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2019 Nissan Leaf SL Plus Test Drive

“2019 Nissan Leaf SL Plus”
Nissan Plus Adds Substance to Already Improved Leaf
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Earlier this year, Nissan improved the range of the Leaf model lineup, added more power and made the appearance sportier. In 2011, the Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. launched what they claimed to be the world’s first affordable, zero-emission car in the form of the new 2011 Leaf, a 4-door, medium-size, lithium-ion battery powered, plug-in electric hatchback, capable of comfortably transporting five adults.

OVERVIEW

The Leaf is is a 100%plug-in electric vehicle with zero emissions, based on Nissan’s ”B” car platform that also supports the Versa, but is 6-inches longer. Nissan boasts of a long history in both electric vehicle and battery technologies beginning research and development back in 1992. In 1995 the Prairie EV was launched, followed by the Altra EV and then the Hyper Mini and several test and concept electric vehicles.

Nissan’s Leaf has no gas tank, since there’s no supplemental gasoline engine as in a Hybrid Electric vehicle, so no more oil changes or gas station stops. There’s also no exhaust system or conventional transmission to worry about. The only real maintenance requirements are tire rotation and windshield wiper blade replacement. Washing and waxing occasionally wouldn’t hurt. Obvious competitors will include Ford’s Focus EV, Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV and the MINI-E, with the Chevy Volt and Toyota Prius Plug-in figuring in the mix as well.

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The 2018 Nissan Leaf marked the model’s second generation and was all-new with a refreshing aerodynamic design form featuring dynamic proportions and sporting a floating roofline and Nissan’s signature V-Motion Grille with a striking Crystal Blue pyramid panel. Other signature design cues were the “Boomerang” lamps and larger brand symbol. The Leaf is available in three trim levels: S; SV; and SL – the latter including leather seating surfaces. A solar panel and rear backup camera are optionally available. THE 2019 Nissan LEAF continues as the embodiment of Nissan Intelligent Mobility, modified the company’s approach to the way cars are driven, powered and integrated into society. The three key aspects of Nissan Intelligent Mobility, include: Nissan Intelligent Driving, Nissan Intelligent Power and Nissan Intelligent Integration.

The 2019 Nissan Leaf’s dynamic design and advanced technologies such as ProPILOT Assist and ePedal, Nissan LEAF promises to continue as the best-selling 100-percent electric vehicle both here in the U.S. and globally. For 2019, LEAF adds standard Rear Door Alert (late availability), a system designed to remind customers of items that may be forgotten in the rear seat when exiting. Another version of the 2019 LEAF with a higher range will be introduced at a later date.

EMISSION FREE POWER

The Leaf, as a 100%plug-in electric vehicle, has zero emissions. Leaf’s power source is a 600 pound laminated Lithium-ion Manganese Graphite battery pack mounted low in the vehicle floor for optimum weight distribution, and a high-response synchronous AC electric drive motor (100kW with 147 horsepower and 208 pound feet of torque) with a power capacity of 24kWh / over 90kW, delivering energy to the front wheels. Top speed for the Leaf is 90 mph and the range capability is 150 miles PLUS. The battery pack consists of 192 cells, with 4 laminate cells per module in 48 modules compared to the old 4 cells x 48 modules. Battery capacity decreases with time and use. Actual range will vary depending upon driving/charging habits, speed, conditions, weather, temperature, and battery age. The battery comes with an 8-year, 100,000-mile warranty, and the battery is expected to retain 70-80 percent of its original storage capacity after 10 years.

The battery comes with an 8-year, 100,000-mile warranty, and after 10 years, the battery is expected to retain 70-80 percent of its original storage capacity.
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When battery power is drained to a minimum point, recharging is simple via a supplied 120 V portable trickle charge cable that may be plugged into any conventional household outlet. The Leaf’s charging plugs are located in a small forward compartment located just below the hood. Recharging may be accomplished via a supplied 110 V portable trickle charge cable that may be plugged into any conventional household outlet or optionally through a 240V charging system. There are actually three levels of recharge technology: Level I is a 110V (30kW) trickle type that fully recharges in roughly 35 hours; Level II is the normal recharge method for both home and public usage at 3.3kW (220 V) that requires approximately 7.5 hours and which may now be done by simply plugging into a standard 220V clothes dryer plug.; and the third level – DC Fast Charge is a quick type for public and private use at 50kW that will deliver an 80 percent charge in 40 minutes There is also a standard photovoltaic solar panel spoiler on SL models, which supports charging of the 12-volt battery for vehicle accessories.

There are two operational modes: a Normal Drive mode; and an Eco mode, which increases efficiency and delivers 10% more range by reducing power output while increasing regenerative braking. Mode selection is accomplished via a center stack-mounted “Palm shifter” that operates on the principle of a computer mouse or joystick.

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The Nissan Leaf is ideally suited for sustainable mobility in a partnership with the Sumitomo Trading Corp, having created a business around the secondary use of
Lithium-ion batteries, employing a 4R business philosophy: Reuse; Refabrication; Recycling; and Resales.

APPEALING STYLING
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The exterior styling is distinctive and is emphasized by a sharp, upright V-shaped design featuring long, upward-slanting LED headlights with a blue internal reflective appearance. At the rear, the slim-type aerodynamic vertical LED taillight design and angular corners blend with the aerodynamic muffler-less rear bumper and rear diffuser managing the aerodynamics of the rear end without sacrificing rear interior space. The drag coefficient measures only 0.28.

The exterior also utilizes a flat underbody (including a large front flat floor cover, motor area undercover, front undercover and rear diffuser with fins) to help manage under vehicle airflow. Noise reduction measures include a quiet-operation windshield wiper motor, a sound insulation windshield design and a dual-isolated motor-mounting system.

The Leaf’s dedicated EV body was designed to provide what Nissan refers to as “smart fluidity” – a fusion of sophisticated aerodynamic management and aerodynamic acoustics with the freedom provided by the new EV layout. The smooth, elegant lines of the body begin with the low, compact hood, and moves through the prominent shoulder character line and on toward the integrated large rear spoiler.

The exterior styling is distinctive and is emphasized by a sharp, upright V-shaped design featuring long, upward-slanting LED headlights with a blue internal reflective appearance. The headlights effectively split and redirect airflow away from the door mirrors, helping to reduce wind noise and drag, and also consume only about 50 percent of the electricity of conventional halogen headlights. At the rear, the slim-type aerodynamic LED taillight design and angular corners blend with the aerodynamic muffler-less rear bumper and rear diffuser managing the aerodynamics of the rear end without sacrificing rear interior space. The drag coefficient measures only 0.29.

The exterior also utilizes a flat underbody (including a large front flat floor cover, motor area undercover, front undercover and rear diffuser with fins) to help manage under vehicle airflow. An innovative vortex-shedding roof-mounted antenna is but one of many design elements incorporated in reducing wind noise. Other noise reduction measures include a quiet-operation windshield wiper motor, a sound insulation windshield design and a dual-isolated motor-mounting system.

COMFORT AND CONVENIENCE

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The interior includes navigation as standard fare, push button start, a digital meter cluster, a remote charge status monitor and advanced user interface for range management including connectivity through both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smart phone applications. Information screens are provided for tracking energy flow in both the Nav system and driver info display. Audio, entertainment and connectivity features have been upgraded, starting with the addition of standard NissanConnect SM with Mobile Apps with 5.0-inch color display for LEAF S models. The system includes Bluetooth® Hands-free Phone System, Streaming audio via Bluetooth®, Hands-free Text Messaging Assistant and USB connection port for iPod® interface and other compatible devices.

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AS TESTED

My test 2019 Nissan Leaf came in the top-of-the-line SL PLUS trim and wore a White metallic and Gloss Black exterior finish, with the interior done in Light Gray The base price was set at $42,550., while the price as tested came to $53,445 after factoring in options, along with Destination and Handling charge, but before factoring in any applicable tax credits and rebates.

ONE PEDAL PERFORMANCE

Piloting the all-new Nissan Leaf is really not a dramatically different process from driving a conventionally powered or hybrid powered vehicle, except that it is eerily quiet and when operated with the E-Pedal’s advanced one pedal operation, where braking occurs when decelerating. A truly one-pedal operation is possible, utilizing only the accelerator pedal. Simply lifting off the accelerator activates regenerative braking action which will even bring the vehicle to a complete stop, except in emergency situations.

The ProPILOT Assist system is a “hands-on” semi-autonomous feature that performs as a steering assist for the driver with Intelligent Cruise Control and Electric Power Steering. It is not a self-driving system.

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Acceleration is instantaneous in a luxurious silence, and the handling delivers a nimble feel. I found the Nissan Leaf to be fun, enjoyable, reliable and most of all, efficient in both normal and Eco modes.

OUR CONCLUSION

In summation, given all of its advantages, the Leaf makes good sense for purchase or lease for consumers with an average commute (60 miles or less each way – more if mid-point charging is available). How can you go wrong with a longer range at a lower price point with stronger performance, a more attractive styling and enhanced technologies?

I found the Leaf to be fun, enjoyable and reliable in both normal and Eco modes. The only areas for improvement that I noted were: for a locking mechanism for the charge cable when recharging; better light management in bright sunlight, which renders the IP illegible; and for a softer edge for the center stack. Bottom line, given all of its advantages, the Leaf makes for a good sense purchase or lease for the average commuter.

SPECIFICATIONS: 2019 Nissan Leaf SL Plus

Base Price: $42,550.
Price as Tested: $43,445. – before federal tax credit, and other possible credits.

Engine Type and Size: High Response 110-kW AC synchronous electric motor (EM57), powered by a 40 kWh laminated lithium-ion battery in a 192 cell module pack – 24 kWh / 30 kWh with 6.6 kW onboard charger (6.0 kW output) and portable trickle charge cable (110V EVSE)

Horsepower (SAE): 147 @ 3,282-9,795 rpm
Torque: 236 @ 0-3,283 rpm

Transmission: Single speed reducer with shift-by-wire drive selector. Three modes – Normal; Eco-mode; and B-mode. Also Hill Start Assist and e-Pedal with advanced 1-pedal operation).

Drive Train: Transversely mounted front motor / Front-wheel drive.

Suspension: Front – Independent MacPherson strut w/coil springs and stabilizer bar.
Rear – Torsion beam with integrated stabilizer bar.

Brakes: Power-assisted Cooperative regenerative four wheel vented discs with electrically driven Intelligent Brake, 4-Wheel ABS, BA, EBD, AEB, and electronic center console, electronic toggle switch activation. Also VDC, TCS and TPMS.

Tires: Michelin Energy Saver 215/50 R17 mounted on 5-spoke sculpted machine-finished aluminum with painted recess alloy wheels.

Wheelbase: 106.3 inches
Length Overall: 176.4 inches
Width: 70.5 inches
Height: 61.4 inches
Curb Weight: 3,508 lbs.
Turning Circle: 36.1 ft.
Fuel Capacity: All electric – no fuel
EPA Range Estimates: 125 MPGe city / 100 MPGe highway / 112 MPGe Combined. Range = 150 miles
Drag Coefficient: 0.28
0 – 60 mph: Not tested

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Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles and unusual wheeled vehicles as well.

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Published on: May 26, 2019

Filled Under: Automotive Content Experience, Automotive Reviews, Cars, electric, Nissan

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