Nissan pulled the wraps off the 2016 LEAF, which soldiers on for its fifth consecutive model year without any exterior changes. However, looks are only skin deep, and Nissan is breathing new life into the aging LEAF with an available larger battery pack and new NissanConnect infotainment system.
The key update here is the battery pack, which boosts capacity 27 percent to 30 kWH from 24 kWH. It comes standard on the SV and SL trims to increase range up to 107 miles on a single charge. LEAF S models will continue on with the 24 kWH battery and 84 miles of range.
The NissanConnect in-car infotainment system is also new to the 2016 LEAF, and it's now standard on all models. The base LEAF S gets a 5-inch color display that includes Bluetooth hands-free and audio streaming, hands-free text messaging, and NissanConnect with Mobile Apps that supports Facebook, Pandora and iHeartRadio. Stepping up to the SV and SL trims increases the display to 7 inches and adds multi-touch, voice recognition, navigation, HD Radio, SiriusXM, SiriusXM travel-link, and more app support that includes Online Search with Google, Twitter and Trip Advisor.
We tested the 2015 Nissan Leaf infotainment system back in March and found it rudimentary, but functional. Judging by our experience with the newer NissanConnect system in other Nissans we've driven, the 2016 LEAF is getting a substantial upgrade in terms of functionality and usability.
Base pricing remains the same on the LEAF S, while the SV and SL pricing increases by $2,100 and $1,670, to $34,200 and $36,790 (respectively) before federal and state incentives.
Overall, the updated 2016 Nissan LEAF brings notable upgrades that may push more buyers to EV ownership. As someone who bought a 2015 Nissan Leaf SL with premium package in October 2014, I'm a little envious. But that just makes me wonder if I could easily swap the battery to the 30 kWH unit to get that extra bit of range that would ease my wife's range anxiety for her trips to Seattle, Washington from our house in Graham.