New wild wheels, light badge, same batteries

As the first true electric vehicle made by a major manufacturer – not just as a limited model or something for the buyer looking to invest in a startup – the 2010 Nissan Leaf was one of the first low-cost electrified entry-level vehicles. for the masses. Just over 12 years and 500,000 cars later, the 2023 Nissan Leaf bows at the 2022 New York International Auto Show with updated styling and a streamlined lineup that boils down to two trim levels, the Leaf S and Leaf SV Plus; the top-of-the-line SL offered for 2022 is gone.

Since its generation change in 2017, the Nissan Leaf has become a pretty thing, at least for a compact five-door hatchback. Although the Leaf’s range increasingly leaves something to be desired – the rest of the EV world, including other affordable EVs, has long passed it – it’s still remained a bargain for those who are looking to buy their first electric vehicle as it offered many trim packages to choose from and last year Nissan cut prices dramatically.

Now, however, it looks like Nissan is consolidating the Leaf range even further into affordable territory, cutting trim levels from three – each with range-extending “Plus” versions – to just two: the S and SV Plus. , with the S limited to the smaller 40kWh battery and the SV getting the 62kWh pack. Nissan says this “tailor-made” range “reflects the features and technologies most demanded by consumers” with “the best value”.

A better leaf on the wind, but will it blow away?

To coincide with only two new versions being offered, the 2023 Leaf features updated looks that also improve its aerodynamics. The grille, bumper moldings and headlights feature a black interior finish to help set it apart from the 2022 model. The “Nissan” badging – as with any model that goes EV these days – is also now illuminated and in the new streamlined design that Nissan is pursuing. To help it cut through the air, its aerodynamic parts have been reshaped for better fluidity.

The tire deflectors, rear underdiffuser and rear spoiler are all changed from the 2022 model and allow the Leaf to really glide by soaking up its battery power. On the SV Plus trim, a new set of 17-inch five-spoke wheels feature a more aggressive look without interfering with the Leaf’s aero profile. While some of us here at MotorTrend love the new design, others think there is too much black for the small amount of machining on the wheel. It’s a very drastic design, regardless, and in motion they don’t look awful and the machining provides some contrast when the wheels of the SV Plus are rolling.

Familiar interior space

Inside, the Leaf hasn’t changed much, but the steering wheel features the all-new “Nissan” badge and the dashboard start-up video has changed. The S and SV Plus both feature black cloth with gray trim on the S and gloss black trim on the SV Plus to differentiate the two trims inside. The SV Plus is also equipped with ProPilot Assist, which includes the “stop and hold” function that brings the Leaf to a complete stop, hold and return to speed when traffic moves again.

Feed that green leaf

Looks like Nissan isn’t budging on the Leaf’s small battery options, although as we mentioned earlier the packs are now version-specific: 40kWh on the S and 62kWh on the SV Plus. The automaker is also sticking with its old-school charging connector as the CHAdeMO plug remains, along with the J1772 Level 2 AC charger for the US. This means you will either have to charge overnight or while you are working with Level 2 AC or hope to find a CHAdeMO charger which will potentially take up to 45 minutes to reach 80%. That’s whether its 100kW rate remains from 2022. Why Nissan remains committed to this harder-to-find and slower system compared to the more available and faster CCS fast-charging system remains a mystery to us. especially since the next Ariya will skip CHAdeMO for that faster infrastructure. Why couldn’t the Leaf get it too?

With a 110 kW motor in the S, this entry-level model develops 147 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque while the SV Plus uses a 160 kW motor (214 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque). Range figures for either car have yet to be released, but we fully expect the same performance as the 2022 model, and Nissan alludes to that in its announcement. That means the 2023 Leaf S should go nearly 140 miles per charge on its 40 kWh battery, while the SV Plus and its 62 kWh battery clock in at around 220 miles.

Smaller battery choices and slower “fast charger” aside, the 2023 Nissan Leaf still looks great in this current EV realm. If Nissan can keep the price close to the 2022 Leaf, which it says it plans to do, then the Leaf still offers plenty for first-time EV buyers and those who don’t need stratospheric lineup numbers. We’d still like to see a bigger battery and higher charge rate on an easier-to-find charging network. Or, you know, a mighty all-wheel-drive NISMO Leaf would be hilarious too.