I absolutely adore electric cars and I suspect if you drove one, you would too. They’re fun, zippy, innovative… oh, and very eco-friendly. So if you haven’t driven one, or you’re one of the 20% of Americans who says their next car will be electric, the Nissan LEAF is as good a place as any to start.
In fact an even better place to start is with an eco-friendly car like the Nissan LEAF in a pretty green setting (literally and figuratively) like Burlington, Vermont.
Nissan invited me to travel up to Vermont (my first time!) to check out the Nissan LEAF with a few other auto writers right smack in the middle of fall foliage season. I know, right? I love cars. I love fall. It was obviously a no brainer. And I had never driven the Nissan LEAF so this trip was a win-win-win.
And there was one more win.
While some may argue that the journey is more important than the destination, it helps to have a pretty cool spot to drive your shiny new electric car. For that destination, Nissan gave use a choice – mountain biking or kayaking. If you checked out my Instagram feed recently, you’ll know that I kind of love kayaking so that was an easy choice for me. After a welcome presentation a quick overview of some cool features we could put to the test, I jumped in my Scarlet Ember Nissan LEAF and headed to the Winooski River for a morning of kayaking.
Four of us caravanned in two of the Nissan LEAFs while the other four headed in the other direction for a mountain biking experience that can only be told over drinks after a long day. As for kayaking, we spent the morning talking to our guide all about the LEAF (he was an eco-friendly dude, after all) and then we headed to our put-in spot just down the river.
We were warned of “rapids” and I was wondering if I would have been safer sticking to the road instead of the water. As it turned out, no one fell out of their kayak but I did managed to crash into a few rocks and get a healthy dose of rapids splashed into my kayak. down my back, into my seat. (That’s why you wear quick dry clothes and bring a change of clothes with you).
We met up with the biking crowd and enjoyed a nice little lunch in a nice little town before heading off to our scenic drive. That scenic drive turned out to be a path into Smugglers’ Notch, a mountain pass int between the two highest peaks in the Green Mountains.
We wound up the roads and back down taking in the breathtaking scenery and stopping for a quick video into to the Nissan LEAF.
So now that I’m making you wish you were there with me – looking at beautiful foliage, kayaking down the river, charging up and eating Ben & Jerry’s ice cream – let me tell you how driving the Nissan LEAF can give you the same peaceful easy feeling that I had while in Vermont.
When talking about electric vehicles like the Nissan LEAF, one of the first things I talk about is range. It’s something that you have to be well-versed in because having an electric vehicle means you’ll never have to stop at a gas station again (unless you need snacks or air in your tires). But you will have to make sure you keep your vehicle charged.
How long does it take to charge the Nissan LEAF?
If you were to plug a Nissan LEAF into your standard household outlet with a fully drained battery, it would take about 35 hours to fully charge. Yeah. That’s why most people have what’s called a Level 2 (220V) charger installed at their home (we have one!). Same scenario, the LEAF would take only 7.5 hours to fully charge. Kind of like getting home from work, plugging your car in, heading inside, and you’re good to go in the morning.
You’d want to map out where chargers are located in your area (there are apps for that!) so that you can get quick charges when you travel if you even need them. The Nissan LEAF has a pretty excellent range of 151 miles on a single charge. Keep in mind that the range may change depending on your usage of the car. For example, stop and go driving is usually more efficient as the braking regenerates more power for the battery. However, heating can be a power drain which is why most e-drivers keep it cold in the cabin (and use their heated seats instead).
Nissan capitalizes on some of these necessary efficiencies by offering E-Pedal mode. This allows you to drive with ONLY ONE PEDAL. In this mode, your foot is only on the accelerator. When you depress it, you go! When you lift up, you slow. If you remove your foot from the pedal altogether, the car will stop. It’s a very short learning curve and takes full advantage of regenerative braking.
The other driving option that Nissan offers for the LEAF is ProPILOT Assist, a feature that was included in this model with the SL Technology Package. It’s almost like automated driving. Almost. It uses all of the intelligent safety systems built into the car, like intelligent cruise control (monitoring the speed and distance of the car in front of you), and combines it with steering assist. The car will actually monitor the lines on each side of the lane and center the car automatically in the lane.
HANDS FREE DRIVING! Okay, not really. Nissan recognizes that we still need that human component. Even though you don’t have to steer, there are sensors built into the steering wheel that require both hands to be placed on the wheel while ProPILOT Assist is engaged. It’s definitely something you have to get used to and during my short time driving the car, I couldn’t really get used to it. Maybe I’m still a control freak. Or I just really like driving.
If you want to see more of the ins and outs of the Nissan LEAF, I strongly encourage you to watch my video above. Not only do I go into more detail, show you the cool shifter, but I also amaze you with the cargo space in the rear of the car. And if that doesn’t answer your questions, you should definitely go peep this LEAF for yourself.
The 2018 Nissan LEAF SL featured here retails for $38,510. Be sure to check for state and federal tax incentives which can greatly reduce the total cost of ownership.