2011 Nissan Leaf Long-Term Road Test - Audio & Technology
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2011 Nissan Leaf Long-Term Road Test

Audio & Technology

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2011 Nissan Leaf SL: The Spoiler Solar Panel

August 09, 2011

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Our long-term 2011 Nissan Leaf has a photovoltaic solar panel embedded in the rear spoiler that's part of the higher-level SL trim package.

Although it doesn't charge the vehicle's lithium ion batteries used for propulsion, the solar panel does help to charge the 12V accessory battery.

Hey, it's something! And it's a good start towards further solar energy progress.

Albert Austria, Senior VE Engineer @ 3,500 miles

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2011 Nissan Leaf SL: Miles to Recharge

July 20, 2011

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I like this icon that Nissan came up with to represent "fuel" in the electric Leaf. They took the classic gas pump image, which is a familiar icon to all drivers, and added a plug hanging off the side. Very clear. You know immediately what this icon means.

In the picture below you can see the Mini E had an image of a battery for its icon. I like the Leaf's better, although the Mini E's took up a lot less space. What do you think?

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2011 Nissan Leaf: Reverse Chime

July 12, 2011

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Our Nissan Leaf has a special little shifter that screams "I'm an Electric Car."

I don't agree with the push-forward-for-reverse, pull-back-for-drive action of the shifter. Wouldn't it make more sense to pull backward when you want to go backward and push forward when you want to move forward?

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2011 Nissan Leaf SL: We Let a Reader Drive

July 05, 2011

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You'll certainly recognize our 2011 Nissn Leaf SL above. The strange man making a move on her, however, requires a little more explanation. His name is Jeff Jaikumar and we met him on the internet. More specifically, we met him on Twitter when we asked, as we've done a few times now, "who wants to drive one of our test cars?"

Jeff tweeted back, said he's local and would love to spend some time in an electric car and that was that. What follows is his story....

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2011 Nissan Leaf SL: Security Breach With Carwings?

June 14, 2011

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A few weeks back, we got into a quick discussion about the Carwings warning screen on our Nissan Leaf. The warning says that, should you press OK, your Leaf will wirelessly transmit recorded vehicle data for various purposes "including CARWINGS services, product evaluation, research and development."

But would you expect it to send things like your speed, GPS location, destination etc are passed directly to each RSS feed you're subscribed to? (For those who aren't aware, you can subscribe to RSS feeds via Carwings and your Leaf will read them.)

It seems unlikely that your RSS feeds want anything to do with this information, but still, not sure I want it being sent out everywhere. So again, I'll ask: Does this bother you?

(Allcartech via Slashdot )

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2011 Nissan Leaf SL: Does This Bother You?

May 31, 2011

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This is the screen that greets you as you start up the 2011 Nissan Leaf. It reads, "Your vehicle wirelessly transmits recorded vehicle data to Nissan per subscription agreement for various purposes, including CARWINGS services, product evaluation, research and development. By touching OK, you consent to the transmission and use of your vehicle data. See Owner's Manual or Nissan website for terms and details."

Here's the EV project agreement and here's the Leaf's owner's manual, specific information is on page 339, section 9 - 16.

So, the question, do you care that your car is sending information about you wirelessly to the manufacturer?

Mike Magrath, Associate Editor

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2011 Nissan Leaf: Simplified Green Tech

May 26, 2011

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It seems obvious now, but I didn't really know what this button did when I pressed it. I mean, it's already producing zero emissions right? It's not like you can turn it off and make it belch smoke, although I would love it if you could.

So what does the "zero emission" button do?

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2011 Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt: April "Fuel" Economy Update

May 06, 2011

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Once again it's time to update the fuel and electricity consumption logs for our 2011 Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf. At the shop, our Coulomb level II charger records the number of kilowatt-hours (kWh) consumed during each battery recharge.

What you see above is a Kill-A-Watt EZ, the home unit we use to measure the number of kWh needed to recharge away from the office. Each car carries one.

Here's what it all means with April added in...

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2011 Nissan Leaf SL: I Win

April 29, 2011

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Watching Mark and Dan struggle to count trees recently was fun, but I win.

I got all of the trees the first day I spent with our long term 2011 Nissan Leaf SL back in March. What can I say, I like games. As soon as I read the manual and found out the max number of trees (four small, one big) I was determined to get it IN THAT DRIVE. It took some miles and a whole lot of pointless driving, but it was almost too easy. Like a really unrewarding final boss in a video game, it was just ...over.

We need a tougher sequel.

Mike Magrath, Associate Editor, Edmunds.com

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2011 Nissan Leaf: Happy Tree Friends

April 19, 2011

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Sorry Mark. Here is photographic proof that the 2011 Nissan Leaf can grow more than 1 large and 3 small trees. Check out the forest I had going after a semi-slow freeway ride home a couple weeks back: four grown, working on number five. Oh yeah.

What is the maximum number of happy little trees the Leaf can grow? We plan to find out in a little test we're cooking up for next week.

Bob Ross would love it.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing and One-Upsmanship

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2011 Nissan Leaf: Christmas in April

April 19, 2011

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Our Honda Insight gave us flowers. The Fusion Hybrid grows a patch of leaves. The Nissan Leaf? Trees. I like these visual incentives. It makes driving like an octogenarian tolerable. I attained the first tree pretty easily; within the first seven miles of my drive home. By the time I hit 10 miles, I had a tree-and-a-half. According to the owner's manual (which appears to be printed on recycled paper), the display maxes out at three mini trees and one big one. I'm on a mission to someday get all four.

Now I'm wondering how much fun we can make these incentives...

Maybe we can start with a cartoon of a regular guy. As you drive more eco-friendly, he begins to transform into a hippie -- his beard gets longer, his clothes goes tie-dye. Keep going, and maybe his old lady appears and at the final level, they start freeform dancing.

Or maybe we go with a middle-eastern despot. The more eco points you earn, the angrier he gets; ending with cartoon steam jetting from his ears.

We can also think up some visuals for when you're not driving economically. I always thought that the Ford Fusion Hybrid's leaves should burst into flames and rain down in ashes when you lose one. Maybe our hippies start giving you the stink eye like you just harshed their buzz, and our oil despot begins to smile demonically, greedily rubbing his hands together?

Ok, maybe the trees are a good idea after all.

What would you like to see as an eco-indicator?

Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor

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2011 Nissan Leaf: Potential Start Button Failure

April 11, 2011

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(Photo by Mark Takahashi)

Nissan is investigating complaints in the U.S. and Japan that the Leaf fails to start on occasion. "Nissan has recently become aware of an issue on a small number of Nissan Leafs with a sensor in the air conditioning system," said Nissan Americas statement on Monday.

"If the sensor is activated, it will illuminate a warning light on the instrument panel and may cause the vehicle to not restart once it has been turned off. We are actively investigating to determine the root cause and what action is necessary to address the issue. This is not a safety issue as the vehicle will not stop running while being driven, but may not restart after being turned off."

At this time we have not experienced any such problem with our Leaf.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager

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2011 Nissan Leaf: Running On Empty (Nearly)

March 28, 2011

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I spent the last few days in our 2011 Nissan Leaf in order to restore the balance of nature after driving a Ferrari FF in Italy. Also because I wanted to. I drove it to and from work a couple of times and wheeled it all around Orange County over the weekend, racking up some 350 all-electric miles or so in the process.

Since I live 49.5 miles from the office -- a 99-mile round trip -- the availability of a charging at work is essential. There's no way I could regularly pull this off without the ability to top up the battery at both ends, even when driving conservatively.

Why? The EPA lists the Leaf's electric range at 73 miles. Not nearly enough for me. Furthermore, our testing so far indicates the EPA estimate is pretty accurate. Of 28 total battery charges to date, my 76.7-mile run is the best range any staffer has yet managed.

In so doing I went about as far into the low battery warnings as I'd ever want to on a regular basis. Here's how those warnings play out...

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2011 Nissan Leaf: A Simple Interface for a Complex Car

March 22, 2011

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The first time I drove the Leaf I was pleased to find this fairly simple center stack layout. For a car with so many possibilities for gadgets and buttons, the designers clearly showed some restraint here.

It's not exactly a perfect layout -- there are no tuning and volume knobs for instance -- but for the most part you can pretty much take a quick glance over and find what you need instantly. This is becoming increasingly difficult these days even in normal cars, so the fact that Nissan kept it simple in its bleeding edge electric is a positive sign in my book.

Ed Hellwig, Editor

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2011 Nissan Leaf: Clock Confusion

March 17, 2011

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I learned something new that our 2011 Nissan Leaf and Infiniti M56 have in common. They both have two clocks that don't communicate with each other. You can't just change the time on the center stack. You have to do it on the IP display also. Nissan, this is unnecessary. Please, stop.

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2011 Nissan Leaf: Shifter or Mouse?

March 11, 2011

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I'm guessing a mouse is what Nissan was going for when it came time to design the shifter in the Leaf. Problem is, no matter how much computing power is buried within the Leaf's dashboard, it's still a car.

Reaching down to put into gear is not a pleasant process with this little nub thing. There's not much to grab and it doesn't feel natural moving from one gear to other. Of all the things Nissan could have done to get creative, messing with something as simple as the shifter was not the best move. Should've conserved all that energy for the exterior, definitely needs some help there.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com

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2011 Nissan Leaf: Part Car, Part Golf Cart, Part iMac

March 09, 2011

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I was pretty excited a few nights ago when I got the chance to drive our Nissan Leaf. How often do you get to drive a vehicle as significant as the first full-electric mainstream car sold in America? Not very often.

I was only able to put a few miles on it that night. But even then I was able to get a good impression. The Leaf seemed to me to be part car, part golf cart and part iMac. The car part comes from the Leaf driving pretty much just like any other normal new car. It snappily accelerates when asked and is pretty comfortable. The golf cart aspect comes from: 1) the immediate response of the electric motor drive (there's no waiting for it to "rev up"); 2) the dinky "shifter" you use to select drive or reverse; and 3) the amusing "beep, beep, beep!" it sounds outside the car when you've put it in reverse.

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2011 Nissan Leaf: What Range Anxiety?

March 08, 2011

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Look at all that range, the Leaf will be fine around these parts. Unless one of us gets the sudden urge to drive to Amboy we'll be fine.

For the uninitiated, this map can be called up in the Leaf to give you a visual reference for how much range you have left. It's actually a bit misleading as the range limits are calculated "as the crow flies" so you're not likely to make it to the edge of the circle unless you have some sort of straight shot. I drove all of maybe 10 miles last night so it wasn't really an issue.

As far as the car itself, I like the overall driving experience. Everything about the Leaf is very simple and straightforward. It doesn't feel quite as futuristic as the Volt from behind the wheel. There's a little less gloss to everything although the Leaf does have an odd little musical chime when you turn it on. Seems like a pretty decent car given the final price.

Ed Hellwig, Editor @ 603 miles

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