Nissan Leaf

BY PAULA MCPHERSON

I first saw the Nissan Leaf in our garage, with the charging cord connected, when I arrived home from work. I thought it was cute.

Later, after it was charged, I discovered it’s also easy to drive. It’s both comfortable and quiet.

The instruments are unique. A digital speedometer requires no explanation and there is an electronic battery charge indicator in lieu of a fuel gauge. It superimposes a digital readout of the miles left.

But, there is also an electronic battery temperature gauge that never seemed to move. And there is an arc of dots across the top of the second tier instrument cluster. The more dots that light to the right, the more electricity you are using. The more dots to the left, the more electricity you are putting back into the batteries by coasting or regenerative braking. It is a constant reminder to accelerate gradually and slow down on the highway.

There is ample room for groceries in the hatchback and the rear seats fold for even more capacity. The liftgate is within reach of a shorter driver when fully raised.

One interesting feature is the ability to heat or cool the interior either with a timer or remote control while the Leaf is still plugged in to an outlet. This way, you can get the car comfortable without reducing the battery’s charge and vehicle’s range. There’s also an ECO mode of driving that noticeably dulls throttle response in the interest of greater range. I used it as much as possible; in other words, when I remembered to engage it.

While I would require another car for longer trips, this Leaf offers all the transportation that I would need for 90 percent of my travels.

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