2019 Nissan Leaf: New Safety Tech, Still Short on Range

Could the updates for 2019 help the Nissan Leaf go mainstream?

MY 2019 Nissan LEAF
Nissan—Nissan

Year, Make, Model: 2019 Nissan Leaf

Topline: Nissan has announced pricing and updates for the 2019 Leaf electric hatchback, revealing that it gets clever safety improvements and will eventually have more driving range, addressing a major criticism of the model.

What's New: Propilot automated cruise control handles acceleration and deceleration in heavy traffic, provided the driver's hands remain on the wheel and they remain in the same lane. Single-pedal driving mode can be chosen, wherein the accelerator controls acceleration and deceleration, and lifting off at a stop will leave the vehicle stationary, even on a hill. Later in the 2019 model year, Nissan will standardize its Rear Door Assist (RDA) feature, which will remind drivers to check the back seat after parking their cars to avoid leaving important items behind.

Nissan also states that it will release a variant with additional range, but does not specify whether the long-range Leaf will come in the 2019 model year or beyond. Pricing for 2019 model year vehicles does not change, with base models slipping in at $29,990, Leaf SV models at $32,490, and the Leaf SL at $36,200.

What You Need to Know: Despite receiving a significant increase in range in its second generation, it continues to be a major bellyache for Leaf owners, as exemplified in a review by The Drive's Lawrence Ulrich. Its 150 miles of range are far below standard for the current generation of electric vehicles, as it competes with the likes of the Chevrolet Bolt, which boasts 238 miles of range. Soon enough, it will need to compete with the long-awaited base $35,000 Tesla Model 3, whose production is expected to begin before the 2020 model year Leaf arrives.

The Leaf's range is not attributable to immature electric powertrain technology, however; its efficiency is superior to that of some older Tesla products. Its major limitation is its minuscule 40 kWh battery pack, which is dwarfed by the entry-level Model 3's 50 and Bolt's 60 kWh packs. Given a 55 kWh or larger battery, the Leaf should, in theory, be capable of cracking 200 miles—The Drive has reached out to Nissan to see if such an option will be what Nissan uses to augment the Leaf's range to produce the longer-range model it promises. We will update when we receive a response.