Test driving the Nissan Leaf in Phoenix
Nissan Leaf, like any hatchback, but quieter.
Do I feel any difference driving a Nissan Leaf?
Well, it’s quiet, and people stare because my baby-blue tester has graphics that say "100 percent electric. Zero emissions." Then, of course, there’s all that fretting over the car’s range of 100 miles, which comes up somewhat less when driving on the highway blasting the AC. I made darn sure I knew the mileage to my destination and route home to the almighty electric socket.
But that’s about it. Otherwise, the Leaf is a pretty typical hatchback. And range anxiety eases as you become familiar with the car and a new way of thinking about driving.
Click here to see other new car reviews, and check Friday’s print edition for special coverage of why Phoenix is on the leading edge for plug-ins and hybrids.
First, a little about the Leaf's mechanics: It is powered by a lithium-ion battery pack (rather than the nickel-metal hydrides found in most hybrids) located under the seats, linked to an 80-kilowatt motor. That translates into 107 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque, giving the Leaf a bit of spunk getting up to speed (less so in Eco mode) and a top end of 90 mph. It has no engine noise and no tailpipe, nor will you need to fuss with oil changes or spark plugs.
Charging time depends on the system used, but in any case it’s quite simple. On a normal 110-volt home outlet, the Leaf takes 20 hours to charge, so it makes sense to get a Level 2 home charging unit, which brings the time down to 8 hours. Commercial fast chargers, targeted for key interstate corridors such as Phoenix to Tucson, can do the job in just 30 minutes -- but you’ll need a $700 adapter.
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