We bought our 2015 Leaf SL for an around town car. It's perfect for any trip of 35 miles radius from home (70 miles round trip). When traveling further there are loads of Free charging stations to be found. Home charging cost is about 2 cents per mile driven based on the local FP&L 10.6 cents/kwh electric cost. I'm a big guy with a bad back. I looked hard at the Chevy Volt but due to the lower roof line it was hard for me to get into it without contorting my neck to duck under the roof. The Leaf roof is tall and actually is easier to get into than my Lexus RX450h. Acceleration is ample and very quiet. It just pulls. In ECO mode the accelerator is remapped to make response pretty dull but acceptable. Turn off the ECO mode and the accelerator is very responsive. ECO doesn't reduce acceleration it just takes more pedal movement to get the same response. We installed a 240 volt charging station at the house which cost about $500 for the box and $150 for electric installation. It is well worth it. It fully charges the Leaf in about 3 hours vs the 15 hours it takes using the supplied trickle charger. Without the offered rebates the car would not be one we would have considered. We negotiated a $5,000 dealer discount, A $6,000 Nissan rebate and a $7,500 Federal tax credit so that reduced our real cost to $20,000 for a $38.500 MSRP Loaded SL. Or SL has Bose Stereo, Navigation, Leather etc. We estimate the car will be worth only $10,000 after 5 years but that is not bad considering depreciation after rebates are factored in is only $2,000 per year. Maintenance cost should be minimal since no oil changes etc. The only issue may be battery degradation over time Fuel (Electric) is costing us about $20 extra a month on our electric bill for 1,000 miles driven. NOT BAD. The car has a free iPhone or Android APP that allows you to view charging status, battery status and even start the Air Conditioner remotely. In Hot Florida we use the AC remote start up all the time before leaving a restaurant to make sure he the car is cool by the time we get to it. Update: 20 month of ownership update. It's still our go to car for local trips within a 30 mile radius of home. Range has reduced very slightly due to exoected battery degradation. In 20 months battery and range has degraded 6%, and this is in Florida heat. The only problems so far is the 67 cents CR2025 coin battery in our key fobs needed replaced and a recall on the passenger seat pressure sensor.
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.
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!
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.
**UPDATE** I've owned and driven my Leaf daily for almost 4 years now. I'm pleased to report that my Leaf has proven to be very frugal and inexpensive to own. Very few repairs--none out of warranty. The 7,500 service intervals have been inexpensive. Overall, I'm very pleased with the purchase so far. I should note that my battery has lost 1 bar, so on a 60 degree day with a full battery my range displays about 72 miles. I have approximately 41K miles thus far. ---------- (written 3-4 years ago) While I care about the environment, I didn't buy my Leaf for environmental reasons. I bought it for financial reasons. When you add up all the financial and efficiency aspects of this car, it's really quite amazing. Local Nissan Dealership rebate: $3,500. Federal tax rebate: $7,500. Texas rebate: $2,500. Austin rebate on home charging station: up to $1,500. Nissan finance % over 72 months: 0%. Austin Energy has a deal where for $25, you get unlimited charging at over 200 stations scattered all over the city for 6 months. With average mixed hwy/city driving, it gets the equivalent of 115 mpg. All in all, I'm very pleased with almost everything about the car.