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MSRP: $28,800 - $34,840
Invoice: $26,986 - $32,635
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2013 Nissan Leaf Performance

According to most reviewers, driving the electric 2013 Nissan Leaf is very similar to driving a regular gas-powered car. While some notice that it feels different in some ways, such as its transmission not shifting, they say it has decent pickup from a stop and that its regenerative brakes feel more like normal brakes than other automakers' regenerative brakes do. One tester is also impressed with how quiet the Leaf is.

  • "Even the high-pitched noise the Leaf generates to alert pedestrians at low speeds is largely undetectable in the cabin. The downside is that wind and road noise are more noticeable at highway speeds, but overall Nissan's EV is impressively quiet." -- Edmunds
  • "Although the notion of owning and operating an electric car might seem a bit daunting, the Nissan Leaf delivers the same basic driving experience as its conventional rivals." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "In practice, the Leaf, which can still initially leap ahead of most gas-powered cars at stoplights and remains as easy as ever to get to 35-40 miles per hour, feels neutered in a way the car didn't before. There's just something missing. Perhaps it's the new motor. Perhaps it's just that we're getting more and more used to the way EVs drive that it takes more to impress us now. Whatever it is, we were not the only journalists to notice it, and Nissan doesn't provide 0-60 figures for us to compare just how different the new Leaf is to its older cousins." -- Autoblog

Acceleration and Power

The 2013 Nissan Leaf is powered by an electric motor that produces 107 horsepower. Power is routed to the front wheels through a single-speed transmission. According to the EPA, the Leaf achieves 129/102 mpg-equivalent and has a range of 75 miles per charge. The Leaf’s mpg-e rating is similar to the Ford Focus Electric’s rating, but trails just behind the Honda Fit EV’s rating. It also trails both of those cars in overall range. Nissan says that charging a fully-depleted battery on a standard household outlet with the basic charger will take about seven hours. With the optional 220-volt charging station, Nissan says that time is reduced to four hours. With the optional Quick Charge port, 80 percent of the Leaf’s battery capacity can be replenished in 30 minutes.  

Reviewers say the Leaf feels peppy, with decent acceleration in most driving situations. One reviewer says it takes time to acclimate to the single-speed transmission because it doesn’t shift. Another adds that the Leaf drives very smoothly. While the standard charger is fine for charging the Leaf overnight, one reviewer says that buying the optional quick charger is a worthwhile investment.

See full 2013 Nissan Leaf specs »

  • "The Leaf's single-speed transmission remains wonderfully smooth throughout its speed range and the entire package reminds us, once again, that the Leaf is an ideal commuter car - provided you're the right commuter." -- Autoblog
  • "The electric motor's abundance of low-end torque provides brisk acceleration, particularly when pulling away from a stop." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "While you can charge the Leaf on a standard 110-volt household outlet, this is best reserved for when you can park the Leaf overnight. For most owners, a 220-volt home charging station is almost a necessity. At around $2,200, it's a practical investment that can fully charge the Leaf in four hours if your car has the 6.6-kW charger." -- Edmunds
  • "Instantaneous torque from a stop means Leaf accelerates about as well as its gas-powered competition, with better low-end throttle response than most. Merging and passing response are on par with most 4-cylinder compact cars. The single-speed transmission means you feel no shifting. It's a bit odd at first, but you quickly acclimate." -- Consumer Guide (2012)

Handling and Braking

Test drivers report that the Leaf is fairly enjoyable to drive, with competent handling and well-weighted steering. One reviewer writes that the Leaf’s regenerative brakes have good pedal feel, especially in comparison with other regenerative braking systems. For 2013, Nissan adds a B-Mode braking system, with more aggressive brake regeneration to help charge the battery faster. In this mode, lifting off the accelerator will slow the vehicle more rapidly. Reviewers agree that B-Mode gives the Leaf a noticeably different driving feel.

  • "The Leaf's brake pedal feel is firm and sure, though, without the strange, vague feel of many regenerative braking systems." -- Edmunds
  • "The electric power steering is light and properly weighted for both highway and city driving." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "But if you really want to feel the car drag, engage the new ‘B’ mode, which increases regenerative braking pressure, or ‘eco,’ which maximizes efficiency. For driving fun, we recommend neither." -- Autoblog
  • "The available B-mode drive setting increases the level of regenerative braking, which translates to fun as you anticipate traffic's chaos with the aim of using the stopping pedal as little as possible." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "It's by no means sporty, but Leaf handles competently. Ultra-low-rolling-resistance tires limit grip in fast turns, and the electric power-steering system doesn't have great road feel. Again, the low-mounted battery pack is helpful, preventing the car from feeling top heavy in turns." -- Consumer Guide (2012)
Review Last Updated: 5/21/14

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