No that isn’t a typo; the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rated the Nissan LEAF with a 99-combined mpg. If you are looking for how that breaks out into city and highway, the EPA has stamped the LEAF with a 92 city/106 highway mpg rating. If you are going to ask us how they calculated this, we are going to have to refer you to an electrical engineer because the calculation, as Motor Trend puts it, “is a trickier business” than a gasoline or diesel powered vehicle.

2011 Nissan Leaf

2011 Nissan Leaf

2011 Nissan Leaf

2011 Nissan Leaf

What we can tell you is that the EPA also rated the 2011 Nissan LEAF with an estimated range of 73 miles. That isn’t exactly the 100-miles per charge that Nissan has been claiming, but it definitely isn’t in the same league as some of the other stretching done in the alternative fuel segment. In Nissan’s defense, they haven’t been claiming everyone will be getting 100 miles per charge. "As we've said all along, your range varies on driving conditions, temperature, terrain and we've talked about, very openly, this idea of a range of ranges," Mark Perry, Nissan North America’s director of product planning and strategy said in an interview.

For those that are wondering, the 100-mile range that Nissan advertises is based on tests used by California regulators. It was also confirmed by the Federal Trade Commission in their pursuit to regulate advertising claims—their tests resulting in a range of 96 to 110 miles per full charge. I know what you are asking yourself, ‘Then why did the EPA find that it only had a range of 73-miles per full charge?’ The answer comes down to the testing procedures and requirements enforced by the EPA to ensure that all of their figures are on a fair playing field. Some might say the EPA figures are more “real world,” but in my experience it is exactly what Perry from Nissan said…the range will vary based on individual driving habits.

All in all, it is impressive to see the high mpg numbers and to know that the average yearly electricity cost will be $561. All that for a starting sticker price of $32,780 (not counting the $7,500 federal tax credit), not to shabby. The question now is, will dealers let people take extended test drives to see if the car really fits their lifestyle? I could use to drive one for a couple of days to see if I could really handle a range that might vary from 70 some miles to 110 miles per charge.

 

 

[Source: Motor Trend, MSNBC]