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Fri, 22 Mar 2019 10:00:00 -0400


The Nissan Leaf Plus adds more EV range but not more fun

While other automakers were debating the merits of the electric car, Nissan was already selling the Leaf (the little EV hit the market in 2010, two years before the Model S). The automaker has sold over 400,000 units since then. That's impressive. But in the past nine years, the EV market has changed, and when the latest version of the vehicle was unveiled, it had a range of 151 miles. That's clearly not enough for our new over-200-mile-range vehicle world. So in January of this year, the Leaf Plus (starting at $36,550) with 226 miles of range appeared. Problem solved, right? Well, maybe.

At its heart, the Nissan Leaf Plus is a great little electric hatchback. During my tests, I found it to be a capable car that delivers on nearly all of its promises. It's efficient, full of most of the latest tech with a surprisingly spacious trunk. But it's missing something: fun. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

First, the good. The actually really good. Nissan introduced ProPilot Assist last year, and it immediately impressed me. Mostly because the first car to get the newest driver's assistant was the Leaf. It's one of the best semi-autonomous systems for an electric vehicle in this price range. The lane-keep assist does a great job centering the car in its lane and can handle most highway curves. The adaptive cruise control feature is smooth; it responds when a car merges in front of the Leaf. I'm also a fan of the steering wheel button as the main on/off switch for the system.

Another great driving feature is e-Pedal, which allows for one-pedal driving. The system works like this: Once activated, the vehicle's regenerative braking power is cranked up to slow the car down to a complete stop whenever you're not accelerating. It's a smooth transition from accelerating to stopping so you're not being jarred around in the car.

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