Sales of Improved Second-Generation Nissan LEAF Begin in January

By · December 20, 2017

2018 Nissan LEAF

Nationwide sales of the new 2018 Nissan LEAF begin in a few weeks. Production of the much anticipated second-generation LEAF—offering as much as 150 miles of driving range—started last month in Smyrna, Tenn. Cars will start arriving at dealerships in all 50 states in January.

The 2018 Leaf will be available in the same three trim levels as the previous version: S, SL, and SV. The Base S model starts at about $30,000 with the upper-level trims peaking above $36,000 for the SL model with leather seats, LED headlights, premium audio, and heated seats, mirrors and steering wheel.

The Tennessee plant is one of three global locations that will build the new LEAF. The other two are the Oppama plant in Yokosuka, Japan, and a Nissan factory in Sunderland, England. Production of the LEAF in Japan commenced in September, while Sunderland output began this week—with European car buyers expected to receive the first vehicles in February.

Even as the 150-mile version of the LEAF goes on sale, Nissan said that a follow-up variant of the electric car will provide more than 200 miles of range—as early as next year with a 2019 model.

In advance of the first sales of the 2018 LEAF, the automotive press has been releasing driving impressions of the new model. “While revised exterior styling is the 2018 LEAF’s most obvious tip-off to newness, a much larger battery capacity is the new car's highlight,” reported Edmunds. The car shopping website said the LEAF’s range will increase to 150 miles on a single charge while a new inverter boosts the 2018 model’s power and torque to 147 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. Those improvements represent increases of 40 ponies and 49 pound-feet compared to the outgoing car.

The cabin has been updated with a new dashboard, steering wheel, and center console. All 2018 LEAFs are equipped with a 6.6-kW onboard charger—replacing the old base LEAF’s weaker 3.3-kW charger.

Edmunds said the new LEAF’s acceleration is “more vigorous,” but the site was not enthusiastic about the LEAF’s handling, reporting that its “ride quality strikes an amicable middle-of-road compromise between comfort and agility.” Edmunds warned that the driving position is not ideal for taller drivers due to a “seating position that's perched up high and a steering wheel that doesn't telescope.”

Other reviewers also give praise to increased range and performance but use terms such as normal, decent, and predictable to describe the 2018 LEAF's less-than-thrilling design and road manners. “It’s a decent-looking car that looks about like nearly every other out there,” wrote Jalopnik.

The new LEAF enters the market with stiff competition from the Chevy Bolt, which offers 238 miles of range, and the much-publicized Tesla Model 3. Other competing models include the second-generation Volkswagen E-Golf and the new Hyundai Ioniq Electric, both offering about 125 miles of range on a single charge.

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