With an affordable price tag, great style and plenty of features, the Nissan LEAF is a crowd favorite.

Are you in the market for a four-door, five-seat electric vehicle? Whether you’re new to electrics or a diehard fan, the Nissan LEAF is well worth a look. Here, we'll share 10 reasons why this zippy car should be on your list of electric vehicles to check out.

1. Distinctive exterior styling 

For a four-door passenger vehicle, the Nissan LEAF certainly has a unique look about it. Designers gave it a sloping hood and elongated headlights that reach almost to the windshield. They added a rectangular hatch that swoops over the charging ports, and bold LED taillights that bracket the tailgate. Then there’s the snappy rear spoiler, which adds a sporty feeling to this little hatchback. 

2. Comfort and room

A hatchback probably isn't the first kind of car that springs to mind when you think of "roomy," but the Nissan LEAF has ample room for five. Part of this can be attributed to the fact that Nissan built it from the ground up as an electric car, with passenger space in mind, as opposed to retrofitting a gas-engined passenger vehicle with electric components like a bulky electric motor and battery pack.

So, you won't find the battery crowding your legs in the cabin. Nissan situated the flat battery under the seats and beneath the rear passengers' foot space. This gives everyone in the front and back lots of room to stretch out their legs. 

3. Cargo space

Don’t let the Nissan LEAF’s compact, hatchback design fool you into thinking that its cargo space is compromised. You'll find 24 cubic feet of space in the back, with the ability to make more room for larger items once you fold the 60/40-split rear seats down. Once you do, your available cargo space increases to 30 cubic feet. It’s flexible—you can carry four passengers at a time, or you can carry a passenger and a large pet cage, or camping equipment for a weekend.

4. Silent running 

Electric vehicles are known for being quiet. The LEAF is pretty near silent. When you’re trekking along at highway speeds in a LEAF SV or SL, the only thing you’ll likely hear is the wind outside — or whatever’s playing through your Bose® sound system, which is a premium option available on 2013-and-newer LEAF SV and SL models.

5. Commuter-friendly

According to fueleconomy.gov, LEAF drivers can enjoy 75 miles of range on a full charge.* Range will vary depending on the year and trim of the LEAF, your driving style and other factors like cold weather, use of the heater or air conditioner, and hilly terrain. The LEAF is an excellent option for commuting to work or school with plenty of juice left over for a stop at the market on the way home.

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6. Agile and smooth 

The Nissan LEAF is agile and handles well. This is partially due to the batteries’ location under the floor, which provides a low center of gravity. In our 2013 LEAF SV road test, CarMax sales consultants noticed its peppy, smooth acceleration, thanks to an 80-kilowatt engine and a 30 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. This translates to 107 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque. According to manufacturer data, this car, when new, could reach 60 mph from a standstill in just about 10 seconds.

7. Loads of options

Nissan didn't skimp on features when they designed the LEAF electric vehicle. Even the base model — the S — comes with many standard features that you’d find on any passenger vehicle. For example, the following are included standard: 

  • Automatic climate control
  • Heated steering wheel
  • Rearview camera (all models since 2014)
  • Four-speaker audio system
  • Keyless ignition and entry
  • Push-button start
  • USB port
  • Heated front and rear seats (all models since 2012)
  • Apple® iPod interface
  • Five-inch color display
  • Bluetooth® capable system 
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Stepping up with two additional trim level options provides a host of premium features. The 2017 SV models offer an advanced navigation system with a 7-inch display, satellite radio and Bose® audio system. The 2017 SL models include leather upholstery, 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights and a quick-charge port that can provide an 80-percent charge in just 30 minutes when plugged into a commercial charging station with high voltage. 

8. Brake and build up your battery

Regenerative brakes are pretty much standard equipment on electric, hybrid, and electric/gas vehicles. What exactly are regenerative brakes? As you press down on the brake pedal, electric motors spring to life and slow the car while also recharging – or regenerating –  the batteries. The system then transitions to traditional friction brakes in order to stop your car completely. During our 2013 LEAF SV road test, our sales consultants reported that the LEAF’s braking system is smooth in its transition from regenerative to friction braking.  The power meter on the Nissan LEAF’s instrument cluster instantly lets you know when power is being used or added. 

9. Charging options 

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How long does it take to charge a Nissan LEAF? Nissan says that when new, the 2013 LEAF could be fully charged in about 30 hours when using a 120-volt, household Level 1 charger. The game changes pretty drastically when you’re using a Level 2 charger, however; aftermarket Level 2 chargers are available from a variety of companies and are designed to provide quicker charge times. Many electric vehicle owners have a 240-volt outlet installed in their garages for just this reason. 

10. Intuitive instrument panel

While the Nissan LEAF is an electric vehicle, you don't have to worry about a complex, steep learning-curve system of gauges and switches. According to one of our senior purchasers, this is a common misconception from consumers who come to test drive an electric vehicle for the first time.

As our buyer points out, the Nissan LEAF makes the process of knowing what's going on with your car simple. "The instrument panel in the Nissan LEAF is streamlined in design while still offering all the information you need. Its two-level design includes a large monitor that provides real-time data like energy usage, recharging points located nearby, and your driving range," he notes. Level 2 public charging stations like Blink® or ChargePoint® typically require you to have an account so you can ‘pay at the pump’.

Today, more drivers are choosing used hybrid cars than ever before — and electric vehicles, too! That’s because increasingly, customers are considering “going green,” and they’re looking for style and efficiency on the road. The Nissan LEAF grabs your attention as soon as you see it. When you combine its sporty good looks with its voluminous array of features, you can understand why it’s got a lot of popularity with electric car customers. If you’re considering a Nissan LEAF, take one for a test drive to get the best feel for it, and decide for yourself whether it meets your own driving needs and lifestyle. 

CarMax offers many other used hybrid cars and used electric vehicles in addition to the Nissan LEAF, including the Chevrolet Volt, the Ford Focus Hybrid, and more. 

*Based on EPA estimates. Range will vary based on things like battery age, vehicle condition, and driving conditions.  Battery range may decrease with time and use.  See fueleconomy.gov and store for details.

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