2018 Nissan Leaf: an early Leaf driver's impressions (he has a Tesla too)

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2018 Nissan Leaf electric car, test-driven by Shiva of Fremont, California, Oct 2017

2018 Nissan Leaf electric car, test-driven by Shiva of Fremont, California, Oct 2017

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First sales of the 2018 Nissan Leaf, the second generation of the pioneering electric car, should come this month.

But Nissan has quietly been showing the 2018 Leaf to electric-car shoppers for several months now, hosting drives at dealerships and other venues.

Several of our readers and contributors have now taken part in these events, and now we have a first-hand report from one such attendee.

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Our reader and frequent commenter Shiva, who owns a 2012 Leaf and a Tesla Model S, received that opportunity in October.

He attended an official "unveiling" event for current Leaf owners living in Silicon Valley.

What follows are his words about the 2018 Nissan Leaf, lightly edited by Green Car Reports for clarity and style.

2018 Nissan Leaf

2018 Nissan Leaf

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Nissan not only held the official event, but also let owners schedule test drives.

So the company brought the new 2018 Leaf to our house during Veteran’s Day Weekend, well before it hits U.S. showrooms and goes on sale in January 2018.

As a current owner of a 2012 Leaf SL, I was eager to see the changes and upgrades in the new 2018 Leaf before making a decision for my family on whether we would lease one.

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Exterior

The 2018 Leaf that appeared was even maroon, as our old car is. It has a refreshed exterior that no longer has the “frog” look to the front end. It’s also lower and sleeker to help improve efficiency and aerodynamics.

The “floating” roof design is highlighted by an available two-tone paint option on the SV and SL versions.

The charging port has been moved up on the hood, higher than the previous charging-port door that sat where you'd expect a center “grill” of the old Leaf, complete with Nissan logo. This makes for less effort in bending down for the drive to plug in the car.

2018 Nissan Leaf electric car, test-driven by Shiva of Fremont, California, Oct 2017

2018 Nissan Leaf electric car, test-driven by Shiva of Fremont, California, Oct 2017

Enlarge Photo

Both the floating roof and higher charging-port door are features Nissan touts as new and improved.

As the Nissan rep confirmed, this “new” Leaf is really a refresh, as the understructure from the windshield to the roof pillars is the same (as the Leaf specialist confirmed during the test drive).

Bearing Nissan’s signature front grille, the Leaf easily blends into the Nissan family now.

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Interior

The steering wheel still doesn't telescope—it only tilts—which is a negative for tall drivers like me, since the steering wheel practically touches my knees.

This is the same as the current Leaf, but Nissan chose to not change this. I'd question that decision.

The driver’s seat is very comfortable with thick padding and controls to find a comfortable fit. This is definitely an upgrade from the current Leaf.

2018 Nissan Leaf electric car, test-driven by Shiva of Fremont, California, Oct 2017

2018 Nissan Leaf electric car, test-driven by Shiva of Fremont, California, Oct 2017

Enlarge Photo

The SL trim level includes power adjustment for the driver’s seat, with a two-way adjustable lumbar support. This is standard on the SL, and optional on the SV trim as part of the technology package.

In terms of materials, there are mostly hard-touch plastics, as in the current generation. The front-door armrests and upper panels by the window switches have softer surfaces, however.

Metallic accents over the glove box, and a two-tone leather option available in the SL trim, give a more premium feel than in the outgoing Leaf.


 
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