Green with envy; that is a good description of how we feel at right now. At least, that is how we feel about the recent spin Autoweek was able to take in the 2011 Nissan Leaf preproduction prototype. And in Santa Monica no less (where I just was as part of the Great Smart Car Road Trip). So what did they have to say about what may very well be the first major electric car to go mass market?
Nissan Leaf being charged

Nissan Leaf being charged

The report was all aces, well except for the jab at the Leaf’s weight. Yes, the Leaf might be a little on the heavy side for a car its size, but you can see where the extra mass comes from when the battery weighs around the 600 lbs mark. Autoweek called the Leaf “surprisingly…substantial.” Oh yes, and to answer the title question--they say it drives like a car. They go on to say that the interior of the preproduction prototype was fully finished and that consumers won’t have to skimp on comfort. As we all do when we test cars, they tried to cram five adults into the modest electric hatchback and report that, “Five tall adults can fit easily…”

I have had a fascination with the Nissan Leaf since I started reading about it and I am still on a mission to see if one could make a normal daily commute to and from my office when that rounds out to 80 miles per day. From reading the drive account today, I believe it could do it. What’s more is I believe it would be a pleasurable and gratifying experience. Currently, I must admit that I have a lease on a 2009 Nissan Maxima, so the prospect of getting out of that lease in the next year or two is slim. That all said, I believe the Leaf would be livable as my commuter car. The challenge is would it be livable as my only car. I bet this is a question a lot of consumers have.

According to Autoweek, the Leaf’s range does vary. They say:

“If you drive it at 38 mph, it has a range of 138 miles. If you drive it slowly in the winter with the heater on, range drops to 62 miles. At 55 mph in the summer on the highway, it'll go 70 miles.”

Since the Leaf has no back up like the new Chevrolet Volt that is set to come to market later this year, it does mean one would have to plan their trips. I personally can’t wait to experience one of these vehicles and would love to hear your comments on whether you could live with the range of an electric only car like the 2011 Nissan Leaf. Be sure to leave your comments right here on the site.