2015 Nissan Leaf Hatchback Review & Ratings | Edmunds
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2015 Nissan Leaf Hatchback Review

2015 Nissan Leaf Hatchback
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The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2015 Nissan Leaf Hatchback in VA is:

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Summary

Edmunds Summary Review of the 2015 Nissan Leaf S Hatchback

  • Though there are more choices than ever for an electric vehicle, the pioneering Nissan Leaf continues to be a top pick for an EV.

  • Pros

    Spacious, quiet cabin; useful cruising range; ample features; reliable and available; affordable base price.

  • Cons

    Slow acceleration.

  • What's New for 2015

    For 2015, the Nissan Leaf adds a more aggressive regenerative braking mode to the base model, and voice-to-text messaging and navigation voice command to SV and SL models. The SV also now gets 17-inch wheels.

Review

Nissan introduced the Leaf back in the 2011 model year, an epoch relative to modern technology's timeline. In that span, electric vehicles have evolved from auto show novelty to mainstream business case, largely thanks to the Leaf. It pioneered the segment by driving like a regular compact car but with the affordability of a family sedan and persuaded thousands of shoppers to make the EV leap. Short of spending three times as much for a Tesla Model S, shoppers looking for a capable all-electric car will be pleased with the 2015 Nissan Leaf.

The Leaf can travel 84 miles on a full battery charge. That may not sound like a lot, and for long-range suburban commuters without access to a charging station, it may not be. But it's enough range for most in- and around-town driving and short commutes, and still ranks as one of the highest in its class.

How long it takes to recharge the battery depends on the Leaf trim level. The base S trim comes with the slower 3.3 kW onboard charger, but all others have the quicker 6.6 kW charger. With this upgraded charger hooked to a 240-volt station, a full charge takes about four hours. The Leaf also features an optional quick-charge port. Together with a special high-capacity power source, it allows you to charge the battery to 80 percent capacity in a claimed 30 minutes.

Part of the Leaf's charm -- and success -- comes from its comfortable cabin with cutting-edge technology that doesn't intimidate. You won't need a computer science background to operate the Leaf's various bells and whistles, and the cabin is pleasant and roomy. There's also impressive space for cargo and, of course, hatchback utility.

Since the Leaf's introduction, the EV market has sprouted a few similarly priced competitors. The Ford Focus Electric is the most significant alternative, offering a little more power than the Leaf and sharper handling, but less range at 76 miles. The 2015 Chevrolet Spark EV and 2015 Fiat 500e are worth considering given their snappier performance, but they're not as roomy and also suffer limited availability. There is the new fully electric Volkswagen Golf (the 2015 e-Golf) which received an Edmunds.com "A" rating. Also a smaller alternative (about 1.5 feet shorter) to the Leaf is the new BMW i3, which can be had with a gasoline-powered range extender. But this new arrival is pricey. Overall, we think the pioneering Leaf continues to be a great choice and a good value for an EV.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The all-electric 2015 Nissan Leaf is a four-door hatchback available in three trim levels: S, SV and SL.

Standard features for the base S model include a 3.6 kW onboard charger, 16-inch steel wheels, heated mirrors, full power accessories, keyless ignition and entry, automatic climate control, a trip computer, heated front and rear seats, cloth upholstery, a six-way manually adjustable driver seat (four-way passenger seat), 60/40-split-folding rear seats, a tilt-only heated steering wheel, Bluetooth phone connectivity, a 4.3-inch color touchscreen, a rearview camera and a four-speaker CD player with iPod/USB input and satellite radio.

Stepping up to the SV trim gets you a 6.6 kW charger, 17-inch alloy wheels, a navigation system with a 7-inch touchscreen, Nissan's Carwings telematics to remotely monitor and manage charging and climate control, a more efficient heating system for better range in cold weather, cruise control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, partially recycled cloth upholstery and a six-speaker audio system with Pandora integration for smartphones.

The range-topping SL trim adds automatic LED headlights, foglights, a quick-charger port, a solar panel mounted on the rear spoiler to help power accessories, leather upholstery and a cargo cover.

Options are sparse and grouped into packages. The S model can add the 6.6 kW charger with the quick-charge port, and the SV can be upgraded with the automatic LED headlights, foglights and quick-charge port. Both the SV and SL model are eligible for the Premium package, which adds a seven-speaker Bose stereo and a 360-degree parking camera system.

Powertrains and Performance

The front-wheel-drive 2015 Nissan Leaf is powered by an 80-kW electric motor (107 horsepower and 187 pound-feet of torque). The system draws power from a 24 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. All Leaf models offer Normal, Eco-Mode and B-Mode transmission settings. The latter mode delivers more aggressive regenerative braking (which converts the car's forward momentum into battery energy) when the driver lifts off the accelerator. This mode is also useful for controlling speed when going down hills.

In Edmunds performance testing, a Leaf accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 9.9 seconds, which is a bit slower than either the Ford Focus Electric or Volkswagen e-Golf and about 2 or more seconds off the pace of the Fiat 500e and Spark EV.

The EPA's estimate for range with a full charge is 84 miles, but real-world range varies due to driving style, traffic conditions, cruising speed, battery age and ambient temperature. Our six-month experience with a Leaf showed this estimate to be accurate, as we recorded an average projected range of just over 85 miles. The agency also says the Leaf will typically use 30 kW per 100 miles driven (the lower the number here, the better). Again, we backed up this claim with our own 33-kW-per-100-miles average. Both of these figures are good for the segment, though not quite class-leading.

With a 240-volt power source, a Leaf with the 6.6 kW charger can recharge a depleted battery in about four hours (eight hours with the S model's standard 3.3 kW charger). The quick-charge port (standard on the SV, optional on the others) can potentially be used to recharge the Leaf's battery to a claimed 80 percent capacity in 30 minutes utilizing a special high-capacity power source.

Safety

Standard safety features on all 2015 Nissan Leafs include antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. A rearview camera is also standard, and the SV and SL trims are eligible for a 360-degree-view parking camera system. In Edmunds brake testing, a Leaf came to a stop from 60 mph in 126 feet, which is average for a compact hatchback but better than most EV competitors.

In government crash testing, the Leaf received four out of five stars across the board for overall, frontal and side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Leaf its highest rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength crash tests, but a "Poor" rating in the small-overlap crash test. The Leaf's seat and head restraint design was also rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.

Interior Design and Special Features

The 2015 Nissan Leaf's battery pack is located under the floor beneath the seats, a design that contributes to the car's airy cabin and rear seats roomy enough even for tall passengers. There's no shortage of headroom in the first row, though taller drivers may find their legs a bit cramped. Cargo room behind the rear seats is generous, at 24 cubic feet. Folding them flat increases maximum capacity to 30 cubes.

Despite the Leaf's economy car roots, the interior is surprisingly pleasant. There's a strong emphasis on modern design, with a large center stack in the middle of the dash housing most of the car's system controls. Split-level instrument panels reinforce the high-tech feel with sharp graphics that relay key information. Interior materials are also slightly above average for an EV in this price range.

Logical menus in the central touchscreen and physical buttons for the climate control make operating the Leaf's many systems a snap. With this display and the Carwings telematics, owners can schedule charging times during off-peak hours for more favorable utility rates. Plugging into a standard 110-volt household outlet is best reserved for when you can park the Leaf overnight. For most owners, a 240-volt home charging station is almost a necessity.

Driving Impressions

Absent an internal combustion engine, the all-electric 2015 Nissan Leaf cruises with a quiet serenity at all times, with only a vague high-pitched whine audible under heavy acceleration. The lack of engine noise vibration makes wind and road noise that much more noticeable at highway speeds, but overall Nissan's EV is impressively hushed.

Due to its electric powertrain, the Leaf offers brisk acceleration from a stop, though getting up to highway speeds can feel a little belabored. Many newer EV or hybrid competitors are a bit quicker. The Leaf's brake pedal is firm and sure, however, without the vague wooden feel of many regenerative braking systems. And with its battery placement and low center of gravity, the Leaf is surprisingly steady around turns. It responds pretty much like other well-engineered compact cars, and in most ways feels very normal to drive.

Reviews from owners of the 2015 Nissan Leaf S Hatchback

Average Consumer Rating (See all 12 reviews) Write a Review


Never going back to gas

by on
Vehicle: 2015 Nissan Leaf

I'm extremely happy with the Leaf. While I appreciate the car's low environmental impact, I mainly bought it because it was a financial no-brainer. While the MSRP was around $33k (for the SL), I negotiated a price of $25k. Deduct the federal tax credit and a $2,500 rebate in MA, and the final cost was only $15k. So it's just about the cheapest new car you can buy. I'm fortunate enough to have access to free charging, so all my driving is now free. And there's virtually no regular maintenance or repairs to worry about. Of course the main limitation of the car is its relatively short range. I find I can get 100 miles in warmer weather, more like 70-75 in colder weather, with mostly suburban driving. For commuting, errands, and other short trips, the Leaf is just about perfect. We have a gas car as well, but hardly ever use it. I would say the Leaf makes a perfect second car, but you may find that it quickly becomes your first car. Driving the Leaf you really do feel like you are driving the future, and all gas cars seem both rather primitive and overly complex. EVs are simply better vehicles - quiet, smooth and quick acceleration, low maintenance, reliable, and better for the environment. I hope to never own another vehicle that uses gas. I'm also smitten with the heated steering wheel, making winter driving much more pleasant. What's the downside, besides the limited range? Well, the exterior design might not suit everyone. The steering wheel doesn't telescope - a strange omission. The armrest could be larger and adjustable. It could include a spare tire. But really that's about it. The Leaf is easily my best vehicle purchase, and I highly recommend it.




Best car ever

by on
Vehicle: 2015 Nissan Leaf

plan ahead for longer trips




Zippy, fun car!

by on
Vehicle: 2015 Nissan Leaf

The Leaf is a really fun car to drive. It handles well, feels very solid and well made. I think it's zippy- I don't understand the 'slow acceleration' comment from Edmunds. I loved my previous car but sold it to friends in order to go with new technology. I leased rather than purchased- you want to be able to move on to a higher range vehicle in a few years. Hope Nissan comes out with a 150-200 range version in 2018 - I'll be waiting in line... If you don't like the odd look of the Leaf (many don't) it's all the more reason to be driving it - you won't have to look at it! Inside, it is a nicely appointed, spacious car. As far as charging it - I plug it in to a standard outlet in my garage and it charges overnight. Just like my iPhone and iPad.... A regular, nightly procedure. 100 percent charged by 7 a.m. Love it. Leased January 2016. Adding a comment here.....LEASING is a better deal than purchasing.




Works great a a second commuter car

by on
Vehicle: 2015 Nissan Leaf



5 of 5 people found this review helpful

Read me before you buy this car!!

by on
Vehicle: 2015 Nissan Leaf

It depreciates QUICKER than any other vehicle, so don't buy it if you plan on selling it. However, the return on investment doesn't take into consideration the money you get from a state rebate, plus the money you save in not paying for gas or oil, or repairs associated with gas and oil. Don't be fooled by the federal tax credit. It is a credit, NOT a rebate OR refund. You can't roll it forward or backwards in tax years. You must actually owe that amount or more in taxes to get the full credit. The salesman will try to tell you that makes the car cheaper ( state tax rebate plus federal tax credit equals $10,000 off cost of car) NO IT DOESN'T! You have to pay for the full amount of the car up front and interest accrues on the full amount. So if you go and try to lower your tax liability in the NEXT tax year, by buying this car for the federal tax credit, you are kind of actually paying for the tax ahead of time in the form of an interest accruing loan on a rapidly depreciating car to MAYBE get UP TO $7,500 off of your tax liability in the next tax year. My car cost $32,000 and 18.3 months later the private party resale value in really good condition with only 15,000 miles on it is only valued at $13,436 and I only got $2,500 for the tax credit, plus you get a 1099 from the state for the $2,500 rebate you got naturally adding to your income changing how much refund you qualify for. On the good side, my electricity bill only went up $10/month while my fuel cost of $1,972 / year (oil changes and repairs not included) went away completely! ;) ON THE VERY BAD SIDE. .. the fast charging stations are very limited so if I wanted to go to Frisco or Plano from Denton starting with a full charge (118-123 miles on my gauge-a 64 mile round trip to REI or whole foods-should easily make it) If I didn't stop to charge at 380 Walgreens on the way up, I would be white knuckling it on the way back because the only way there is freeway or 55+ speed... no 35-45mph roads so dashboard reports mileage lost 2-3 miles for every 1 mile driven :( The sweet spot for this car is 37 mph. I can drive for free (no miles lost even though I've driven 10-20 actual miles! Sometimes I'll go that distance and sometimes I actually GAIN miles! !! Lol totally cool!



6 of 11 people found this review helpful

Wow, this is like a dream.

by on
Vehicle: 2015 Nissan Leaf

So we brought our 2015 Leaf home in October 2014, it is now January 2016, the car has 17000 miles and we have not gone back to the dealer for anything. This has never happened with any new or used car we have owned. The car is like a miracle.



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Edmunds Insurance Estimator

The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2015 Nissan Leaf Hatchback in VA is:

$63.08 per month*
*Disclaimer

Talk About The 2015 Leaf

2015 Nissan Leaf Discussions See all Started By

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01-17-2015
2015 Nissan Leaf Buyers Get Free Public Charging in 10 U.S. Markets | Edmunds.com...


leescott
leescott
02-27-2015
Could I please have the rates and residual for a MY15 Leaf?...


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12-05-2014
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