2019 Nissan Leaf Plus; Manufacturer images
Competes with: Chevrolet Bolt EV, Hyundai Kona Electric, Kia Niro Electric, Tesla Model 3
Looks like: The current second-generation Leaf with “Plus” badging
Drivetrain: 160-kilowatt electric motor (about 215 horsepower) with 62-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack
Hits dealerships: Spring 2019
Nissan turned over a new Leaf today, a Plus Series of the electric sedan with a bigger, 62-kilowatt-hour battery for an estimated 226 miles of range on a charge, about 51 percent more mileage than the 150 miles the regular 2019 Leaf gets with its 40-kwh battery. The 2019 Leaf Plus Series also has a bigger electric motor for more power than the plain-vanilla Leaf.
Related: More 2019 Consumer Electronics Show Coverage
The new Leaf Plus Series, which will be known globally as the Leaf e Plus, was unveiled at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. It will go on sale in the spring with three trim levels in the U.S.: S Plus, SV Plus and SL Plus. Pricing was not disclosed, but a CarsDirect report based on dealer order guides indicates that the Leaf Plus Series models could be priced at a premium of about $5,500 more than the standard Leaf. The base standard Leaf starts at $30,885, including an $895 destination.
“Customers now have a selection of powertrains and models to best suit their driving needs,” said Denis Le Vot, senior vice president and chairman of Nissan North America.
Pricing does not count the $7,500 federal EV tax subsidy for which buyers might qualify, nor any state or local incentives. Nissan says it has sold more than 128,000 Leaf electric vehicles in the U.S. since the first generation went on sale in 2010, so there is headroom for more sales before the federal credit would begin to phase out. That happens when a maker hits 200,000 total plug-in sales, which Tesla and GM hit in 2018; Nissan is next closest. GM’s Chevrolet Bolt EV and Tesla’s Model 3, particularly the promised lower-priced version of the latter, will be the most direct longer-range EV competition for the Leaf Plus. Others, such as the Hyundai Kona Electric and Kia Niro Electric, will be competition in the more limited markets where they are available.
Under the Hood
This is where the Leaf Plus Series earns its plus. The Plus gets a 62-kwh battery that increases the estimated EPA range rating to 226 miles, a big jump from the 150-mile EPA range rating for the standard Leaf with its 40-kwh battery. The range puts it in the mainstream electric vehicle game with the Chevrolet Bolt EV, which also is available nationally, at 238 miles of range. The Tesla Model 3 is rated at 260 miles for the current and more expensive midrange-battery model, but it will have less range with the cheaper standard battery when that model rolls out; an electric Hyundai Kona (258 miles) and Kia Niro (239 miles) are coming soon, but they’re only for limited markets. For perspective, however, I have found the standard Leaf range to be plenty for daily needs in and around Washington, D.C., so I’m not sure I’d spend more for the extra range over more features.
But beyond more range, the Plus gets more power, with a 160-kilowatt electric motor (that converts to about 215 hp) that puts out 250 pounds-feet of torque. That compares to a 110-kW (148-hp) motor in the standard Leaf that puts out 236 pounds-feet of torque. Nissan says the increased power results in better passing performance, with 13 percent quicker acceleration from 50 mph to 75 mph.
Related: 2018 Nissan Leaf e-Pedal Tested: Getting to Work Without Working the Brakes
Nissan did not specify how much more battery and engine weight the Plus is hauling, but it did say that the denser battery pack has nearly the same size and configuration as the standard battery. The automaker also did not estimate charging times except to say that the Plus will offer an available a new 70-kW (100-kW peak) fast-charging system that would offer similar charging times on a 100-kW charger (if you have one available) to the standard Leaf on the more common 50-kW chargers. The standard Leaf charges in 7.5-hours on a 220-volt Level 2 charger and is capable of fast charging (optional on the base model) to 80 percent in 40 minutes.
The 2018 redesign replaced the rounded and quirky original Leaf with the look of an aerodynamic, but more conventional, compact car. It added a version of Nissan’s signature V-Motion grille, in this case with blue 3D mesh along with boomerang-shaped taillights in place of the first-generational vertical lights. The Plus sports a slightly revised front bumper and blue accents. It also gets a rear trim-level badge calling it out as an S Plus, SV Plus or SL Plus.
The standard Leaf interior with blue contrast stitching, which Cars.com editors have criticized for a surplus of hard plastic, carries over into the Plus.
But new for the Plus models is a larger, 8-inch touchscreen (up from 7 inches) that includes an updated navigation system that can be linked to a compatible smartphone. The navigation also allows door-to-door navigation that integrates driving and walking directions. The display system features smartphone-like swiping, scrolling and tapping, and is capable of over-the-air updates. The NissanConnect smartphone app capabilities include monitoring the battery charge, scheduling charging, finding a charging station and remote cabin conditioning.
Safety and Driver Assistance
Automatic emergency braking is standard on all Leaf models. Also standard is Nissan’s e-Pedal system, which uses the regenerative braking to allow one-pedal driving in many situations. Nissan says it has revised the e-Pedal software to improve operation with the Plus model’s increased power and weight.
Available is Nissan’s ProPilot Assist semi-autonomous driving system that combines stop-and-go adaptive cruise control with active steering assist that keeps the vehicle centered in its lane. Other available features include automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert and a 360-degree camera system.
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