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2019 Nissan Leaf Plus First Drive Review

On Tuesday, February 26th, 2019

The 2019 Nissan Leaf Plus is one of those “ask and you shall receive” situations. The company has lagged behind in the range discussion for too long — the redesigned 2018 Leaf has only a 150-mile range, after all. This is plenty for some people, but the competition offers more. Nissan heard the cries, and now we have the Leaf Plus. Hallelujah, right?

2019 Nissan Leaf Plus

Picking out a Leaf Plus from a group of normal Leafs is easiest if you’re looking at it from behind. Nissan added a “Plus” badge to the bottom right-hand part of the hatch under the trim designation. Then if you’re a true EV sleuth, the lower front bumper lip is painted in a contrasting blue as long as you didn’t opt for the dark blue paint option. This looks good on some colors, but a bit disjointed on others. Choose wisely, we’ll say.

With a larger battery to charge, Nissan improved the quick charging rate to 100 kW DC, and so in ideal conditions the Leaf Plus can achieve 80 percent charge after 45 minutes, packing in 60 more miles of charge in the same amount of time than its slower-charging counterpart.

We wouldn’t call it slow, but there just isn’t any electric verve to acceleration from a stop. Even with traction control turned off, the front tires won’t break loose if it’s pointed in a straight line. It’s a bit of a shame, because the ridiculous torque surge right off the line has always been the hilariously fun part of driving an electric car.

Handling is average if not slightly uninspiring. The chassis feels solid with a low center of gravity, but the steering’s numbness and the high-up driving position limit any potential for fun. Even with the seat adjusted as close to the floor as possible it still felt like we were sitting too high up. All in, you’ll have a little bit of fun driving the Leaf Plus on a winding road, but not more than that.

For now, this cheap and cheerful electric appliance gets more appealing with competitive range and a little more power. A “hallelujah” moment? Not exactly. Let’s call it a medium-sized step in the right direction. That’s more like it.

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