Current Nissan Leaf
The Nissan Leaf is an all-electric, five-seat compact hatchback. It's powered by an 80-kilowatt electric motor that's fed by a 24 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Output is 107 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque, but we advise taking these numbers with a grain of salt, since the "instant-on" power delivery of an electric motor is vastly different from gasoline- or diesel-fueled acceleration.
The Leaf is available in three trim levels: S, SV and SL. Despite being the base model, the S still features keyless ignition/entry, automatic climate control, a heated steering wheel, heated front and rear seats, Bluetooth, a rearview camera and an iPod interface. However, the S model's entry-level onboard charger needs a lengthy 8 hours to fully charge the battery pack.
The Nissan Leaf debuted for the 2011 model year with two trim levels: SV and SL. Both came standard with the less powerful (3.3 kWh) onboard charger. The high-powered charger (6.6 kWh) didn't appear until 2013, so expect longer charge times to be a downside of buying any used Leaf from 2011 or '12.
A quick-charge port -- the one that yields an 80 percent charge in 30 minutes when using commercial charging stations -- was optional on all 2011 Leafs. For 2012, this port became standard on the Leaf SL. Also for 2012, every Leaf gained standard heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel, heated exterior mirrors and a battery heater.
The SV and SL upgraded to a standard high-powered onboard charger for 2013 -- the one that cuts normal charging times from 8 hours to 4 hours with a 240-volt power source. The base S model was also introduced, albeit with the less powerful charger.