Reviews

2017 Nissan Leaf Walk Around

With some electric cars, you can’t tell. The Leaf isn’t like that. It announces itself with a weird aero jellybean shape. No grille, rather a sloping nose with a hatch over charging port. Frog-like headlamps rise and creep to the windshield pillars. The tail is striped by vertical LED taillamps.

Interior

The cabin doesn’t try to match the aero style, but that doesn’t mean there’s not some space-agey features mingling with some cheap controls. The drive selector looks like a mushroom, and the digital displays are dazzling. The Leaf starts with a button and goes into gear with a mouse. The parking brake still uses a pedal, somehow stuck in the last century.

The instrument panel uses two rows bunched behind the steering wheel, plus a screen in the center of the dash that displays range, maps, energy use, nearby recharging points, and more. On the entry-level S it’s five inches, and on other models it’s seven inches.

Due to federal definitions, the Leaf squeezes into that official midsize interior/compact exterior class. It will seat four comfortably and five without much more effort. That’s only possible thanks to the careful mounting of the battery pack deep under the rear seat.

Since an electric car has no engine to drown out the road noise, a well-isolated cabin is critical. A special detail in the Leaf is its exclusive silent windshield wipers; engineers tried using the wipers borrowed from a luxury Infiniti, but they were too loud. We have to ask: does that mean the new Infiniti will feature Leaf wipers?

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