2013 Nissan LEAF Review

Pros & Cons

  • Spacious, quiet cabin
  • ample features
  • established in terms of reliability and availability
  • affordable base price.
  • Limited cruising range
  • mediocre performance.
List Price Range
$5,600 - $10,990

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Edmunds' Expert Review

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.

Notably, we picked the 2013 Nissan Leaf as one of Edmunds' Best Used Cars, Trucks and SUVs.

Vehicle overview

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.

2013 Nissan LEAF models

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.

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2013 Highlights

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.

Performance & mpg

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.

Safety

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.

Driving

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.

Interior

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.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2013 Nissan LEAF.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

An unexpected bargain
Steve H,11/24/2015
SV 4dr Hatchback (electric DD)
I have to tell you how happy I am with this Nissan Leaf. It's a quiet, comfortable, very affordable "mid-sized-category" little car. It feels spacious and the electric motor is plenty nimble. The super low rolling resistance tires are a limitation, so if you want a car that feels more "sporty" in cornering and handling you'd swap those out, at some cost to range. Which brings us to range. My experience for the way I drive, is that I average roughly around 4 miles/kwh and I can reliably count on being able to drive 70 miles between charges no matter what, even including any "range destroying" variables such as using climate control, lights, driving between 65mph and 70mph for the "freeway" portion of my commute; and all this is on a car that I bought used - a 2013 lease return that's about 2.5 years old with already about 27,000 miles on it. But if ever there was a car for which the saying is true "your mileage may vary" this has got to be the one. The instruments give you tons of feedback about how to drive efficiently. But it's a simple fact that wind resistance is proportional to velocity cubed and that it takes more energy to accelerate a heavy object quickly. So if you're an unrepentant leadfoot, this is probably not the car for you - look to the Tesla Model S. Now, many folks refill their cars with gasoline at or before the point when there are 70 miles left on the tank. 70 miles is only about a quarter tank's worth. But the electric car is different, you plug it in at your house every night. And that turns out to be far more convenient than stopping into the gas station once a week. Also the new 2016 SV and SL "high end" leaf models have a new 30kwh battery - 25% more electrical storage than the current model's 24kwh. But what'll probably surprise you is how *cheap* it is. I bought this one used for only about 11k. Pretty much no other 2013 used car on the market sells for $11k except a high-mileage econobox. And the leaf's a nicer car - larger, more electronics, heated seats, etc... And the cost to *operate* it once you've got it is a lot lower than any gasoline car. Electricity is 12cents/kwh (on the night time tiered rate - much higher during peak hours!) New ones are cheap too, though. With the end-of-year incentives available I've seen "one at this price" 3 year lease deals for a strip model "S" 2015 leaf for only $109 a month(!) Leasing tends to be the preferred option for new leafs, because the leasing company can claim the government incentives and roll that into the price, whereas if you buy outright, you have to wait until tax-filing time to claim the electric-vehicle-tax-credit. Gasoline's dirt cheap right now at about $2.75 a gallon. But even a fairly efficient car gets only say, 35 mpg. If like me you drive 225 miles a week, that's $18/week. The leaf uses 56 kwh to go the same distance - about $6.75 worth of electricity. To convert apples to apples, there are 33kwh of energy in one gallon of gasoline. So a car that gets 35mpg gets about 1mi/kwh. Or, an electric car that gets 4mi/kwh basically gets 132 mi/gallon energy equivalent. I didn't switch from a 35mpg car though. I switched from commuting in a 16mpg 4x4 truck. All that said, for most folks a leaf is still NOT practical as the ONLY car in a household. Sometimes you need or want to take longer trips. Anne and I drove up to see friends in Concord yesterday, a 130 mile round trip. Naturally we took the gas powered car. And you need to live in a house where you can install an electric vehicle charger. But if you've got a "two car" household where one car can do pure commute duty, especially if it's a pretty long commute, a Leaf could pay off well for you. If you buy used, you want to be aware of how to read the battery's residual capacity (different than state-of-charge) off the instrument panel, and discount the price for reduced capacity. Nissan improved the battery durability (ability to hold a charge) in 2013, and again in 2014. To my mind, the 2011 and 2012 models aren't discounted heavily enough yet to reflect this difference, so I'd probably focus on finding a 2013 model. Finally, if you live in a hot climate like Arizona, you should probably get a 2015 or newer - as that's when Nissan adopted their newer "Lizard" battery design that's more heat resistant. Conversely, if you live in a colder climate, you should probably get an SV or SL model, since those have a heat pump heater rather than a current drawing resistive heat unit.
Getting used to Value!
john5501,05/20/2014
SL 4dr Hatchback (electric DD)
I have owned my Leaf for about 3 yrs now and I still marvel at all the gas, oil, and maintenance dollars I have saved over the years. I also own a Highlander hybrid and it's amazing how much just routine maintenance costs each year. The LEAF still looks new and has not had the first problem. Of course, it would be nice if the range was over 70 miles, but as a 2nd car that is really all I need. From a value standpoint this is one of my best buys. My wife and granddaughters all fit fine in the front and back and it's a great car about town. I charge the Leaf about 95% in my garage and my electric bill is still in the same range as it always was - you would never know I charge a car daily.
Best Second Car Ever
carlsbad2,08/15/2013
SV 4dr Hatchback (electric DD)
We were tired of paying $ 80 per tank to run around town getting 16 MPG running errands etc. This Leaf is fun to drive and has lots of room I am 6.4 and do not fit with comfort in many cars but the headroom in this is great. After 2.5 months of ownership very happy get 90 mile range on a full charge. Able to charge for free at many Nissan dealers . Fast charger at dealers will get you a full charge in 40 minutes. Electric bill has gone up about $ 50 per month charging up almost every night. I did not purchase the level 2 charger as I can charge overnight in about 12 hours with the 6.6 KW on board charger. Our utility company gives better rates for EV owners if you use off peak power
2013 LEAF
eaa,06/26/2013
SV 4dr Hatchback (electric DD)
NOTE 2018 - Even after 10 years Nissan batteries now made by LG does not have liquid cooling and fail a lot. They wilt and lose capacity 10 times faster than any other Electric. They are ok in cooler areas but NEVER buy one in the Southern USA. We had a 2013 LEAF. we used to have the 2011 for 2 years and many wants have been added to the 2013 like ECO mode stays on, braking mode. Also better estimate of range. The Air Cond is also more efficient. The only BIG problem is the battery degrades in the heat. The 2011 thru 2014 have the same fatal problem. We lose 5-10% capacity a summer. It's lost forever. The warranty is sticky you have to lose 4 bars about 40% with in 60K miles and 5 years. They changed the software so that doesn't work and you lose 3. Yet range is bad and you can't drive. We used to love our LEAF. We lease and every 2 years can't wait to see how they improve it and lower the cost. Our daily commute is 44 miles round trip. It's easy with 50 60 left each trip. I can go about 70 miles on city streets when needed. Just lease so you don't get stuck with a LEAF with a low capacity battery pack. New models get lower pricing so selling your old one would be hard. The new 2018 LEAF will have more range. Near the end of 2018 it may top 200 miles but they haven't added Thermal battery control so I would not buy one. We now have a 2015 KIA SOUL EV that has Air Battery cooling. It is also failing. Only vehicles with liquid cooling like the Chevy SPARK EV , Bolt, or FORD FOCUS EV and world Leader Tesla model S , X and 3 have long long battery life and no heat problems. We finally got a Tesla model 3 in March 2018. It is amazing with no battery loss in over a year. EVen in the Phoenix heat. The range is about 350 miles on a charge or more if we just do city driving instead of Highways most of the time. PS Nissan still hasn't fix the fatal flaw in their LEAF. Never buy one in the Southwest USA. or any HOT climate.

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    Overall4 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger3 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    Overall4 / 5
  • Side Barrier Rating
    Overall4 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger3 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front Seat5 / 5
    Back Seat3 / 5
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover11%
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Good
  • Roof Strength Test
    Good
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Good
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2013 Nissan LEAF

Used 2013 Nissan LEAF Overview

The Used 2013 Nissan LEAF is offered in the following submodels: LEAF Hatchback. Available styles include S 4dr Hatchback (electric DD), SV 4dr Hatchback (electric DD), and SL 4dr Hatchback (electric DD).

What's a good price on a Used 2013 Nissan LEAF?

Price comparisons for Used 2013 Nissan LEAF trim styles:

  • The Used 2013 Nissan LEAF SL is priced between $7,700 and$10,990 with odometer readings between 20783 and27450 miles.
  • The Used 2013 Nissan LEAF S is priced between $6,500 and$6,500 with odometer readings between 33000 and33000 miles.
  • The Used 2013 Nissan LEAF SV is priced between $5,600 and$5,600 with odometer readings between 60573 and60573 miles.

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2013 Nissan LEAFS are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2013 Nissan LEAF for sale near. There are currently 4 used and CPO 2013 LEAFS listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $5,600 and mileage as low as 20783 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2013 Nissan LEAF.

Can't find a used 2013 Nissan LEAFs you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Nissan LEAF for sale - 10 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $15,793.

Find a used Nissan for sale - 5 great deals out of 16 listings starting at $19,967.

Find a used certified pre-owned Nissan LEAF for sale - 12 great deals out of 18 listings starting at $23,243.

Find a used certified pre-owned Nissan for sale - 3 great deals out of 24 listings starting at $15,988.

Should I lease or buy a 2013 Nissan LEAF?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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