Air Quality

Published on February 26th, 2016 | by Cynthia Shahan


A Friend’s First Drive Experience Of The Nissan LEAF

February 26th, 2016 by  

After that 5-hour drive that might have been 2 hours, and my tardiness, I wanted my host to understand truly my passion for the Nissan LEAF. As I apologized for being later than scheduled, he suggested perhaps I should switch to a Chevy Bolt. I suggested he drive the LEAF. I easily count on everyone’s first experience of the Nissan LEAF as being informative for them (thus far, they seem always to be immeasurably enjoyable).

We passed his rather new top-of-the-line Audi as we walked through his garage to the LEAF. Frank drives sleek, high-quality automobiles. His last was a sporty BMW.

Besides his love for beautiful cars, and art, Frank is a natural environmentalist and lives with a lighter footprint than many. He dries his clothes on the line. His diet consists of (for many years) all-organic food, leaning towards and mostly vegan. I did not have to explain to him anything about the downs of air pollution and why I was avoiding all gas stations. Due to the inconvenience of the longer drive, I wanted him to know why I would choose this lengthy drive again — in the LEAF.

For the 2016 model year, LEAF adds a number of significant enhancements – beginning with a new 30 kWh battery for LEAF SV and LEAF SL models that delivers an EPA-estimated driving range of 107 miles* on a fully charged battery. The range of a LEAF S model is 84 miles, giving buyers a choice in affordability and range.

For the 2016 model year, LEAF adds a number of significant enhancements – beginning with a new 30 kWh battery for LEAF SV and LEAF SL models that delivers an EPA-estimated driving range of 107 miles* on a fully charged battery. The range of a LEAF S model is 84 miles, giving buyers a choice in affordability and range.I taped some of his comments as we drove. To begin, Frank shares his experience as we get going (these are from memory):

(Cynthia) “You begin by pressing the start button.”

(Frank) “OK, I pressed the start button, but nothing happened.”

(C) “Yes, it did. It started up.”

(F) “What? It’s running? . . I can’t even hear it.”

(C) “Put it in reverse and try backing out of the driveway?”

(F) “Wow, the rear-view camera is awesome. I can see 180 degrees behind me on the video display.”

(C) “How does it feel?”

(F) “Nice turning ratio. I can back up and turn at the same time using just one hand…. Let’s try it out on the open road.”

Moments later

(C) “Now that you’ve been driving for a while, what do you think?”

(F) “It’s hard to believe how nice this car feels gliding down the road, so smooth and quiet. I think the best word to describe it is effortless.”

(C) “Would you buy one?”

(F) “Hmm. I’ve got a year and a half left on my current lease. I’ll certainly check one out then. I’m sure they’ll be updated with more miles between charges, etc. Thanks for the test drive.”

Now, here are a few remarks that my cell phone kept:

(F) “It’s so responsive — moving as in a silent airplane through time and space. I feel as if I am on a private plane.”

(C) “Without that terrible smell of diesel or any distractions.”


At that point, there was no more explaining for me to do. Frank was clearly loving the
experience of the LEAF. He mentions smooth, soft, air bound. He presses on the electron pedal and is quite impressed with the torque. One typically thinks of Tesla and torque, but all fully electric cars have it.

Zero emissions and an immeasurably comfortable drive are what sets a Nissan LEAF apart in my opinion.

014 (2)

Again, one correlates strong torque to a Tesla Model S P90D or perhaps BMW i3, yet Frank thrills again with our swift flight forward in the LEAF. Torque is different with an all-electric car. Completely distinct from the experience of an ICE.


I encourage him to go test drive a Tesla, experience the autopilot. I think Frank’s next car might be an EV of some kind.

Related Stories:

The Tesla Dealership Experience + Autopilot Test Drive

Nissan LEAF #1 (Again) Non-Luxury Traditional Compact Car In IHS Loyalty Awards

Muchas Gracias to Frank

Images: Top two interior images from (Media Nissan Press Photos); all other images by Cynthia Shahan © 2016

Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

Tags: , , , , ,

About the Author

is a Mother, an Organic Farmer, Licensed Acupuncturist, Anthropology Studies, and mother of four unconditionally loving spirits, teachers, and environmentally conscious beings who have lit the way for me for decades.

  • Larry

    It is a crying shame that Nissan spends all their advertising budget promoting their line of “Me too Toyota copycat gasoline powered models”. When is the management at Nissan going to realize they have a chance to be an industry leader with this car?

    • Brent Jatko

      Yes, I’ve seen more ads for the Ford Focus Electric than I’ve seen for the Leaf.

      Maybe sales are supply-constrained?

  • “He presses on the gas and is quite impressed with the torque.”

    My wife and I laughed at this sentence – not at the author (love your articles, Ms. Shahan!), but at how ingrained the use of “gas” has become for the accelerator pedal after the Unfortunate Petroleum Century!

    Perhaps “He presses on the electrons…” 😀

    • Brent Jatko

      HAR! I didn’t even notice that!

      • cynthia Irene

        Love that they caught it. !!

    • cynthia Irene

      Thank you Thank you Thank you. going to get Zach to change this.

    • Sheesh, that slipped past me. Have caught that kind of slip before from people, but is an interesting lesson that I didn’t this time.

    • neroden

      I call it the accelerator, but that’s a bit long. It’s also been called the “go pedal”, which I like.

  • gendotte

    I just bought an off lease Leaf (say that 3 times fast) I like the car, love not needing gas, impressed by the torque. But face it. It rides like a lumber wagon. I’m getting used to it, but that is one rough riding sob.

    • Michael B

      What?! Maybe your tires or something else is inflated too highly.

  • Kraylin

    What was his opinion on the looks of the Leaf? It sounds as if we have similar taste in cars in general and sadly I would never buy the Leaf on looks alone. If the next gen Leaf looks similiar to last gen then specs don’t matter as I will not consider one. The Tesla Model 3, if it looks like a shrunken Model S than it is a strong contender for my next vehicle. So ultimately specs matter for sure, but no matter how great a car is and no matter how much a vehicle meets my true or perceived needs, I would never buy a car I didn’t like the look of… I assume that’s normal…

    No offense of course, I understand looks are subjective and therefore go opposite to my taste as well. Your test drives are a great idea to spread the awareness of the benefits of EV’s. As more ‘mainstream’ options become available with longer ranges and affordable prices I see how traditional gas vehicles will have trouble competing.

    • Tom Capon

      Normal but not universal. I’ll admit the Leaf’s appearance was a little jarring for the first few months, but I took the plunge because I believed in the technology. Now, with four years of smooth driving together, I find its unique visage oddly endearing.

  • omar

    I would like to test it

    • cynthia Irene

      You should. For sure.

Back to Top ↑