Skip to main content

I Just Saw The 2018 Nissan Leaf and Here Is How It Feels To Sit in Driver's Seat

Do you know how it feels inside the new 2018 Nissan Leaf? Last week at the Drive Electric event in Northern California, I was excited for the opportunity to get inside the pre-production 2018 Nissan Leaf and check it out for myself.


It’s no secret that I have been one of the biggest critics of the current 2018 Nissan Leaf, not just for its embarrassingly impractical range but also for its incredibly poor appearance. It’s almost like the designers’ main strategy was the same as one adopted by a dysfunctional and overprotective father whose daughter is going to her high school prom: make sure she looks as unattractive as possible so that nobody wants to take her home.

Granted, Nissan took a chance on a full electric concept back in 2010 before it was either cool or necessary to have a compliance car. You can even argue that they paved the way for Tesla and the future of electric cars. But then again, I don’t believe electric cars like the Nissan Leaf would ever have made it past its first generation if it wasn’t for Tesla showing the world what a real electric car could be.

Why I Like The New Nissan Leaf

But we are here now, and so is the long-awaited all new Nissan Leaf. And you know what? I don’t hate it. No! In fact, I actually kind of like it. The new look has far surpassed its hideous beginnings and is very much in style with the rest of today’s compact cars. And the range? Well, it’s not really what I would like from an all-electric car in 2018, but at about 150 miles on a single charge, it is acceptable for most daily drivers. Nissan has promised to roll out a longer-range version of the car next year, which is expected to be over 200 miles. A one year wait for a 50+ mile range boost is very much acceptable if you ask me.

I should mention that Nissan does not have any plans to create or collaborate with an existing infrastructure to be able to fast charge its cars for those who travel long distance, thus limiting the use of the car to daily driving where the car can be re-charged overnight. It is not at all practical to travel in this car beyond a 60 or so mile radius, like you would be able to do in a Tesla using their ever-growing supercharging network.

2018 Nissan Leaf Charging

They say it’s the inside that matters. Well, the inside of the Nissan Leaf didn’t get that much of an upgrade, though it is also… well, acceptable! Everything that you need is there, including a touch screen, which most importantly includes integration with iPhone and Android devices- something that Tesla is still missing in all of their cars even today.

The biggest complaint that I hear from the electric car community is, once again, the absence of a thermal management system, which a lot of times results in range loss. I’m not sure why this hasn’t been addressed in the seven years that Nissan had to develop this model, but it’s just not there and a lot of people will most likely pass on the car specifically for that reason.

2018 Nissan Leaf Price

Now let’s talk about the price. This model starts at about $30,000, which is way too close to the much more sophisticated (and altogether simply better) Tesla Model 3. However, unlike Tesla, Nissan does offer dealer discounts, discounted lease deals, and is much further away from its 200,000th electric car sale than Tesla, which will eventually trigger the end of the $7,500 federal tax credit currently offered.

Best of all, you are not likely going to be stuck on a waiting list for a new Leaf when you want one, once Nissan starts rolling them out in the US in the beginning of the next year!

Overall, I believe that the new Nissan Leaf is a huge improvement over its first generation ugly sibling. It will now be a real and practical option for those who would like to switch to an electric car but do not necessarily have the budget, or patience, to purchase a Tesla. There is still a lot of room to improve, but this is a huge step in the right direction, which I believe will continue to keep the Nissan Leaf in first place as the world’s bestselling all-electric car for a while longer.


Alice Gwyn (not verified)    September 22, 2017 - 11:51PM

Um, I call that 1/2 damning with faint praise and 1/2 outright insults (AND some untruths). I feel the look of the original Leaves is fine! and 140 km range is probably enough for 95% of people's usage, if they were honest with themselves. And he says the Leafs don't have a charging system! Yeah, it's not the Tesla charging system, but there is still a network. I didn't enjoy reading his article. And he didn't even drive it. We test drove the Leaf before we bought it. Just driving it normally it feels like a normal, very smooth very quiet car. BUT once you get going... and hey this is called Torque News (I know the physics are different, on an EV it isn't torque, but, well, it feeeels like torque) the acceleration is incredible. Why is it "important" to have your touch screen link with your phone? Put your phone down, dude. Driving a car is not a multitasking activity. Why compare it to a Tesla so much? I have about 3 friends who have put their names down for an affordable Tesla, and they are still twiddling their thumbs.

Alex Guberman    September 23, 2017 - 4:22PM

In reply to by Alice Gwyn (not verified)

Yes, the range is fine for most people but not when they travel. This car is good for 0% of people who need to make a long trip which is most people. I don't think you understand that Tesla's supercharger network is by far faster than anything else out there. You can charge a 60kWh battery 0 to 80% in half an hour. No way you can charge a Leaf or any other car using any other charging network out there. So, that's one "untruth" you should be aware of. Oh and torque is torque regardless of how the car is powered, gas or electricity. And the whole point of linking your phone to the touchscreen is exactly so I can put it down and play my music and see my messages on the screen. You need to research that topic too. Lastly, I compare it to Tesla so much because that's the best EV on the market right now and if the new Leaf or any other new EV is not good enough but in the same price range then it just won't sell.

Margarita (not verified)    September 24, 2017 - 12:22PM

In reply to by Alex Guberman

Most people need to take long trips? Not really. Most people need to get to and from work and around town, and that's about it. And, honestly, if you need to take a long trip in a car, you can rent one. We've had a first generation Leaf for 6 years now, and it's been just fine for all the needs I listed above. And has less than a 100 mi range. And we live in South Texas where the charging network isn't extensive, but we really only ever charge the car when we're at the supermarket where the charging is free. Plenty of free charging points around town, too, by the way. As to whether Tesla is the best therefore the rest won't sell. Again, people will be waiting for that Model 3 for a couple years if not longer--and there are a lot of hidden upsells that go along with it so they'll probably be paying more than that rock bottom price. Teslas are great, but so are a lot of other electric cars on the market. Why wait around?

Fred (not verified)    December 28, 2017 - 2:04AM

In reply to by Alex Guberman

With a waiting list of 440,000 and only a few hundred built all this year, and mostly for Tesla employees at that (i.e. they're real-life beta testers), I do not share your optimism that "the longest you're going to wait" is a year. That's just not realistic.

Nimal weerasinghe (not verified)    September 23, 2017 - 2:07AM

What about active cooling ?that's the most important components...badly it's wasnt available on leaf

Don (not verified)    September 23, 2017 - 3:54PM

In reply to by Nimal weerasinghe (not verified)

I agree. I reserved a leaf based on the early reports that they introduced a thermal management system for their batteries.... now that I know it is air cooled like the old leaf, I will not buy the leaf. Shame really.

doug liser (not verified)    September 23, 2017 - 1:41PM

The Leaf looks better and seems more polished than a Bolt but for about the same price (expected CA lease rates) I'd take the Chevy because of the more powerful drive train and bigger and better (LG) pack.

Mike (not verified)    September 25, 2017 - 11:40AM

If you lease an EV you don't need to care if battery is air or liquid cooled. That's what I'm going to do when 2018 model will show up at my dealership. Lease it for 3-4 years and get new one again after. As for the range well if you daily travel 150-200km then this car clearly isn't for you. As for me I have a second family gas car that will be used for long distance travel. TM 3 may be better car but also cost lot more and as of now wait time is up to 18 months for it so no thanks.