Nissan Unveils a Leaf That Goes the Distance

Image: Nissan

Ignoring next week’s North American International Auto Show, Nissan instead chose the high-tech confines of Las Vegas’ Consumer Electronics Show to reveal its latest Leaf. And it’s a Leaf that’s finally able to play with the big boys.

Called the Leaf e+, but carrying the Leaf Plus name when it goes on sale in the U.S. and Canada, this Leaf variant boasts more battery — 62 kWh of it. With all of that additional stored energy comes the ability to expand your horizons.

Currently, Nissan’s second-generation Leaf carries a 40 kWh battery capable of propelling the vehicle some 151 miles, according to EPA specs. Upgrading to a Leaf Plus, which American buyers should be able to do come spring, extends the driving range to approximately 226 miles.

This places the hatch ahead of the still-theoretical base Tesla Model 3 (220 miles) and places it in the running among lower-priced EVs like the Chevrolet Bolt (238 miles) and Hyundai Kona EV (258 miles). Kia’s Niro EV (239 miles) and upcoming 2020 Soul EV (200-plus miles) are other long-ranged considerations.

Image: Nissan

While the new-for-2018 Leaf improved on its predecessor’s range of 107 miles, buyers wanted the option to upgrade. Nissan didn’t wait long to grant their wish. By keeping the original battery pack in the model line, the automaker can still market the Leaf as a value-packed offering with something for everyone. For 2019, a base Leaf S stickers for $30,885 after destination but before a $7,500 federal tax credit.

In a statement, Nissan said the “Plus” moniker will appear alongside the same trim range seen on the lower-ranged model. Thus, you’ll have a choice of S Plus, SV Plus, and SL Plus.

Sliding into a Plus model nets a driver more than just range, too. A larger, 160 kW motor generates 215 horsepower, up from 147 hp in non-Plus models, while torque rises from 236 lb-ft to 250 lb-ft. According to Nissan, passing acceleration (50 to 75 mph) is 13 percent quicker, and the top speed rises 10 percent. Green driving needn’t be sluggish — and it certainly once was (an early first-gen Leaf in Eco mode was the slowest vehicle I ever drove).

Image: Nissan

Like other Leafs, the Leaf Plus arrives with e-Pedal technology, allowing drivers to brake just by lifting their foot off the accelerator.

While Nissan wasn’t stingy with the new Leaf Plus’ specs, it did leave one set of figures out of its reveal: the price. Expect to hear more about that closer to the spring on-sale date, but a premium of at least a few thousand seems likely.

[Images: Nissan]

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