EV OG: The 2021 Nissan Leaf SL Plus
Updated: Apr 1, 2022
Eleven years ago, when to most people Tesla was just the name of a rock band or the guy who Edison ripped off, Nissan took a big leap with one of the earliest mass-produced EVs of the modern age---the 2010 Leaf. I reviewed a 2011. It drove me crazy with not enough range and not accurate enough estimates of range as I drove it.
Two years ago this week, I reviewed the second-generation Leaf---a major improvement on all counts, but 150 miles these days is not impressive range, especially against cars like the Ford Mustang Mach-E, the Chevrolet Bolt, the Jaguar I-Pace and the Kia Niro EV. all of which offer at least 220 miles of driving on a single charge.
Nissan's answer is the Leaf Plus. It doesn't quite match the range of the others, but at 215 miles per charge, it's at least in the ballpark. And I found that, in my week of city streets and urban freeways, the range estimates were conservative---largely through regenerative braking, I found myself at the end of a trip with more charge and thus more range than I expected to end up with.
Plus---charging is easy and quick (it accepts DC fast charging). If I had access to charging at home or work, I'd never worry. As it was, a couple of times during the week, I spent a few idle minutes at a DC fast charger near home just to give myself an extra margin. It wasn't necessary, really, but I tend to be overcautious about this and was still learning the Leaf's limits.
The 2021 Nissan Leaf Plus comes in two trim levels---S and SL. Ours was the SL. Base price is $43,920. The window sticker is at the end of this review so you can see for yourself, but among the standard equipment highlights at that price are Nissan's Safety Shield 360 suite, heated front seats, navigation and 17-inch wheels.
Extra-cost options on our tester were limited to splash guards ($200), two-tone paint ($695) and carpeted floor and cargo mats ($190), so with $925 destination charges, the as-tested price of the 2021 Nissan Leaf SL Plus is $45,390. There's a potential $7,550 in federal tax credits available, as well---so the real-world price here is $37,840.
Given that $38,723 is the average price of a new car this year, that puts the 2021 Nissan Leaf SL Plus in a sweet spot. Even more so when you factor in the gas you won't be buying and the maintenance costs that simply don't exist with EVs.
If you're looking for an electric road-trip car, you may need to shop around. A 40-minute recharge every 200 miles or so could get tedious. But on a day-in/day-out, occasional jaunt out of town basis, the Nissan Leaf Plus has a lot going for it.