$9,700 - $9,996

2011 Nissan Leaf Interior Review

Note: This interior review was created when the 2011 Nissan Leaf was new.


Interior: 8.0

As Nissan’s first electric vehicle, the automaker decided to give the 2011 Leaf a host of tech features that aren’t standard on many upscale cars. The base SV trim has standard push-button start, Bluetooth, iPod integration and navigation. While eco-cars are known for being tech-savvy, they’re also known for having tight rear rows. The Leaf is no different here, and reviewers complain that the back seat is too tight for adults because the battery raises floor height.

  • "Interior trim is comprised mostly of dull, budget-grade plastic. Given Leaf's price and high technology, it's not entirely inappropriate here." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The cabin is spacious, airy and promising." -- Edmunds
  • "Engagingly sophisticated. Though small, Leaf's not basic. Features includes LED headlights, navigation system and, on the uplevel SL, a solar panel on the hatch to trickle-charge the conventional 12-volt battery, used to run accessories such as the radio." -- USA Today


The 2011 Nissan Leaf seats five, but some reviewers think the Leaf works best as a spacious two-seater, and call the backseat one of the Leaf’s biggest drawbacks. The front seats are spacious and accommodate tall passengers nicely. The back seats, however, will be uncomfortable for most adults because the battery raises the floor’s height.

  • "Space is adequate all around. Where the location of the battery pack hurts Leaf is in overall rear-seat comfort. Passengers back there sit slightly higher than those in front, however the position of the battery pack forces ride[r]s to sit in a slightly knees-up position. This is fine for short trips, but it will likely be uncomfortable for adults for longer trips." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Were I a Leaf owner, I’d likely use the car as a voluminous 2-seater. There’s scads of head room, shoulder room, leg room and sprawl room in the front. However, those of long torso, long legs or both may find rear seat accommodation less satisfying. I had neither enough head room nor, sitting behind myself, enough knee room. Fine for kids, of course, and less height-unchallenged sorts." -- Road and Track

Interior Features

Standard on the Leaf SV are Nissan Intelligent Key and push-button Start, Bluetooth, keyless entry, steering wheel-mounted controls, an audio system with MP3 playback, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio input jack, iPod interface and navigation. The Nissan Leaf SL trim adds a solar panel for extra charging and a rearview camera. Reviewers say not to get too excited about the solar panel because it doesn’t do much.

All of these features are handy, but the smart phone integration will probably be most beneficial. It allows owners to use their phones to start the heating and cooling systems on the Nissan Leaf before they get in -- sort of like remote start for a conventional car, except on the Leaf it only starts the climate system, and you'll be able to do it from your phone. The phone connectivity will also allow owners to set charging times. For example, you could set your Nissan Leaf to charge only during off-peak electricity hours, when rates tend to be lower, saving on your electric bill. 

The 2011 Nissan Leaf also has a dash-mounted display that shows the remaining power in terms of reachable area, and also highlights nearby charging stations compatible with the Nissan Leaf.

  • "The Leaf's two-tier gauge layout is reminiscent of the Honda Civic. It works well here. While a few displays in the binnacle below the speedometer are unconventional, they're easy to understand and read at a glance. The climate controls are self-evident, and the navigation system is fairly easy to program. It can help locate charging stations and includes a helpful energy-usage meter." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The electronic dashboard works particularly well, using state-of-the-art graphics to present almost certainly more information than you will ever need, a way to reassure you that the Leaf is not going to run out of electrons without giving fair warning first. Nissan calls this 'range anxiety' and, as we shall see, it's an understandable affliction." -- Edmunds
  • "The center control panel is pretty conservative, and nicely finished in piano-black trim rather than the usual silvery plastic. Overall, the Leaf doesn't attempt to be as upscale as the Volt, but its quality is quite good." -- Cars.com


The Nissan Leaf has 14.5 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats in use and 24 cubic feet with them folded. While this number is small when it comes to hatchback cargo capacities, reviewers aren’t too disappointed. The Leaf is an electric vehicle, which means the battery will take up a lot of space in the car. Reviewers say drivers can fit what they need inside the Leaf. 

  • "Though Leaf is a hatchback, its cargo capacity is not as flexible as rival conventional compacts. There is a bar between the back of the cargo floor and the rear seat backs. The seat backs fold but rest above the floor, which complicates loading bulky items." -- Consumer Guide
  • "This is a full five-seater with a conspicuously large trunk." -- Edmunds

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