When Nissan debuted the 2018 Leaf in Japan, it said that there would be a longer-range version coming. Now, just over a year later, the longer-range version is here. But there’s more to the Leaf Plus than just increased range.
Engine: Single electric motor
Output: 214 hp, 250 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: Single speed direct drive
Weight: 3,780 lbs (1,715 kg)
Battery Range: 226 miles (364 km)
The Leaf Plus, which is what Nissan is calling the long-range version in the U.S. and Canada, gets an upgraded 62 KWH battery pack. Compared to the standard 40 KWH pack in the normal Leaf, the Leaf Plus gets up to 226 miles (364 km) of range. The original 2018 Leaf gets by with 150 miles (241 km) of range. Horsepower is also up, with the Plus making 226 horsepower and the regular Leaf making 147 hp.
Outside, there are just a few small design cues to separate the Plus from the standard Leaf. On the rear deck lid, there is a Plus badge below the Leaf badge. One of the plug ports under the charge door up front has the Leaf Plus logo, and the lower trim up front is blue to match the rear. Otherwise, the cars look identical.
Insides, all Leaf Plus models receive a new 8-inch infotainment screen that supports NissanConnect connected services, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, plus a new navigation system that supports door-to-door navigation. That means you can program a destination in the car and it’ll provide guidance through a smartphone app for walking directions once you reach as far as you can take a car.
All Leaf Plus models come standard with the ability to use 100 kW peak fast charging (70 kW sustained), and the charging cord that comes with all Leaf Plus models supports a standard 110-volt Level 1 charging as well as a 220-volt Level 2 charge – assuming you have a dryer-type plug available to use.
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As for safety, all of the safety equipment available on the regular Leaf makes its way over to the Leaf Plus, and the intuitive ProPilot Assist SAE Level 2 semi-autonomous driving aid is also available.
While the battery pack is still passively cooled – there is no active thermal management like on the Chevrolet Bolt EV or Tesla Model 3 – the Leaf Plus new battery design helps regulate temperature better and increases range without significantly increasing footprint size of the battery.
There is ample room for the driver with a power-adjustable seat on our SL trim test car. Taller passengers might feel a little cramped on legroom in the passenger seat and having a seat that could slide a bit farther back would be appreciated.
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Over short distances, rear seat space is fine, though I did hit my head climbing in and out the back.
Since the battery size isn’t increased by much, the Leaf Plus still has 30 cu-ft of cargo space with the rear seats folded down.
So how does a Nissan Leaf with more power and more range drive? Unsurprisingly, it drives like a Leaf.
Acceleration is even quicker than ever, with the car being tuned to really utilize the extra power during passing maneuvers at speed. While the car won’t smoke the tires off the line, you should have no issues passing or merging with traffic.
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Nissan’s ePedal returns for the Leaf Plus, allowing the driver to one-foot drive without having to use the brake pedal in most stopping situations. This helps maximize battery regeneration and improve range.
Steering and handling are good for a commuter car, though the steering effort might be a bit too light for some peoples’ tastes. The eco-friendly tires are fine for commuting, but they aren’t designed for serious back road corner carving.
In the San Diego weather, the Leaf had no issues with getting a longer range than what was indicated on the display, though depending on the use of things like the heater, your mileage will vary.
The Leaf’s selling point isn’t the driving dynamics, which are on par for this segment, but rather the options and features that come with the car.
Nissan’s Zero Gravity seats are loads more comfortable than the seats in the Bolt EV. The Bolt EV also doesn’t have adaptive cruise control available at any price. The Tesla Model 3’s Level 2 system, Enhanced Autopilot, is a $5,000 USD option.
Leaf Plus also supports both major charging connector standards, Type 2 and CHAdeMO, meaning you’ll have compatibility with most chargers out and about. The only one you can’t use is Tesla’s proprietary Supercharger connector.
Pricing is currently not available, but we have been told that it “should be competitive with Bolt EV.” If that ends up being the case, the Leaf Plus offers a lot more technology to make the drive more enjoyable for a similar price.
Nissan is still nearly a year away from potentially losing their federal tax credit when the hit 200,000 units sold, which also helps the value play offered by Leaf Plus. Both Tesla and General Motors have hit their 200,000 cap and are phasing out the credit.
The 2019 Nissan Leaf Plus should hit dealerships in most places starting in March.
The Verdict: 2019 Nissan Leaf Plus Review
If pricing falls in line with the Bolt EV, the Leaf Plus offers more technology and better comfort for nearly the same price. When you factor in the U.S. federal tax credit that’s still fully available with the Leaf, it’s the one to buy.
If you’re comparing it to the regular 40 kWh Leaf, the decision is a bit muddier. For most people, 150 miles of range is more than enough to get them back and forth to work or where they need to go while still only charging at night at home. It’s why that version came out first — most people don’t need the longer range and it won’t be a big seller globally. But if you look at your driving habits and determine that you need the extra range, the Leaf Plus is an option for you.
It’s good to see the longer-range Leaf available because there are some people who might have longer highway commutes — that drains the battery quickly — or live in colder climates where the extra juice will be appreciated. In the United States, the long-range model will probably sell the most because people don’t want the range anxiety of only 150 miles. I’m surprised that that version wasn’t the one to debut here first, but finally, both are available.
Ultimately, I would be buying the Leaf Plus over the regular Leaf. My commute to the airport requires energy-sapping highway driving and I don’t want to have to stop to charge after a long day of travel. Thankfully for the consumer, the only real difference is range and horsepower. Both Leaf models have the same available features, including ProPilot Assist. While I prefer the extra large screen in the Leaf Plus, if I didn’t need the range the standard Leaf is a heck of a deal.
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