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Nissan Leaf (2012)


  • An all-electric car that pretty much drives the same as every other car.
  • It’s comfortable to drive, and no engine sound or smell.
  • A fine choice for short-mileage commuters and running errands; especially if you have access to charging during the work day.
  • All the accoutrements you’d want: steering wheel controls, seat heaters, AM/FM/XM radio and more.
  • Feels heavy, due to the battery weight. Because the weight is low in the car, it gives the car a solid feel, but also feels heavy in terms of handling.


  • No gas engine back-up: pure electric vehicle with approximately a 75-mile range, resulting in “range anxiety.”
  • The Leaf is still for early adopters only—because of the limited range, it’s not usable for long drives. It’s only practical for a limited geographical circumference around your home. Before you buy, track your actual mileage, to make sure you’re well within the Leaf’s range.
  • To charge the Leaf, you’ve got to have access to an electrical outlet—making ownership hard for most city dwellers, for who the Leaf would be most attractive.
  • Range gauge indicates 110-120 miles when charged, but it’s not particularly accurate. Seventy-five miles is more realistic, especially in the winter or during cold spells.
  • Range impacted by weather, use of accessories and any acceleration that’s beyond gentle.
  • High-purchase price, considering what you get: Even with the $7,500 federal tax break, the cost will run into the low 30s.
  • Due to weight, the Leaf doesn’t stop as quickly as you might expect.
  • Subjectively speaking, it’s…what’s the word? Ugly. Particularly the back end.

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