Nissan Leaf Review
The 2013 Nissan Leaf ranks 8 out of 14 Upscale Small Cars. This ranking is based on our analysis of published reviews and test drives of the Nissan Leaf, as well as reliability and safety data.
Auto writers agree that if you can live with its limited driving range, the all-electric 2013 Nissan Leaf has a spacious interior and drives like a gas-only car, which makes it a fine choice if you're looking to go gas-free.
The Nissan Leaf is powered by an electric motor that reviewers say provides ample power. A single-speed transmission is standard, and reviewers say it transmits power smoothly. The Leaf achieves an EPA-estimated 129/102 mpg-equivalent (mpg-e), which is good for an electric car. It can travel 75 miles on a fully-charged battery. Reviewers report that the Leaf rides comfortably. They also say that its steering is well-weighted and appreciate that its regenerative brakes are predictable and have a conventional feel.
Reviewers generally like the Nissan Leaf’s cabin, with one noting that it looks futuristic and another saying that fit and finish are fairly good. Thanks to a relocated onboard charger, the five-seat Leaf gains more cargo space for 2013, making it more competitive with other hybrid and electric cars, which reviewers appreciate. Reviewers report that the Leaf’s front seats are comfortable, but not all critics find the back seats as accommodating. While some reviewers note that it takes some time to acclimate to the Leaf’s gauges and information displays, the radio, climate and navigation systems are fairly intuitive. For 2013, the Leaf is offered in a new base trim that comes standard with features like heated front and rear seats, Bluetooth, automatic climate control and a four-speaker stereo. Features available on upper trims or as options include leather seats, navigation, an upgraded stereo and Nissan’s Around View Monitor, which uses multiple cameras to give the driver views all around the car.
- "Either way, for now we see strong appeal in less expensive competitors like the Ford Focus and the Hyundai Elantra. But if you want to take part in a moonshot, the Leaf is your launch vehicle." -- Automobile Magazine
- "Still, if a full-electric vehicle makes sense for your lifestyle, the 2013 Nissan Leaf is a smart choice." -- Edmunds
- "Whether you seek to reduce your carbon footprint, eliminate fuel costs, or simply despise gas stations, the all-electric 2013 Nissan Leaf won't disappoint." -- Kelley Blue Book
- "Just as we don't recommend pickup trucks to everyone, we can't recommend an electric vehicle to everyone. But if you can charge up at home or work and drive fewer than 50 miles per day, on average, the Leaf remains a great, clean and affordable way to get to and from work." -- Autoblog
Other Cars to Consider
Like the Nissan Leaf, the Ford Focus Electric has a hatchback design, comparable overall cargo space and about the same battery range. The Focus Electric shares its platform with the gas-powered Ford Focus, and reviewers are pleased with its nimble handling and ample power.
The Toyota Prius requires gasoline, but it gets great fuel economy and doesn’t have the limited driving range of an electric vehicle, so it may be a better choice for long trips. The Prius also has a lower starting price and more overall cargo and passenger space.
Details: 2013 Nissan Leaf
The 2013 Nissan Leaf seats five and has front-wheel drive. An electric motor and single-speed transmission are standard. The Leaf comes in three trims: S, SV and SL. For 2013, the Leaf gains a new base trim, a more efficient battery and gets more cargo space. Aside from those changes, the Leaf is largely unchanged from previous years, and as a result, this overview uses applicable research and reviews from the 2011 to 2013 model years.