Is the Nissan Leaf S Plus Worth the Extra Money?

Nissan Leaf S Plus: Since its release in 2010, the Nissan Leaf has come to be one of the most popular electric vehicles (EVs) on the market, with an estimated range of 100 miles per charge and an affordable price tag to match. As electric cars have grown in popularity, several new options have popped up to challenge the Leaf’s dominance in its category, however, which makes it worth asking: is Nissan’s 2022 LEAF Plus Worth It? I’ll break down some of the biggest differences between the standard and Plus versions below so you can make an informed decision about which Nissan Leaf model might be right for you.

Benefits of Nissan LEAF S Plus 2022:

The Nissan LEAF is a unique vehicle in its price range. It comes with standard semi-autonomous driving features like automatic lane keeping and traffic jam assistance, both of which are optional in other vehicles. If that’s not enough to win you over, it also offers a one-pedal driving mode that lets you maintain speed by simply coasting once you’ve reached your desired velocity. If your battery ever dies, don’t worry—the LEAF has an EZ-Charge post that recharges up to 80% of your car’s charge after 30 minutes at public charging stations.

Nissan LEAF S Plus Range:

For many shoppers, Nissan’s main EV competitor—the Chevy Bolt—has more range than they need. But for others, especially those who commute long distances on a daily basis, it may not be enough. In fact, when I think about my hypothetical LEAF comparison shopping scenario, my mental accounting says that I’d have to spend close to $40K just to get a car with sufficient range. The effective price of every kWh of driving range is just too high.

Other EVs Offer Better Options Than LEAF S Plus:

The Nissan LEAF is a practical option for many mainstream buyers, with its affordable price and roomy, comfortable interior. However, if you are looking for better range than that offered by a typical LEAF, your options are fairly limited. The Chevy Bolt—the closest thing to an all-electric family car on the market—offers 238 miles of estimated driving range and a base price of $36,620 (after tax credits). A similarly priced Ford Focus Electric can only manage 120 miles of estimated driving range. If you want more range and don’t want to pay a premium for it then you’ll need to opt for Tesla’s Model 3 or wait for Hyundai’s Ioniq Electric when it goes on sale in 2022.

Where This Vehicle Ranks:

In a market dominated by long-range, affordable EVs, it’s tough to recommend anything less than 200 miles of range. The Nissan LEAF isn’t far off that mark at 149 miles of estimated driving range for a base model and 226 for an upgraded Plus model. But does an extra 77 miles justify spending over $10,000 more on a vehicle with limited cargo space? That’s a lot of money to pay for additional capacity that most people don’t even use. In our eyes, it’s not worth it.

What’s New for 2022?

Nissan is readying a new longer-range LEAF for 2022, but until then, you can buy a standard EV with an estimated range of 149 miles that has a starting price of $33,990. The new Nissan LEAF S PLUS model, on sale now and available in 2020, comes with more power and a longer driving range of 226 miles at an MSRP of $39,990. But is it worth paying extra money for? In short: No. Although its specs are impressive on paper, in reality they make little difference to your day-to-day driving.

Engine, Transmission, and Performance:

In base trim, there’s a standard 140-horsepower electric motor and an estimated driving range of 149 miles; upgrading to a Plus model increases that range to 226 miles. The battery pack itself is also rated at 110 kilowatt-hours, which is large enough to power most families around town and on short commutes. There’s also an e-Pedal system that reduces stress on your brake pads by limiting acceleration with nothing more than a tap of your foot. We were able to zip in and out of traffic while staying at or below speed limits in daily driving conditions – but only if we were driving conservatively.

Charging, and Battery Life:

The standard Nissan LEAF S has a driving range of 149 miles, while an upgraded model with 224-mile estimated range is also available. The 2020 Hyundai Kona EV has only 113 miles of range; however, it can be charged in as little as 30 minutes on a fast charger. The Chevy Bolt has up to 238 miles of range and takes less than eight hours to charge on a Level 2 charger. If you need long-range capability but plan to charge your car at home, consider waiting for the upcoming Mercedes-Benz EQC with an estimated 200-mile driving range that can be fully charged in nine hours on a Level 2 charger.

Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG:

To understand why a range upgrade seems less exciting for current Nissan LEAF owners, we must first understand how fuel economy is measured. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gives vehicles an estimated driving range rating on a miles per gallon of gasoline equivalent (MPGe) scale—but then factors in an extra 10 percent to allow for real-world driving conditions. For example, a new Leaf S with its standard 29-kWh battery pack has an EPA rating of 149 miles of driving range and 107 MPGe; when you factor in that 10 percent, you get 162 miles and 118 MPGe, respectively.

Interior, Comfort, and Cargo:
Nissan Leaf S Plus
Nissan Leaf S Plus

The interior of a leaf is well laid out, with clear gauges and plenty of room for four adults. Materials look high-quality, although you have to cut away a couple of plastic panels to reveal storage cubbies and available charging ports. The upgraded infotainment system is easy to use, but takes some getting used to; Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on all models. Rear seats fold down to increase cargo capacity. Unfortunately, Nissan didn’t include an optional cargo cover like competitors such as Ford’s C-Max Energi and Chevy’s Volt offer.