2018 Nissan Leaf long-term wrap-up: A year of EV life zaps by
May 22, 2019  Chris Paukert

[images  / Nick Miotke/Roadshow
The Nissan Leaf earned our twelve-month seal of approval.
Chris Paukert/Roadshow
2018 Nissan Leaf: Long-term EV wrap-up  59 Photos
2018 Nissan Leaf long-term car in winter
The Nissan Leaf's electric powertrain produces 147 horsepower and 236
pound-feet of torque. Chris Paukert/Roadshow

12 months and thousands of miles later, we've got a good feel for how it is
to live the electric life.

Ignore, for a moment, the environmental case for buying an electric car.  If
there's anything our year with this 2018 Nissan Leaf taught us, it's that
there are plenty of other reasons to take the EV plunge. Over the course of
thousands of miles and in all four seasons, we found many reasons to love
the life electric. 

Naturally, we also uncovered a few caveats, too.
[video  flash
Watch this: Nissan Leaf long-term wrap-up: One year of electric feels  4:38

Our loaded-up $38,115 top-shelf SL model arrived in April of 2018,
resplendent in Deep Blue Pearl paint. While not as audacious and
controversial in appearance as its predecessor, we instantly found the
second-generation Leaf's newly familial look to be far more pleasant and
balanced, a positive impression that lasted all year.

Throughout our twelve months, thousands of kilowatt hours consumed and
nearly 8,000 miles logged in New York and Michigan, we did just about
everything you'd do with your daily driver. We commuted in the Leaf, we went
on Home Depot runs, we schlepped through deep snow, and we even made this
hatchback the official shuttle of our editor-in-chief's informal cider donut
comparison test last fall. 

Throughout it all, our Nissan Leaf worked flawlessly. Without many of the
fluids to change of conventional gas cars, we didn't end up even needing to
visit the dealer. (There's a basic 7,500-mile complimentary multi-point
inspection, but we turned in our tester right as that was coming due). In
the spirit of full disclosure, a tire rotation would've normally been in
order, but we swapped out the stock 17-inch Michelin Energy Saver
all-seasons for a set of Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3 winter tires when the
weather turned foul, so our little front driver was covered there, too.

Maintenance intervals have certainly gotten fewer and farther between for
traditional internal-combustion automobiles, but battery electric vehicle
ownership promises even more infrequent  visits to the dealer, and our Leaf
delivered in spades. If you hate going to dealers, well, an EV like the Leaf
might just be your golden ticket.

Any reliability-related frustrations with our Leaf came not from our test
car, but from the charging network we plugged into. While our EIC and Yours
Truly both have Level 2 charging docks in our home garages, we did
experience an infrastructural headache when a pay-for-juice Greenlots quick
charger failed to work during a snowy drive home when we initially delivery
of the car last April. "Clearly Nissan bears no fault there, but I present
this story as an example of the sorts of compromises an EV early adopter
will need to consider when road-tripping," said Tim Stevens. I experienced a
similar episode with a ChargePoint station in Ann Arbor, but fortunately, I
was able to find another one nearby, mitigating the inconvenience.

[image]  The Nissan Leaf's cabin proved both durable and easy to use. Nick

Our man Stevens had considerably better luck during warmer months, noting
that the car "...delivered solid range, meeting or exceeding its 151-mile
EPA rating." Most of my time with our long-term Leaf came during the teeth
of a hard Michigan winter, so range predictably nosedived in the bitter
cold. "Depending on how much freeway driving was called for, I saw driving
range immediately ebb to as little as 72 miles -- a 52-percent drop-off,"
though that was admittedly when the car was parked out overnight in
zero-degree temperatures.  

If you've got a longer commute, that kind of range degradation will give you
cause for pause, but easy steps like ensuring I scored a full charge
overnight helped mitigate range loss, and parking it in the garage and
automatically preheating the car while it was still plugged in using the app
made life easier, too. Finally, if you've got an L2 charger at your home or
workplace, the benefits of not having to stand outside at gas stations
during winter are substantial.

Our 2018 Leaf's 40kWh battery pack doesn't exactly provide class-leading
range, but it is among the least-expensive EVs out there by way of
compensation (A 2019 model starts at $30,885 delivered before incentives). 

The cure for this -- and any potential wintertime range blues -- appears to
be the new 2019 Nissan Leaf Plus, which features a larger 62-kWh pack for a
much healthier 226 miles of range (higher, heavier trims see range cut to
215). Pricing for the standard S Plus trim, which comes with more power and
more standard equipment, starts at $37,445 delivered. If you live in
climates where snow is a reality, we'd suggest giving the Plus a long, hard
look. At its elevated price point, however, the Plus also starts to crowd
models like Kia's excellent new 2019 Niro EV ($39,495 delivered), a slightly
larger crossover with 239 miles of range.

The second-gen Leaf offers a couple bits of tech that we were particularly
interested in testing over the long term -- E-Pedal and ProPilot Assist. We
found a lot to appreciate with both. E-Pedal, a driver-selectable option,
adds strong enough regenerative braking that in 90-plus percent of daily
driving, we never needed to touch the brake pedal, we just lifted off the
accelerator and glided to halt -- even on hills. It's important to note that
we did observe some variation in brake-pedal feel depending on the battery's
state of charge, but the variation was never unpredictable enough to become
genuinely annoying. In fact, E-Pedal was generally fun to use, while serving
to maximize range.

ProPilot Assist -- Nissan's suite of hands-on driver assistance that enables
adaptive cruise control with lane-centering tech, also proved very
beneficial. Easy to use and pleasingly consistent about staying mid-lane,
this Level 2 system performed well when it had proper lane markings, and
even did an admirable job with faded painted markings, too. We didn't have a
ton of bumper-to-bumper, commute-style office schleps in the Leaf, but
whenever we did, the Leaf made our lives genuinely easier.

One thing we didn't care much for, however, was the Leaf's lane-departure
warning system, which vibrates the steering wheel when it detects the driver
is wandering out of his or her lane. As I noted in my February update, "...
the motor responsible for the vibration is so loud that passengers notice
and react regardless, and the quality of the sound itself feels decidedly
subpremium, like some sort of overseas telephone busy signal." This feels
like a relatively easy fix, so hopefully Nissan will address it in due

The second-generation Leaf's conventional face is considerably more
attractive than its awkwardly styled predecessor.
Chris Paukert/Roadshow

Overall, we found living the Leaf life to be a far easier adjustment than
one might think. The car's ample torque from a dead stop made short work of
the worst stoplight-to-stoplight action we could find, and the Nissan's
(relatively) narrow tires and electric power's inherently smooth, linear
power delivery made winter driving a doddle. 

The Leaf didn't just excel on the urban loop, either, it did well on the
freeway, too, where it displayed surprising passing power and commendably
low wind noise. (The latter is particularly important, yet hard to manage in
an EV, as there's no typical IC powertrain noise to blot out those
currents). The aforementioned ProPilot Assist really worked in the Leaf's
favor here, as well.

The Nissan Leaf earned our twelve-month seal of approval.
Chris Paukert/Roadshow

At the top of this story, I asked you to momentarily set aside the notion of
any eco benefits conferred by buying electric. Of course, it's both
impossible and unnecessary to do so, as making the decision to buy an EV
like this Leaf does have those ramifications. 

For many prospective buyers, going greener is reason enough to deliberately
shop cars like the Nissan Leaf seen here. In our estimation, though, there
are plenty of other reasons to join the EV club, too, including the
convenience of passing up gas stations and service bays, the torque-rich
nature of electric power, low noise and fun-to-drive dynamics. 

As it turns out, making the switch to electric might just be easier - and
more entertaining - than you might think.

+ (7.1MW battery peak-powers city for hours)
Giant battery, utility control of some customer thermostats part of
Eversource plan 
5/21/2019 ... Eversource is proposing to build a 7.1-megawatt lithium-ion
battery system that could provide backup power to the entire town “for about
four hours” at peak usage ... Eversource estimated that the battery’s
peak-shaving ability would cover its costs and generate about $2 million
over its lifetime ...

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