Nissan Leaf

Car Review: Nissan Leaf (2010-2016)

Nissan took the lead when they boldly introduced their electric Nissan Leaf back in 2010. Well that’s nearly twelve years ago, and the one time leader in electric cars sales has fallen back behind Tesla. So what can you expect from this quirky little hatchback.     

Nissan Leaf

The Good

1. Popular early mainstream electric car meaning lots of parts if needed

2. Hatchback practicality

3. Ozone-friendly

4. Much quieter than combustion cars

5. Less maintenance needed than combustion cars

6. Low running costs

7. It is possible to get an optional 30kWh lithium-ion battery (offered from 2015) to extend your ride to 155 miles

8. Great light interior options

Nissan Leaf

The Bad

1. The cost of replacement battery

2. Low distance range of up to 109 miles (2010-2012 models) with the 24 kWh lithium-ion battery

3. If it sits in the driveway or garage for long periods, the battery life overall will diminish faster

4. No good for road trips or anywhere more than 90 miles from fully charged to be safe

5. Outdated technology

The Essentials

Be aware of the high cost of replacing the battery – this can be around $5,000 plus installation. These older batteries are due for a change and have usually lost about half of their charge capacity, which in the low-range 24 kWh lithium-ion battery is only 50 miles on average, and will only decrease further. You will spend more for the updated 30 kWh battery. If the battery has been changed, then you need to see receipts of the work done, when it was done, and the company who did it so you can call them in regards to replacement warranty and battery life – but if you can find one that has the battery changed recently, then you’re onto a winner. Battery life aside, you can’t forget the other parts when doing an inspection. Remember, the car itself has still traveled many miles and still has wear and tear just like a combustion car, so checking for previous or existing damage, rust, tires, interior seats and electricals should still be on your checklist. Check out for a more in-depth checklist.

The Alternatives

Chevrolet Volt (2010-2019), BMW i3 (2013-2015), Volkswagen e-Golf (2015-present)

The Verdict

7 out of 10

First generation model Nissan Leaf are being sold off by owners not only wanting an updated electric car with better drive range and technology (of which there are many new car brands and models up and coming), but also because the battery needs changing. While 2013 models came with an updated range of 124 miles, it still wasn’t a huge improvement until the 30 kWh was introduced. Even then, 155 mile range isn’t as good as other electric vehicles coming onto the market over the past few years including the Kia Soul, Hyundai Ioniq, and Hyundai Kona. The early design of the Leaf has withstood the test of time and still emits a cool vibe, however the cost of a used one combined with the cost of replacing the battery makes it an expensive choice and can exceed budget expectations. I would score the Nissan Leaf a six if it needed the battery changed or an eight if it has the battery change already completed – so overall a seven.

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