The Nissan Leaf Plus offers a longer range, with up to 215 miles on a charge, and while it does face stronger competition the Leaf Plus holds it’s own into 2020. When you add in composed driving, an addictive e-Pedal feature and the included level 1 and 2 charger combo the complete package starts to make even more sense.
With ProPILOT Assist with Steering assist, support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as well as a connected car experience that you can control from your phone, the Leaf Plus checks even more boxes.
We tested the 2019 Leaf Plus in Northwest Ohio, to not only test the electric car out but to learn more about living with an EV outside of a major metropolitan area. Here’s what we learned about the Leaf Plus and our experience of using it to get around during the wintry holiday season.
Our loaner was the 2019 Nissan Leaf SL Plus which starts at $42,550 with all the features already listed. The only options were small cosmetic upgrades, premium paint, carpeted floor, and cargo mats and a safety kit. With those options and destination, the total came to $44,315.
Driving the Leaf Plus
The 2019 Nissan Leaf Plus packs in a larger 62-kilowatt-hour battery and it’s capable of delivering up to 214 horsepower with 250 lb.-ft. of torque. Now that the numbers are out of the way, what this means for you as the driver is that you get a peppy, but easy to control electric car. The Leaf doesn’t immediately deliver that power if you mash the gas, which in this case is a good thing for daily driving. You get smooth accelerations, while still feeling zippy thanks to a smooth build-up to power. It’s not going to go toe-to-toe with Tesla acceleration, but there is zip. When you’re already moving and need to pick up the pace there is a wonderful pickup as you press the pedal down.
You can have fun in the Leaf Plus especially if you like to drive through twisty-turny backroads. the battery packs under the seats help remove any body roll. You’re not going to “feel the road” like you would in the 2020 Nissan GT-R Nismo, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing in this instance.
One of our favorite Leaf Plus features is the E-Pedal, which automatically applies the brakes when you lift off the accelerator. You can toggle this feature on and off, but after a small learning curve, one-pedal driving with the E-Pedal on was awesome. When approaching a stop sign, I would lift my foot off the accelerator and the Leaf Plus applied brakes for maximum regenerative power and brought the vehicle to a complete stop. Once you start to learn the distance it takes to stop from common speeds, it’s easy to let the car handle all the braking. This captures more power back to the battery and it’s a driving method that grew on me quickly during my week with the EV.
With the E-Pedal off, you simply press on the brake like normal. The regenerative brakes are very good with no grabby a rough switch between standard braking and regenerative.
On a full charge, the Leaf Plus is rated for 215 miles as equipped. This proved more than enough to handle last-minute holiday shopping and the hectic back and forth to visit with family over Christmas. By using the E-Pedal and the heated seats I was able to drive in a cold December without being uncomfortable or worrying too much about losing range to comfort.
Living With the Leaf Plus
The biggest concern with driving an all-electric vehicle like the Leaf Plus in Northwest Ohio is where I will charge while on the go. After taking delivery of the Leaf Plus I went searching for a public level 2 charger. There are only a few in my city, and they are at dealerships. The challenge I ran into was the local dealership had gas vehicles parked in front of the charger, but I was able to get it on the charger and add some range while I worked nearby.
One great feature on the Leaf Plus is that the included charger is a level 1 or a level 2 charger. At home, I plugged the level one charger in, which helped charge closer to full. If I had a 240V outlet in my garage, or if I unplugged our dryer, I could have charged at level 2 speeds and had a full charge in under 12 hours. That’s the key to this scenario. If you plan to own the Leaf Plus, you will definitely want to install a 240V outlet in your garage or have access to a level 2 charger. The inclusion of the charger is a nice touch.
I found that once the Leaf Plus range was over 150 miles I started to care less about the range even with holiday travel. There are chargers along the routes and inside the major cities I go to, so the Leaf Plus can, in theory, fill the role of your only car outside of a major city, but it will take a little planning and you’ll want a level 2 charger at home.
On the road, if you find a DC Fast Charger (CHAdeMO), you can charge up to 80% in about 45 minutes, which makes road tripping in the midwest a much easier endeavor. This is great considering the ProPILOT Assist feature on my loaner that helps keep you centered in your lane and flowing with traffic on the highway.
Leaf Plus Interior
Even with a bigger battery, you don’t lose any cabin space in the Leaf Plus. That’s because the battery is below you, leaving the same amount of interior space. There’s plenty of room for the driver and passenger, plus heated seats to stay toasty in the winter without blasting the heat. The Zero Gravity seats are super comfortable, and it’s something that really makes a difference on longer drives.
It’s a clean looking interior with a modern look, and many users will like that it doesn’t go overboard with futuristic styling. The build quality is good, the materials feel nice and there are ample small storage spaces.
The backseat can fit two adults, but you’re not going to want to put a third one in the middle due to a small hump on the floor. There isn’t a ton of legroom, but it suffices for short trips. There are no USB ports in the back seat, which is a shame at this stage.
With a hatchback design there is a decent amount of storage space in the back, it held Christmas presents and snacks easily, plus you can fold down the second row for more storage.
Leaf Plus Tech and Safety
Nissan handles tech nicely in the 2019 Leaf Plus with support for Android Auto and Apple Carplay on a responsive 8-inch touchscreen. The system is easy to use, and while I spend most of my time in one of the connected phone options, the stock software is good. With Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, you plug your phone into the USB port and then you can make calls, listen to music, get directions, send texts and more using the touch screen on the dash instead of interacting with your phone. The Bose sound system is good and it’s easy to take calls in the cabin.
The Leaf Plus lets you connect with the NisssanConnect EV app to check the status of charging, lock and unlock the car, remote start and you can even control the climate from your phone.
While you cannot even get adaptive cruise control on the Bolt, you can get ProPILOT Assist on the Nissan Leaf Plus. This isn’t self-driving, but it is an awesome driving aid. This setup combines adaptive cruise control with steering assist to keep you in your lane and even handle small curves in the road. It removes the small corrections you make while driving and it also helps you relax a little while driving.
The Leaf SL Plus also packs offers Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross-Traffic Alerts, a bird’s eye view system and LED headlights with automatic high beams. Another handy feature is the Rear Door Alert, which lets you know if you leave something or someone in the back seat.
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