Better World Club

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Does the New Nissan LEAF Live up to Its Name?

Gimme an L! Gimme an E! Gimme an A! Gimme an F!

What's That Spell? Leading, Environmentally Friendly, Affordable, Family Car!

Nissan recently reopened limited online reservations for its all new LEAF, the current World Car of the Year, and if you live in any of its launch markets, you’ve probably seen the billboards. The LEAF is Nissan’s 100% electric and at 99 miles per gallon gasoline equivalent ranks as the most efficient EPA certified vehicle…for all fuels…ever. Talk about high mileage! What’s more, being all electric means the LEAF produces zero emissions at the point of operation.

The LEAF is certainly leading the way for the wider development and spread of environmentally friendly vehicles (the “L” and the “E” in its name). But is it affordable? The LEAF starts at $32,780 in the United States, where qualified buyers can take advantage of a $7,500 federal tax credit (the same credit that applies to the purchase of Chevrolet’s plug-in hybrid, the Volt, which starts at $40,280). You’ll also save at the pump – because you won’t ever need to fill up. On gas, that is. Nissan advertises that the LEAF can go 100 miles on a full charge, and the car can be fully charged from a 220 volt home outlet in eight hours. It can also be charged to 80% in 30 minutes with a quick charger at a public charging station.

Not bad, huh? Environmentally friendly, a tax break, no more expensive fill ups, and relatively convenient to charge. There is, however, one thing that potential buyers of the LEAF should consider before they purchase the car: buying a LEAF means buying its battery system, which will cause the car to depreciate more significantly than were Nissan to offer an option for batteries to be leased (and also means a higher purchase price). In addition, making frequent use of quick charges will cause a 10% greater gradual battery capacity loss over 10 years than from charging with a 220 volt outlet at home. Nissan’s warranty only covers the original battery in full for the first year.

Still, if the range of the LEAF suits your driving needs, it’s not a bad deal – particularly considering that its development as a widespread production vehicle means a huge step away from transportation’s petroleum dependency. Plus, drivers should expect to see more public charging stations in cities and on highways as cars like the LEAF proliferate. And shaking our collective oil addiction is a family value, right? Better World Club thinks so, anyway. Let’s hear it for the LEAF!

Things People Like About the 2011 LEAF:

- It’s electric! …no gas expenses
- Greenest production car ever built: 94% recycled or recyclable
- Sophisticated interior instruments help drivers get the most out of a charge

Things People Don’t Like About the 2011 LEAF:

- Computers are expensive to fix when they break (get the service contract)
- Unattractive design
- Short range

MSRP:

MSRP $32,780 - $33,720 depending on trim (SV reviewed here)

Fuel Economy Stats:

Estimated EPA MPG (electric): 106 (city), 92 (hwy), 99 (combined)
Estimated Energy Consumption (kw-Hrs/100 miles): 32 (city), 37 (hwy), 34 (combined)
Cost to Drive 25 Miles: $0.94
Annual Fuel Cost*: 561
Annual Petroleum Consumption (1 barrel=42 gallons): 0.4 barrels/year

[*Based on 45% highway, 55% city driving, 15000 annual miles and a fuel price of $0.11 per kilowatt-hour.]

Warranty:

Basic: 36,000 miles / 36 months
Powertrain: 60,000 miles / 60 months
(Powertrain Limited Warranty -- Vehicles equipped with a continuously variable transmission also have a 10-year, 120,000 mile CVT limited warranty extension.)
Rust: Unlimited miles / 60 months

Corrosion Coverage is for 60 months/unlimited miles to repair inside-out rust through corrosion on vehicle. Nissan also has a Lifetime Replacement Panel Corrosion Warranty which is to the original repairing vehicle owner who installs or has installed outer sheet metal panels that develop inside/out rust through corrosion.

Adjustments: 12,500 miles / 12 months

Original Battery: 36,000 miles / 36 months
Covers 100% for the first 24 months, then prorated as follows: 25-32 months, covered 75%; 33-50 months, covered 50%; 51-84 months, covered 25%. Labor covered 100% if serviced by a Nissan Dealer.

Towing: 36,000 miles / 36 months
Towing is available to nearest Nissan dealer for warranty covered breakdowns.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Frontal Crash, Side Crash, And Rollover Tests:

NHTSA rates crash-tested vehicles by assigning them one to five stars. A five-star rating indicates the most injury protection, while one star indicates the least protection.

Overall: Not rated
Frontal: Not rated
Side: Not rated
Rollover: Not rated

Recalls:

To date, there have been no recalls announced for the 2011 LEAF.

Standard Features:
- Power Door Locks Operated Via Card Key and Internal Switch With Automatic Locking
- Vehicle Anti-Theft Via Alarm and Engine Immobilizer
- Child Safety Door Locks Located On Rear Doors
- 4-Wheel Anti-Lock Brakes
- Regenerative Braking System
- Traction Control
- Electronic Brake Force Distribution
- Brake Assistance
- Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) Vehicle Stability Control System
- Front Power Vented Disc and Rear Power Solid Disc Brakes
- Front Power Outlet
- Drive-By-Wire Control For Shifting
- 24-kWh Laminated Lithium-Ion Battery Pack
- AC Synchronous Electric Motor; Front Mounted With Horsepower Of 107 and Torque Of 207
- ZLEV Emissions
- iPod(R) Auxiliary Audio Input Jack
- Front Auxiliary Audio Input Jack
- Wireless Communication Access For Bluetooth(R) Enabled Devices
- USB Port
- AM/FM Radio With 6 Speakers Total; CD Player; MP3/ WMA Player; XM(R) Satellite Radio (Subscription Required)
- GPS Navigation Aid With Screen
- Radio Antenna
- Carwings Telematics Include Remote HVAC Controls, Remote Battery Level and Remote Battery Changing Functions (Requires Web Enabled Phone, Includes 36 Months Of Service)
- LED High Intensity Discharge Headlights
- Underbody Aero Cladding
- Front Air Dam
- Front and Rear Body Color Bumpers
- Rear Spoiler
- Underbody Protection
- Automatic Climate Control
- Audible Warnings Include Seatbelts Unfastened
- Exterior Temperature Gauge
- Voice Activated Controls For Bluetooth(R) Wireless Enabled Devices
- Motor Start/Stop Button
- Battery Gauge
- Tire Pressure Monitor
- Cruise Control
- Trip Computer With Autonomy Range Remaining, Average Energy Consumption, Miles To Empty, Instantaneous Energy Consumption and Stop Watch
- Steering Wheel Mounted Controls For Audio, Cruise Control and Wireless Enabled Devices
- Carpet Located In Passenger Cabin and Cargo Area
- Intelligent Key(TM) Card Key
- Keyless Entry Operated Via Card Key
- Remote Fuel Door Release Located Inside Vehicle
- Remote Liftgate Release Located Inside Vehicle and On Multi-Function Remote
- Multi-Function Remote Operates Anti-Theft, Door Lock/Unlock, Power Windows and Liftgate
- Passenger Airbag With Dual-Stage Deployment
- Front and Rear Crumple Zones
- Side Guard Door Beams
- Rear 3-Point Center Seatbelt
- Front Pretensioners With Force Limiters
- Front Seatbelt Height Adjusters
- Front and Rear Side Head Curtain Airbags Located In Roof
- Driver Airbag With Dual-Stage Deployment
- Front Active Head Restraints
- L A T C H
- Passenger Airbag Cutoff Sensor Activated By Seatbelt Engagement and Weight
- Seat Mounted Front Side Airbags
- Front and Rear Automatic Locking Retractors
- Front and Rear 3-Point Seatbelts
- Cloth Seats
- Rear 60/40 Split Folding Bench Seat With Adjustable Headrests
- Front Dual Reclining Bucket Seats, Driver Side Manually Adjusts 6 Ways Total, Passenger Side Manually Adjusts 4 Ways Total With Driver Adjustable Seat Height and Adjustable Headrests
- Tilt Steering Column
- Electric Power Speed Sensing Rack and Pinion Variable Assisted Steering
- Front Dual Door Mounted Storage
- Front Passenger Seatback Storage Pocket
- 4 Front; 4 Cupholders Total
- Illuminated Glovebox
- Front Covered Lower Console Storage Located On Floor
- Rear Stabilizer Bar
- Front Stabilizer Bar
- Independent MacPherson Strut Front Suspension With Coil Springs and Shock Absorbers
- Semi-Independent Torsion Beam Rear Suspension With Springs and Shock Absorbers
- 1-Speed Automatic Transmission With Floor Mounted Shifter
- SBRP205/55R16 Bridgestone Ecopia All-Season Tires
- Alloy Wheels, 16-In.
- Inflatable Spare Tire Kit
- Dual Black Power Adjustable Exterior Rearview Mirrors
- Power Window Lockout/Override
- Power Windows With Driver One-Touch Up and One-Touch Down
- Rear Window Intermittent Wiper/Washer
- Variable Intermittent Windshield Wipers
- Electrochromic Interior Rearview Mirror
- Front Dual Sunvisors
- Rear Window Defroster
Technical Specs:
Standard Engine: MOTOR
Standard Transmission: 1 Speed Automatic
Cylinders: N/A
Horsepower @ RPM: 107@NL
Fuel Economy Cty/Hwy: 106 / 92
Combined Fuel Economy: 99
EPA Class: Mid-Size
Number of Valves: N/A
Fuel Type: ELE / Not Applicable
Overdrive Transmission: No
Cargo Volume: 23 cu. ft.
Fuel Capacity: N/A
Brakes (Front): Disc
Brakes (Rear): Disc
Driveline: Front Wheel Drive
Steering: Rack & Pinion
Suspension (Front): Independent
Suspension (Rear): Semi-Independent
Tire Wheel Diameter: 16 in.
Seating: 5
Curb Weight: 3366
Height: 61.0
Length: 175.0
Wheelbase: 106.3
Width: 69.7
Doors: 4

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