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2018 Nissan Leaf SL Test Drive Review

The 2018 Nissan Leaf marks the second generation of the world’s best-selling electric vehicle. With over 290,000 units sold since its launch in 2010, the completely redesigned 2018 Leaf is poised to maintain its number one spot with lots of original ideas and unique solutions.

Intelligent applications like ProPILOT Assist, e-Pedal, and the acclaimed Nissan Safety Shield are just a few examples of innovative features that place the LEAF ahead of its competitors.

Let’s rethink how we approach driving with a closer look at the technology, efficiency, and performance of our 2018 Nissan Leaf SL test model.

2018 Nissan Leaf SL Exterior

The all-new styling of the 2018 Leaf adds many signature elements from Nissan’s current design language to make it feel more familiar while better resembling the rest of the Nissan family.

At the front, a V-Motion grille is the origin of many of the vehicle’s dynamic lines, sweeping back over a higher and shorter looking hood when compared to the previous generation Leaf. LED headlights with LED daytime running lights, fog lights, and hidden charging ports complete the high-tech look of the front fascia.

The popular floating roof design feels right at home on the more aerodynamically efficient body, ending at the rear with a black roof spoiler and “invisible” C-pillars. The rear fascia also features “boomerang” tail lights and an underbody diffuser.

Our test model came painted in a vibrant Scarlet Ember color, and was complemented with 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels. Blue accents throughout the vehicle—layered in the front grille, molded into the rear diffuser, and on the “Zero Emission” emblem—remind everyone that the Leaf is an all-electric vehicle filled with the latest in technology.

Other exterior features include heated outside mirrors with integrated turn signals, chrome door handles, and body-colored mud flaps.

We’re fans of the new visual direction for the 2018 Leaf, with its sleek and tech-inspired design offering wide appeal—it makes the idea of an all-electric vehicle feel very mainstream and accessible.

2018 Nissan Leaf SL Interior

As you slide into the roomy passenger space of the 2018 Leaf, you’re greeted with premium materials, thoughtful design, and advanced technology everywhere you look.

Keeping the driver fully-informed is a seven-inch digital display coupled with an analog speedometer. This advanced instrument cluster can be easily customized to show power usage, safety warnings, and other vehicle settings.

An additional 7-inch center display offers easy and intuitive access to satellite radio, GPS navigation, vehicle status, safety settings, and smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. You can use the touchscreen, shortcut buttons, steering wheel-mounted buttons, or even voice commands to quickly manage your personal preferences with minimal distractions.

And one of the best features of the 2018 Leaf is something you can’t easily see: NissanConnect EV. With this unique always-online system, you can remotely monitor and control certain aspects of the vehicle with a mobile app, an Apple or Android smartwatch, and even Amazon’s Alexa assistant. NissanConnect EV provides battery charge status, allows you to remotely initiate a charge, find nearby charging stations, and lets you remotely set the cabin temperature — by far our favorite interior feature.

Just like the exterior, blue accents can be found throughout the inside to remind you of the Leaf’s all-electric nature. The steering wheel and leather-appointed seats feature blue accent stitching while the shift knob, engine start button, and speedometer are adorned with a splash of glowing blue color.

Other interior highlights of the 2018 Leaf SL include heated front seats and steering wheel, 8-way power driver’s seat, seven-speaker Bose premium audio, luxurious matte and gloss finishes, and a redesigned rear cargo space that now offers 23.6 cubic feet of storage capacity.

Passengers will definitely appreciate the 2018 Leaf’s serene and open environment—made possible by new noise-reduction solutions and roomy, ergonomic design—as well as excellent all-around visibility.

2018 Nissan Leaf SL Performance

Every 2018 Nissan Leaf is equipped with a new e-powertrain that produces 147 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque, up 37 percent and 26 percent respectively compared to the previous generation Leaf. The result is instantaneous throttle response and improved acceleration that deliver a confident and capable driving experience.

Utilizing the exact same physical space as before, Nissan’s engineers were able to increase battery capacity with improved materials and chemistry to extend Leaf’s range to around 150 miles.

With the increased driving range also comes improved charging efficiency. When plugged in to a CHAdeMO quick-charging station found in many major metropolitan areas, the 2018 Leaf can gain approximately 88 miles of range in 30 minutes. Using a household 240V/30A outlet (like your dryer uses), you can fully charge LEAF in 7.5 hours, while a standard 120V household outlet takes 35 hours to deliver a full charge from empty.

The improved range and efficiency aren’t the only things that impressed us, though — for the 2018 model year, Nissan has introduced an innovative, new way to drive, called e-Pedal. When activated, e-Pedal allows you to operate Leaf using only the accelerator pedal; simply ease off the pedal to automatically engage either regenerative or traditional friction braking, and release the pedal fully to bring the car to a complete stop. e-Pedal will continue to hold the vehicle still until you apply throttle.

This is by far our favorite new feature of the 2018 Leaf—gone are the days when you have to stand on the brake pedal at stop lights or when crawling in rush hour traffic. At highway speeds, e-Pedal adjusts the level of braking so it feels just like normal driving.

The most apparent benefit of e-Pedal is the dramatic reduction of driving effort, which helps to mitigate driver fatigue, but it’s also the most efficient way to manage energy regeneration when slowing down or coming to a complete stop. The vehicle expertly balances power recovery as it brings us to the smoothest, most perfect stop we’ve ever experienced.

Overall, the 2018 Leaf makes zero compromises when it comes to performance and driving enjoyment. In fact, it feels more capable than similar gas-powered vehicles in its class thanks to well-engineered systems like enhanced electric power steering and Intelligent Ride Control.

2018 Nissan Leaf SL Safety

The 2018 Nissan Leaf SL comes with a long list of standard safety features that include blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, Intelligent Around View Monitor (360 camera), and driver attention alert.

Our test model also came equipped with the available ProPILOT Assist, a brand new, premier feature in the lineup of Intelligent Driving technologies for the 2018 Leaf. As the name suggests, ProPILOT Assist helps make your driving experience much easier by maintaining a user-defined speed as well as distance to a vehicle ahead — it can also come to a complete stop in heavy traffic, and resume automatically if the vehicle hasn’t remained still for too long. This all happens without any pedal inputs from the driver.

ProPILOT Assist also offers steering assistance to keep you centered in a lane, even while taking a slight curve. This application of lane keep assist is one of the best we’ve ever seen. While many similar technologies tend to bounce the car from side to side as it detects lane markers, ProPILOT Assist uses frequent and small adjustments to help you stay perfectly centered.

Whether you’re taking a long road trip or navigating a congested commute, ProPILOT Assist can help greatly reduce the mundane stresses of driving, leaving you more attentive and in greater spirits.

Other available safety features equipped on our 2018 Leaf SL test model include high beam assist, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and Intelligent Lane Intervention, all of which are part of the optional Technology Package.

2018 Nissan Leaf SL Overall

Driving is a major part of many people’s lives, and the 2018 Leaf does a great job of alleviating the unavoidable stresses associated with it. From eliminating emissions to occupant safety to ease of use, this innovative electric vehicle provides an efficient and intelligent solution for daily transportation.

MSRP for the 2018 Nissan Leaf SL is $36,200, and our test model came well-equipped at $37,738*.

Experience the future of driving by visiting your local AutoNation-affiliated Nissan dealership.

*MSRP excluding tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on 2018 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.

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