Nis­san LEAF pro­vides best-in-class mileage range, smooth han­dling

The Calvert Recorder - Southern Maryland Automotive Trends - - Front Page -

Nis­san was a pioneer in bring­ing elec­tric ve­hi­cles (EVs) to the mass mar­ket when the first Nis­san LEAF was de­liv­ered in De­cem­ber 2010. Nis­san is again lead­ing the charge with the 2016 LEAF, fea­tur­ing an avail­able 30 kWh bat­tery that pro­vides an EPA-es­ti­mated best-in-class range of 107 miles — a 27-per­cent in­crease over the pre­vi­ous 24 kWH bat­tery.

With more than 185,000 cur­rent Nis­san LEAF own­ers around the world, it’s clear that Nis­san LEAF gives drivers the space and range to meet ev­ery­day needs; an ex­cep­tional value propo­si­tion due to zero spend­ing on gas, lower op­er­at­ing and main­te­nance costs; and a start­ing price af­ter tax in­cen­tives com­pa­ra­ble to a sim­i­larly sized gas-pow­ered car.

Along with sav­ing money, Nis­san LEAF own­ers com­mend its value as a pri­mary ev­ery­day ve­hi­cle — with High Oc­cu­pancy Ve­hi­cle (HOV) ac­cess (check lo­cal reg­u­la­tions), range that is more than twice the average driver’s daily need and LEAF’s in­stant, smooth ac­cel­er­a­tion and fun-to-drive han­dling char­ac­ter­is­tics.


For the 2016 model year, LEAF adds a num­ber of sig­nif­i­cant en­hance­ments — be­gin­ning with a new 30 kWh bat­tery for LEAF SV and LEAF SL mod­els that de­liv­ers an EPA-es­ti­mated driv­ing range of 107 miles on a fully-charged bat­tery. The range of a LEAF S model is 84 miles, giv­ing buy­ers a choice in af­ford­abil­ity and range.

“The new bat­tery of­fers more ad­van­tages than just the 27 per­cent in­crease in driv­ing range — it also of­fers im­proved bat­tery per­for­mance,” said An­drew Speaker, di­rec­tor, Nis­san EV Sales & Mar­ket­ing, Nis­san North Amer­ica, Inc. “Nis­san has been a lead­ing de­vel­oper of lithium-ion bat­tery tech­nol­ogy for more than 20 years. The new LEAF bat­tery is a great ex­am­ple of how rather than just in­creas­ing bat­tery ca­pac­ity, we’ve achieved a bal­ance be­tween ca­pac­ity, pack­ag­ing, dura­bil­ity and af­ford­abil­ity.”

Of­ten when bat­tery ca­pac­ity is sim­ply in­creased, the bat­tery’s dura­bil­ity and com­pat­i­bil­ity with quick charg­ers may de­te­ri­o­rate. The new 30 kWh bat­tery de­sign adds ca­paci- ty with­out in­creas­ing bat­tery pack­age size by im­prov­ing the cell struc­ture of the lam­i­nated lithium-ion bat­tery cells. Im­proved elec­trode ma­te­rial with revised chem­istry re­sults in higher power den­sity and con­trib­utes to en­hanced bat­tery dura­bil­ity upon charge and dis­charge.

While the 24 kWh bat­tery is com­posed of four cells per mod­ule (192 cells to­tal), the new 30 kWh bat­tery’s mod­ules con­tain eight newly de­signed cells per mod­ule (192 cells to­tal). Un­like con­ven­tional cylin­dri­cal bat­ter­ies, the thin, com­pact lam­i­nated cells of­fer more flex­i­bil­ity in pack­ag­ing and de­sign ap­pli­ca­tions. The 30 kWh bat­tery pack weighs just 46 pounds more than the 24 kWh bat­tery pack and has the same bat­tery pack size and foot­print.

The bat­tery pow­ers a high-re­sponse 80kW AC syn­chro­nous mo­tor, rated at 107 horse­power and 187 lb-ft of torque, which drives the front wheels through a sin­gle-speed re­ducer. The 2016 LEAF SV and SL have MPGe ratings of 124 city, 101 high­way and 112 com­bined fuel econ­omy, while LEAF S has MPGe ratings of 126 city, 101 high­way and 114 com­bined.


The new bat­tery is only the be­gin­ning of the en­hance­ments to the 2016 LEAF. Au­dio, en­ter­tain­ment and con­nec­tiv­ity fea­tures have been up­graded, start­ing with the ad­di­tion of stan­dard Nis­sanCon­nec­tSM with Mobile Apps with 5.0inch color dis­play for LEAF S mod­els. The sys­tem in­cludes Blue­tooth Hands-free Phone Sys­tem, Stream­ing au­dio via Blue­tooth, Hands-free Text Mes­sag­ing As­sis­tant and USB con­nec­tion port for iPod in­ter­face and other com­pat­i­ble de­vices.

2016 LEAF SV and SL grades add stan­dard Nis­sanCon­nect with Nav­i­ga­tion, Mobile Apps and EV — fea­tur­ing a 7.0-inch color dis­play with multi-touch con­trol, Nis­san Voice Recog­ni­tion for nav­i­ga­tion and au­dio, HD ra­dio, and Sir­iusXM Travel LinkTM for weather, fuel prices, movie list­ings, stock info and sports (Sir­iusXM sub­scrip­tion re­quired, sold sep­a­rately). The menu screen graph­ics and cus­tomiza­tion process have been im­proved and charg­ing screen in­for­ma­tion is now au- tomat­i­cally up­dated ev­ery time the ig­ni­tion is turned on and with ev­ery 12 miles of driv­ing.

The Nis­sanCon­nect EV telem­at­ics sys­tem (no-charge sub­scrip­tion re­quired) al­lows re­mote con­nec­tion to the ve­hi­cle, pro­vid­ing mon­i­tor­ing of bat­tery state-of-charge, start charg­ing event con­trol and turn­ing on the heat­ing and air con­di­tion­ing sys­tem prior to en­ter­ing the ve­hi­cle.

Other en­hance­ments for 2016 in­clude a new graphic in­ter­face dis­play with im­proved read­abil­ity and im­proved voice recog­ni­tion sys­tem per­for­mance with the new beam form­ing mi­cro­phone and one-shot func­tion­al­ity. Both the LEAF owner web­site and mobile app have been up­dated with new fea­tures and a more user-friendly in­ter­face.

“The en­hance­ments to the 2016 LEAF in terms of graphic in­ter­face de­sign and user friend­li­ness are sig­nif­i­cant,” added Speaker. “We’ve lis­tened to our own­ers and added fea­tures they can use ev­ery day, such as the au­to­matic up­dat­ing of charg­ing sta­tions while driv­ing and one-shot des­ti­na­tion entry with voice recog­ni­tion.”

In ad­di­tion, three new pre­mium-look exterior colors (eight to­tal) have been added for 2016: Forged Bronze, Coulis Red and Deep Blue Pearl.


As in pre­vi­ous years, the front-wheel drive LEAF uses a ded­i­cated Nis­san EV plat­form with bat­ter­ies housed in the floor for op­ti­mum ve­hi­cle pack­ag­ing and weight dis­tri­bu­tion. The body de­sign in­cludes a rigid-mounted bat­tery frame, which helps pro­vide greater body rigid­ity com­pared to a con­ven­tional com­pact car.

Nis­san LEAF rides on a 106.3inch wheel­base, with a 175.0inch overall length, 69.7-inch width and 61.0-inch height. LEAF pro­vides room for five adults and 24 cu­bic feet of cargo space. Plac­ing the bat­ter­ies in the floor of the ve­hi­cle pro­vides op­ti­mum weight dis­tri­bu­tion to help en­hance han­dling and al­lows for five-pas­sen­ger seat­ing by not in­trud­ing into the cabin space.

The 2016 Nis­san LEAF of­fers a num­ber of charg­ing op­tions. A charge port is lo­cated in the front body for the 240V charger and por­ta­ble trickle-charge ca­ble (110V). A charge port light and lock are stan­dard. The avail­able Quick Charge Port (stan­dard on SV and SL, op­tional on S) al­lows charg­ing to 80 per­cent ca­pac­ity in about 30 min­utes at pub­lic charg­ing sta­tions us­ing a CHAdeMO fast charger. There is also a stan­dard pho­to­voltaic so­lar panel spoiler on SL mod­els, which sup­ports charg­ing of the 12-volt bat­tery for ve­hi­cle ac­ces­sories.

LEAF SV and SL grades fea­ture a 6.6 kW on­board charger that, us­ing a 240V out­let, will charge the bat­tery to 100 per­cent in about six hours. The sys­tem is an op­tion on LEAF S, which in stan­dard form uti­lizes a 3.6 kW on­board charger. All LEAF mod­els come with a stan­dard por­ta­ble trickle charge ca­ble.

Un­like a con­ven­tional in­ter­nal com­bus­tion en­gine, LEAF has vir­tu­ally 100 per­cent of its torque avail­able from start, de­liv­er­ing smooth, con­sis­tent ac­cel­er­a­tion and driv­ing feel sim­i­lar to a con­ven­tional V6 en­gine. Smooth ride and han­dling are pro­vided through use of an in­de­pen­dent strut sus­pen­sion with sta­bi­lizer bar in front and a tor­sion beam rear sus­pen­sion with in­te­grated sta­bi­lizer bar. Nis­san LEAF uti­lizes a ve­hi­cle-speed-sen­si­tive elec­tric power steer­ing sys­tem, while re­spon­sive brak­ing is pro­vided by power-as­sisted front vented disc/solid rear disc brakes with Anti-lock Brak­ing Sys­tem (ABS), Elec­tronic Brake Force Dis­tri­bu­tion (EBD) and Brake As­sist.

The stan­dard re­gen­er­a­tive brak­ing sys­tem in LEAF helps in­crease range. By applying the brakes or re­duc­ing speed by let­ting off the accelerator, the elec­tric mo­tor acts as an elec­tric gen­er­a­tor, con­vert­ing en­ergy that would other­wise be wasted into bat­tery en­ergy. The “B-mode” (stan­dard on all grades) al­lows the driver to en­gage an even more ag­gres­sive level of re­gen­er­a­tive brak­ing while decelerating, such as when go­ing down hills. B-mode is of­fered in ad­di­tion to the nor­mal and Eco drive modes.

Be­cause Nis­san LEAF does not have an in­ter­nal com­bus­tion en­gine, Nis­san has in­cor­po­rated an “Ap­proach­ing Ve­hi­cle Sound for Pedes­tri­ans” sys­tem, which is de­signed to alert pedes­tri­ans that a ve­hi­cle is ap­proach­ing.

When driv­ing at low speeds, the sys­tem emits a sound from a speaker at the front of the ve­hi­cle. When the ve­hi­cle’s speed reaches 19 mph, pedes­tri­ans are able to hear the car mov­ing and the “ap­proach­ing sound” au­to­mat­i­cally turns off. If the ve­hi­cle speed drops be­low 16 mph, the sound comes on again.


The Nis­san LEAF exterior fea­tures a fu­sion of so­phis­ti­cated aero­dy­namic man­age­ment with the de­sign free­dom pro­vided by the EV lay­out. The smooth, el­e­gant move­ment of the body starts from the low, com­pact hood, moves through the iconic shoul­der char­ac­ter line and on to­ward the large rear spoiler. The long, up-slant­ing head­lights split and re­di­rect air­flow away from the door mir­rors, re­duc­ing wind noise and drag.

LED low-beam head­lights, which con­sume about half of the elec­tric­ity of halo­gen head­lights, are stan­dard on LEAF SL. Heated out­side mir­rors are stan­dard on SV and SL grades. In the rear, the slim-type aero­dy­namic LED tail­light de­sign and crisp cor­ners com­bine with the aero­dy­namic rear bumper with rear dif­fuser to man­age the aero­dy­nam­ics of the rear end with­out com­pro­mis­ing rear in­te­rior roomi­ness. Nis­san LEAF’s co­ef­fi­cient of drag is 0.28.

The exterior also uti­lizes a flat un­der­body (in­clud­ing a large front flat floor cover, elec­tric mo­tor area un­der­cover, front un­der­cover and rear dif­fuser with fins) to help man­age air­flow un­der the ve­hi­cle. An in­no­va­tive vor­tex-shed­ding, roof-mounted an­tenna is one of many de­sign el­e­ments used to help re­duce wind noise. Other noise-re­duc­tion fea­tures in­clude a quiet-op­er­a­tion wind­shield wiper mo­tor, a sound-in­su­la­tion wind­shield de­sign and a dual-iso­lated, mo­tor-mount­ing sys­tem. The five-door hatch­back de­sign also fea­tures chrome door han­dles, aero­dy­namic out­side mir­rors and a large green­house to pro­vide a bright in­te­rior en­vi­ron­ment.

Two dif­fer­ent wheel de­signs are of­fered: 16-inch steel wheels with full wheel cov­ers

for LEAF S and split five-spoke, 17-inch alu­minum-al­loy wheels for LEAF SV and SL. Bridge­stone Ecopia 205/55R16 all-sea­son tires are used with the S grade, while 215/50R17 Miche­lin En­ergy Saver all-sea­son tires are stan­dard on SV and SL.

Eight exterior colors are avail­able: the new pre­mium-look Forged Bronze, Coulis Red and Deep Blue Pearl, along with Gun Metal­lic, Bril­liant Sil­ver, Su­per Black, Glacier White and Pearl White.


The roomy Nis­san LEAF in­te­rior of­fers a pleas­ingly modern de­sign with a bright, wel­com­ing at­mos­phere. The wide, high tech in­stru­ment panel de­sign is dom­i­nated by a twin com­bi­na­tion me­ter dis­play in front of the driver and a cen­ter “float­ing” C-stack with a 5.0-inch color LCD dis­play (S grade) for use with the stan­dard Nis­san-Con­nect with Mobile Apps.

The dig­i­tal “eye­brow” dis­play at the top of the in­stru­ment panel pro­vides high vis­i­bil­ity for the Eco in­di­ca­tor and speedome­ter, while the lower liq­uid crys­tal me­ter dis­play houses the per­cent­age style state-of-charge me­ter, power me­ter, bat­tery tem­per­a­ture gauge, multi-func­tion dis­play, re­main­ing en­ergy gauge, ca­pac­ity level gauge and dis­tance-to-empty dis­play.

A 7.0-inch dis­play with mul­ti­touch con­trol is stan­dard on SV and SL grades. The flat panel cen­ter C-stack clus­ter in­cludes the color mon­i­tor for the stan­dard Rear-View Mon­i­tor and con­trol of the au­dio and cli­mate sys­tems, as well as the Around View Mon­i­tor (avail­able on SV and SL).

Stan­dard on SV and SL grades is the Nis­san Nav­i­ga­tion Sys­tem with Nav Traf­fic (Sir­ius XM sub­scrip­tion re­quired, sold sep­a­rately). EV-IT high­lights in­clude an “Eco route” fea­ture for the avail­able nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem that in­cludes sug­gested power-sav­ing al­ter­na­tive routes, plus Google lo­cal search and iPod cover art.

The sys­tem also dis­plays “reach­able area,” as well as show­ing a se­lec­tion of nearby charg­ing sta­tions, which is up­dated with ev­ery 12 miles of driv­ing.

The Google Places search func­tion al­lows LEAF own­ers to look for area restau­rants, shops and other points of interest and browse user re­views us­ing Google’s POI data­base to get the most up-to-date in­for­ma­tion at all times.

The 7.0-inch dis­play also pro­vides ac­cess to the Nis­san-Con­nect EV telem­at­ics sys­tem telem­at­ics sys­tem (stan­dard on SV and SL), which al­lows for a re­mote con­nec­tion to the ve­hi­cle. Nis­san LEAF drivers can use web-en­abled mobile phones to turn on cli­mate con­trol and set charg­ing func­tions re­motely (SV and SL mod­els only), even when the ve­hi­cle is pow­ered down. An on­board timer can also be pro­grammed to start the charg­ing event (stan­dard on all grades).

With the stan­dard Hands-Free Text Mes­sag­ing As­sis­tant (part of Nis­san Con­nect with Mobile Apps), drivers can man­age in­com­ing text mes­sages via voice con­trol with­out tak­ing their hands from the wheel or eyes off the road. Drivers are alerted to an in­com­ing text and, af­ter ini­ti­at­ing the sys­tem, can hear the text read out loud and re­spond via voice recog­ni­tion, or via the steer­ing wheel switches us­ing pre-set an­swers such as “driv­ing, can’t text,” “on my way,” “run­ning late,” “okay” or a cus­tom mes­sage.

The Nis­san LEAF in­te­rior also in­cludes stan­dard heated front bucket seats and a 60/40 split fold­ing rear seat and rear HVAC duct. LEAF SV seat fab­ric is made with bio-PET ma­te­ri­als, which are also used for the back door trim, roof trim and head­liner, car­pet­ing and a num­ber of other in­te­rior pieces such as the door pan­els and cen­ter con­sole stor­age cover. LEAF SL in­cludes stan­dard leather-ap­pointed seats. Rear cargo space mea­sures a full 24 cu­bic feet with the 2nd row seat up­right. There is 30 cu­bic feet of cargo space with the stan­dard 60/40-split rear seat folded down.

The cen­ter con­sole area in­cludes the palm shifter for the “shift by wire” drive se­lec­tor. The stan­dard three-spoke, steer­ing wheel (heated and leather-wrapped on SV and SL grades) houses con­trols for cruise con­trol (now stan­dard on all grades), au­dio sys­tem and stan­dard Blue­tooth Hands-free Phone Sys­tem. Sir­iusXM Satel­lite Ra­dio (Sir­iusXM sub­scrip­tion re­quired, sold sep­a­rately) is also stan­dard, with HomeLink Uni­ver­sal Transceiver stan­dard on SL mod­els.

Three au­dio sys­tems are of­fered, start­ing with an AM/ FM/CD with MP3/WMA CD play­back ca­pa­bil­ity, four speak­ers and 5.0-inch color LCD dis­play for LEAF S. LEAF SV and SL add two ad­di­tional speak­ers and the 7.0-inch dis­play. The En­ergy Ef­fi­cient Se­ries Bose® pre­mium au­dio sys­tem with seven speak­ers is part of the Pre­mium Pack­age op­tion on SV and SL grade ve­hi­cles.

Two in­te­rior colors are of­fered: Black (S, SV, SL) or Light Gray (SV only).

Stan­dard LEAF safety sys­tems in­clude Nis­san Ad­vanced Air Bag Sys­tem (AABS) with dual-stage sup­ple­men­tal front air bags with seat belt sen­sors and oc­cu­pant clas­si­fi­ca­tion sen­sor, front seat-mounted side im­pact sup­ple­men­tal air bags, roof-mounted cur­tain side im­pact sup­ple­men­tal air bags for front and rear-seat out­board oc­cu­pant head pro­tec­tion, three-point ALR/ELR seat belts (driver’s seat ELR only) with pre­ten­sion­ers and load lim­iters, child seat up­per tether an­chor, LATCH (Lower An­chors and Tethers for CHil­dren) sys­tem and child safety rear door locks. Ve­hi­cle Dy­namic Con­trol (VDC) and Trac­tion Con­trol Sys­tem (TCS) are also stan­dard on all LEAF mod­els.


The 2016 Nis­san LEAF is of­fered in three well-equipped mod­els, LEAF S, LEAF SV and LEAF SL. Stan­dard fea­tures in­clude a six-way man­ual driver’s seat, four-way man­ual front pas­sen­ger’s seat, trip com­puter (in­stant and average en­ergy con­sump­tion, driv­ing time, out­side tem­per­a­ture and au­ton­omy range), Au­to­matic Tem­per­a­ture Con­trol (ATC), cen­ter con­sole stor­age, Rear View Mon­i­tor and 3.6 kW on­board charger. Other stan­dard equip­ment in­cludes Nis­san In­tel­li­gent Key with Push But­ton Start, power win­dows with driver’s window one-touch auto up/down, power door locks with auto lock­ing fea­ture, re­mote charge port door re­lease, two cuphold­ers, four bot­tle hold­ers, vari­able in­ter­mit­tent wind­shield wipers, a 12-volt power out­let and 16-inch steel wheels with full wheel cov­ers and Nis­san Con­nect with Mobile Apps.

The Nis­san LEAF SV model adds the 30 kWh bat­tery, Quick Charge Port, 6.6 kW on­board charger, Nis­san Con­nect with Nav­i­ga­tion and Mobile Apps, Nis­san Con­nect EV, 7.0-inch color dis­play with multi-touch con­trol, six-speaker au­dio sys­tem, a hy­brid heater sys­tem that pro­vides su­pe­rior cold weather per­for­mance while con­sum­ing less en­ergy, auto-dim­ming in­side mir­ror, heated out­side mir­rors and steer­ing wheel, par­tially re­cy­cled cloth seat fab­ric, pas­sen­ger side map pocket and 17-inch alu­minum-al­loy wheels.

The 2016 LEAF SL model adds a pho­to­voltaic so­lar panel spoiler, fog lights, LED low beam auto on/off head­lights, cargo cover, Home Link Uni­ver­sal Transceiver, leather-ap­pointed seats, heated rear seat and cargo cover.

Just two op­tion pack­ages are of­fered. The Quick Charge Pack­age (S grade only) in­cludes the 6.6 kW on­board charger and Quick Charge Port, while the Pre­mium Pack­age (SV and SL grades) of­fers the ad­vanced Around View® Mon­i­tor and En­ergy Ef­fi­cient Se­ries Bose seven-speaker au­dio.

A Road­side As­sis­tance pro­gram is of­fered for 36 months at no charge. The ad­vanced lithium-ion bat­tery pack car­ries an in­dus­try-com­pet­i­tive lim­ited war­ranty of eight years or 100,000 miles, which­ever comes first. Un­der the New Elec­tric Ve­hi­cle Lim­ited War­ranty, Nis­san will pro­tect against bat­tery ca­pac­ity loss be­low nine bars of ca­pac­ity as shown on the ve­hi­cle’s bat­tery ca­pac­ity level gauge for the first eight years or 100,000 miles for the 30 kWh bat­tery and for the first five years or 60,000 miles, for the 24 kWh bat­tery.

The 2016 Nis­san LEAF is as­sem­bled in the United States at Nis­san’s Smyrna, Tenn., as­sem­bly plant, with bat­tery as­sem­bly tak­ing place next door.

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