Back in March 2011, we took delivery of a U.K. spec Nissan Leaf as our principal family car. 

Since then, we’ve kept you up-to-date with the car’s long-term progress, including reports after driving 5,000 miles in it, after covering the 11,000 mile mark, and after one year of ownership

Last week, the odometer ticked over to 25,000 miles, marking the need for another long-term report. 


Just as our previous two reports, our long-term Leaf has been extremely reliable, with no major issues, recalls, or breakdowns since our 15,000 mile report

In fact, since our first-year service, the only thing we’ve had to buy for our leaf is a new set of tires. 

After just over 16,000 miles, the stock Bridgestone Ecopia EP150 tires had started to show significant signs of wear. 

The replacements, a set of Michelin Energy Saver All Seasons, not only helped improve handling and braking, but seemed to help improve range by a few miles per charge. 

More importantly, after 9,000 miles, they are certainly longer-wearing than the Ecopias they replaced, with most of the tread still remaining. 

Nissan Leaf hits 25,000 miles

Nissan Leaf hits 25,000 miles

Range, Predicted Range

As the astute reader will notice, our Leaf has covered 10,000 miles in a little over 7 months, a noticeable rise in daily mileage over the first year of ownership. 

That’s because this particular Leaf is now being used for a daily commute from Bristol, England to Cardiff, Wales: a round trip of around 80 miles, with around 90 percent of the trip being 70 mph freeway driving.

According to Leaf expert Tony Williams, on a full charge, in a brand-new Leaf, traveling at a constant 70 mph without climate control switched on, a range of around 68 miles should be possible

Bearing that in mind, we’ve been charging overnight to 80 percent full, making use of the pre-heat timer function to heat the car prior to departure, driving 40 miles, charging during the day at a local parking  garage to 100 percent full, and arriving home with anywhere between 20 miles and 40 miles of predicted range remaining. 

In short, even with heavy freeway use, not to mention the use of climate control to keep the cabin warm on colder Autumn mornings, the Leaf doesn’t appear to have suffered any noticeable battery capacity loss yet.

This is corroborated with long-distance trips made at an average speed of 60 mph between rapid charging stations. Even with 25,000 miles on the battery pack, the Leaf is able to drive 75 miles on mixed roads from a 100 percent charge with the same ease it did when new.

And that’s with as many as 5 miles predicted range to spare at the end. 

2012 Nissan Leaf 4-door HB SL Wheel Cap

2012 Nissan Leaf 4-door HB SL Wheel Cap

That said, relying on the accuracy of the Leaf’s on-board range prediction gauge isn’t a great idea. 

Nor has the increased mileage improved the car’s accuracy of predicted range all that much. 

When fully charged, the Leaf still reports between 105 miles and 115 miles in “D”, and as many as 125 miles in “Eco”. 

It’s safe to say, however, that we’ve never managed anywhere near that range on a single charge to date. 

2012 Nissan Leaf (RHD)

2012 Nissan Leaf (RHD)

Battery Capacity Loss

While on the subject of range and battery capacity loss however, it’s worth noting that we don’t have access to any CAN-based state-of-charge gauges for more accurately recording the real capacity of our Leaf’s battery pack.

Instead, we are only basing our experience on actual range, and the number of bars displayed on the car’s battery capacity gauge. At the moment, we have all 12 still lit. 

We suspect the following factors have come into play, helping the battery pack stay healthy.

  • The battery is rarely run down to the low battery warning signal, has only experienced very low battery warning once or twice, and has never hit the fabled ‘turtle’ low power mode.
  • Where possible, the battery is only recharged to 80 percent. 
  • The U.K., like the Pacific Northwest, has a very temperate climate, with this past summer particularly cool.  For the majority of the summer, temperatures have stayed well below 80 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s well below the 110+ degrees suffered by some ‘wilting’ Leafs in Arizona earlier this year. 
  • The Leaf is never left fully charged for more than three hours, and is used daily, resulting in very minimal self-discharge.


With the months and the miles passing by, our stock 2011 Nissan Leaf has stood the test of time fairly well, coping with two adults, two dogs, and two children. 

While the white recycled-plastic seats are still coping well with heavy use, the center armrest, as well as the door pulls, are starting to look decidedly dirty.

Regular detailing has kept the rest of the car clean, although an upgrade to heated leather seats is likely to happen some time next year. 

Outside, paintwork has remained in good condition, with only a few scratches to add to the list of carwash-inflicted marks from earlier in the year. 

Performance, Handling

As noted above, the new tires--added at 16,000 miles--seem to have really improved the Leaf’s road manners and handling. 

Braking is more controlled, while body roll seems less noticeable than before. 

The car is quieter too, thanks to reduced road and tire noise. 

With steering, suspension, and braking systems now truly bedded in, the Leaf is a real joy to drive.

Our Verdict

2011 Nissan Leaf: One Year Drive Report

2011 Nissan Leaf: One Year Drive Report

Without the high temperatures known to influence battery aging, our Nissan Leaf is still operating well within our own--and Nissan’s--expectations.

Like we’ve said before, Nissan’s Carwings system is the weakest part to owning a Nissan Leaf. 

Not only is its communication to the car problematic, its knowledge of charging stations poor, and its range prediction troublesome, but the lack of multiple charging timer slots per day means that those charging more than once per day have to manually activate charging.

There’s also no way to activate an 80 percent charge without setting a charge timer, resulting in unnecessarily charging to 100 percent when an 80 percent charge would suffice. 

In addition to the poor carwings system, we feel Nissan should move the charging door release somewhere nearer the main console in the next-generation Leaf. Its current location--near the hood release--is an uncomfortable and unusual place to put something used once or more per day. 

Finally, the interior needs improving to make it more durable for everyday family life. 

Will we keep it? 


Our Leaf has provided everything we’d want from an electric car, and to date, is far better than any other electric car we’ve owned. 


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