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A white 2021 Nissan LEAF is shown from the front.

UnbeLEAFable: the 2021 Nissan LEAF

The Nissan LEAF joined the American auto market over a decade ago, and for much of that period, it was the #1 best selling electric vehicle. The LEAF’s popularity is due to multiple factors, like its comfortable and familiar five-door hatchback door styling, and because, unlike some competitors, the battery is under the seats, lowering the center of gravity for more responsive – and fun – handling, making that comfortable and familiar hatchback feel more like a sports car. On top of the benefits of being an emissions-free vehicle, the 2021 Nissan LEAF comes with a full package of safety features, with available Nissan ProPILOT to make your driving closer to hands-free than any other hatchback. It also has more cargo space than you would expect in a compact car. There’s a lot to love when you go out on a limb with the LEAF.

Trims and Tricks

The 2021 Nissan LEAF comes in five branches: the S, SV, S Plus, SV Plus, and SL Plus. The S has an MSRP starting at $31,620, but that could be far lower once you start adding up the potential federal and state tax credits. The S and SV trims have a 40 kWh battery, which has 147 horsepower and a range of up to 149 miles – over twice the range of the first LEAFs in 2010. The three Plus trims all come with a larger 62 kWh battery for 214 horsepower and a range of up to 226 miles. Even the smaller battery can go 0-to-60 in 7.4 seconds, and, thanks to the fact that electric motors are ready as soon as you hit the “gas,” it feels even faster.

Another benefit to the electric motor is the e-pedal, which means you can choose to have the car immediately slow when you ease up on the pedal, redirecting that energy back into the battery. With regenerative braking, it’s possible to use fewer miles’ worth of charge than the actual miles you drive, especially on a busy stop-and-go-commute. It’s also easy to charge your LEAF in your own garage with a portable charge cable, which allows you to plug into any 120-volt or 240-volt outlet without a special wall box outlet installation. A 240-volt outlet is just like the one that powers your oven or clothes dryer, and with it, you’ll get a full charge overnight, in around seven hours. You can also visit a quick charge station for the fastest refill possible, up to 80% in about 45 minutes.

A view of the dashboard and gray interior of a 2021 Nissan LEAF is shown.

Driver Delights

The 2021 Nissan LEAF has a fully-customizable full-color driver information display, so you can put your charge life, your directions, or even the weather right in front of you, besides the speedometer. The LEAF also has a standard centrally-located, eight-inch touchscreen that you can customize to your specifications, putting menu items just where you want them, including shortcuts to other screens. You can connect your smartphone with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, or Bluetooth for full access to all your playlists with voice commands and to make hands-free texts and phone calls. If music is your thing, it’s worth noting that the SV and SV Plus have more speakers than the S and S Plus, and the SL Plus comes with a Bose Energy Efficient Series premium audio system to make those playlists sound like you’re right there on stage.

You can also choose to add Nissan Door-to-Door Navigation, which will sync your directions to your phone while you walk from parking to your final destination. And speaking of your phone, the Nissan LEAF comes with three USB ports and a USB-C port for fast charging while you drive. You can even use your phone to access the NissanConnect EV and Services app that lets you access your car’s functions with your smartphone and smartwatch. From controlling the cabin temperature and seeing your battery range to knowing just when your LEAF finishes charging while you finish up errands, this system is the embodiment of convenience. NissanConnect EV and Services can also connect to your LEAF through Alexa or Google Assistant, so you lock the doors or remote start your vehicle with just a few words. You can even set customizable alerts for things like distance, speed, or time, so you can keep your teen driver – or yourself – from driving too far, fast, or late.

All 2021 Nissan LEAFs come with automatic temperature control – just set your preferred temperature, and the LEAF will hold it steady, despite changes outside or in the cabin. Combine this with the remote start system, and your vehicle will be ready to go the moment you open the door. And because the LEAF is an EV, you can even safely warm the car up inside your garage without worrying about any toxic exhaust. For comfort on cold mornings, or just to feel nice anytime, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel and heated front seats are standard on the SV, SV Plus, and SL Plus. Those seats even come leather-trimmed on the SL Plus.

Coming in just over 14-and-a-half-feet long, the 2021 Nissan LEAF has a full 23.6 cubic feet of cargo space, even while hauling five passengers. And those passengers will be pretty comfortable with 33.5 inches of legroom and 37.3 inches of headroom in the rear seat. With that rear seat folded down, you’ve got a total of 30 cubic feet of cargo space to head off on an emissions-free road trip vacation or to impress your friends with how helpful you can be when they move houses. Another benefit to driving the Nissan LEAF is its smooth ride, thanks to Active Ride Control, which can automatically adjust the brakes and engine to even out bumps like potholes.

A gray 2021 Nissan LEAF is being charged.

Safety First

Despite its small size, the LEAF has earned a five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In addition to its tough construction and plentiful airbags, the 2021 LEAF benefits from Nissan Safety Shield 360. This standard safety package includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear automatic braking, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot warning, lane departure warning, and high beam assist for a comprehensive suite of benefits. On top of that, intelligent cruise control is a feature of the SV and SV Plus. The SL Plus also comes with an intelligent surround view monitor instead of just a rear view camera, and ProPILOT Assist, which can help you keep your LEAF a set distance from the car ahead, braking and accelerating as needed all on its own, besides keeping your centered in your lane, even on gentle curves. You can also add ProPILOT to the SV and SV Plus.

Other safety features include ten standard airbags, an anti-lock braking system (ABS), Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD), and a tire pressure monitoring system that doesn’t just tell you when a tire is low but will also let you know when you reach the correct pressure when refilling your tires. Besides having a LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) system so you can feel confident about the security of your child seats, Nissan offers Snug Kids, a program that includes a comprehensive list of child seats so you can find just the right fit for your LEAF as well as tips on installation. While many cars have ABS, tire pressure monitoring, and LATCH, the Nissan LEAF offers these standard features at a level above the competition.

Electric vehicles have come a long way since their early days, and Nissan fully backs up their batteries just like they do the rest of their line. LEAFs come with the Nissan new vehicle limited warranty, which provides 36-month/36,000-mile basic coverage, a 96-month/100,000-mile lithium-ion battery warranty, and a 60-month/60,000-mile powertrain and EV system coverage. This EV system coverage includes a whole host of components, including the motor, DC/AC converter, onboard charger, and charge cable.

UnbeLEAFable

At its debut, the LEAF won the Green Car Vision Award from Green Car Journal, with the editors saying it “will provide the features, the styling, and the driving experience that will meet the needs of a sophisticated and demanding market, while producing zero localized emissions and requiring no petroleum fuels.” These predictions held true, and then some. For over ten years, the Nissan LEAF has continued to improve, pairing comfortable seats and fun handling with the best in safety features while still being emission-free. The instant responsiveness of the electric engine and not having to stop for gas when you’re already late for work will have you wondering why you ever drove a gasoline car. With the protection of Nissan Safety Shield 360, the 2021 Nissan LEAF is an exceptional choice for not just your daily commute but to hit the open road, as well. With up to 226 miles between charges, nothing’s stopping you.

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