Investing hefty funds in a vehicle is daunting. With the market inundated with numerous options, choosing one is difficult for all of us. We, as modern car shoppers, have gotten more environmental-conscious.
The Nissan Leaf offers all-around performance, safety, reliability, and an excellent warranty. However, the Leaf depreciates at a higher rate than other electric vehicles.
Leaf has established a loyal customer base globally. Be it affordability, mileage, or ease of driving, the vehicle scores impeccably on every front. But does that make it an ideal first car? Let’s find out.
Does Leaf Still Look Good?
Aesthetics is a major factor for car owners, especially for the first ride. No one wants to spend thousands of dollars to get a sub-par-looking vehicle. While Nissan Leaf is not the most visually appealing car, it is not half-bad.
The car is available in different color themes, like:
- Two-tone Pearl White/Super Black
- Scarlet Ember
- Brilliant Silver
- Pearl White
- Glacier White
- Gun Metallic
- Jade Frost
- Super Black
- Deep Blue Pearl
However, Nissan Leaf would not be our first choice based on sheer looks, even with the wide variety of color themes on offer.
What About the Leaf Interior?
Car aesthetics are more than just the exterior, and Nissan Leaf nails it on the interior front. One look at the design shows what the future holds for the car interiors. It comes with an intuitive dashboard, modern seating, leather seats, touchscreen display, glasses holder, and an anti-glare mirror, all of which complement each other.
The minimalist design suits the car, making the 5-seater look spacious. Moreover, its comfort facilitates comfortable long rides, making Nissan Leaf stand out as our go-to choice.
Nissan Leaf is not just designed for comfort; it bodes well on the infotainment and connectivity front. As already stated, Apple CarPlay is available in multiple Leaf models, plus Android Auto integration with an optional navigation system.
Even with a rather underwhelming Nissan Connect interface, the layout is responsive and intuitive. For an ear-pleasing seven-speaker Bose system, we have to buy an SL or SL Plus model. Otherwise, we have to make do with a standard six-speaker.
Even with the seven-speaker system, it doesn’t quite deliver the desired performance. It could get a decent verdict on the infotainment front if not for the lukewarm sound system. But, the overall experience still makes it a reasonable option.
How Much Does a Leaf Costs?
Costs are of primary concern to all car buyers but even more so to the first-time buyer. In most cases, investing in an electric vehicle pays off in the long run. However, that does not negate the fact that EVs cost a lot. Nissan Leaf breaks the norm with its relatively affordable starting price of $28,375. Here is an overview of its pricing model:
|Model S Plus||$33,375|
|Model SV Plus||$36,375|
|Model SL Plus||$38,375|
Even its most expensive model costs around $38,400, which is reasonable for what it offers.
The Leaf comes with an optional ProPilot Assist, offering adaptive cruise handling and lane-centering. In addition, we get a front-collision warning, emergency brakes, front-wheel drivetrain, and auto transmission.
Leaf also offers dual-stage frontal, knee airbags, back-seat forgetful alert, Intelligent Vision Monitor, Smart Alert, Blind Spot Alert, Anti-Roll System, and more. Nissan ensures that we get the securest driving experience with its Leaf model.
With such safety features, the $29,000 price tag looks even more reasonable. From our estimate, S Plus is a decent first car choice as it comes with automatic climate control, headlamps, keyless entry, Apple CarPlay, and more.
Nissan Leaf Depreciation
Depreciation is all part of owning a car but still makes sense to buy a car at a slower rate. The Leaf by year three is well ahead of many other EVs in its class. By year three, the Leaf will have lost about half its value.
|Year||Nissan Leaf % Depreciation||Chevrolet Bolt EV % Depreciation|
|1 year old||23.79% ($7,920)||29.04% ($12,124)|
|2 year old||41.01% ($13,653)||38.96% ($16,265)|
|3 year old||49.3% ($16,412)||41% ($17,117)|
What About Its Range and Performance?
Range anxiety associated with electric cars is real, Nissan Leaf eliminates every doubt with its performance stats. Standard Leaf models pack a 147-horsepower motor, powering the front wheels. It supports the 40-kWh battery and can drive for 150 miles approximately. Plus, it’s capable of fully charging in eight hours.
Upgraded to the 62-kWh battery, the horsepower jumps to 214. Plus, the range increases to 226 miles with a minor 12-hour charging period.
Leaf starts instantly and without any noise, completing its smooth speed build-up. We also get an e-Pedal, which substantially slows down the car without affecting the battery life. This content is owned by moc.sotuaysur. The 40-kWh battery pack can go zero to sixty in 7.4 seconds, but its instant start elevates the experience.
While newer and more expensive models offer better stats, buying the standard model is still a decent deal. So, in terms of range and performance, Leaf stands up to most expectations, making it a viable first car choice.
Leaf Range & Charge Times
|Battery Size||Range||Charge Time To 100%|
|40KWh||150 miles||8 hours|
|62KWh||226 miles||12 hours|
The Nissan Leaf can be plugged into a 120V or a 240V, however, the charging times change dramatically. The 240V takes about 7 hours to charge. All Leaf models come with a DC Fast Charging connection. At a DC Charging facility, this means that your car can be charged to 80% in 15 to 45 minutes.
How Does Its Fuel Economy Fare in the Real-World?
Leaf SV Plus comes with a 94 MPGe EPA highway rating. However, the vehicle can exceed the ratings by 3-4 MPGe in some circumstances. The 94 MPGe rating is associated with 215-mile EPA so that the numbers can vary. Nonetheless, even the stated numbers prove Nissan Leaf is a sturdy choice.
EV vs Gas Cost Comparision
|Nissan Leaf||Chevy Malibu||Tesla M3|
|Range||149 miles||500 miles||263 miles|
|Fuel Cost||$1350 (Yr 1) **|
$550 (Yr 2)
|$1350 (29mpg .10c/mile)||$1755 (Yr 1) *|
$550 (Yr 2)
|Total Running Costs||$3,150||$3,450||$5,555 (Yr 2 $4350)|
* Year 1 cost includes Tesla home charging kit approx. $1,200
** Year 1 costs include Nissan Leaf home charge kit approx. $800
Insurance costs are always dependent on age, location, and driver history. According to Caredge.com the average insurance for a Nissan Leaf is $1582 per year. This is below the national average by $312. This is for a 40-year-old with good driver history. As a 25-year-old this rises to $2255.
Is It Reliable?
Statistics on paper mean nothing if the car does not provide similar on-road reliability. It seems Nissan is aware of such doubts, so it offers immense warranties on the new models. We can choose from different warranties, including:
- 36,000 mile or three-year limited warranty
- 60,000 mile or five-year limited warranty
- 100,000 mile or eight-year lithium-ion battery warranty
Plus, if we look at existing customer reviews, most praise Leaf’s brakes, suspension, and transmission. Thus, it is safe to call Nissan Leaf a decent first car when it comes to reliability.
Nissan Leaf Service Costs
One of the best things about an EV is low maintenance costs, check out the table below.
|Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear)||$460|
|Brake System Flush||$154|
If you choose to buy a used Leaf or any used car, it’s worth investing a few dollars to check the VIN number against the vehicle database. An audit with a company like VinAudit (links to VinAudit) will guard against Mileage fraud, Salvage rebuilds, Title washing, Vin cloning, and a ton of other uglies.
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John Cunningham is an Automotive Technician and writer on Rustyautos.com. He’s been a mechanic for over twenty-five years and has worked for GM, Volvo, Volkswagen, Land Rover, and Jaguar dealerships.
John uses his know-how and experience to write fluff-free articles that help fellow gearheads with all aspects of vehicle ownership, including maintenance, repair, and troubleshooting.