2013 Nissan Leaf Real-World Range: Is It Any Higher?

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2013 Nissan Leaf

2013 Nissan Leaf

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it might not have been the number people were hoping for, but at 75 miles, an extra two miles of EPA range for the 2013 Nissan Leaf still represents an improvement.

Even more so considering the EPA's electric car testing procedure for 2013 averages results from 100 percent and 80 percent charges, rather than just taking the 100 percent figure.

But, charged to the full 100 percent, will the 2013 Leaf match the 84 miles quoted in EPA testing? Apparently not.

A comparative test by Inside EVs reveals the 2013 Leaf actually lacks a little range compared to the pre-tweak 2012 model.

Testing in southern California saw the earlier car achieve 88.7 miles on a charge, while the 2013 car only managed 81.8 miles. Both these figures were error corrected for odometer inaccuracies, as well as corrections for small variations in battery capacity--the actual distances driven were a little less.

Both those figures are better than the mid-70s recorded in EPA testing of course, but for drivers expecting to match the 84 miles recorded by the EPA for 100 percent capacity, it may come as a surprise that the old 73-mile car is capable of going further on a charge.

There are some factors which may be influencing the results. One is that the test, conducted at a steady 62 mph as much as possible, may not be showing off the new car's improvements to the full.

Nissan's 2013 changes include lower weight and regenerative braking improvements--both of which would be more apparent in stop-start traffic and at lower speeds, rather than steady freeway pace. It suggests Nissan's aerodynamic improvements may be negligible, however.

The test was also conducted without the new Leaf's more efficient heater running. This would naturally  reduce its range, but the lower power draw in the 2013 car means on a cold day, with the heater running, the 2013 model would stand a better chance of driving further.

The next, as the 2013 car's owner points out in the article's comments, is his SL model's larger wheels and tires. They add weight to the car in perhaps the least ideal place--its spinning, rolling mass.

That either Leaf can do over 80 miles at modest highway speeds (albeit only just, in the 2013 car's case) isn't bad given the official EPA numbers--and it's likely both will be better at lower speeds.

We'll also have to wait and see just how much difference the more efficient heating makes for Leaf drivers in colder climates--not something SoCal drivers can really test. But it seems like the 2013 Leaf is best optimized for driving at lower speeds. And, if you're seeking real efficiency, avoid larger wheel and tire combos.

But the final conclusion is, as ever: Your mileage may vary.


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Comments (24)
  1. This is a non-story, since the test is in no way conclusive. I received my 2013 Leaf three weeks ago and my biggest drive was three days after delivery. I started with 98% SOC, drove 79.2 miles and added 8% SOC during the day, and got home with 16% SOC. Only half of that was at speeds of 55-65mph (one quarter city driving, one quarter stop-and-go on the freeway) and the temperature was in the 40's all day. If I had driven it to empty with no charging in between, I would have gotten 79.2/0.9 = 88 miles on charge. So nobody panic, the car is great and living up to its promise as far as I'm concerned.

  2. I can't compare to to a 2012, but my 2013 is exceeding mileage expectations in the cold Chicago winter. In freezing temps, I drove 54 miles, 80% highway with cruise set at 55 and consumed 51% battery life (I had the heat off).

    This morning on the same 54 mile commute, with heat on in 15 deg weather, cruise set to 62, I consumed about 75%.

    The above results aren't scientific but I feel 84 miles can be easily attained under the right conditions, even in colder climates.

    I've shared my commute with 2011/2012 Leaf owners and they informed me they would not attempt my commute in their car due to lack of range and the less efficient heater.

  3. I also have a 2011 Leaf and I would not attempt a 54 mile commute even with the electric heat turned off. Can I ask how you came up with the 75% number?

  4. The 2013 models now list % battery life remaining.

  5. Approximate commute:

  6. I've had my 2013 SV for about 10 days now. I live in the So. Cal. area and I've found that I can get slightly better than one mile per battery percentage point. Although I've yet to charge to 100% (or deplete to 0%), I'm pretty sure that I could get 100 miles out of it if I did.

  7. Any owner of a 2013 LEAF up for a drive on the "Edmunds EV Circuit", and willing to share a report?

    The Edmunds EV Circuit is more representative of real world city-driving as includes stops for traffic lights, slowing for turns, etc. The Insider EV test was more of a constant speed (100 km/h) highway driving test to determine "battery capacity" (with a constant energy load on the battery).

    Regen(erative) braking is something that did not happen during the Insider EV test. The EPA City test results in higher 130 MPGe (84 mile range) vs. EPA Highway of 102 MPGe (75 mile range) in part due to ReGen from increased stop/go in EPA city test cycles.

  8. Possibly. Do you have a more detailed map?

  9. Brian, I'm the owner of the 2013 Leaf used in the test cited in the article. I'd be happy to let you use my car, although scheduling might be a challenge. Where can I reach you?

  10. @Mike, @John,

    Sorry, I'm not from Southern California. A large percentage of details of the 105.5 mile circuit can be seen by looking at higher detail map (like google maps). The loop mostly follows along local arterials in Santa Ana, Irvine area.

    Expect Edmund's will repeat their test circuit when they get a 2013 Leaf. Anyone should be able to pre-approximate their results by driving a a similar route on a weekday without climate heating/conditioning turned on.

    Minor variations in range can be expected due to traffic (light) timings. The 2013 Leaf should be able to complete the 105.5 mle loop with energy to spare.

  11. Brian, again - how do I contact you or Edmund's? I'm the driver of the 2013 Nissan Leaf used in the test that is being reported in a half dozen different forums. You can use my Leaf to test.

  12. Well, it was small changes anyway. But anything helps.

    So, don't expect the new Leaf to suddenly become a 90mile to 100 miles car in "normal" winter driving...

  13. Nits! All a bunch of nits that are meaningless had Nissan improved the battery. One should be able to drive 100 miles at freeway speed(65-70 mph) to feel confident in the Leaf for long, one charge per day, commutes.

    Remember,the best mileage you will get is when the battery is new. The battery will slowly lose capacity over time from aging and charge/discharge cycles. So you need more battery to start with.

  14. New 2013 SL, first real day of driving on 100% charge 104 miles. About 80% city 20% freeway in Portland, Oregon. I'm used to milking a Prius, but I was definitely on "fumes" as I rolled into the driveway. The range indicator had given up with --- about 5 miles before home. Don't recommend this of course, but I wanted to see just how far it would go. Temp was in the 40s, I didn't use the heater except the first 10 minutes in the morning. My goal was a mile for each percentage point, but a more realistic day is 90 miles with more regular use of AC, heat and enjoying the accelerator. Where does the EPA come up with 74? Or does the battery fade a little after the "honeymoon" period?

  15. try 80% hwy and 20% city and you will see where EPA gets its 74miles range... Also, use heat along the way.

  16. @Jim: Here's our article explaining why the 2013 Nissan Leaf range rose only from 73 miles to 75 miles--because the way the EPA calculates range has changed:

  17. How much are you using the defogger?

  18. Who drives a vehicle to empty? This is a BS story with a bad title, no information worth reading, and makes conclusions that are of no use. With an EV you can almost double the range by going slower. I am certain that the EPA can be trusted more than this media source after reading this crap.

  19. In your rant you forget it was a comparative test. They tested the 2012 and 2013 LEAFs side-by-side. So your 'driving slower' argument is moot. They also didn't set out to prove or disprove the EPA test, so that point is pretty silly too. And finally, what you call 'this media source' is Tony Williams from the mynissanleaf forum. He has done more Nissan LEAF range tests and is known for his meticulous planning and execution.

    But I guess you didn't read the article.

  20. Anne, that's a fair point. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and consensus is hard to come by on any venue. That said, Eric had animated discussions with Tony Williams on MNL, and I believe that this has biased his comment here as well.

    That's very unfortunate, since Tony has produced interesting and valuable information for the fellow EV drivers. You don't have to agree with him, or be interested in it, of course. But to go as far as insult the man, and then continue to spill the bad and make comments such as this one, that goes a bit far.

    I like this site, the EV world would be certainly less interesting without it. It's if you don't share the sentiment, but please realize that EV advocacy comes in different shapes and forms.

  21. My best Volt EV charge got me 49 miles before the switchover to gas, but it was under ideal conditions with no heat or AC/, moderate speeds, and easy on the pedal. Chevy says 38 miles is expected. After two months and 2000 miles my MPG figures have risen to 139 and I still have 1/4 tank of my original fillup from the dealer.

  22. My coworker's wife keep getting 54 miles out her Volt. My personal best is only 48 miles (typically 39miles). My wife can barely get 35 miles before gas is on.

  23. My C-Max Energi has a little less than 500 miles and my MPG is at 93.5 and rising. I recently got 27 miles on electric. For the past week to 10 days the car has been giving me a range of 24-26 miles when I start it up. I have burned maybe 1-2 gallons of gas in that time.

  24. I have a 2011 Nissan Leaf. If I turn everything off, including daytime running lights, I can go 78 miles with cruise control set to 55 mph. Repeated checks by two different Nissan dealer insist the battery is operating at 100% capacity.

    When I purchased this vehicle I was promised that most drives would be able to achieve a 100 mile range. I call BS! Maybe with a 40mph tailwind helping to push the car.

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