Aug 7, 2020 - Economy

What we're driving: 2020 Nissan Leaf SL Plus

2020 Nissan Leaf. Photo: Nissan

2020 Nissan Leaf. Photo: Nissan

This week I'm driving the all-electric Nissan Leaf SL Plus, with a sticker price of $46,045.

The big picture: The Leaf has been around since 2010, but has long since been eclipsed by the Tesla Model 3, and other battery powered entries like the Chevrolet Bolt EV, Kia Niro EV and the Hyundai Ioniq.

  • But the 2020 Leaf, especially the Plus model with a longer driving range, is worth another look.

The Leaf is available with two battery sizes, and a full array of standard driver-assistance features.

  • The standard Leaf has a 40-kWh battery that provides a driving range of about 150 miles.
  • The Leaf Plus features a larger 62-kWh battery pack that can go up to 226 miles before recharging — at least on the mid-range S trim level.
  • Higher priced versions like my SL Plus are only rated for 215 miles, probably due to the added weight of extra features.
  • The $39,125 S Plus seems to be the sweet spot — it's well-equipped and has the longest range, though it still falls short of the 250-mile range on the standard Tesla Model 3.

The Leaf also features a new, louder sound — something that's required under new regulations that go into effect Sept. 1 for otherwise-silent electric vehicles.

  • When driving forward, under 18.6 mph, the Leaf emits a tone called "Canto" (Latin for "I sing").
  • In reverse, it emits a pulsing chime.
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