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2016 Nissan Leaf Review

The 2016 Nissan Leaf is a decent electric vehicle with a spacious interior and a cushioned ride. However, it has a plastic-heavy cabin and underwhelming acceleration, especially compared to other compact cars.

Pros & Cons

  • Poised ride and handling
  • Roomy back seat
  • Solid range with new 30-kWh battery
  • Unimpressive highway acceleration
  • Poor-quality interior materials

New for 2016

  • Range increases to 107 miles in SV and SL trims
  • Updated infotainment system
  • Heated rear seats and heated steering wheel no longer standard




Critics' Rating: 7.5
Performance: 6.6
Interior: 7.0
Total Cost of Ownership: 9.6
Safety: 8.0
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2016 Nissan Leaf Overview

Is the 2016 Nissan Leaf a Good Used Car?

The all-electric 2016 Nissan Leaf has a spacious cabin, poised handling, and a long driving range with its new 30-kWh battery – all of which make it a strong contender for those shopping for a green vehicle. However, the Leaf’s engine power is more appropriate for short drives around town than long commutes or highway traveling. 

Used 2016 Nissan Leaf Performance and Interior

The 2016 Nissan Leaf has a 107-horsepower electric motor that delivers decent acceleration for city driving, but falls short on the highway. The Leaf has a smooth ride over bumpy roads, and its handling around corners is composed. The base model can go up to 84 miles on a full charge, while higher trims can go up to 107 miles. The Leaf was a leader in driving range for electric vehicles (EVs) when it debuted in 2011, but other EVs have surpassed its range since then. The Nissan gets up to 114 mpg-e combined city/highway.

With the standard charger and a 110-volt outlet, you can fully charge the Leaf’s battery in 21 hours. You can cut charge time down to four hours by using a 240-volt outlet. The Leaf is also available with a fast-charge port, which can connect to some public charging stations to fill the battery to 80 percent in 30 minutes.

Read more about Leaf performance »

The 2016 Leaf's cabin features unimpressive cheap plastics. However, the space feels roomy for a compact hatchback, and road visibility is excellent. You can easily find a comfortable driving position, and tall passengers will appreciate the abundant back-seat room.

The Leaf has a long list of standard features, including a four-speaker stereo, Bluetooth, a USB port, satellite radio, push-button start, a rearview camera, hands-free text messaging, and the NissanConnect infotainment system with a 5-inch display and Nissan's Mobile Apps smartphone integration. Available features include a six-speaker stereo, a seven-speaker Bose audio system, HD Radio, navigation, a 360-degree camera, and the NissanConnect EV system, which allows you to use your smartphone to monitor the Leaf's charge.

The Leaf's controls are easy to use, so you'll hardly have to look away from the road to adjust the radio station or air conditioning. The dashboard display shows you how much range you have left before you need to charge the batteries. 

There are two sets of lower anchors in the rear outboard seats and three top tethers for securing child seats. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Leaf's LATCH system the second-lowest score of Marginal for ease of use.

Read more about Leaf interior »

Used 2016 Nissan Leaf Prices

The price of a used 2016 Nissan Leaf ranges from about $23,240 for a base S model to about $29,470 for an SL model. Exact prices vary depending on the model’s features, condition, mileage, and location.

See the Best Used Car Deals »

We Did the Research for You: 63 Pieces of Data Analyzed

We gathered and analyzed 63 pieces of data to write this 2016 Nissan Leaf overview. This data includes information from other published professional reviews, crash test scores, and reliability ratings. We’ve compiled this research into one place so you can find the answers you need and feel confident in your buying decision.

Why You Can Trust Us

Our staff has over 75 years of combined experience in the automotive segment, and we've been ranking vehicles for a decade. To ensure our reviews remain unbiased, our editorial staff doesn’t accept pricey gifts or trips from automakers. Also, the car company ads you see on our site are handled by an outside partner.

How Reliable Is the 2016 Nissan Leaf?

The 2016 Leaf has a reliability score of three out of five from J.D. Power and Associates, which is average.

Read more about Leaf reliability »

How Safe Is the Leaf?

The 2016 Leaf earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's top score of Good in four out of five crashworthiness categories. In the fifth – the small overlap front test – it earned the lowest score of Poor. This test simulates the front corner of the car striking a skinny object, like a tree or telephone pole. The Leaf earned four out of five stars overall from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as well as four stars in the frontal, side, and rollover crash tests.

The Leaf comes standard with a rearview camera. A 360-degree camera is available.

See Leaf safety scores »

Should I Consider Another Used Leaf?

The 2016 Nissan Leaf is part of the car's first generation, which launched in 2011 and includes the 2017 model year. It has undergone several changes each year, including the addition of heated seats, an updated infotainment system, a new onboard charger, and increased cargo room. Therefore, it is worth shopping the car's entire generation before making a final buying decision.

Compare the 2014, 2015, and 2016 Leaf »

Which Used Nissan Leaf Is Right for Me?

The Nissan Leaf comes in three trims: S, SV, and SL. For the best features, go with the SV trim. It comes standard with heated front seats, a 7-inch touch screen, navigation, smartphone integration, voice command, and a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel. The Premium package is available in this trim; it includes a 360-degree camera and a Bose surround sound seven-speaker audio system.

You may also want to consider a certified pre-owned Leaf. For its certified pre-owned vehicles, Nissan extends the original new-car warranty to seven years or 100,000 miles. To become certified pre-owned, each vehicle must pass a 167-point inspection. Additional benefits like towing and roadside assistance may be available, so read the Nissan warranty page carefully.

Read more about certified pre-owned vehicles »

Read more about the Nissan certified pre-owned program »

2016 Nissan Leaf and Other Cars to Consider

Which Is Better: 2016 Nissan Leaf or 2016 Chevrolet Volt?

The Chevrolet Volt is a plug-in hybrid with lively acceleration. It was redesigned for 2016 and includes a 1.5-liter engine, a lithium battery, and two electric motors that make 149 horsepower. It can travel 53 miles on all-electric power. Though its electric range is shorter than the Leaf's, the Volt has a gasoline engine that powers the car when its electric charge is depleted. The Chevy is also fun to drive, with agile handling and sharp steering. The Volt features a modern design and an organized layout – without the hard plastics found in the Leaf. The Volt also has more advanced safety features, such as forward collision alert, lane keep assist, and blind spot monitoring. The Volt’s additional safety features and quicker acceleration make it the car to buy.

Which Is Better: 2016 Nissan Leaf or 2016 Ford C-Max Energi?

The Ford C-Max Energi is a plug-in hybrid with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor that produce a combined 188 horsepower. It's fine for city driving, but highway acceleration is lackluster. However, the Ford has agile handling for a hybrid, whereas the Nissan favors comfort. The C-Max Energi can travel up to 20 miles on a full charge, which is low compared to the Leaf's 84- or 107-mile range (depending on the model). The C-Max only gets 88 mpg-e combined city/highway, while the Leaf gets up to 114 mpg-e combined city/highway. Both cars have spacious cabins, but the C-Max Energi’s has better materials. If you're looking for a long-range hybrid with great mileage, go for the Leaf. If you're willing to give up mileage to get better performance and more niceties, go with the C-Max Energi.

Which Is Better: 2016 Nissan Leaf or 2016 Toyota Prius?

The Toyota Prius was a finalist in our 2016 Best Hybrid Car for the Money award. It’s a great choice for those seeking a green car. It has two electric motors and a four-cylinder engine that together make 121 horsepower. Unlike the Leaf, the Prius has satisfying highway acceleration. It also has a composed ride, with little body lean around turns. Additionally, the Prius' cabin materials are much more upscale than the Leaf's cheap plastics. The more well-rounded Prius is the car to buy.

Compare the Leaf, Volt, and Prius »

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