2018 Nissan Leaf

2018 Nissan Leaf Review

More range and quicker acceleration boost this affordable electric car's desirability.
4 star edmunds overall rating
4 star edmunds overall rating
author
by Jason Kavanagh
Edmunds Editor

Though the Nissan Leaf has received incremental changes over its lifetime, 2018 brings the most comprehensive rework of the car to date. The new car's styling is a complete departure from the previous Leaf, although under the skin the cars are very similar aside from the larger battery capacity and additional power. For a detailed look at these changes, please see our 2018 Nissan Leaf First Drive article.

The Leaf hasn't become more expensive in the bargain. In fact, the new car is actually less costly than the outgoing model when you factor in the differences in feature content. As such, it offers more range for the same price as other similar EVs, such as the Volkswagen e-Golf. Only the more expensive Chevrolet Bolt and Tesla Model 3 offer more driving range.

Other advantages to the 2018 Leaf include its new e-pedal mode and a new suite of advanced driver assist features called ProPilot Assist. The e-pedal delivers stronger regenerative braking when you lift off the accelerator, making it easier to slow the car appreciably without requiring you to apply the brake pedal.

On the downside, the Leaf's interior isn't particularly stylish, and the rear seats don't fold completely flat, hurting utility. Overall, though, we think the 2018 Leaf is a great pick for an electric vehicle, especially if value is a priority.

Notably, we picked the 2018 Nissan Leaf as one of Edmunds' Best Electric Cars for this year.



what's new

For 2018, the Leaf receives a full redesign. Beyond the new styling, there's a larger-capacity battery that delivers 150 miles of range, more power and enhanced driver assistance features.


we recommend

Since all trim levels of the Leaf offer the same performance and range, our recommendation is to get the base Leaf S and add the optional Charge package, which includes an additional port for Level 3 DC fast charging. By optioning the base trim level this way, the price works out to be less than a Leaf SV without options.




trim levels & features

The 2018 Nissan Leaf is available in three trim levels: S, SV and SL. As the lowest trim level, the S is a bit bare-bones, at least as electric mobility goes. But you can add the optional Charge package for quicker recharging. Otherwise, it's still a very functional car since it comes with all the range and performance of the other trim levels. The SV adds the Charge package and navigation as standard, but it still doesn't beat the S if value is paramount. The top-level SL adds leather seats, LED headlights, and a host of comfort features that might edge out the S for those folks who prefer a pampered electrified ride.

All three trim levels feature the same suspension and powertrain, and they differ mainly in infotainment, creature comforts and wheel choices.

Our choice, the S, comes with 16-inch steel wheels, a 110-kW electric motor (147 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque), keyless entry and start, a rearview camera, a 5-inch central display, Bluetooth, a USB port, and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and satellite radio. Forward collision warning and mitigation with automatic braking is also standard.

The optional Charge package includes a DC fast-charger port (CHAdeMO standard) and a portable charge cable capable of connecting to 120- and 240-volt sources.

The SV comes with the Charge package, 17-inch alloy wheels, a 7-inch touchscreen, navigation, adaptive cruise control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, and NissanConnect, Nissan's web connectivity and remote-access system.

Optional for the SV is the SV Technology package. It adds a power-adjustable driver seat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, LED headlights and running lights, automatic high beams, an electronic parking brake, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning and intervention, and adaptive cruise control.

Also optional for the S and SV is an All Weather package with heated side mirrors, heated seats and steering wheel, and heat pump cabin heater (SV only).

As the top model, the SL adds the All Weather package and a few of the features from the SV's Technology package (power driver seat, auto-dimming mirror, LED lighting, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert). Also standard are leather upholstery and a Bose seven-speaker sound system. Optional for this trim only is the SL Technology package that adds the remaining SV Technology features plus Nissan ProPilot Assist, which provides additional lane-keeping assist functionality.



All three trim levels feature the same suspension and powertrain, and they differ mainly in infotainment, creature comforts and wheel choices.

Our choice, the S, comes with 16-inch steel wheels, a 110-kW electric motor (147 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque), keyless entry and start, a rearview camera, a 5-inch central display, Bluetooth, a USB port, and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and satellite radio. Forward collision warning and mitigation with automatic braking is also standard.

The optional Charge package includes a DC fast-charger port (CHAdeMO standard) and a portable charge cable capable of connecting to 120- and 240-volt sources.

The SV comes with the Charge package, 17-inch alloy wheels, a 7-inch touchscreen, navigation, adaptive cruise control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, and NissanConnect, Nissan's web connectivity and remote-access system.

Optional for the SV is the SV Technology package. It adds a power-adjustable driver seat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, LED headlights and running lights, automatic high beams, an electronic parking brake, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning and intervention, and adaptive cruise control.

Also optional for the S and SV is an All Weather package with heated side mirrors, heated seats and steering wheel, and heat pump cabin heater (SV only).

As the top model, the SL adds the All Weather package and a few of the features from the SV's Technology package (power driver seat, auto-dimming mirror, LED lighting, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert). Also standard are leather upholstery and a Bose seven-speaker sound system. Optional for this trim only is the SL Technology package that adds the remaining SV Technology features plus Nissan ProPilot Assist, which provides additional lane-keeping assist functionality.

trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2018 Nissan Leaf SL (battery electric | 1-speed direct drive | FWD).

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall4.0 / 5.0

Driving

4.0 / 5.0

Acceleration4.0 / 5.0
Braking4.0 / 5.0
Steering3.0 / 5.0
Handling3.5 / 5.0
Drivability5.0 / 5.0

Comfort

4.5 / 5.0

Seat comfort4.5 / 5.0
Ride comfort3.5 / 5.0
Noise & vibration5.0 / 5.0
Climate control4.0 / 5.0

Interior

3.0 / 5.0

Ease of use3.0 / 5.0
Getting in/getting out4.0 / 5.0
Driving position2.5 / 5.0
Roominess3.5 / 5.0
Visibility3.5 / 5.0
Quality3.5 / 5.0

Utility

3.5 / 5.0

Small-item storage3.0 / 5.0
Cargo space4.0 / 5.0

Technology

4.5 / 5.0

Audio & navigation4.0 / 5.0
Smartphone integration5.0 / 5.0
Driver aids5.0 / 5.0
Voice control3.5 / 5.0

driving

edmunds rating
With its more powerful electric motor, the second-generation Nissan Leaf feels far more at home when jockeying for position in traffic than the original car, which was a bit of a slug. Its general smoothness, competent chassis demeanor and steering feel will be utterly familiar to Leaf veterans.

acceleration

edmunds rating
The original was a tortoise, but this second-gen Leaf is more of a hare. Acceleration is brisk, and it's gutsy enough to hold its own in traffic. We can't call it a speed demon, but our measured 0-60 mph acceleration time of 7.8 seconds is far better than the 10.2-second performance of the original.

braking

edmunds rating
The brakes feel smooth, but most routine braking can be handled by easing off the accelerator if you engage the fantastic new e-pedal mode, which adds control and a bit of fun to the daily drive. In our panic-stop test, the Leaf posted a stopping distance of 128 feet, which is average.

steering

edmunds rating
The steering isn't particularly intuitive. It goes where it's pointed, but the resistance doesn't naturally increase to match the car's turning.

handling

edmunds rating
The low-slung battery helps the Leaf hug the road, and it has the balance and coordination necessary to inspire confidence. But the Leaf's economy-minded tires don't produce enough grip to satisfy those who seek performance and an engaging driving experience.

drivability

edmunds rating
As with most EVs, smooth, instant power and a total absence of shifting make the Nissan Leaf ridiculously easy to drive. A good choice if you want to impress your passengers with your chauffeuring skills.

comfort

edmunds rating
It's hard to find fault with the Leaf's basic comfort. It delivers a smooth ride, and the front seats are genuinely comfortable. It's a very quiet and serene place to spend time thanks to the inherent quietness of its electric propulsion system.

seat comfort

edmunds rating
We like the Leaf's front seats. They're well-shaped and supportive, yet they still have a nice level of give. They're not overly confining, and they look as if they're well made. Our test driver found them comfortable throughout a four-hour suburban test loop.

ride comfort

edmunds rating
The Leaf's ride is smooth and nicely controlled — it's neither too rigid nor too buoyant. It's good at swallowing large and small bumps alike, but a little road texture feel and intermittent jiggliness do come through.

noise & vibration

edmunds rating
The Leaf's electric drive components don't make any noise and lack the commotion that a non-EV car make when it changes gears. Wind noise and road noise are the remaining potential noise sources, and neither is overly prominent.

climate control

edmunds rating
The climate control system is reasonably effective, and you don't have to wait through an engine warm-up phase to get heat because of its electric nature. Liberal use will eat into your range, but this is less of an issue with this big battery. Use the seat heaters instead if you want to conserve.

interior

edmunds rating
Those who have owned a Leaf before will find this one familiar but improved. It features a traditionally located speedometer and improved radio controls. Seating spaciousness and ease of entry are strong points, but the driving position still suffers from the lack of a telescoping wheel.

ease of use

edmunds rating
Basic controls such as window switches and steering stalks are simple and effective. The infotainment system is straightforward, and even though the climate controls look dated, their use is self-evident. Our main gripe pertains to the shifter, which is so odd it includes its own user diagram.

getting in/getting out

edmunds rating
The long doors open wide, and the doorsills are pretty short. The seat height is good for ease of entry, and the roof isn't so low that you have to duck. The rear door openings are generous, and the flattish roofline helps aid entry there, too.

driving position

edmunds rating
Some drivers might find it hard to settle into their ideal position. The driver's seat is mounted somewhat high and may not adjust down far enough to suit the tallest pilots. But the bigger issue could be the nontelescopic steering wheel. The wheel can seem far away for some drivers.

roominess

edmunds rating
We found plenty of front and rear legroom, and headroom is generous as well. The Leaf's cabin isn't terribly wide, but it feels appropriate for its size.

visibility

edmunds rating
It's easy to see out thanks to the generously sized windows. Cornering sight lines are aided by peekaboo windows ahead of the front windows, but the rear roof pillars produce a bigger blind spot. The bottom edge of the rear glass is nice and low.

quality

edmunds rating
The interior materials in the Nissan Leaf look a grade better than those of its predecessor and appropriate for the price point. The leather seats in the SL look downright handsome, in fact. Technically not a quality issue, the interior uses some carry-over elements that stand out.

utility

edmunds rating
The Leaf offers an impressive amount of cargo space when the seats are in use, and we give that a lot of weight because it's the usual condition. Maximum capacity isn't that easy to use because the seats come nowhere near to folding flat. Small-item storage up front could be better.

small-item storage

edmunds rating
You'll want to put most of your things in the cargo area because the pickings are slim up front. The center console box is tight, and the glove compartment is average. You get slender door pockets with molded-in bottle holders and two cupholders in the center console.

cargo space

edmunds rating
The Leaf's standard cargo space is impressive when the rear seats are in the normal position due to a very low floor. Fold them flat, however, and the picture worsens because the overly simplistic folding mechanism merely piles the seatbacks atop the bottom cushions to create a 10-inch tall barrier.

child safety seat accomodation

edmunds rating
The wide doors and near-horizontal roofline ease access to strapped-in children, and the fairly generous amount of backseat room helps to accommodate rear-facing seats. The three top anchors are easy to use, but the lower LATCH anchors are somewhat buried in a gap in the seat cushions.

technology

edmunds rating
This is where the original Leaf fell flat, but the second-generation version has made huge strides. We like the new audio system and its support of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. And ProPilot Assist, while not a hands-free system, is effective at easing the driver's workload in freeway traffic.

audio & navigation

edmunds rating
The SV and SL versions of the Leaf come with a 7-inch touchscreen navigation system that supports AM/FM, HD radio and satellite radio with real-time traffic information. Two knobs provide volume and tune control, and there are easily understood hard buttons for more complex adjustments.

smartphone integration

edmunds rating
The Leaf has a USB port that allows a smartphone to be connected, and the upgraded 7-inch touchscreen audio system supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Alternatively, you can stream music using Bluetooth audio, and those who prefer to go old school can use the aux jack.

driver aids

edmunds rating
Automatic emergency braking is standard on all models; the SL and SV offer standard adaptive cruise control. Optional ProPilot Assist adds a more advanced system that includes a more sophisticated lane-keeping assist function to help the driver in freeway commuting.

voice control

edmunds rating
All Leafs have voice controls for Bluetooth-connected phones, and those with the 7-inch touchscreen also have voice controls for audio and navigation functions. The menus are fairly straightforward, but certain phrasing is necessary to get your point across.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.