2016 Nissan LEAF Review

Pros & Cons

  • Long cruising range for an affordable EV
  • quiet cabin
  • spacious rear seat
  • ample features
  • nationwide availability.
  • Slow acceleration
  • awkward driving position
  • fussy interior controls.
List Price Range
$9,800 - $14,500

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Much of the original hype surrounding the Nissan Leaf has faded. Yet for shoppers interested in an electric car, this year's updated 2016 Leaf continues to be a top pick for an affordable electric vehicle.

Notably, we picked the 2016 Nissan Leaf as one of Edmunds' Best Used Cars, Trucks and SUVs.

Vehicle overview

Now in its sixth year, the Nissan Leaf is the elder statesman of the modern era, mass-produced electric car. Six years without a redesign is a fairly long time in the automotive world, and many other automakers have come out with competitive EVs since the Leaf's debut. Yet the 2016 Leaf still has plenty of charge left and remains a top choice for those seeking quiet, efficient and peppy all-electric driving without the need to dip into the kids' college funds.

The 2016 Nissan Leaf has more range than ever and remains a top choice among compact electric vehicles.

The base Leaf can travel 84 miles on a full battery charge and the SV and SL trims can now go up to 107 miles per charge, thanks to a larger-capacity battery pack that's new this year. Neither distance is impressive compared with the average gasoline-only car's range, but the bigger 107-mile range is tops among the Leaf's peers. And, as most EV drivers will tell you, 80-100 miles is still plenty for most daily driving needs. But the Leaf's acceleration is underwhelming, even by this segment.

Since the Leaf's introduction, the EV market has sprouted a few similarly priced competitors. The most significant alternatives would be those that received an Edmunds.com "A" rating: the 2016 Kia Soul EV and the 2016 Volkswagen e-Golf. Both are the Leaf's closest competitors in roominess, features and range, but they aren't available in most states. For a nationwide alternative to the Leaf, the 2016 Ford Focus Electric could be worth a look. Another option is the BMW i3. It's admittedly smaller and pricier, but it's more enjoyable to drive. No car here is a home run, but as EVs go, the pioneering Leaf continues to be a great choice.

2016 Nissan LEAF models

The 2016 Nissan Leaf is a four-door hatchback EV 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, cruise control, a rearview camera, automatic climate control, cloth upholstery, a height-adjustable driver seat, heated front seats, 60/40-split folding rear seats, a tilt-only steering wheel, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 5-inch color touchscreen, Nissan Connect with Mobile Apps and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack, a USB port, a media player interface and satellite radio.

Stepping up to the SV trim gets you a 6.6-kW charger and a quick-charge port (both optional on the S) along with 17-inch alloy wheels, heated power side mirrors, a more efficient heating system for better range in cold weather, Nissan Connect EV telematics (remotely monitors and manages charging and climate control), a leather-wrapped heated steering wheel, partially recycled cloth upholstery, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a 7-inch touchscreen, a navigation system and a six-speaker audio system with HD radio.

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

The SV and SL models are eligible for the Premium package, which adds a seven-speaker Bose stereo and a 360-degree parking camera system.

2016 Highlights

The 2016 Nissan Leaf gets a bigger battery pack and 27 percent more range for the SV and SL trims. All three trims get connectivity upgrades, while the base S trim gets a slightly larger touchscreen. The midrange SV loses its optional foglights but gains a standard quick-charge port.

Performance & mpg

The front-wheel-drive 2016 Nissan Leaf is powered by an 80-kW electric motor (107 horsepower and 187 pound-feet of torque). The system draws power from a lithium-ion battery pack: 24 kWh in the base S model and 30 kWh in the SV and SL trims.

In Edmunds performance testing, a 2016 Leaf accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 10.2 seconds, which is slower than most other EVs — considerably so, depending on the competitor.

Nissan's 2016 Leaf receives a bigger battery pack this year for the SV and SL trims.

The EPA estimates the 24 kWh pack in the S trim can deliver up to 84 miles of range. The new 30 kWh battery's range should be good for up to 107 miles. We haven't tested the 30 kWh battery pack yet, but we found the 24-kWh Leaf's 84-mile range to be accurate during our own real-world testing. We also confirmed the EPA's claim that the Leaf, with either battery pack, will typically use 30 kW per 100 miles driven (the lower the number here, the better). These figures are good for the segment.

With a 240-volt power source, a Leaf with a 6.6 kW charger and 30 kWh battery pack can recharge a depleted battery in about five hours (it's close to eight hours with the base S model's standard 3.3 kW charger and 24-kWh battery pack). The quick-charge port that's standard on the SL and SV can be used with a high-power or quick-charge station (assuming you can find one) to recharge the Leaf's battery to a claimed 80 percent capacity in 30 minutes.


Standard safety features on all 2016 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 122 feet, which is average for both compact hatchbacks and EVs.

In government crash testing, the 2016 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 rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.


Absent an internal combustion engine, the all-electric 2016 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 more noticeable at highway speeds, but overall Nissan's EV is impressively hushed.

The 2016 Nissan Leaf looks pretty much the same as when the car debuted back for the 2011 model year.

Due to its electric powertrain, the Leaf offers brisk acceleration from a stop, though getting up to highway speeds can feel belabored. Most EV or hybrid competitors are quicker. The Leaf's brake pedal is firm and sure, however, without the vague wooden feel of some other 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.


The 2016 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 are likely to find that their seat is mounted too high and the tilt-only steering wheel is too far away.

The 2016 Nissan Leaf's interior has a futuristic design. But its ergonomics could be better.

Cargo room behind the rear seats is generous, at 24 cubic feet. Folding them flat increases maximum capacity to 30 cubes. The larger-capacity battery pack in the SL and SV models doesn't consume any of that space, as it uses higher-power cells that fit in the same package as those of the 24 kWh battery pack.

The interior is surprisingly pleasant, but the interior materials and trim don't quite live up to the expectations of the purchase price (and fall well short of the e-Golf and i3). There's at least a strong emphasis on modern design, with split-level instrument panels that reinforce the high-tech feel with sharp graphics. The large center control stack also looks modern, but there are too many look-alike buttons and the touchscreen seems small by current standards.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2016 Nissan LEAF.

Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

Don't be shocked! It's a great electric car!
SL 4dr Hatchback (electric DD)
I leased my 2016 LEAF about 900 miles ago and I have to say I'm "shocked" at how great it is. It's the SL version which means it's fully loaded with all options. The car is well built and very solid. With all the incentives, I got a great deal and will be able to buy it in a few years at an awesome price. Fully charged, it is capable of 125 miles. This is plenty for my daily 40 mile round trip commute. I installed a 240 V level 2 charger myself with not too much difficulty. I'm fairly handy and have a newer home with 200 amp service and spare breakers. I bought the NISSAN charger or EVSE online. I charge the car on early Wedsnesday mornings and again on Sunday mornings during off peak hours. It charges from empty in less than 5 hours but I usually only need about 3 and a half hours to go from 20 miles to about 110. It costs me about 2 bucks per charge. This is easy to do beacuse it's fully programmable. It's incredibly loaded with technology that makes it fun to drive. While searching for an alternative vehicle, I drove the VOLT and Prius. I was not impressed with either one. The VOLT has hardly any rear headroom and is a joke for tall people to sit in the back plus it's a true four seater at best. The Prius was interesting but seemd to lack any pep. The LEAF is decievingly large inside due to its height. It also has great acceleration due to its torque from the electric motors. Driving an electric car is a unique experience. It's silent and smooth. There is no drag when using the A/C and no strain from a gas motor. It accelerates effortlessly, quietly, and smoothly. I don't have trouble with range because there are many chargers available in my area plus at any NISSAN dealer. I still have gas cars for long trips though. But, I don't travel much anyway. I love pulling into my garage silently, having no motor to heat up the garage, no smells from oil and exhaust etc. It requires no maintenance except tire rotations. No belts, exhaust, oil etc. I'm no hypermiler either- don't have to be- I use the climate control liberally, drive at normal speeds on the highway every day, plus I'm a car guy and own a classic musclecar which I drive pretty hard on the weekends. I guess I'm not the typical electric car owner but it's just a blast to drive the LEAF. It has a nice sized hatch area for groceries unlike the Honda Fit. The electronics are intuitive and easy to use. The nav is great and the Bose sound is very good. I would say to anyone on the fence, examine your driving practices and see if it's for you. I should add that the build quality is exceptional and the materials are excellent. I am VERY picky with cars and don't have any major cons for this car. I will say that the center armrest could be improved by making it adjustable to slide forward. There is a little more wind noise than I like but it's a smaller car. There is no lock on the glove box. There should be courtesy lights for rear passengers. I hope this review helps you. *UPDATE* Feb 2017 Okay, so I first reviewed this car in September of 2016 so I think it's time to update my review. I see some people saying some poor things about it but it's not been my experience. I have almost 16,000 miles on the car from a new lease and have ZERO battery life degradation. All battery life bars are full as new. It does not charge to what it did when new (135) but does charge up to 109 which is in line with Nissan's projections. I live in a Northern cold weather climate and will say that using this car in winter weather DOES affect the mileage rather significantly when driving at highway speeds. Cons: The use of all the electric accessories in winter weather (especially the climate control) can drain the battery quickly. At lower city speeds however, I find the effects to be not as drastic. The A/C in the summer is a high drain on the battery also. Driving on snow or ice can be especially tricky due to the torque of the motors when accelerating from a stop. The windshield washer sprayers are terrible. They are not set up to spray high enough and don't immediately activate the wipers. No daytime running lamps, headlights don't automatically turn off in the constant ON position- they could potentially be left on though there is an alarm. Pros: no gas or maintenance other than tire rotations. Powerful headlights (SL). Great Bose stereo (on the SL), EFFORTLESS electric power steering, nice leather, navigation is excellent, easy Bluetooth, lots of media options, heated steering wheel is AWESOME, I have no complaints with the heater, surprisingly roomy because of its tall cabin, jackrabbit acceleration. This car is not for everyone. It's NOT a highway car for sustained drives. It is ideal for close to home driving, running errands, grocery shopping etc. Forget about unscheduled impulse drives however because you have to take your range into consideration. If most of your driving is close to home this car could be perfect for you.
Don't buy this car - battery degradation pitiful
Richard Perata,12/22/2017
SV 4dr Hatchback (electric DD)
I bought a 2016 Leaf with extended range of 108 miles after owning a 2013 leaf for 2.5 years with no noticeable battery degradation. My 2016 leaf now has lost 31% of it's original battery capacity after 19 months and 7000 miles. A full charge now indicates 74 miles, however the last time I drove this car I traveled 44 miles round trip and was left with 12 miles capacity when I returned home. Ask yourself if this suits your needs before buying this car. Nissan says that battery degradation is normal. According to Nissan my car charges 9 out of 12 bars on their charging scale and they won't replace the battery until it is at 8 out of 12. I'm stuck with a car with 69% of it's stated range after 19 months and low mileage. Will this car work for you? I can only drive 22 miles from my home if I want to make it back home - pathetic rip off - car is essentially a huge brick with a monthly payment
Nissan Leaf Issue - Winter
Steve Clubb,01/04/2017
S 4dr Hatchback (electric DD)
In the winter > 20 degrees I am lucky to get 50 miles on a charge. Additionally, the heating is not effective. Heated seats work fine but the feet and leg area is cold and does not warm up. My feet stay frozen. Seats are not comfortable when commuting @ 24 miles.
Best car to own for commuting
S 4dr Hatchback (electric DD)
This car is great. I like having the filling station at home in my garage. I save money on fuel and maintenance. I like the quiet ride especially when driving through the neighborhood with the windows down on a nice day. My first reaction to the styling was not good but it grows on you and now I love it. The only thing I don't like is that my wife keeps driving off in it leaving me stuck filling her Prius with gas. There are some great deals on these out there right now.

Features & Specs

See all Used 2016 Nissan LEAF features & specs


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 Rollover10.9%
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
  • Roof Strength Test
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 2016 Nissan LEAF

Used 2016 Nissan LEAF Overview

The Used 2016 Nissan LEAF is offered in the following submodels: LEAF Hatchback. Available styles include SL 4dr Hatchback (electric DD), SV 4dr Hatchback (electric DD), and S 4dr Hatchback (electric DD).

What's a good price on a Used 2016 Nissan LEAF?

Price comparisons for Used 2016 Nissan LEAF trim styles:

  • The Used 2016 Nissan LEAF SL is priced between $9,800 and$12,990 with odometer readings between 28259 and45418 miles.
  • The Used 2016 Nissan LEAF SV is priced between $14,500 and$14,500 with odometer readings between 10583 and10583 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 2016 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) 2016 Nissan LEAF for sale near. There are currently 3 used and CPO 2016 LEAFS listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $9,800 and mileage as low as 10583 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 2016 Nissan LEAF.

Can't find a used 2016 Nissan LEAFs you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Nissan LEAF for sale - 1 great deals out of 7 listings starting at $10,622.

Find a used Nissan for sale - 7 great deals out of 12 listings starting at $19,124.

Find a used certified pre-owned Nissan LEAF for sale - 9 great deals out of 16 listings starting at $9,270.

Find a used certified pre-owned Nissan for sale - 2 great deals out of 20 listings starting at $18,301.

Should I lease or buy a 2016 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.

Check out Nissan lease specials
Check out Nissan LEAF lease specials