Automotive

Review: 2022 Nissan Leaf continues to be the EV for the rest of us

Review: 2022 Nissan Leaf conti...
The 2022 Nissan Leaf comes in a shorter-range base model and an extended range Plus model
The 2022 Nissan Leaf comes in a shorter-range base model and an extended range Plus model
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The 2022 Nissan Leaf comes in a shorter-range base model and an extended range Plus model
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The 2022 Nissan Leaf comes in a shorter-range base model and an extended range Plus model
The EPA rates the 2022 Nissan Leaf at 99 MPG-equivalent on the highway
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The EPA rates the 2022 Nissan Leaf at 99 MPG-equivalent on the highway
The 2022 Nissan Leaf has a 150-mile or a 226-mile range, depending on model
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The 2022 Nissan Leaf has a 150-mile or a 226-mile range, depending on model
Those who live in extreme climates may want to consider the fact that the 2022 Leaf doesn't have thermal management for its batteries
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Those who live in extreme climates may want to consider the fact that the 2022 Leaf doesn't have thermal management for its batteries
The 2022 Nissan Leaf comes standard with both a DC fast-charging CHAdeMO plug (left) and a standard SAE charging port (right)
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The 2022 Nissan Leaf comes standard with both a DC fast-charging CHAdeMO plug (left) and a standard SAE charging port (right)
The charging port on the Leaf locks the ca
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The charging port on the Leaf locks the cable in place when the vehicle is locked
The 2022 Nissan Leaf's shape gives it a very versatile design with a lot of cargo space and good-sized rear seating
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The 2022 Nissan Leaf's shape gives it a very versatile design with a lot of cargo space and good-sized rear seating
The 2022 Nissan Leaf comes standard with a charging cord that has both a 120V household plug and a 240V outlet plug
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The 2022 Nissan Leaf comes standard with a charging cord that has both a 120V household plug and a 240V outlet plug
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The Nissan Leaf entered the market in 2011 as the first truly mass-produced electric vehicle since the early part of the 20th century. Today, Nissan has taken the original sub-100-mile-range EV and put it into the post-200-mile genre. Still the lowest-cost production EV on the market, the second-generation Leaf’s base price has actually been lowered for 2022.

Several other upgrades also come with the 2022 model year. Most advanced driver assistance and safety features are now standard, as is a Level 3 fast-charging port, and some content is added to the upper tier Leaf trim levels ... all good things, to go along with the over US$4,000 price drop from 2021.

At a glance

  • Two models to fit budgets and range requirements
  • No active cooling in the battery pack
  • Charge times are relatively good and DC fast charging is standard
  • Comfortable and well-mannered to drive
The 2022 Nissan Leaf comes standard with both a DC fast-charging CHAdeMO plug (left) and a standard SAE charging port (right)
The 2022 Nissan Leaf comes standard with both a DC fast-charging CHAdeMO plug (left) and a standard SAE charging port (right)

As the automotive industry ramps into electrification, the Nissan Leaf remains a mainstay in the market – and for good reason. This new generation of the Leaf has a more contemporary shape to its design, a much-improved range, and several engineering changes that improve on problems discovered in the first generation of the car.

Notable, however, is the retention of passive cooling for the Leaf’s batteries, a hotly-debated topic in EV circles. The merits and downsides of the simpler passive cooling setup are as polarizing to EV enthusiasts as are the differences between turbocharged V6s and throaty V8s in sports car circles. We should point out that the Leaf’s current generation has consistently held high reliability ratings.

The 2022 Nissan Leaf comes in two flavors: the standard Leaf and the Leaf Plus. The difference is all in the batteries, with the base model Leaf (the price of which starts at $27,400) carrying a 40-kWh battery pack with about 150 miles (241 km) of range. The Leaf Plus, which we drove, has a 62-kWh battery pack that has about 215-226 miles (346-364 km) of range, depending on equipment in the car. The standard Leaf has three trim levels, while the Leaf Plus has four, adding the highest-fitment SL model.

As mentioned before, a standard charging port and a CHAdeMO fast-charging point are both standard on the 2022 Leaf. Also standard is a charging cord that plugs into either a 120V household outlet or a 240V four-hole outlet (see our writeup on EV charging). The 240-volt plug accepted 42 amps from our 50-amp wall outlet, drawing maximum available power. The 120-volt plug pulled about 14 amps.

Charging times vary significantly by outlet, but the Leaf Plus charged to full from about 30-percent charge in roughly 8 hours on the 240-volt plug. Nissan lists charge times from empty at about 11.5 hours for the larger battery and eight hours for the smaller battery. With DC fast charging, the Leaf can be charged to 80 percent in under an hour, Nissan says.

Probably the greatest point about the Leaf, besides its low price, is its surprisingly useful design. While similar to the Nissan Versa Hatchback in general shape, the Leaf has a more forward-looking design quality, but retains the Versa Hatch’s versatile interior ... with the exception of folding back seats, which we think is odd. The rear seats in the Leaf remain upright, but cargo room is larger than expected thanks to the Leaf’s square rear hatch.

Ride quality and comfort are also good in the 2022 Leaf. The car is zippy and confident, smooth to operate with a well-balanced feel, and amazingly quiet and comfortable for a budget vehicle – even on the highway. It's a testament to the Leaf’s slippery aerodynamics.

Those who live in extreme climates may want to consider the fact that the 2022 Leaf doesn't have thermal management for its batteries
Those who live in extreme climates may want to consider the fact that the 2022 Leaf doesn't have thermal management for its batteries

The EPA rates the 2022 Nissan Leaf at 99 MPG-equivalent (2.4 l/100km) on the highway. Our test had it getting close, getting about 3.45 miles (5.55 km) per kWh. The range estimation on the car dropped significantly on our highway drive, losing about 30 miles (48.3 km) of range on top of the 42-mile (67.6-km) loop we performed. The math, however, said the Leaf’s computer was being conservative, as our drive rate meant the total range for the car was closer to EPA estimates than the computer was suggesting.

The aerodynamics of the Leaf allow it to perform well on the highway, despite the inherent range losses all EVs suffer at higher speeds. We did not measure city mileage in the Leaf, but suspect it’d be well over 4 miles (6.4 km) per kWh. Measurements were from actual electricity pumped, not the Leaf’s internal computer, with the exception of its gauge cluster’s range estimations.

As a car to live with on the daily, the 2022 Nissan Leaf is a great companion. Its low cost, very low maintenance, and solid range performance are all high points. Its comfort and fun factor are also good points. As the unofficial People’s EV, the Leaf hits all the marks.

Product Page: 2022 Nissan Leaf

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12 comments
12 comments
vince
Too short of range for the desert SW where often times it's over 200 miles between chargers and with 80 mph speed limits a Leaf won't make it 150 miles on a charge. Good luck pushing it those 50 miles to the nearest charger.
c w
@vince - It's an urban short-jaunt vehicle. Best case is more about driving in a given vicinity than between two chargers 200 miles apart.

Nevertheless the bigger issue in the case of this vehicle is that it probably should not be an option in the desert SW since there is no active battery cooling.
martinwinlow
"Still the lowest-cost production EV on the market...." There are *dozens* of cheaper production EVs 'on the market' - and if you mean the US market then why not say so?! The world is bigger than the US! Start with https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wuling_Hongguang_Mini_EV
martinwinlow
@vinve and CW - Nonsense - the average daily mileage for a car is around 35 miles globally. 200 miles is ample range for 80% of the worlds cars. If you want to long trips then I would agree that in many countries the rapid-charging infrastructure will mean it is going to be frustrating a lot of the time but still by no means impossible.
moreover
I bought a new 2019 Leaf with massive incentives, loved it but the 150 range was an inconvenience for my once a month 150 mile round trips to Ft Collins, CO. I ended up swapping it a year later for a 2017 Chevy Bolt, gaining 70 miles instantly (and getting a free new 260 mile battery in February!). What I miss about the Leaf was its excellent adaptive cruise control which made driving much more relaxed and safe. It would simply follow the car ahead of me, slow down, accelerate and even stop. What I don't miss is that my smaller Bolt has more space inside than the larger Leaf.
VadimR
Loved my used electric Smart Fortwo with it's 70mile summer range. Even the winter 35mile range was adequate for me. The problem was that Illinois hiked registration price through the roof offsetting any and all savings I was getting from driving an EV forcing me back to an ICE car.
FB36
IMHO, to really speed-up adoption of EVs they need to be "backward-compatible"!
All EVs need to have an auto-recharger/range-extender add-on option (like a (bio)diesel gas turbine) so that people could use their EVs just like regular ICE vehicles, as long as they need (w/o needing charging infrastructure)!
ADVENTUREMUFFIN
Before one buys, look at the replacement costs of the battery. Look carefully at the battery guarantee My experience with my Leaf is that it lost 50% of its range after 5 years, (after its warranty expired) and replacement costs for an upgraded battery are in the $12K range. Even a swap of battery (for another 24KVH battery), will run 6 grand.
BlueOak
In the real world, as a commuter/daily use, second car, either 150 or 200 miles should be fine.

But the truly impressive thing was revising the styling from ugly, “I dare you to buy me” of the last gen model to actually semi-OK, even if still vanilla styling.
ljaques
I thought Nissan had already sold enough of its Ecars to void out the EV rebates, but it hasn't and they're still available. Tesla maxed out mid 2019, Chevy in 2020.
Vince, I guess Nissan has to put in a charge point at ZZYZX road, eh?
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