Used 2013 Nissan Leaf Hatchback Review & Ratings | Edmunds

Used 2013 Nissan Leaf Hatchback Review


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Edmunds Expert Review of the 2013 Nissan Leaf Hatchback

  • Although there are a handful of choices now for an electric vehicle now, the 2013 Nissan Leaf is still the most established. It's a smart choice for an EV.

  • Pros

    Spacious, quiet cabin; ample features; established in terms of reliability and availability; affordable base price.

  • Cons

    Limited cruising range; mediocre performance.

  • What's New for 2013

    The 2013 Nissan Leaf receives a new 6.6-kW onboard charger that cuts charging times in half. There's also a new "B-mode" driving mode that increases regenerative braking during deceleration. Finally, Nissan has added a more affordable S model to the lineup.

Full 2013 Nissan Leaf Review

What's New for 2013

The 2013 Nissan Leaf receives a new 6.6-kW onboard charger that cuts charging times in half. There's also a new "B-mode" driving mode that increases regenerative braking during deceleration. Finally, Nissan has added a more affordable S model to the lineup.


One of the first full-electric vehicles marketed to American buyers, the Nissan Leaf enters its third year of production with a handful of refinements that should keep it foremost in the minds of EV shoppers. Now assembled at Nissan's Tennessee plant, the 2013 Nissan Leaf features a new 6.6-kW onboard charger that can replenish the battery in about four hours using a 220-volt electricity source. That's about half the time it took previously.

The bigger news, however, is the introduction of the more affordably priced entry-level S trim level. With it, Nissan has made the Leaf one of the most accessible electric cars on the market. The S is not a bare-bones stripper model either, as it features power accessories, keyless entry, heated front and rear seats, Bluetooth and USB/iPod connectivity. The Leaf's older 3.6-kW charger is used here to keep costs down, but the new, quicker charger -- standard on the upper trims -- is an option.

There's a lot to like about the Leaf, including a spacious cabin and a tall, airy greenhouse that comfortably seats four full-size adults and provides excellent visibility. For 2013, increased cargo capacity makes the electric hatchback even more useful. On the road, the Leaf offers peppy acceleration and, were it not for the lack of engine noise, you might think you were driving any number of gas-powered compacts.

If you're an EV shopper, 2013 is a good year, as there are now more choices than ever. The 2013 Ford Focus Electric is the most formidable challenger, with a slightly more powerful electric motor and sharper handling. The 2013 Fiat 500e is smaller than either, but offers shoppers in California (the only state where Fiat plans to sell it) another urban-friendly alternative. Honda is also in the game now with its competitive Fit EV.

For long-distance commuters, the Chevrolet Volt, Ford C-Max, Toyota Prius and Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid all offer a combination of gas and electric power and greater range. Still, if a full-electric vehicle makes sense for your lifestyle, the 2013 Nissan Leaf is a smart choice.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2013 Nissan Leaf is an all-electric four-door hatchback available in S, SV and SL trim levels.

Standard equipment on the S includes 16-inch steel wheels, heated exterior mirrors, a battery heater, keyless ignition/entry, full power accessories, automatic climate control, a heated tilt-only leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated front and rear seats and 60/40-split-folding rear seats. Also included are a 4.3-inch LCD information display, Bluetooth, an advanced trip computer and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, a USB/iPod port and auxiliary audio jack. A rearview camera and upgraded 6.6-kW charger are optional.

The SV adds the upgraded 6.6-kW charger, 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a hybrid heater system, cloth upholstery made from recycled material, a six-speaker sound system with Pandora radio streaming, a 7-inch touchscreen, a navigation system and Nissan Connected, a remote vehicle access system that reports battery recharging data and can activate the climate control via a smartphone. The SV's LED Headlights and Quick Charge Port package adds, as you can likely guess, automatic LED headlights, foglamps and a quick-charge port that facilitates charging to 80 percent capacity in 30 minutes at high-voltage public charging stations.

The SL tops off the lineup with the SV's optional features as standard plus 17-inch alloy wheels, a spoiler-mounted solar panel (used for powering the Leaf's accessories) and leather upholstery. A premium seven-speaker Bose sound system, packaged with a 360-degree-view monitor, is optional on both SV and SL trims.

Powertrains and Performance

The 2013 Nissan Leaf is powered by an 80-kilowatt electric motor (107 horsepower and 187 pound-feet of torque) fed by a 24 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. In Edmunds performance testing, a Leaf accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 10.2 seconds, which is a bit slower than the Fit EV and Focus Electric.

EPA estimated range with a full charge stands at 75 miles, a couple miles better than last year thanks to improvements to the Leaf's regenerative braking and aerodynamics. Of course, real-world range varies due to driving style, traffic conditions, cruising speed, battery age and ambient temperature. In terms of efficiency, the EPA says the Leaf will typically use 29 kWh per 100 miles driven (remember that the lower the number here, the better). Converted, that's an energy efficiency equivalent rating (MPGe) of 129 mpg city/102 mpg highway and 115 mpg combined.


The 2013 Nissan Leaf comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. A rearview camera is optional on the base model, while SV and SL trim levels can opt for a 360-degree-view monitor. In Edmunds brake testing, a 2012 Leaf came to a stop from 60 mph in 130 feet, which is a bit longer than average for a compact hatchback.

In government crash testing, the Leaf received five out of five stars for overall protection, with four stars for total frontal-impact protection and five stars for total side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Leaf its highest rating of "Good" in frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests.

Interior Design and Special Features

The Leaf's battery pack is located under the floor beneath the seats. This space-efficient placement is partially responsible for the car's roomy rear seats, which provide comfortable accommodation for adults. There's no shortage of headroom in the first row, though taller drivers may find their legs a little crunched. Nissan relocated the onboard charger to the front of the 2013 Leaf, increasing rear cargo space to 24 cubic feet behind the rear seats. Folding the rear seats yields 30 cubic feet of space.

A split-level instrument cluster dominates the cabin. The center control panel features a touchscreen, which controls the navigation system and shows special displays for parameters like cruising range and energy efficiency readouts. You can even program the start time for the recharging system to take advantage of lower electricity rates. Interior quality is similar to other compact cars, but overall fit and finish is a cut above.

While you can charge the Leaf on a standard 110-volt household outlet, this is best reserved for when you can park the Leaf overnight. For most owners, a 220-volt home charging station is almost a necessity. At around $2,200, it's a practical investment that can fully charge the Leaf in four hours if your car has the 6.6-kW charger.

Driving Impressions

If you've driven a hybrid, you know how silent they are in electric-only mode. The 2013 Nissan Leaf cruises with this kind of serenity at all times, with only a vague high-pitched whine detectable under heavy throttle. Even the high-pitched noise the Leaf generates to alert pedestrians at low speeds is largely undetectable in the cabin. The downside is that wind and road noise are more noticeable at highway speeds, but overall Nissan's EV is impressively quiet.

Due to its all-electric nature, the Leaf offers brisk acceleration from a stop, though getting up to freeway speeds can feel a little belabored. Many newer EV or hybrid competitors are a bit quicker. The Leaf's brake pedal feel is firm and sure, though, without the strange, vague feel of many regenerative braking systems. With its battery pack mounted low in the body and a well-tuned electric power steering system, the Nissan Leaf is surprisingly steady around turns. It responds pretty much like other well-engineered compact family cars, and in most ways it feels very normal to drive.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

Average Consumer Rating (See all 23 reviews) Write a Review

Safe bet for a used car

by on
Vehicle: 2013 Nissan Leaf SV 4dr Hatchback (electric DD)

I purchased this car used to see for myself what living with an electric car is really like. I kept my older cars just in car just in case I found it too difficult to deal with the electric car at times. This car has substantially exceeded my expectations as a car I can live with. It has become my favorite car to drive. I live in two locations in the Washington D.C area on the Beltway. I was expecting to only use this car at one location for local driving. Instead, I find that I can also go between the locations on weekends without range anxiety. This car works very well in the DC area, now the worst commuter area in the nation. When in nasty traffic jams on the DC beltway, the BW parkway, and other major roads this car doesn't get grossly worse energy economy as is the case with my other cars (one a hybrid). In some cases the economy even improves in when you get into a major traffic slowdown. In the DC area that means 99% of the time. I find that a used purchase of a Leaf is a safe bet. I purchased a certified used one with 0% financing for extra security. From what I see now, I think that a non-certified one could have been a good buy too. I got the advantage of someone else claiming the $7500 tax credit, which made my cost lower since people buying new ones have that incentive. I noticed that people buying new 2015 or 2016 models can get very good purchase, financing, and lease deals too. I figured out that that some people won't get the full 7500 incentive since they don't pay 7500 in federal taxes anyway. If they purchase used, or even lease a new one, they effectively get the advantage of that credit. As far as living with the car goes, you learn to "plan" your driving a bit more, to make sure it has adequate charge. For me it is nice my older cars in reserve. I have not purchased a charging station yet, so I depend on my trickle charger and public charging stations. I end up going to businesses (restaurants, malls, grocery stores, etc) having charging stations. Whatever I've saved in gasoline cost in the last month I've ended up spending that (and more) at those businesses. In some cases such charging stations are a mile or two from where I need to be. That has help pushed me to get some more much-needed and pleasant exercise by doing some more walking. As I walk along roads I wish a lot more more people had electric cars so I wouldn't have to hear as much noise, or breath as much exhaust. I do not find that there are yet enough charging stations in the overall DC metro area area. They tend to be common in some areas and very absent in other areas. The campus where my suburban Maryland employer center is doesn't seem to want to make them available. I like the free ones at some businesses, but realistically I'd like some more paid stations that price the power roughly around the cost I pay at home, plus some extra cost for occupying the space beyond a reasonable charging time. It is nice that Walgreens has stations, and I'd like to see them at all of their locations, however, their cost of $2.00 per hour makes it more expensive to power a Leaf than powering my Honda Civic Hybrid at current gasoline prices. I found that living with the hybrid for 9 years, learning how to leverage the regenerative braking, has helped me transition to living with the Leaf. Buying a Leaf used is a safe bet. You can learn to live with it's range quite well.

Do not get this car!!! the worst ever!!!!

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Vehicle: 2013 Nissan Leaf SL 4dr Hatchback (electric DD)

we were very excited about every single thing about this car. LISTEN! Life changes and if your does, then you will have to deal with the worst nightmare of you buy or lease this car! After 3 years with this car we are lucky if we get 45 miles out of it on a full charge!!!! 45!!! it's horrible!!! if you forget BECAUSE YOU ARE HUMAN!!! to charge it one night, no car the next day! If you move out of state BECAUSE LIFE CHANGES! then you need to get a place with garage to charge it!!! your job must be near your home or it won't happen! 45 miles!!! plan on that! No place for emergencies! or trips! Second car? be real, if for any reason "the first" car fails, plan on 45 miles with one car! DO NOT GET THIS CAR!

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

I am amazed

by on
Vehicle: 2013 Nissan Leaf SL 4dr Hatchback (electric DD)

I was surprised by how much I love this car. I was a bit worried by range but my husband thought since we would save $200-$250.00 in gas a month it was worth a try. Glad He talked me into it. Super fun to drive, great comfort/room and wonderful technology. In 2 weeks I have driven my 2013 Leaf (purchase with 22,400 miles) over 700 miles with no problems. I live in a very rural area but can find plenty of charging stations within 20-30 miles if I need them. IF you live in the city don't even worry about range average driver in USA only goes 22 miles per day. Think about this not only are you not spending on gas but no more taking the car in for oil changes ect. Love my Leaf!

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

Don't lease a leaf!!!

by on
Vehicle: 2013 Nissan Leaf SL 4dr Hatchback (electric DD)

At first when I leased my 2012 Leaf it was the coolest car around. I told all of my friend and before I knew it 6 of my colleagues at work had also leased the Leaf. Man do I wish I'd have waited!!! Now I can't even use the car because of range anxiety. I am getting about 40 miles per full charge for a car that only has about 9000 miles on it. Ridiculous!!! Not even close to the 106 miles on the New car sticker. And yes Range anxiety is REAL- believe me when the meter starts to get near the red mark and you still have about 10 miles to go you get real nervous very fast!! I would NEVER lease another LEAF again.!! Nissan says that this is normal for the car!! Really! 40 miles for a charge!!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

We love it so far...

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Vehicle: 2013 Nissan Leaf S 4dr Hatchback (electric DD)

I'm writing this in January 2015. We bought our 2013 Leaf at the end of May 2014. We overcame the anxiety of buying an all electric car with the comfort that we got a great deal. 7.5 months after buying, we're closing in on 10,000 miles and everything has been fantastic. The car is fun to drive. It's reliable. It's attractive. My kids love the heated back seats. We have a normal mini-van as our second vehicle and we drive it less and less frequently. The Leaf has always provided enough range to go where we want. On only two occasion did we decide NOT to take the Leaf and it's only because we didn't want to pay to charge while we were in downtown Indianapolis. It's a great car.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

Makes me enjoy driving!

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Vehicle: 2013 Nissan Leaf SV 4dr Hatchback (electric DD)

This is the best car I've ever owned. Front seats are very comfortable. It is whisper quiet even at high speeds, has adequate storage area, seats 4 comfortably. We decided to lease the 2014 because technology is changing and - like a laptop - it could be hard to resell a few years from now. We got the $7500 rebate, a great trade-in on the 2006 Prius and the payments are incredibly low - $183 a month. The quick charger works great and recharges the car in a few hours and the city paid for half of the cost! It's a no-brainer: it's the perfect second car for running errands around town and 90 miles will cover a lot of errands! Love it!!

Talk About The 2013 Leaf

Edmunds Insurance Estimator

The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2013 Nissan Leaf Hatchback in VA is:

$82.00 per month*
Gas Mileage


  • 129
  • cty
  • 102
  • highway
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