Top-Up Choices
Ideally, everyone who owns the 2015 Nissan Leaf will also pony up for the optional 240-volt home charger ($999), which can top up the car's battery in a mere four hours. That time stretches out to eight hours for the base model Leaf which features a less-aggressive charging system, and even longer if you're stuck using a standard 110-volt outlet at friend's house. For those who need the utmost in charging speed, an available 'quick-charge' system can be installed on the car that allows it to reach 80 percent of battery capacity in only 30 minutes.
06. The 2015 Nissan Leaf Offers A Battery Replacement Program
Battery replacement is an issue that has dogged electric car builders, as would-be customers are wary of plunking down cash for a vehicle that will require an expensive critical component to eventually be re-installed. The 2015 Nissan Leaf does away with the company's plans to lease a new battery to owners for a low monthly cost in favor of a complete battery pack replacement for the price of $5,499. There's also a fee associated with adapting the new battery pack to older models, but that won't apply to the 2015 Nissan Leaf moving forward. All Leaf batteries come with a 100,000 mile / eight year warranty, and you can finance the new pack should you feel the need to replace your battery in 2023.
07. The 2015 Nissan Leaf Comes In Three Trim Levels
The 2015 Nissan Leaf starts out in S trim, which comes with heated mirrors, power windows and door locks, 16-inch steel wheels, automatic climate control, cruise control, heated seats front and rear, Bluetooth connectivity, a folding rear seat, a CD player, a rearview camera, a 4.3-inch LCD touchscreen, and the previously-mentioned entry-level battery charger. Stepping up to the Nissan Leaf SV introduces a more aggressive charging system, a 7-inch touchscreen, a navigation system, more effective regenerative braking by way of the car's 'B' driving mode, a less-demanding climate control system that extends cold weather battery life, different cloth seats, and the Carwings remote charging management system. The top-tier Leaf SL installs LED headlights, the quickest charging port available, leather seats, a solar panel for powering the vehicle's accessories, 17-inch rims, and fog lights.
08. The 2015 Nissan Leaf Introduces EV-IT Updates
The 2015 Nissan Leaf upgrades the car's EV-IT system, which works together with the car's navigation feature in order to keep drivers informed of the location of charging stations in their immediate vicinity. This takes much of the guesswork out of planning a trip in the Nissan Leaf as you will always know whether you can plug in at your destination or not, and it also allows you to program energy-saving routes if required. For 2015, the EV-IT system has been expanded to integrate additional voice commands into the navigation system when inputting a destination. It also introduces hands-free texting, which allows drivers to access their text messages via Bluetooth while keeping their attention focused on the road ahead.
09. The 2015 Nissan Leaf Is Small, But Versatile
The 2015 Nissan Leaf is marketed as a subcompact car, and its small proportions suggest that maybe you're not going to be able to fit anything under its roof than few bags of groceries when all four seating positions are occupied. You'd be mistaken, as the Nissan Leaf actually boasts 24 cubic feet of total cargo space behind the rear row - more trunk space than what you would typically find in a full-size car. The one area where the Leaf comes up a bit short is in total hauling room, as folding the back seat only opens up an additional six cubes.
10. The 2015 Nissan Leaf Is Cheaper Than You Think
The 2015 Nissan Leaf features a starting price of $28,980. However, thanks to the availability of a $7,500 federal income tax credit associated with purchasing an electric vehicle, Nissan advertises the Leaf's price as low as $21,480 (after the $850 destination charge is factored in). Not everyone will be able to take full advantage of this tax credit, but it's worth nothing that the Leaf is one of the most affordable electric cars on the market, and that even a fully-loaded SL model tops out at $27,520 once the tax credit has been factored in.