2019 Nissan Leaf

By September 17, 2019

For 2019 Nissan introduces the all-electric Leaf Plus, joining the all-electric Leaf that has been around since 2011. The Leaf Plus has a 62-kwh battery pack, giving it an EPA-rated range of 226 miles on the stripped-down model to 215 miles on the others (under ideal conditions), versus the 40-kwh battery pack of the plain old Leaf, which has a range of 150 miles. 

The Leaf Plus is one of the very few all-electric cars that gets enough miles on a full battery charge that you might be able to take an actual road trip in it. 

In 2018 the Leaf got new hatchback styling inside and out, new available driver-assist features, better handling, more power from the electric motor, and more battery capacity that increased the range over what it was in 2017. 

The new Leaf Plus gets an even more powerful motor that enables it to accelerate from zero to 60 mph in less than 7 seconds. It makes 214 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque, which might enable it to do burnouts if not for the electronic traction controls. 

Powertrain aside, the Leaf is similar to any internal-combustion subcompact, with a straightforward interior, smooth ride, and same cargo space. However the cabin is much quieter. The Leaf Plus is a bit heavier and has a slightly higher ride height than the Leaf light, because of its bigger battery pack.

There are a few ways to charge the Leaf. The regular Leaf takes 7.5 hours to charge from flat to full using a 240-volt outlet, or 16 hours on standard 120-volt outlet. AC. The Leaf Plus takes longer: 11.5 hours on a 240-volt outlet.

Both Leafs have the capability to be charged on a fast-charging system called CHAdeMO DC. The Leaf can handle 50 kw and can be charged to 80 percent in 40 minutes, while the Leaf Plus can do 100 kw and can be charged to 80 percent in 45 minutes. 

The 2019 Leaf has not yet been crash-tested or safety-rated by the NHTSA, and the IIHS (insurance industry) has only done a few tests. The Leaf earned the top “good” scores in the moderate overlap front and side tests, as well as for its head restraints.

Standard safety equipment includes automatic emergency braking and forward-collision warnings. Optional safety equipment on upper models includes blind-spot monitors, rear cross-traffic alert, and a pedestrian detection system. There is also an available system called ProPilot Assist, which is adaptive cruise control working with active lane control to help keep the car centered in its lane on the freeway. 

Model Lineup

The Leaf and Leaf Plus each comes in three models, the S, SV, and SL. Prices (before incentives) run from more than $31,000 to more than $43,000. It’s only the Leaf Plus S that gets the range of 226 miles.

The Leaf S comes standard with cruise control, keyless ignition, automatic climate control, steel wheels, a 5.0-inch display screen, and a CD sound system with four speakers.  

 The SV for $33,500 adds adaptive cruise control, fog lamps, and 17-inch alloy wheels with higher-mileage Michelin Energy Saver tires, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, as well as navigation, satellite radio, HD Radio, and NissanConnect EV telematics services, to allow remote battery monitoring and climate pre-conditioning. Options begin to be available with the SV, such as an All Weather Package with heated seats, heated steering wheel, heated mirrors, rear climate ducts, and a hybrid heater using a heat pump.

The SL at more than $37,000 adds Bose premium audio, heated outside mirrors with integrated turn signals, LED headlamps and running lamps, a power driver’s seat, leather upholstery, front heated seats, and rear climate control ducts.

The Leaf Plus models add about $6,000 to the price. They’re similarly equipped, but with an 8.0-inch infotainment screen.

The Leaf Plus SV and SL models make available an optional Technology Package with  ProPilot Assist, a more flexible adaptive cruise control system, pedestrian detection and cross-traffic assist.

Exterior

Thanks to the styling update in 2018, the Leaf looks contemporary. The current styling is simpler and more like other Nissans, with a blacked-out roof pillar that makes the roof appear to float. 

In front, the Leaf bears a deep V-shaped grille. A two-tone treatment in the tail makes the hatchback Leaf look almost like a sedan from the rear. 

Interior

The Leaf cabin is conventional, with soft-touch materials and nice detailing like blue accent stitching and an upright driving position. The fit and finish is good. There are bins in all four doors, cupholders in the center console, and a smartphone tray.

The seats are higher than in most subcompacts, so climbing in and out is easier. The front seats are well designed for people of average height, with good support for hips and lower backs; taller drivers may want for more shoulder support. The steering wheel doesn’t telescope. 

The outboard rear seats are comfortable, but the middle position sits over the battery pack and has little shoulder room. 

The rear hatch opens wide to a cargo space that’s as big as any compact hatchback.

Driving Impressions

The Leaf is smooth and perky, with the excellent torque common to all electric cars. 

The Leaf Plus, with an EPA-rated 226 miles, is more than just the long-range Leaf model. The Plus makes 214 horsepower, up from 147 hp in the standard Leaf, and torque is up to 250 pound-feet for the Leaf Plus, versus 187 lb-ft. Nissan says the Leaf Plus can accelerate from zero to sixty in about 6.5 seconds, while the Leaf does it in 7.5 seconds.

Last year’s retuned suspension and quicker steering made the Leaf feel more eager in tight corners at low speeds. The Leaf’s cornering skills get damped by the weight of its battery pack, but it’s stable and predictable. 

The Leaf Plus is 300 pounds heavier and rides a half-inch higher, but it uses the same wheels and tires on comparable models, and its handling feels the same, agree our testers. 

The Leaf has driving modes such as Eco mode which makes the accelerator response feel linear. Drive mode allows it to glide when lift off the accelerator, without heavy regenerative braking.

If you’d rather recharge your batteries than drive smoothly, there’s e-Pedal, which is engaged separately with a toggle; it maximizes brake regeneration and brings strong deceleration when you lift off the accelerator, to the point of stopping the car without using the brakes. B mode, accessed via the shifter, is basically a compromise between Drive and e-Pedal. 

Among all of these modes, the only one that you don’t have to re-engage each time you start the car is Eco.

Final Word

The 2019 Nissan Leaf now offers variety in its battery sizes, and that’s a good thing. Whether you choose a Leaf or a Leaf Plus, you’ll be driving a zero-emission car with the longest drive range this side of a Tesla Model 3.