Ultimate Guide to the Nissan Leaf (2011-Present)

What Changes Did the Nissan Leaf Go Through?

The Nissan Leaf is the iconic electric car that got MANY people interest in this type of transportation. With 2011 being the first year model to be released in North America, it is still produce till this day (in 2019). Below are the outlined changes that occurred for each mode year, starting from 2011 and moving towards the newest 2010 model.

Here they are:

  • 2011 Nissan Leaf (All new vehicle)
  • 2012 Nissan Leaf (A battery heater becomes standard. There’s new options for heated side mirrors, heated steering wheel, and heated front and passenger seats. Also, a quick-charge port is now part of the SL trim level’s features list).
  • 2013 Nissan Leaf (Newly optional 6.6kW onboard charger lowers the time it takes to charge the battery using level 2 charging. Less-expensive entry-level S trim level, as well as SV an SL trims have been lowered. An optional “B Driving Mode” button which enables more aggressive generative breaking. A charge port release button on the key fob).
  • 2014 Nissan Leaf (Backup camera becomes standard now across the lineup).
  • 2015 Nissan Leaf (Base model gains Nissan’s B-Mode (standard), SV and SL grades receive hands-free text messaging and voice destination entry as well).
  • 2016 Nissan Leaf (Bigger battery upgrade from 24kW to 30kW. This takes the EPA range from 84 miles to 107 miles (a 23 mile improvement).  
  • 2017 Nissan Leaf (No changes)
  • 2018 Nissan Leaf (Completely new and redesigned interior and exterior. Bigger battery, jumping from 30kW to 40kW making the range move from 107 miles to 151 miles. A new system is options called “ProPilot Assist” which lets the car auto-steer itself to an extent. Also one pedal driving lets you just use the throttle to accelerate and decelerate).
  • 2019 Nissan Leaf (New available Leaf Plus gives you an estimate maximum range of 226 miles for the S trim and 216 miles for the SV/SL trims. Rear Door Alerts activate a warning and kong the horn to remind you to check the backseat).

Specifications:

  • Years in Production: 2011 to Present
  • Trim Levels: S, SL, SV, S Plus, SL Plus, and SV Plus
  • Battery Capacity: 24.0 – 62.0kW
  • Fuel Type: Electric
  • Electric Range: 84 – 226 miles (EPA)
  • Level 1 Charging Times: 2011-2012 24kW (20.0 hrs), 2013-2015 24kW (20.0 hrs), 2016-2017 30kW (25.0 hrs), 2018-2019 40kW ( 33.0 hrs), and 2019 62kW ( 52.0 hrs)
  • Level 2 Charging Times: 2011-2012 24kW (7.5 hrs), 2013-2015 24kW (4.0 hrs), 2016-2017 30kW (6.0 hrs), 2018-2019 40kW ( 8.0 hrs), and 2019 62kW ( 11.5 hrs)
  • Fast Charging Type: CHAdeMO
Gen1 Leaf Dash
1st Generation NIssan Leaf with 100,000 miles (160,000 kilometer)

Buying a Used Nissan Leaf TODAY

One thing is for certain, there’s NO shortage of used Nissan Leaf’s on the market right now. In fact, the market is flooded with the first generation leaf from 2011-2015. To an untrained eye, the 2011-2012 Nissan Leafs going for $5,000-$7,000 USD on average. 

Most of these Leafs are cheap because they are the victims to battery degradation. Battery chemistry from the 1st generation Leaf (mostly the 24kW models)… could not withstand drastic temperature changes. A big percentage of batteries lost capacity by as much as 1/4 to 1/2 after 50-70K miles. 

If you want a bargain, CHECK first the battery bars near where they show you the “X” miles to empty.

*You should count 12 (maximum).

If you want the BEST value Nissan Leaf as of right now, a 2016 model would be the best. First reason is because they mostly sorted out the battery degredation issue with the 30kW models. Also, you are getting faster rate of charging on Level 2. 

If that doesn’t cut it, while it may STILL be too early, look into the base models from 2018. They are creeping towards the $20K USD mark. With those you get a better looking design and 44 more miles of range.

Best VALUE Nissan Leaf models are from 2016 and 2018 (as of 2019)

gen1 Leafs for sale
2016 Nissan Leafs (107 miles of range)
gen2 Leafs for sale
2018 Nissan Leafs (151 miles of range)

New & Used Pricing

NEW Starting Prices
for Each Year:

  • 2011: $32,780
  • 2012: $35,200
  • 2013: $28,800
  • 2014: $28,980
  • 2015: $29,010
  • 2016: $29,010
  • 2017: $30,680
  • 2018: $29,990
  • 2019: $30,885 & $37,445
VS

Current Used Prices
for Each Year:

  • 2011: $4,500-$8,000
  • 2012: $6,000-$9,000
  • 2013: $6,500-$10,000
  • 2014: $8,000-$12,000
  • 2015: $8,500-$14,000
  • 2016: $10,000-$17,000
  • 2017: $13,000-$17,000
  • 2018: $23,000-$29,000
  • 2019: $25,000-$33,000

Why the Nissan Leaf?

When Volkswagen introduced their Beetle in the 1930’s, it was meant to be the “people’s car”. They were cheap, reliable, and usable in all type of conditions. When you look at the Nissan Leaf, it’s kind of the same idea in the sense that… the the electric car most people can actually afford, use everyday, and have it be reliable.

While the car was a bit expensive for being in (in the first generation), depreciation has done quite a lot of damage to their value. As you read above for how much you can ACTUALLY buy them nowadays, their production continues to rise and they will keep dropping in cost as years progress.

What makes this car unique is that its practical, like a Volkswagen Golf. While it won’ have the space of a full-sized family sedan… it DOES have the seating capacity of up to 5 people!

When it comes to actually driving the car, you’ll notice a peaceful quiet ride that is also fairly comfortable. The steering wheel, break pedal and accelerator pedal are electronically modulated making them numb, but this also results in making the car easy to maneuver in the drivers seat.

To narrow it down to just ONE good reason why you SHOULD buy this car, its that the car offers a lot of value for the money. It’s the beginners electric car, a way to get your foot in the door towards something like a Tesla. 

Gen2 Leaf Dash
2nd Generation Leaf Speedometer & Info System

Things to LIKE About the Nissan Leaf

Aside from being the longest running “mainstream” electric car on the market (so far), there’s plenty of thing to LIKE about the Nissan Leaf. Having been in both generations of the Nissan Leaf, there’s a sharp contrast from where they started and where they are going. This list will give you the most notable things that you may like about the Nissan Leaf from generation 1 and generation 2.

Here’s the following things to LIKE:

  1. One of the first things you’ll notice with the Nissan Leaf is how much cheaper it is compared to other electric cars. This applies to mostly used models, generation 1 for now (in 2019).

  2. An electric car the size of a Volkswagen Golf, you get pretty much the same kind of practicality as well. A Nissan Leaf seats 5 people and has enough trunk space for a medium to large sized grocery list. I’d say its the IDEAL size.

  3. What costs less than $8,000 USD, is practical, and can charge to 80% in 30-40 minutes? It’s the 1st generation Nissan Leaf. When looking at the early model Nissan Leafs today, all the things they come with (not including some of the negatives), it’s hard to find a competing car other than a Chevrolet Spark EV the Volkswagen eGolf (if you can find one for under 10K USD

  4. Its’ electric, everywhere. Most cars nowadays replaced their hydraulic functions with electricity. The Nissan Leaf is no exception with its electric power steering, electric assisted breaks and accelerator pedal. Moving the car around becomes easier as everything is easier to push and pull.

  5. Less moving parts equals less reliability issues. Aside from being Nissan (one of the most reliable brands on the market), the Nissan Leaf is mostly trouble free for most owners (an inspection is STILL recommended before you buy one).

  6. Like with Tesla, the Nissan Leaf has its own app (NissanConnect) which lets you control the climate settings, check the state of charge, rate of charge, if the car is charging or not, and find nearby charging stations.

  7. For the first generation, you’ll be getting around 84 miles on a full charge (sometimes more, sometimes less), depending on your driving habits. Looking at that price range for each battery pack (24kW, 30kW and 40kW), you’ll notice its above a lot of of other cars in the 5K-10K USD 84 range, 10K-20K USD 107 mile range and the 20K-30K USD 151 mile range.

  8. When you buy a brand new Nissan Leaf (2019 or newer), you are eligible for a $7,500 tax rebate against your taxes.

2011 Nissan Leaf (gen1)
1st Generation Nissan Leaf

Things to NOT LIKE About the Nissan Leaf

What all the positive being said about the Nissan Leaf, you’d think there’s hardly any negatives to mention… right? Well that’s mostly true, but there’s a few things that NEED to be addressed before you move ahead in your research. The following are the MOST IMPORTANT things that we did NOT like about the Nissan Leaf:

  1. In the Leaf community, it is commonly known that the 1st generation Leaf (specifically 24kW version), had and still has the problem of premature battery degradation. Extreme cold and hot weather can take a toll on the battery pack, degrading the overall capacity 5-10% in as little as 20K miles. As the cars put on more miles, the degradation gets worse (with this being a BIG reason why these Leaf’s tend to cost so little).
  2. In hot weather, constantly charging and driving the Nissan Leaf can lead the batteries to get very hot. This of course was a bigger problem for the 1st generation.
  3. The 2n generation leaf began having problems after multiple charging sessions. Charging speeds would taper off by 1/3 after 2 or 3 continuous sessions. This has been addressed, but in some this could still be an issue.
  4. The 1st generation of the Leaf would show you a range number, but as you drive it would adjust up or downward. It’s the best example of a “guess-o-meter” as you’ll have a hard time knowing exactly how far you can go.

Nissan Leaf's Closest Competitors

From 2011 to 2019 today, the Nissan Leaf wasn’t the only budget friendly electric car to shop up and compete. With such a big difference between the first generation and second, it’s a bit tough to find the closest competitors. What we did here is find the 2 competitors from 2011-2017 and 2 from 2018-2018.

Here are the cars:

2014-2016 Chevy Spark EV

Chevy Spark EV Compared

Being the first fully electric car Chevrolet made, it was a good attempt. While it was a compliance car, if you got your hands on the rare “fast charging” models, it would be the perfect competitor with the Nissan Leaf. 

Below are the specs you can use to compare:

  • Battery Capacity: 19-21kW
  • Fuel Type: Electric
  • Electric Range: 82 miles
  • Charge Times: 20 hrs @ 110-120v and 7 hrs @ 220-240v and 0.50 hrs @ 440v
  • Used Values: $8,000-$12,000
  • Drivetrain: FWD

2015-2016 Volkswagen eGolf

eGolf Compared

Being the first fully electric car Volkswagen made, their redesigned Volkswagen Golf was gutted and made into an electric car. It has surprisingly good efficiency. In addition to that, a 24.2kW version can now be had for less than 10K USD (barely). All the other specs make it comparable to the first generation of the Leaf. 

Look below for important specs:

  • Battery Capacity: 24.2kW
  • Fuel Type: Electric
  • Electric Range: 83 miles
  • Charge Times: 20 hrs @ 110-120v and 3.7 hrs @ 220-240v and 0.50 hrs @ 440v
  • Used Values: $10,000-$15,000
  • Drivetrain: FWD

2017-2018 Hyundai Ioniq Electric

Ioniq EV Compared

Hyundai FINALLY introduced their first fully electric car, the Ioniq Electric. One of three types of Ioniq (regular hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electric). Much like the Volkswagen eGolf from 2017-2018, the Ioniq Electric still has some time before it becomes a good bargain. Aside from that, it has many specs which are comparable.

Have a look below:

  • Battery Capacity: 28.0kW
  • Fuel Type: Electric
  • Electric Range: 124 miles
  • Charge Times: 24 hrs @ 110-120v and 4.0 hrs @ 220-240v and 0.50 hrs @ 440v
  • Used Values: $22,000-$28,000
  • Drivetrain: FWD

2017-2018 Volkswagen eGolf

eGolf Compared

The most updated version (internally) of the Volkswagen Golf, they managed to increase their range by 42 miles. While the car is newer and still has some time left for the price to drop, it is a great competitor against the 2nd generation Nissan Leaf. 

Below are the important specs:

  • Battery Capacity: 35.8kW
  • Fuel Type: Electric
  • Electric Range: 125 miles
  • Charge Times: 26 hrs @ 110-120v and 5.5 hrs @ 220-240v and 0.50 hrs @ 440v
  • Used Values: $19,000-$26,000
  • Drivetrain: FWD
Gen1 vs Gen2 Leaf

Here's the Bottom Line

Let’s wrap it up about the Nissan Leaf. What you’ve read above is the most important information you need to know when it comes to the 1st and 2nd generation of the Nissan Leaf. From 2011 to 2019 (present models), it’s EVERYTHING I could find in my research and my personal experience driving the different models of the Nissan Leaf.

If you are on the fence and have some doubts, go ahead and resort to this guide to help you know more about these cars. Also, if you read this entire guide and couldn’t fin what you are looking for, reach out to me in the contact box and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can with some help.

It gets AvtoWow’s “Seal of Approval”.

Thanks for reading and share with others, see you in the next one!