What Nissan Leaf Should You Buy? Old Vs New
Written By: Ryan Hender
2019 Nissan Electric Car, is it worth turning over a new Leaf, or should you keep the one you have?
See what I did there? I can be funny sometimes! Just don’t ask my kids, they often get tired of my dad jokes. But all jokes aside, Nissan has made some dramatic improvements over the years. In some ways they’ve slid backwards with the introduction of the horrible CVT transmission that is found on most Nissans nowadays. To their credit, not only Nissan puts CVT transmissions in their cars.
Stepping away from CVTs all together we introduce the subject of this article, the 2021 Nissan Leaf. An all electric compact car that is the leader in the compact electric segment, unless you consider a Tesla Model 3 a “compact car”.
A decade ago Nissan launched their very first leaf. A sweetly designed skateboard of a car that left a lot to be desired in terms of range, but for someone wishing to trim a few tons of carbon from their own footprint it was perfect. Nissan was plagued with major battery issues right off the bat, with cars losing a significant amount of range within the first year or two, as if the sub 100 miles of range wasn’t bad enough. The EPA rated the car at just 73 miles on a single charge when it was first introduced to the U.S. market, but as with all new technology it didn’t come without technical difficulty.
Numbers Don’t Lie:
In 2019 the Leaf sold just over 10,000 units, which is down from the 11,920 they sold in 2018, but why? In 2010 Nissan sold a whopping 19 units, but that quickly jumped to 9,674 units in 2011 and hovered around there over the last decade.
The Nissan Leaf compact electric has remained largely unchanged, that is until 2020 when they felt the pinch from rivals from competitors who were swooping in to carve themselves a slice of electric pie. Enter Tesla Model 3, Hyundai Kona Electric, Chevrolet Bolt, and a few others. The Bolt EV made by Chevrolet was introduced with 238 miles of range, which rivaled the Tesla offerings of the more affordable Model 3 at 260+ miles of range.
When it comes to buying a new car, the last thing most people are worried about is the reliability, because of the new car warranty. But when it comes to buying a used car, are Used Nissan Leafs reliable? The short answer here is yes. At least they should be, and here is why.
Electric drivetrains are much more simple and have less moving parts to wear out, as compared to their internal combustion engine counterparts. That said, the technology in modern electric motors and battery systems are relatively new, so we don’t really have a long enough track record yet to say for certain. The most common part to go out in a Nissan Leaf is the Single Reduction Gear, which runs about $2,500 if out of warranty. This part is what replaces what you may recognize as the Transmission in an I.C.E. (Internal Combustion Engine) car.
The other main component that could “go out” and cost money would be the battery system itself. Batteries don’t like cold temps, and they hate even more hot temps. Most people who have had issues with their battery don’t see a need to replace the battery, but rather to just “deal with” the fact that their total range degrades over time.
All together, electric cars should be far more reliable, and require a lot less maintenance than gas automobiles, so they are a safe bet.
The biggest reason you may want to buy a Nissan Leaf would be the extreme reduction in your costs of driving. Just to give you some numbers. Depending on where you live, the cost to fill up the Nissan Leaf ranges in the $2-$5 per fill up (or less). As compared to a similarly sized compact car with a gas engine, you’d be looking at no less than $25 for a fill up. That’s roughly 90% in savings. This is assuming you are really ok with a car that gets minimal range.
What’s New Exterior:
In the 2019 model year, the exterior styling changed quite a bit. Mostly the shape remains the same, but the corners are chiseled out a bit more. The headlights are brought a little lower on the front facia giving it a meaner look. The overall stance is a little sleeker and lower to the ground. The new Leaf looks less like the poor overweight kid who gets made fun of on the playground, and more like the kid that came to stand up for you when someone was stealing your lunch money.
The standard 2019 Leaf comes with a 110-kW electric motor that pumps out 147 horsepower to the front wheels; a 40-kWh battery pack provides the power. Leaf Plus models come with a gutsier, 214-hp with a 160-kW electric motor and a larger 62-kWh battery.
What Should You Buy:
If you already have a Nissan Leaf and LOVE it, the big reason to upgrade to the New Leaf would be the added range. To go from under 100 miles to almost 250 miles of range, it is basically a no brainer. But it comes at a cost. The top of the line (with incentives) will land you just north of the $34k mark, and the base model will be roughly $29,500.
If you’re in the market for your first electric, and can’t quite stomach the price tag of the new models, now is a GREAT time to look at buying a used Leaf. In with the new, out with the old, this could mean BIG discounts for buyers of used Nissan Leafs since there are so many sitting on car lots with people upgrading to the newer model. Many dealers we looked at while writing this story have 10 or more Used Nissan Leafs on their lots. You can pick up a 2015 top of the line SL model for just over $10,000, or a 2017 SL for just $15,500 or so.