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2015 Nissan Leaf Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2015 Nissan Leaf was new.


Performance: 7.7

While some test drivers write that the 2015 Nissan Leaf could use more passing power on the highway, most appreciate that it’s quick from a stop. They say the Leaf drives similarly to a normal car, and most praise its controlled handling, responsive brakes and quiet, comfortable ride.

  • "For all the new technology in the Leaf, it certainly operates like a normal car." -- AutoTrader 
  • "The Leaf rides on a dedicated EV platform with a multilink front suspension and a torsion beam setup at the rear. Handling is predictable, and acceleration is strong from a dead stop thanks to the nearly-instantaneous torque from the electric motor." -- Left Lane News 
  • "Absent an internal combustion engine, the all-electric 2015 Nissan Leaf cruises with a quiet serenity at all times, with only a vague high-pitched whine audible under heavy acceleration. The lack of engine noise vibration makes wind and road noise that much more noticeable at highway speeds, but overall Nissan's EV is impressively hushed." -- Edmunds
  • "Whether in stop-and-go traffic, on windy roads or at higher speeds on the freeway, the Leaf is a capable yet mostly unremarkable partner - and we mean that in a good way." -- Kelley Blue Book (2014)

Acceleration and Power

The 2015 Nissan Leaf has a 107-horsepower electric motor. According to the EPA, the Leaf gets 126/101 mpg-equivalent city/highway and has a range of 84 miles per charge. The Nissan Leaf’s mpg-e rating and electric range are good for an EV, and better than what competitors like the Ford Focus Electric offer. For 2015, all Leaf models now feature drive modes that include Normal, Eco and B-Mode settings, the last of which uses more aggressive regenerative braking to recapture energy during deceleration.

Test drivers report that the Leaf is exceptionally quiet at speed and some note that it is quick from a stop and offers sufficient power on the highway. However, others say that the Leaf can feel a bit sluggish during highway passing and merging, and that a number of competing hybrids and EVs offer better acceleration. 

  • While it can be a little slow, highway merging is acceptable, as is passing." -- AutoTrader 
  • "… getting up to highway speeds can feel a little belabored. Many newer EV or hybrid competitors are a bit quicker." -- Edmunds
  • "The first thing you'll notice about the 2014 Nissan Leaf is its smooth, quiet operation. Since there's no gasoline engine, there's none of the associated noise or vibration." -- Kelley Blue Book (2014)
  • "Instantaneous torque from a stop means Leaf accelerates about as well as its gas-powered competition, with better low-end throttle response than most. Merging and passing response are on par with most 4-cylinder compact cars." -- Consumer Guide (2012)

Alternative Fuels/Charging

The base Leaf comes with a 3.6-kW onboard charger, and it takes about 21 hours to fully charge the Leaf’s battery when plugged into a standard 110-volt household outlet, or about eight hours when it’s hooked up to a 220-volt power source. A more powerful, 6.6-kW onboard charger is available, which reduces the charge time to five hours when paired with the available 240-volt home charging dock. At public charging stations, an available Quick Charge Port provides an 80 percent charge in 30 minutes. Test drivers note that while the Leaf’s 84-mile range may not suit all shoppers, it’s still impressive for an EV and should be enough for drivers who primarily commute in urban settings.

  • "The Leaf can travel 84 miles on a full battery charge. That may not sound like a lot, and for long-range suburban commuters without access to a charging station, it may not be. But it's enough range for most in- and around-town driving and short commutes, and still ranks as one of the highest in its class." -- Edmunds

Handling and Braking

Critics write that the 2015 Nissan Leaf offers a comfortable ride, and that a low center of gravity contributes to handling that’s impressively controlled. The Leaf also earns praise for its confidence-inspiring brake pedal feel, and some auto writers report that the Leaf’s light steering provides decent road feel.

  • "The Leaf's brake pedal is firm and sure, however, without the vague wooden feel of many regenerative braking systems. And with its battery placement and low center of gravity, the Leaf is surprisingly steady around turns. It responds pretty much like other well-engineered compact cars, and in most ways feels very normal to drive." -- Edmunds 
  • "The ride is supple, and while steering is light, it provides adequate feedback to the driver." -- AutoTrader (2014)
  • "The Leaf's low-rolling-resistance tires have more grip than expected, allowing a modicum of spirited cornering." -- Kelley Blue Book (2014)

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