2011 Nissan Leaf Long-Term Road Test

2011 Nissan Leaf SL: Serious Commuter Car?

March 09, 2011


I've been interested in leasing a 2011 Nissan Leaf for my 64-mile-a-day commute to the Santa Monica offices. Among other things, it would get me into the car pool lane at a time when all the Toyota Prii are getting kicked out. And it would certainly cut my fuel costs.

Nissan claims the Leaf has a 100-mile range but the EPA puts that figure at more like 77 miles. That doesn't leave a lot of wiggle room for errands on my lunch hour. Still, it seems doable. Last night I put it to the test.

When I got into the Leaf it said I had 99 miles. I cruised home in stop and go traffic and found I had 54 miles left on the range. I could have plugged in the trickle charger for some insurance range, but I wanted to duplicate the experience of a round trip on a single charge.

I ran a few local errands and took my family for a ride. So when I got back into the car this morning, to return to Santa Monica, the range had dropped to 39 miles. Gulp. Since I don't know the car well yet, I kept my eye on the range and when I pulled into the office there was still 9 miles remaining.

So I made the round trip without serious range anxiety and I enjoyed the car a lot. The good news came when I looked at my fuel cost. Here is my very rough calculation. With a 24 KWh battery it would cost me about $4 for a complete charge, which is about the price of a gallon of gas now. On that charge I could go 80 miles, which is about double the mpg I get in my 2004 Toyota Prius. So one way of looking at it is that I will cut my already low fuel costs in half.

Philip Reed, Edmunds Senior Consumer Advice Editor,

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