Charg­ing up with co.’s green go-to

Boston Herald - - CAR SMART -

Fall fo­liage frol­ick­ers are fore­warned: The Nissan Leaf seems like an ob­vi­ous choice for a week­end of sight­see­ing, but only if you in­tend to keep your leaf-peep­ing lim­ited.

The 2018 Leaf SL is Nissan’s green go-to in the class of all-elec­tric ve­hi­cles (EVs). Un­like hy­brids, which have the op­tion to al­ter­nate be­tween elec­tric and gas, as ex­clu­sively an EV, the Leaf does not emit any tailpipe pol­lu­tion or green­house gas emis­sions while in op­er­a­tion. As one of the best­selling, high­way-ca­pa­ble elec­tric cars, the Leaf has a 151-mile range with its 40KWh Lithium-ion bat­tery. A full bat­tery charge takes 35 hours with a nor­mal house­hold out­let, but would only take 7.5 hours with the faster CHAdeMO con­nec­tion, sim­i­lar to an elec­tric dryer con­nec­tion.

As a news pho­tog­ra­pher work­ing on as­sign­ment in my Leaf, blow­ing around the city and state, I found that charg­ing the car added new mean­ing to the term “dead­line.” I was con­stantly on­line at­tempt­ing to lo­cate park­ing garages, which were dot­ted around the city, but dif­fi­cult to lo­cate. Many charg­ing sta­tions were hid­den in the larger, more

ex­pen­sive park­ing garages. At home, I opted to run an ex­ten­sion cord out of my garage and plug the car in overnight, but since I didn’t have the 240-volt con­nec­tion, charg­ing slowed down to a trickle with the stan­dard 120volt house­hold out­let.

The re­designed 2018 Leaf boasts some bold, new looks for a hatch­back, un­like last year’s model, which made it stand out as dorky and awk­ward. Most Leaf own­ers pur­chase the EV for func­tion and its en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly, ex­pen­sive Lithium-ion bat­tery, not nec­es­sar­ily for lux­ury and swanky cabin fea­tures. I found the in­te­rior func­tional and com­fort­able, ex­cept that the lack of a tele­scop­ing steer­ing wheel forced me to drive with the seat way back and my knees rested against the con­sole. The test ve­hi­cle fea­tured white leather seats with suede de­tails and the doors and dash were adorned with the same.

The com­pact elec­tric hatch­back was fun to drive and sported more power than I had ex­pected. The cabin was un­ex­pect­edly quiet and only faint road noise was heard af­ter I floored the 147-hp elec­tric mo­tor from 0-60 mph in just un­der 10 sec­onds.

The sus­pen­sion seemed a bit soft as I felt the car bot­tom out on some of the pot­hole-pit­ted streets of the Bay State, but the steer­ing was stiff and re­spon­sive. My test car had the op­tional ProPilot As­sist, which com­bined adap­tive cruise con­trol with lane cen­ter­ing. Al­though it was not au­topi­lot, this fea­ture was con­ve­nient in stop-and-go traf­fic.

Au­to­matic emer­gency brak­ing and for­ward-col­li­sion warn­ing are stan­dard on the Leaf, and it also fea­tured an e-Pedal tog­gle switch which al­lowed the driver to brake with­out us­ing the pedal. This fea­ture came in handy, slow­ing the car down us­ing the en­gine­brak­ing ef­fect of the elec­tric mo­tor, and served a dual pur­pose, sav­ing your brake pads and charg­ing the bat­tery si­mul­ta­ne­ously.

We can all com­mit to do some­thing more to help pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment, and in­vest­ing the ap­prox­i­mate $37,000 on the Nissan Leaf is def­i­nitely driv­ing in the right di­rec­tion.


BEST-SELLER: The 2018 Nissan Leaf SL is one of the best-sell­ing high­way-ca­pa­ble elec­tric cars, with a 151-mile range per charge.


FORM, FUNC­TION: The Leaf’s cabin, right, was quiet and com­fort­able, while the elec­tric en­gine, top, got from 0-60 mph in just un­der 10 sec­onds.

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