As the 100 percent electric Nissan LEAF enters its fourth model year, its popularity and sales continue to soar. Nissan LEAF provides consumers the benefits of an all-electric car – a quiet and fun driving experience, lower operating costs, the increased convenience of fueling at home and less scheduled maintenance – at a price after tax incentives that rival comparable gas-powered vehicles.
For the 2014 model year, the estimated driving range for LEAF on a fully-charged battery is rated at 84 miles and MPGe ratings are 126 City, 101 Highway and 114 Combined. LEAF is assembled in the United States at Nissan's Smyrna, Tenn., assembly plant, with battery production taking place next door in the country's largest lithium-ion (Li-ion) automotive battery plant.
The 2014 Nissan LEAF is available in three trim levels: LEAF S, SV and SL, along with option packages offering advanced systems such as Around View® Monitor and seven-speaker Bose® energy efficient audio. Enhancements for 2014 include the addition of the RearView Monitor as standard equipment on all models (previously part of the S-grade Charge Package) and one new exterior color – Gun Metallic (seven total available colors).
A Dedicated Electric Vehicle (EV) Platform, Innovative Battery Design
The front-wheel drive LEAF again uses a dedicated EV platform with batteries housed in the floor for optimum vehicle packaging and weight distribution. The body design includes a rigid-mounted battery frame, which helps provide greater body rigidity compared to a conventional compact car.
LEAF rides on a 106.3-inch wheelbase, with a 175.0-inch overall length, 69.7-inch width and 61.0-inch height. Nissan LEAF provides room for five adults and 24 cubic feet of cargo space. Placing the batteries in the floor of the vehicle provides optimum weight distribution to help enhance handling and allows for five-passenger seating by not intruding into the cabin space. LEAF's 24 kWh Li-ion battery is comprised of 48 compact modules of four cells each (192 cells total), which allows a high degree of packaging flexibility. The batteries are designed to maximize driving range and minimize charging time.
The battery was developed by the Automotive Energy Supply Corporation (AESC), a joint venture of Nissan and NEC. Unlike conventional cylindrical batteries, the thin, compact laminated cells offer more flexibility in design applications. The battery powers a high-response 80kW AC synchronous motor, rated at 107 horsepower and 187 lb-ft of torque, which drives the front wheels through a single-speed reducer.
Unlike a conventional internal combustion engine, LEAF has 100 percent of its torque available from start, delivering smooth, consistent acceleration and driving feel similar to a conventional V6 engine.
Nissan LEAF offers a number of charging options. A charge port is located in the front body for the 240V charger and portable trickle-charge cable (110V). A charge port light and lock are standard. The available Quick Charge Port (standard on SL, optional on S, SV) allows charging to 80 percent capacity in 30 minutes at public charging stations using a CHAdeMO fast charger. There is also a standard photovoltaic solar panel spoiler on SL models, which supports charging of the 12-volt battery for vehicle accessories.
LEAF SV and SL grades feature a 6.6 kW onboard charger that require less than five hours at 240V for a full charge. The system is an option on LEAF S, which in standard form utilizes a 3.6 kW onboard charger. All LEAF models come with a standard portable trickle charge cable.
The 2014 Nissan LEAF again uses an independent strut suspension with stabilizer bar in front and a torsion beam rear suspension with integrated stabilizer bar. Responsive steering is provided by a vehicle-speed-sensitive electric power steering system.
Braking is provided by power-assisted front vented disc/solid rear disc brakes with Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist. The standard regenerative braking system in LEAF helps increase range. By applying the brakes or reducing speed by letting off the accelerator, the electric motor acts as an electric generator, converting energy that would otherwise be wasted into battery energy. The "B-mode" (SV and SL grades) allows the driver to engage an even more aggressive level of regenerative braking while decelerating, such as when going down hills. B-mode is offered in addition to the normal and Eco drive modes. Eco mode increases regenerative braking, assists in limiting motor output and reduces HVAC power output.
Because Nissan LEAF does not have an internal combustion engine, Nissan has incorporated an "Approaching Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians" system, which is designed to alert pedestrians that a vehicle is approaching. When driving at low speeds, the system emits a sound from a speaker at the front of the vehicle. When the vehicle's speed reaches 19 mph, pedestrians are able to hear the car moving and the "approaching sound" automatically turns off. If the vehicle speed drops below 16 mph, the sound comes on again.
Exterior Designed for "Smart Fluidity"
Nissan LEAF was uniquely designed to offer "smart fluidity" – a fusion of sophisticated aerodynamic management and aerodynamic acoustics with the freedom provided by the EV layout. The smooth, elegant movement of the body starts from the low, compact hood, moves through the iconic shoulder character line and on toward the large rear spoiler.
The distinctive exterior styling is characterized by sharp, upright V-shaped design featuring long, up-slanting headlights with a blue internal reflective appearance. The headlights split and redirect airflow away from the door mirrors, reducing wind noise and drag. LED headlights, which consume about half of the electricity of halogen headlights, are standard on LEAF SL (and optional on SV). Heated outside mirrors are standard on all grades.
In the rear, the slim-type aerodynamic LED taillight design and crisp corners combine with the aerodynamic rear bumper with rear diffuser to manage the aerodynamics of the rear end without compromising rear interior roominess. The coefficient of drag is 0.28.
The exterior also utilizes a flat underbody (including a large front flat floor cover, electric motor area undercover, front undercover and rear diffuser with fins) to help manage airflow under the vehicle. An innovative vortex-shedding, roof-mounted antenna is one of many design elements used to help reduce wind noise. Other noise-reduction features include a quiet-operation windshield wiper motor, a sound-insulation windshield design and a dual-isolated, motor-mounting system. The five-door hatchback design also features chrome door handles, aerodynamic outside mirrors and a large greenhouse to provide a bright interior environment.
Three different wheel designs are offered: 16-inch steel wheels with full wheel covers for LEAF S, five-spoke 16-inch aluminum-alloy for LEAF SV and split five-spoke, 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels for LEAF SL. Bridgestone Ecopia 205/55R16 all-season tires are used with the S and SV grades, while 215/50R17 Michelin Energy Saver all-season tires are standard on SL.
Seven exterior colors are available: Gun Metallic, Glacier White, Brilliant Silver, Super Black, Cayenne Red, Pearl White and Blue Ocean.
Distinctive "EV Touch" Interior
The roomy Nissan LEAF interior offers a pleasingly modern design created to provide a unique "EV touch" with "simple and human flow." The bright, welcoming atmosphere starts with the wide, high tech instrument panel design, which is dominated by a twin combination meter display in front of the driver and a center "floating" C-stack with a 4.3-inch color LCD display (S grade). A 7.0-inch display is standard on SV and SL grades. The digital "eyebrow" display at the top of the instrument panel provides high visibility for the Eco indicator and speedometer, while the lower liquid crystal meter display houses the percentage style state-of-charge meter, power meter, battery temperature gauge, multi-function display, remaining energy gauge, capacity level gauge and distance-to-empty display.
The flat panel center C-stack cluster continues the "EV touch" feel with the color monitor for the available navigation system, standard RearView Monitor or available Around View® Monitor and control of the audio and climate systems.
The display also provides access to the CARWINGS telematics system (standard on SV and SL), which is connected to a Nissan data center, (subscription required, no charge for 36 months). Through CARWINGS, Nissan LEAF drivers are able to use mobile smart phones to turn on climate control and set charging functions remotely, even when the vehicle is powered down. The system also displays "reachable area," as well as showing a selection of nearby charging stations. An onboard charging timer can also be programmed to start the charging event whenever desired.
Also standard on SV and SL grades is the Nissan Navigation System with NavTraffic (SiriusXM subscription required, sold separately). EV-IT highlights include an "Eco route" feature for the available navigation system that includes suggested power-saving alternative routes, plus Google® local search, Pandora® link for iPhone® and iPod® cover art. The Google Places search function allows LEAF owners to look for area restaurants, shops and other points of interest and browse user reviews using Google's POI database to get the most up-to-date information at all times.
The Nissan LEAF interior also includes standard heated front bucket seats and a 60/40 split folding heated rear seat and rear HVAC duct. LEAF SV seat fabric is made with partially recycled materials. Recycled materials are also used for the back door trim, roof trim and headliner, carpeting and a number of other interior pieces such as the door panels and center console storage cover. LEAF SL includes standard leather-appointed seats.
The center console area includes the palm shifter for the "by wire" drive selector. The standard heated, three-spoke, leather-wrapped steering wheel houses controls for cruise control (except S), audio system and standard Bluetooth® Hands-free Phone System. SiriusXM Satellite Radio (SiriusXM subscription required, sold separately) is also standard, with HomeLink® Universal Transceiver standard on SL models.
Three audio systems are offered, starting with an AM/FM/CD with MP3/WMA CD playback capability, four speakers and 4.3-inch color LCD display for LEAF S. LEAF SV and SL add two additional speakers, the 7.0-inch display and Pandora® link for iPhone®. The Bose® seven-speaker premium audio system is an option on SV and SL grade vehicles.
Rear cargo space measures a full 24 cubic feet with the 2nd row seat upright. There is 30 cubic feet of cargo space with the standard 60/40-split rear seat folded down.
Two interior colors are offered: Black (S, SV, SL) or Light Gray (SV only).
Standard LEAF safety systems include Nissan Advanced Air Bag System (AABS) with dual-stage supplemental front air bags with seat belt sensors and occupant classification sensor, front seat-mounted side impact supplemental air bags, roof-mounted curtain side impact supplemental air bags for front and rear-seat outboard occupant head protection, three-point ALR/ELR seat belts (driver's seat ELR only) with pretensioners and load limiters, child seat upper tether anchor, LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) system and child safety rear door locks. Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) and Traction Control System (TCS) are also standard on all LEAF models.
Three Well-Equipped Models, Three Option Packages
The 2014 Nissan LEAF is offered in three well-equipped models, the LEAF S, LEAF SV and LEAF SL. Standard features include a six-way manual driver's seat, four-way manual front passenger's seat, trip computer (instant and average energy consumption, driving time, outside temperature and autonomy range), Automatic Temperature Control (ATC), center console storage, RearView Monitor and 3.6 kW onboard charger.
Other standard equipment includes Nissan Intelligent Key® with Push Button Start, power windows with driver's window one-touch auto up/down, power door locks with auto locking feature, remote charge door release, two cupholders, four bottle holders, variable intermittent windshield wipers, a 12-volt power outlet and 16-inch steel wheels with full wheel covers.
The Nissan LEAF SV model adds Nissan Navigation system, 7.0-inch color LCD screen, CARWINGS telematics, six-speaker audio system, Pandora® link for iPhone®, 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, 6.6 kW onboard charger, a hybrid heater system that provides superior cold weather performance while consuming less energy, cruise control, auto-dimming inside mirror, partially recycled cloth seat fabric, passenger side map pocket and "B-mode" regenerative braking.
The 2014 LEAF SL model adds a photovoltaic solar panel spoiler, fog lights, auto on/off headlights, cargo cover, HomeLink® Universal Transceiver, Quick Charge Port, leather-appointed seats, LED headlights and 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels.
Three option packages are offered, allowing buyers to further select the exact equipment and features for their needs. The Quick Charge Package (S grade only) includes the 6.6 kW onboard charger and Quick Charge Port. The LED Headlights + Quick Charge Port Package (SV grade only) includes LED headlights, auto on/off headlights, fog lights and Quick Charge Port. Finally, the Premium Package (SV and SL grades) offers the advanced Around View® Monitor and Bose® seven-speaker audio.
A Roadside Assistance program is offered for 36 months at no charge, as is service for the CARWINGS telematics system.
The advanced Li-ion battery pack carries an industry-competitive warranty of eight years or 100,000 miles. Under an expanded New Electric Vehicle Limited Warranty, Nissan will protect against capacity loss in LEAF batteries that fall below nine bars, of the available 12 bars displayed on the vehicle's battery capacity gauge, for the first five years or 60,000 miles in the United States, whichever comes first.
U.S. Nissan LEAF production is sourced from assembly and battery production facilities in Smyrna, Tenn., and it is assembled on the same line as Maxima and Altima sedans. Nissan has a 30-year history of building quality vehicles in Smyrna. Nissan's Li-ion battery plant is in an adjacent facility which is the largest lithium-ion automotive battery plant in the U.S. Nissan is currently the only automaker that manufactures its own electric vehicle (EV) batteries.
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*Charging times and range estimates may vary depending on driving/charging habits, weather, temperature and battery age. The 6.6kW onboard charger is a standard feature on SV and SL trims. It is an optional feature on the S trim.