The battery-electric five-door hatchback sits on the footprint of a compact car, but has the interior room of a mid-size vehicle under federal rules because it is especially well-packaged. Like the Toyota Prius, which is a hybrid that requires gasoline to run, the all-electric Leaf’s shape is distinctive and unique, which translates to polarizing for many shoppers and buyers. A sloping front replaces the grille a rectangular hatch over the electric charging ports, and its bug-eyed headlights sweep back almost to the windshield pillars. At the back, vertical ribbons of LED taillights flank the tailgate.Inside, the Leaf is more conventional aside from a chintzy gear knob that requires a little acclimation. The base S trim level isn’t exactly opulent, but higher end models feature a big infotainment screen and surprisingly nice leather trim.
On the road, a Leaf operates and drives like a normal compact car—albeit a quiet one—though many of its controls have a slightly remote feel, since virtually all of them control a device that’s electrically actuated. Although its 0-60 mph sprint of a hair less than 10 seconds isn’t impressive, the Leaf’s immediate torque is appreciable around town, where it’ll beat even sports cars off the line. It’s also very quiet at lower speeds since its electric motor transmits no rumble into the cabin.
The Leaf keeps up with traffic, is easy to drive, carries four people comfortably—and five when needed—and comes with the usual features and accessories found on any compact car.You might be surprised with the Leaf’s interior room. Thanks to its flat battery and the fact that it doesn’t need a gas tank, it offers more space inside than its compact dimensions might suggest. Front seat passengers are treated to upright thrones that don’t adjust for height on the base S trim level but are heated on all models. The back seat offers good room for two adults or three in a pinch, and even the Leaf’s cargo area is deeper than you might expect.