2019 Nissan Leaf SL PLUS: electric vehicle with more power

Electric vehicles are inching their way to relevancy.

My latest tester, the 2019 Nissan Leaf SL PLUS is proof.

The PLUS designation refers to the Leaf’s more powerful (62 kWh) lithium-ion battery pack that increases the car’s range by almost 50%, to an EPA-rated range of 226 miles. That answers one of my biggest pet peeves.

Couple that with a more powerful 160 kW motor, and the Leaf SL PLUS generates 214 horsepower (a 45% increase) and 250 lb.-ft. of torque. That’s enough power to not only accelerate quickly from a red light, but enough power to pass vehicles on the freeway, accelerating from 60 to 70 miles per hour.

Other than the price – which still needs to come down – and maybe a little more infrastructure, I’m sold.

I still found myself rolling down the windows, rather than turning on the air conditioning when the sun actually came out and the cabin got hot. Or putting on my coat in the morning rather than turning on the heater – but that’s really just an old bad habit now.

The Leaf, which was launched in 2010 and has been the bestselling vehicle in the world, had plenty of range – even with accessories blasting, to get me to and from any of my daily destinations. And with a quick overnight charge, was ready to do it again.

Mix in a striking exterior design and numerous cutting-edge technologies, and what’s not to like? My tester featured an aerodynamic body styling, including a rear bumper with a clear-cut curve and aero-design wheels. The charging port is in the front, just below the V-motion grille.

Leaf seats up to five adults, and the trunk is functional. It even works for golf clubs if one of the back seats is folded flat.

The top-of-the-line SL PLUS features LED headlight, heated outside mirrors with integrated turn signals, leather-appointed seats, eight-way power driver’s seat with two-way lumbar support, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, cargo cover, auto-dimming inside mirror, HomeLink universal transceiver, Bose premium audio with seven speakers, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, intelligent around-view monitor, intelligent driver alertness, hybrid heater, rear heater ducts, ProPILOT Assist, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, electric parking brake, high-beam assist, and intelligent lane intervention.

Of that long list, ProPILOT Assist is worthy of another paragraph. It’s basically another baby step toward autonomous driving – meaning you’re fired.

ProPilot functions on a single-lane highway and keeps you a driver-selected distance behind the vehicle ahead. It also keeps the vehicle centered in its lane. If the car in front stops, ProPILOT Assist can automatically apply the brakes to bring the vehicle to a full stop. After coming to a full stop, the vehicle can remain in place even if your foot is off the brake. When traffic restarts, the car will resume driving when you touch the steering wheel-mounted ProPILOT Assist switch. All these functions can help reduce stress when driving on the highway in both heavy traffic and long commutes.

Amen to that.

Base Price: $43,445

Price As Driven: $44,315

Base price includes destination charge. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturer. List price may vary at local dealerships.

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