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2011 Nissan Leaf SL Review

An Electrifying Glimpse into the Future

A three-quarter front view of a 2011 Nissan Leaf

In short: The world's first mass-produced all-electric vehicle.

This zero-emissions electric vehicle, powered exclusively by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, is the first of its kind to see a large-scale commercial release in the US. Capable of reaching top speeds of 90 mph and traveling distances of up to 100 miles on a single charge ("tank" is an obsolete word when discussing pure EVs), the Leaf provides an exciting glimpse into the possibilities of an all-electric automotive future.

So what does this future look like? The Leaf is small but spacious, and quiet but definitely not conservative. Although the Leaf's horsepower barely breaks into triple digits, the instantly-available torque coming from the car's single-speed Direct Drive transmission provides for excellent acceleration and surprising quickness. And with a battery that can easily be recharged overnight (eight hours at 220 KW to achieve a full charge), the Leaf is perfect for city commuters looking for a daily driver to spin around town in before retiring for the evening. However, with charging stations still a sparse sight on American roadways, drivers may well want to plan ahead before embarking upon journeys outside of the Leaf's 100-mile range. Nonetheless, given the Leaf's ultra-cool looks, environmentally-friendly ethos, and enticing tax incentives (up to $7,500!), it's hard to deny the appeal of this futuristic, fuel-free hatchback.

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Watch a video of the 2011 Nissan Leaf

Warranty/Service: 3-year/36,000-mile limited new vehicle warranty; 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty

Base Price: $33,720 / As Tested: $35,695

Technical Specifications

Vehicle type: front engine, front-wheel drive, 5-passenger, 5-door hatchback

80 KW AC synchronous electric motor
Horsepower: 107 hp
Torque: 207 lb-ft
Transmission: single-speed direct drive

Curb weight:
3,000 lbs (est.)
Wheelbase: 106.3 in
Length/Width/Height: 175/69.7/61 in
Turning circle: 34.7 ft

4-wheel ventilated disc brakes with ABS; electronic brakeforce distribuiton with brake assist
Suspension: independent MacPherson strut front; semi-independent twist beam-axle rear; coil springs and stabilizer bars
Traction: vehicle dynamic control with traction control system

Top Speed: 90 mph
0-60 mph: 10 seconds

EPA City: 106 mpg equivalent
EPA Highway: 92 mpg equivalent

Charge time: 7 hrs @ 240 volts
Plug-in driving range: 73 miles (mfr. est.)

dual-stage supplemental front airbags with seat belt and occupant-classification sensors; driver and front passenger seat-mounted side impact airbags; roof-mounted front and rear curtain side airbags

Likes: concept; size

Dislikes: weight; limited range; charging time


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Photography: AlphaMedia

PNW041610 (Updated: 11/03/11 NW)