2019 Nissan LEAF SL+ Review: Competition Is Fierce

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The Nissan LEAF+ sets aside power and range issues and maintains its current position as a leader in the compact EV segment.

There’s always danger involved when innovating or being first to adopt or introduce a new technology. More than likely, the competition is watching, taking notes, and preparing something better that will launch shortly thereafter that will steal the thunder from the pathfinder, or path-layer. This is what’s happening to the Nissan LEAF.

It was the first mass-produced 100% electric car sold in the world. It wasn’t the first-first but it will always be able to claim its title as an early best-seller, an innovator and as a trend-setter. Although it took a long while for other carmakers to join in the EV games, much of their success has come at the expense of the Nissan LEAF.

These results tell a tale of dwindling sales overall, of continued limited interest in the EV as whole and that competitors such as the Hyundai Kona kind-of-SUV is more in line with what consumers want. Despite all this, the Nissan LEAF, especially the LEAF+, remains a top-notch EV.


The “+”

2019 Nissan LEAF SL+ | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

In short, the non-LEAF+ carries on with a 110 kW electric motor and a 40 kWh battery. It retails for $42,298 and is delivered in SV trim only. From here, the LEAF+ takes over with the S at $44.898 and we’ll concentrate on it. My tested SL+ sports a $50,898 sticker price. And no, you’re not seeing things: the least expensive Nissan LEAF is now $7,000 more expensive than it was in 2018. This may also be a contributing factor…

What makes the + a “+” are the presence of a 160 kWh electric motor (214-horsepower and 250 lb.-ft. of torque) and a 62 kW battery pack. Range is now an EPA-rated 363 km however I managed an indicated 405-415 km on a few occasions. As far as I’m concerned, this is the ideal range for most human being travelling by car on a daily basis. When the time comes to recharging, with the onboard 6.6 Kw charger and plugged into the Type 1 port at home, you’re looking at about 11 hours for a full charge from next to nil.

At DC public quick charging stations, with the CHAdeMO charge port, the LEAF+ can go from 5% to 80% in about 45 minutes. Unlike some EVs, the LEAF does not have the ability to condition its battery before a quick charge so repeated quick charges can be detrimental to battery performance. Nissan has said that the battery packs are capable of handling the demands.


e-Pedal and braking

2019 Nissan LEAF+ | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

These are fairly standard numbers and they match everything, or nearly, else about the 2019 Nissan LEAF – it’s now a standard EV. Nissan has cleverly packaged battery regeneration intensity into what they call e-Pedal.

While I love how the system works as it will bring you to a full stop and hold without the need for the brake pedal, it’s the moments when you need to slow down faster than the e-Pedal’s programming that is frightening. Delay in application between the “electric” brakes and the physical brakes is such that panic quickly sets in when you stand on the stop-pedal. As an alternative, you can always call upon Nissan’s ProPILOT, a level 2 autonomous drive system, to do all the driving.


It’s an EV

2019 Nissan LEAF SL+ | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The standard aspects is the quiet, immediate delivery of power which continues to amuse.  Of the many drive mode possibilities, my favorite is “B” which increases engine regenerative braking slightly – I find this ideal for both city and highway driving as I still have access to all the power when I put the hammer down, unlike Eco for example.

The LEAF is quiet in town, as expected, but tire and wind noises, although moderate, do creep into the cabin on the highway. This is also fairly typical for 100% electric cars. Although immensely peppy off the line, the AC synchronous electric motor runs out of breath at higher speeds, if you’re into that sort of thing – the permanent magnet electric motor in the Kona EV and Tesla Model 3 for example, are more athletic.


Looks like a regular car

2019 Nissan LEAF SL+ | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

Finally, the current Nissan LEAF is a far more traditional looking compact car. Strangely perhaps, a number of carmakers are introducing unique or less-than-conventional designs for their EVs and electrified models. Regardless, the 2019 LEAF is quite attractive. The cabin is also pleasing to the eye however much of the materials on board are of the inexpensive sort. Regardless, it’s all functional. All trims save for the S+ are equipped with NissanConnect with navigation featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto among many other features.

The 2019 Nissan LEAF continues to be a great selection among small EVs however the competition is fierce and has made the LEAF less of an obvious choice.


2019 Nissan LEAF SL+ Photo Gallery

2019 Nissan LEAF SL+ | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2019 Nissan LEAF SL+ | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2019 Nissan LEAF SL+ | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

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