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2011 Nissan Leaf Review

Choosing the all-electric 2011 Nissan Leaf means you’ll never need to visit a gas station again. If you only need to travel on short trips, the Leaf, with its abundance of standard features, is worth a look.

Pros & Cons

  • Many standard interior features
  • Good safety ratings
  • Drives like a gas-only car
  • Cramped second-row seats
  • Little cargo space
  • Sloppy steering




Critics' Rating: 8.5
Performance: 7.5
Interior: 7.5
Total Cost of Ownership: 10.0
Safety: 9.3
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2011 Nissan Leaf Overview

When it was new, reviewers liked the ground-breaking 2011 Nissan Leaf is because it drove a lot like a gas-only car. The Leaf has an electric motor that generates 107 horsepower. While that isn’t a lot of power, test drivers agreed that the Leaf does well on short city trips. The Leaf gets 106/92 mpg-e (miles per gallon-equivalent), and has a range of up to 100 miles on a fully-charged battery. Nissan says it takes 30 minutes to charge the Leaf’s battery to 80-percent capacity using a fast charger. Charging with a 220-volt home outlet should take about eight hours. While that range may limit your ability to take an extended trip, reviewers said the Leaf should make a good commuter car. The Leaf earns good safety scores like most cars in the class.

The Leaf comes with a lot of standard features, including a navigation system, Bluetooth, a USB port and push-button start. There weren’t many optional features when the Leaf was new, but a rearview camera was available. As with many hybrid and electric cars, the Leaf’s battery pack raises the floor height, which makes the rear seat uncomfortable and takes up cargo space. The rear seats fold to make more room for luggage.

See the full 2011 Nissan Leaf specs »

Other Cars to Consider

The 2011 Chevrolet Volt can run on electricity, just like the Leaf, but it also has a gas engine that can kick in when the battery runs out. That powertrain could come in handy if you’d like to use your car for road trips or can’t charge your car. The Volt offers less cargo space, but like the Leaf, it also has good safety scores and a lot of standard features. The Volt seats four people, and although it is a midsize car, some reviewers complained that there isn’t enough space for rear passengers.  

You’ll still have to go to the gas station if you choose the 2011 Lexus CT 200h, but you’ll be able to get a lot farther than you would on the Leaf’s fully-charged battery pack. The CT 200h also has more cargo space than the Leaf. And while the CT 200h doesn’t come with as many standard features, it has best-in-class safety scores.

Compare the Leaf to the Volt and CT 200h »

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