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2018 Nissan Leaf Charges Onto the Stage in Las Vegas


The urge to lead with “Nissan Turns Over a New Leaf” was strong, but we resisted. The new 2018 Nissan Leaf didn’t turn over, fortunately. Instead, it just rolled out onto stages in Tokyo, Japan, and Las Vegas, Nevada, its North American unveiling immediately following its Japan-based global one.

Though it retains a shape similar to its first-generation predecessor—and is similar in size, riding on the same 106.3-inch wheelbase and being only 1.4-inch longer, 0.8-inch wider, and 0.4-inch taller—the second-generation Leaf brings its own style. It dispenses with the smooth metal of its predecessor in favor of a few angles and more conventional front and rear fascias. Also improving the look is the departure of the bug-eyed headlamps and odd vertical taillamps and the arrival of a two-tone tailgate that looks more like it belongs on a hot hatch than on a commuter EV.

Powering the more aggressive design is a more aggressive electric motor good for 147 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque, 40 hp and 49 lb-ft more than before. The battery now boasts a 40-kWh capacity instead of 30 kWh, while the second-most important figure of all for an EV—range—jumps from 107 miles to 150, which is enough to go from Los Angeles to San Diego without triggering crippling range anxiety. And if that’s not enough, a version featuring a 60-kWh battery and about 225 miles of range should roll out next year, which will make the Leaf range-competitive with the 238-mile Chevy Bolt and the standard, 220-mile Tesla Model 3.