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LA 2017: Nissan Leaf test drive

29 November 2017 | by Karl Smith

We’ve previously covered the release of the new generation Nissan Leaf, and today at the Los Angeles Auto Show we got to take a mini-test drive.

As we have previously reported, this new generation of Leaf is not a radical departure from the original design. The Leaf is a top-selling electric and you don't want to mess with success. Still, current Nissan design cues, most successfully seen on the Maxima and Murano, have influenced the design, and on the street the car looks sleeker and more like a sports sedan than its previous version.

We drove a fully loaded model with all the bells and whistles, including a Bose sound systems and Nissan’s new hands-on-the-wheel autonomous system. 

But it was the basic electric drive that we were concerned with, given our short drive around lunch hour downtown L.A.- always an adventure no matter what you are driving. The acceleration from a traffic light was quick and smooth – Nissan has increased the torque in this new Leaf and it shows.

We drove the car in eco mode which allows for single pedal driving. This takes some getting used to; one has to push hard on the accelerator, and the regenerative braking is very strong at the slightest release of the pedal. Still we could see this mode becoming your favorite with a little practice.


The cabin is roomy for a small car and four adults can fit comfortably. The rear doors are a bit awkward for a tall person, but the front doors make accessing cockpit easy. The trunk is roomy too, although our test car had a slightly compromised storage space due to the impressive Bose subwoofer making itself at home there.

The handling and presence of the car in city traffic is good and occasionally excellent. The ride is near-silent with just a slight whine, and surrounding noise from construction was blocked by more than adequate soundproofing around the cabin.

Our test drive was too short to make a strong recommendation, but if you are shopping for an electric, we can definitely  recommend you give the Leaf a test drive.