2018 Nissan Leaf Debut: Yay or Yawn?

Nissan has been teasing its new electric Leaf for months. The sleek teaser images suggest a racy shape and a whole new Leaf experience.

It also came with the preconceived notion that it would come with a range on par with the Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3. Nissan never made specific mention of that, but we all just kind of assumed it would step up to meet the competition.

The new Leaf was unveiled this week, and while Nissan may have expected much fanfare, it debuted to a whole lot of silence. Can anyone else hear the crickets?

The newly redesigned Leaf looks like a Toyota and has the range of, well… a Leaf.

First, let’s give credit where credit is due. The Leaf has helped change the face of electric cars. It made them affordable and easy to acclimate to as daily drivers. With a range between 80 and 105 miles, the first-generation Leaf convinced over a hundred thousand drivers that electricity is the fuel of the future. Count yours truly as one of them.

It did all this with looks that could be described as polarizing, at best.

So yes, the Leaf was absolutely due for a refresh. The new look, however, is just a little less than exhilarating.

Charged said,

From a technical standpoint, the next-gen model offers only an incremental improvement – slightly increased range and a couple of new driving features. The main focus of Nissan’s effort seems to have been the vehicle’s styling, which got a complete makeover. The new Leaf looks more like other current Nissan models, and has dropped the protruding headlights and prominent haunches that made the old Leaf instantly recognizable. This may be of little interest to engineer types, but Nissan is obviously hoping that it will make the EV more attractive to the typical car buyer.

The 2018 Leaf has a more powerful electric motor: 147 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque, compared to the 2017 model’s 107 hp and 187 lb-ft.

NBC News posted a cute little headline that said Nissan is taking aim at Tesla with the new Leaf. Well, pardon me, but not with its 150-mile range, it’s not. The Model 3 will top 200 miles of range and approach 300. The Nissan, to its credit, will cost just under $30,000 (not including the $7,500 tax credit) to start.

The new Leaf may not have the range of the newest EVs, but it’s priced accordingly and has looks that are much more mainstream. That should be enough for it to find another 100,000 buyers—I’m just not convinced that I’ll be one of them.

Will the new Nissan Leaf be enough to convince you that it’s time to take a test drive?

-tgriffith

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