Its newly reduced price tag is a big part of the 2022 Nissan Leaf’s appeal but its lackluster range means other mainstream EVs are more practical and worth the extra money. The Leaf’s standard battery pack is good for only 149 miles of estimated driving range; upgrading to a Plus model increases that driving range to 226 miles—better but hardly groundbreaking. Several mainstream EV competitors such as the Chevy Bolt EVand the Kia Niro EV offer more driving range as standard. The Leaf’s cabin is spacious and comfortable, and a host of high-tech driver-assistance features are available including a semi-autonomous driving mode. Despite all that, the Leaf has simply fallen behind segment leaders such as the Ford Mustang Mach E and the Tesla Model 3 in both desirability and practicality.
What’s New for 2022?
Nissan has made the CHAdeMO quick charging port standard across the Leaf lineup this year; it’s also including the ProPilot Assist semi-autonomous driving mode on the SV Plus trim. The big news, though, is the Leaf’s substantial drop in price. The Leaf is now the cheapest new electric vehicle you can buy, with a base price of just over $28,000 before state and federal tax rebates. All trims are now between $4245 and $6545 cheaper than they were last year.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
The best deal here is the S Plus because it carries a reasonable price, the longest driving range, the more powerful electric motor, and still offers a decent set of standard equipment. It has an 8.0-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, automatic climate control, keyless entry with push-button start, and automatic headlamps.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The standard Leaf models come with a 147-horsepower electric motor that powers the front wheels; a 40.0-kWh battery pack provides the juice. Leaf Plus models come with a gutsier, 214-hp electric motor and a larger 62.0-kWh battery. The former managed a 7.4-second zero-to-60-mph time at our test track, but it feels perkier than this number suggests thanks to the instantaneous power delivery of the electric motor. This result makes it slower than the Bolt EV and the Model 3. Upgrading to the more powerful Plus models will no doubt result in quicker acceleration, but we won’t know until we are able to test them. The Leaf’s e-Pedal feature allows the driver to toggle back and forth between regenerative braking modes, one of which allows the car to coast when the driver lifts off the throttle and another that slows the car when you take your foot off the gas and uses that energy to recharge the battery.
Range, Charging, and Battery Life
The Leaf can be plugged in to a regular 120-volt outlet or a 240-volt outlet, but the charging times vary dramatically between the two. On a 240-volt connection, Nissan says both the standard Leaf’s battery and the larger one in the Leaf Plus can be replenished in seven hours. A DC fast-charging connection is standard on all trims. The standard Leaf models all come with a 40.0-kWh battery which provides a relatively limited range of 149 miles. This might be enough range for some drivers with short commutes but it’s less than half of what the Model 3’s Long Range model provides. The Leaf Plus provides more driving range thanks to its larger battery pack. To unlock the Leaf’s maximum 226 miles of driving range, you’ll want to go with the S Plus trim level, as the SV Plus and SL Plus models are only rated for 215 miles.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
Our SV Plus test vehicle exceeded its EPA highway rating of 94 MPGe by delivering 98 MPGe over our 75-mph highway fuel-economy test route. However, we only saw 180 miles of range during this test, less than its claimed 215-mile EPA number. For more information about the Leaf’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Although the cabin of the Leaf S and SVs has a lot of black plastic, the well-assembled and uniform textures help it avoid looking cheap. The SL model offers an optional light-gray leather interior with a matching dash pad that looks and feels better. The gauge cluster features a large analog speedometer next to a 7.0-inch digital readout that can be reconfigured to show a variety of displays. The Leaf’s seats are La-Z-Boy comfortable; the spacious rear seat offers plenty of room for adults, too. Despite the fact that the Leaf’s back seat doesn’t create a flat load floor when folded, we found the cargo capacity to be among the best in its class. We fit seven carry-on suitcases behind the back seat and a whopping 19 with the back seat folded. For comparison, the Bolt EV held five in its cargo area and maxed out at 16 with its back seats stowed. The Niro EV—which sports a more SUV-like bodystyle—held slightly more cargo in our testing, but the Leaf still is tops among electric cars.
Infotainment and Connectivity
All Leaf models come with the same 8.0-inch infotainment display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration; navigation is optional. The latest Nissan Connect software interface, while not particularly pleasing to the eye, is intuitive and quick to respond to inputs. Audiophiles may be disappointed with the Leaf’s standard six-speaker audio system; a seven-speaker Bose system is exclusive to the SL and SL Plus models but didn’t impress us during our test drive.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Nissan’s Safety Shield 360 suite of driver-assistance features are standard across the lineup and the brand’s novel ProPilot Assist semi-autonomous driving mode is available on SV, SV Plus, and SL trims as part of the Technology package; it’s standard on the SL Plus. For more information about the Leaf’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection
- Standard blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert
- Available adaptive cruise control with semi-autonomous driving mode
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Nissan offers a basic warranty package that covers the same amount of time as the rest of the Nissan lineup; however, the Leaf’s battery is covered for up to eight years or 100,000 miles.
- Limited warranty covers 3 years or 36,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 5 years or 60,000 miles
- Battery warranty covers 8 years or 100,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance