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2019 Nissan Leaf Plus Review: Third Swing Is a Miss

Pros: Laudable cargo capacity Cushy ride Nationwide availability Cons: Middling range Indefensibly lofty price Trails Model 3 everywhere Lets get an uncomfortable fact out of the way: For $1,245 more than the price of an entry-level standard-range (220 miles) Tesla Model 3 , the base 2019 Nissan Leaf S Plus (226 miles) looks and feels like an econobox, whereas the Tesla looks and feels like a premium sport sedan. Read about Car, SUV, and Truck of the Year contenders HERE . That impression intensifies when comparing our mid-spec $42,580 Leaf SV Plus (215 miles) against our $43,100 Model 3 Standard Range Plus (240 miles). Those Teslas also squeeze more miles out of each kW-hrthe EPA rates the Standard and Standard Plus 3s at 131 and 133 mpg-e versus the Leaf S 108 and the SL/SVs 104 mpg-e. And finally, the Leaf limits its high-power public charging options by sticking with a CHAdeMO plugits a Betamax solution in a VHS world. For those who waded through all the mathematics and jargon above, we can clearly tell you virtually nobody on our staff can imagine counseling friends or family to pay more for a Leaf over a Model 3. Unless, perhaps, the buyer lives outside one of the roughly 25 states (and 25 countries) where Tesla has dealerships. That comparative lack of Tesla retail availability explains why, historically, the Nissan Leaf is the worlds top-selling electric car. --> Its precisely that long track record and huge Nissan head start that makes the current Leaf Plus disappointing driving dynamics, range, and packaging so hard to excuse. Lets start with the packaging. Both Nissan and Tesla put the battery under the floor, and in both cases, when the cars first came out, we complained about how the low rear hip-point and high floor forced our knees into the air and ruined thigh support. With one mid-cycle refresh, Tesla has largely fixed that. After a redesign and a freshening, Nissan hasnt. The Leafs front seats still feel like padded barstools that one sits on, not in, teetering through corners. Furthermore, MotorTrend en Espaol managing editor Miguel Cortina had trouble sliding his legs under the steering wheel (even with it adjusted as high as it goes) and found the front armrest too small and far away. And while were teeing off on the interior, it struggles mightily to justify a $40,000 price tag. We suppose Nissan earns some electrical-engineering kudos for managing a 25 percent increase in the batterys energy density so that the 62-kW-hr pack pretty much fits in the same space as the standard Leafs 40-kW-hr version. But range anxiety is a numbers game, and its no longer sufficient just to offer battery range in the low-low 200s. Nissan should have sharpened its pencils and leapfrogged the range of the Chevy Bolt EV (238 miles), Kia Niro EV (239 miles), and the base Teslas. Curious about Nissan's upcoming electric-car efforts? Get a sneak peek at the future-car tech here . The Leaf also disappointed us in terms of driving dynamics compared to the Tesla (and even the Kia ). We appreciate that blending regenerative and friction braking is a tricky art, but Nissan has had nine years of practice, yet as executive editor Mark Rechtin noted, The transition from the e-pedal to normal friction braking is not smooth at all. Nearly snapped my neck in a panic stop. Out on the road, associate online editor Stefan Ogbac described the handling as sloppy and the steering as dead. On a winding road, the contrast between this car and the base Tesla couldnt be more stark, with the Leaf understeering and squealing its tires everywhere while the Tesla quietly hustles like a pole-dancing Cardi B. In the end, Rechtin summed the Leaf up thusly: This is a purpose-built electric car, built to optimize range, but it absolutely falls miles short of the Teslaliterally and figuratively. 2019 Nissan Leaf Plus SV 2019 Nissan Leaf Plus SL Base Price/As Tested $39,405/$42,580 $43,445/$44,315 Power (SAE net) 214 hp 214 hp Torque (SAE net) 250 lb-ft @ 800 rpm 250 lb-ft @ 800 rpm Accel, 0-60 mph 6.4 sec 6.5 sec Quarter Mile 15.1 sec @ 93.3 mph 15.1 sec @ 93.3 mph Braking, 60-0 mph 120 ft 123 ft Lateral Acceleration 0.77 g (avg) 0.76 g (avg) MT Figure Eight 28.1 sec @ 0.61 g (avg) 28.2 sec @ 0.60 g (avg) EPA City/Hwy/Comb 114/94/104 mpg-e 114/94/104 mpg-e The post 2019 Nissan Leaf Plus Review: Third Swing Is a Miss appeared first on MotorTrend .