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2015 Nissan Leaf SL: A Global EV For The Masses

Step Inside The Cabin

Step inside the Nissan Leaf and you’re treated to an interior appropriate for an economy car, albeit one that sells for almost $38,000. Fit and finish are good, though the materials leave a lot to be desired. The dashboard is devoid of soft-touch surfaces; it's rock-hard. Nissan does dress it up nicely with a nice texture. Still, it's not in the same league as some of the fully-loaded mid-size sedans out there.

The driver's seat is surfaced in leather, and offers great side bolster support. Nissan uses manually-adjustable seats to reduce weight (and cost, we imagine). They do lack a lumbar adjustment, but the seats really aren't bad as-is. The doors do feature soft-touch surfaces in the arm rest area, likely so your elbow doesn't hurt after hours of driving. The center armrest is soft as well.

I'm far less fond of the gloss black center stack, center console and window switch areas. Nissan seems to like dressing up the most-touched surfaces with glossy materials that make fingerprints apparent. Annoyingly, the base Leaf S has a matte black center stack and center console that doesn’t suffer this same issue. It's a lot easier to keep clean.

The steering wheel is covered in leather, similar to many other Nissan vehicles. It has an extra bit of girth for your thumbs at the 10 and two o’clock positions for added comfort.

Nissan's instrument cluster might give you flashbacks to the '80s, when vehicles had VFD digital clusters. Nissan opts for a two-tier dash layout similar to the current- and previous-generation Honda Civic. The top display shows a digital speedometer, clock, ambient temperature readout and eco meter. We like the digital speedometer; it’s placed nice and high so you don’t have to take your eyes too far off the road to check your speed.

I get annoyed when vehicles don't include digital clocks for telling the time easily. The Leaf has one though, and it's placed next to the speedometer. The eco gauge “builds trees” depending on how conservatively you drive, and I find it to be useless. It serves mostly as a guilt meter that I ignored it most of the time. It'd be preferable to get a battery temperature or charge indicator in its place.

Separate from the speedometer display is an instrument cluster directly in front of the steering wheel. It's purely digital, without a single analog gauge in sight. Typically, this is not my preference. But for some reason, the glow of Nissan's cluster brings back fond memories of my '90s childhood and driving dashboard toys.

Nissan packs plenty of useful information in the Leaf’s instrument cluster. There’s a battery temperature indicator on the left so you can keep an eye on the air-cooled pack. Regen and power use meters, battery charge, battery capacity and estimated range indicators allow you to monitor power consumption, available power and total capacity.

In the middle of the instrument cluster is a small display that serves as an extensive trip computer. There are actually two trip meters, but the important information conveyed is the battery percentage, energy economy (miles/kWh) and charge time estimation. That latter metric tells you how long it’d take to charge the vehicle to 100 percent on 120V (Level 1) or 240V (Level 2). When I first started driving the Leaf, this was the default display I used so I'd know how much downtime I was looking at. After a week, however, I just used the battery percentage indicator.

  • pyoverdin
    Despite deviating from the regular tech reviews I found this article surprisingly enjoyable.
  • dstarr3
    So is Anh T. Huynh replacing Clarkson in the next series?
  • dweiser
    Great article, nice mix of honest pros and cons. I've owned my 2015 Nissan LEAF SV in the mountains of western NC for almost 3 weeks now and I am loving it!
    My only quibble with your review is that both 2015 SV and SL have the faster 6.6 charging as standard.
  • JPNpower
    Electric cars are just so cool. Practicality is getting there, but even if that doesn't match gas cars yet.... they're still so cool!
  • SVoyager
    Great article!! The Leaf is certainly an excellent electric car and I am very happy that they are selling as much, nice to see an article on toms about it too, cars are getting techy enough for us :-). The next gen leaf is looking great too with possibly 200 miles range. With that much range and with how battery tech is evolving, I hope the regular gas cars have something ready to counter it because electric cars are coming, this time for good!!

    I own a 2014 chevy Volt and while it is not 100% electric, it is as close as you can get and still get a gas engine for the longer runs (best of both worlds imho). Winter is pretty much done now and I can say goodbye to the gas engine for about 6-7 months. We had a rough winter and my average MPG was close to 200 (the worst was at 75mpg when it was -30 Celcius). In my case, I am saving so much in fuel that it costs me LESS to own this car. You can check the stats here (links allowed?)
    So, electric cars just rock. Check what type of driving you do, look for the right EV (in my case, EV with range extender) and you'll never regret it!!
  • apache_lives
  • turkey3_scratch
    Lol it does actually look like a Bulbasaur.
  • kenjitamura
    The competition will really heat up when the Tesla Model 3 hits. A $35,000 electric car with >200 mile range.
  • palladin9479
    Something that need mentioning is that your house doesn't generate electricity out of thin air, instead it gets it from a distant power plant which is likely utilizing coal. So in essence almost every "EV" is really a coal powered car with a poor efficiency rate due to long haul line losses, unless you happen to live within a hundred miles of the primary power plant. EV's are still far to expensive and from an engineering stand point very poor for anything other then bragging rights.

    The comment on regenerative braking is also wrong as not stopping is always supperior then having to stop and restart. It takes less energy to keep an object in motion then it does to accelerate it from a rest state.
  • CaedenV
    Awesome review. I have been rather fascinated by EVs for the last few years, and now that I am soon going to be in the market for a 2nd car I am seriously considering getting one of these for my wife and taking her 10 year old car to drive into the ground the rest of the way. She only has to drive some 15-25 miles per day, so we would really only need to charge it once every few days. Still need to find out what availability/financing/charging options are available in Cincy though before biting the bullet.

    Never mentioned how much that level 2 charger costs retail... I mean, I could look it up, but it may be nice to add to the article.