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Nissan Leaf: The electric car for everyone

CNNMoney's Peter Valdes-Dapena takes a look at the 2018 Nissan Leaf which starts at $29,990 and can go for about 150 miles on a single charge.

Posted: Apr 25, 2018 12:43 PM
Updated: Apr 25, 2018 12:45 PM

The Nissan Leaf is is the best-selling electric car in the world. If you're talking about mainstream electric vehicles, the Leaf has been it for years.

Now there's an all-new version of the Leaf with more sophisticated styling and more range than before. And its $30,000 price tag still undercuts the competition from Tesla and General Motors -- although those cars still go farther on a charge. The Leaf also has some technology called ProPilot Assist, that's similar to Tesla's Autopilot driver assistance system but not quite as refined.

The biggest advantage of the Leaf is that you won't have to wait until sometime next year to get one. Just saying.

The Leaf isn't particularly fun to drive, the way most EVs are. The Leaf is the "mild sauce" version of an electric vehicle. Part of that is because it has less power. With electric cars, bigger batteries mean more driving range, but they also mean more power and punchier acceleration. So it might be no surprise the Leaf feels less exciting.

To be honest, most Nissan cars are pretty dull these days. I'm not sure why but over the past few years, Nissan has decided to put all the excitement into its cars' exterior design -- they look pretty sharp. The engineers seem to focus purely on fuel economy and comfort, and in that respect the Leaf fits right in. The suspension is tuned for comfort and the steering feels as sharp as a Play Doh knife. If you don't mind that, and lots of people won't, you won't mind the Leaf.

Its 151 miles of range isn't as much as more expensive EVs, but I was able to comfortably get through an entire weekend of ordinary errand running, plus a round-trip commute to work, without recharging. (One thing you learn driving electric cars is that most of us don't travel nearly as many miles each day as we think.)

The Leaf's interior design is also less exciting than the Model 3's or even the Bolt EV's. Beyond a shiny puck-shaped gear selector, most of the it feels like it could be in any Nissan economy car. There is a nice and fairly large touchscreen, but there's nothing that makes you feel like you just leaped into the future.

The Leaf does have the ProPilot Assist feature, which is also available in some other Nissan models. Think of it as Tesla's Autopilot on a budget. It's also largely similar to driver assistance systems from Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Lexus and others.

The driver has to keep hands on the steering wheel, but ProPilot will do the work of keeping the car in the center of its lane. (It won't change lanes for you like systems on some more expensive cars will.) It also maintains a distance behind traffic ahead. By itself, it's not revolutionary -- more expensive systems are smoother and feel more natural, but what's impressive is to find it on such an affordable vehicle.

The Leaf is roomy for its size, comfortable, practical and a good value at its price, particularly when tax benefits are factored in. Is it exciting? No. But it provides a view to the future when people will buy electric cars just because they make sense not because they're cool.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 32437

Reported Deaths: 2030
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9371546
Lake3347170
Cass15867
Allen135366
St. Joseph121834
Hendricks113567
Hamilton112391
Johnson1092104
Elkhart107028
Madison58259
Porter49521
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Clark47141
LaPorte41523
Tippecanoe3803
Howard37620
Jackson3681
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Hancock32327
Shelby32121
Floyd31539
Boone29335
Morgan27024
Vanderburgh2532
Montgomery23317
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Decatur22431
Clinton2221
Grant19521
Noble19221
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Henry1709
Greene16824
Warrick16528
Dearborn16421
Monroe16211
Vigo1507
Lawrence14623
Miami1391
Putnam1347
Jennings1284
Orange12422
Scott1183
Ripley1136
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Carroll932
Daviess8416
Marshall801
Steuben802
Wayne755
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LaGrange622
Washington521
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Jefferson421
Whitley412
Clay411
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Owen341
Sullivan331
DeKalb331
Brown331
Starke313
Perry260
Wells260
Huntington262
Knox250
Benton250
Tipton241
Crawford230
Blackford202
Switzerland190
Fountain182
Parke180
Spencer171
Posey160
Gibson142
Ohio130
Warren121
Adams121
Vermillion100
Martin90
Union80
Pike60
Unassigned0159

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 33439

Reported Deaths: 2044
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin5486243
Cuyahoga4137224
Marion262823
Hamilton2523131
Lucas2162233
Pickaway204635
Mahoning1367173
Summit1315160
Butler82626
Stark70091
Columbiana68250
Lorain65959
Montgomery61716
Trumbull54447
Belmont40312
Miami35130
Warren34419
Tuscarawas3264
Ashtabula31633
Portage31357
Medina31020
Delaware30213
Lake28712
Wood28045
Geauga26129
Wayne25650
Fairfield2484
Clark2316
Licking21811
Mercer2014
Allen20132
Clermont1975
Richland1893
Erie1635
Darke15619
Madison1447
Washington11819
Crawford1103
Morrow1041
Greene985
Ottawa9412
Putnam8714
Monroe7412
Sandusky7011
Hocking694
Ross672
Jefferson652
Auglaize643
Huron551
Williams521
Hancock481
Muskingum460
Union460
Clinton430
Hardin410
Shelby402
Wyandot372
Fayette370
Logan370
Fulton360
Coshocton340
Defiance332
Guernsey330
Preble311
Holmes291
Carroll293
Lawrence280
Champaign271
Brown251
Knox231
Highland191
Seneca192
Vinton191
Ashland190
Perry181
Athens181
Henry150
Scioto150
Paulding130
Jackson120
Harrison100
Adams81
Gallia71
Van Wert60
Pike60
Meigs60
Noble50
Morgan50
Unassigned00
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