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2012 Nissan Leaf Trims

SL

Avg. Price: $20,288

Owning an all-electric car is cool. Owning the top-shelf 2012 Nissan Leaf SL is even better. This flagship trim of the lineup boasts 100 miles of range – at least under ideal conditions, and dispenses with such nasty petroleum products as gasoline and motor oil. Furthermore this 5-passenger, 5-door compact hatchback boasts a roomy interior with plenty of cabin storage, though this may represent an effort to alleviate its less-than-spacious 24 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded. In any case, the Leaf SL rides on standard 16-inch alloy wheels and sports a rear spoiler and heated power-adjustable mirrors outside, while inside, heated front and rear seats and a heated steering wheel complement cloth upholstery, climate control and a standard remote garage door opener. Cruise control, tilt-wheel steering, a rear-view camera, remote power door locks and power windows top off the list of delivered creature comforts. A standard voice-activated hard-drive-based navigation system, meanwhile, keeps drivers informed of routes and distances to charging stations, as well as providing real-time traffic alerts. Entertainment comes via an MP3-capable single-CD player with 6 speakers, NavTraffic satellite radio and a USB connection. Finally, standard Bluetooth hands-free technology complements phone pre-wiring for seamless communications on the road.

The Eco Design package is one of the major option choices in the 2012 Leaf SL and includes hologram 3D door entry plates and “Appliqué” interior-themed center console. Other options include front and rear bumper protectors in the Protection package, splash guards and hologram kick plates.

The 2012 Leaf SL gets its go from an 80-kilowatt electric motor powered by a 24-kWh lithium-ion battery pack to the tune of 107 hp and a kickin’ 207 lb-ft of torque. Using a direct-drive transmission-like mechanism only for forward and reverse, the Leaf SL is touted to have a range of some 100 miles. Driving habits, terrain and weather conditions, however, dictate a real-world range of between 72 and 80 miles, though the EPA estimates an equivalent average of 99 mpg in energy efficiency terms. Owners are doubtless aware that charging stations are few and far between, home chargers are presently somewhat expensive, and, despite regenerative braking helping out a little, worries about range to the next charging station may prove a bit distracting. Finally the Leaf SL boasts a standard quick-charge port that allows a faster charge of a partially depleted battery, saving a bit of time when running quick errands.

Safety-wise, the 2012 Leaf SL boasts front and rear antilock brakes (ABS), traction and stability control, front and rear head airbags, front side-mounted airbags and front head restraint whiplash protection. Additional safety equipment includes LED headlights, front fog/driving lights and a remote antitheft alarm.

SV

Avg. Price: $19,339

The plug-in electric car is finally available to the masses. Nissan’s all-electric 2012 Leaf SV base trim offers 100 miles of range, at least under ideal conditions, as well as the opportunity to drive truly clean. Furthermore, this 5-door, 5-passenger battery-powered compact hatchback sports road behavior that shames many of its conventional rivals. Though offering only a fairly miniscule 24 cubic feet of cargo area with the rear seats folded, the SV sports a roomy cabin featuring such standard comfort and convenience amenities as heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel and cloth upholstery. Rolling on standard 16-inch alloy wheels, this unconventional conveyance also boasts further exterior doodads like a rear spoiler and heated power-adjustable mirrors. Tilt-wheel steering, cruise control, climate control, remote power door locks and power mirrors also make life easier on passengers, while a standard voice-activated hard-drive-based navigation system keeps the driver abreast of directions and traffic conditions, as well as route-wide charging stations. Entertainment, meanwhile, is provided by an MP3-capable single-CD player with 6 speakers and a USB connection. Finally, NavTraffic satellite radio assists the navigation display in providing traffic updates, while phone pre-wiring and Bluetooth hands-free communications technology help keep occupants in touch with the outside world while journeying.

Options in the Leaf SV include the Eco Design package with a hologram 3D door entry and “Appliqué” interior-themed center console, as well as a Protection package with front and rear bumper protectors. Standalone options such as splash guards, front and rear floor mats and hologram kick plates are also available..

Power for the 2012 Leaf is in the form of an 80-kilowatt electric motor that’s juiced up via a 24-kWh lithium-ion battery, as well as through regenerative braking. Expect the front-wheel-drive Leaf SV to put out 107 hp and a snappy 207 lb-ft of torque. A direct-drive single-speed transmission-like mechanism, meanwhile, means shifting is only necessary to either going forward or in reverse. Though the EPA rates this nifty hatchback at the equivalent of 99 mpg, thus equaling Nissan’s claim of a range of 100 miles, true range figures seem more in the neighborhood of 73-79 miles, with battery discharge depending on driving habits, terrain and weather. Prospective owners ought to be aware that charging stations are sparse, charging a fully depleted battery takes significant time, and worries about the distance between charging stations or systems may become a hassle of greater or lesser proportions.

Standard safety equipment aboard the 2012 Leaf SV includes 4-wheel antilock brakes (ABS), traction and stability control, front and rear head airbags, dual front side-mounted airbags and front head-restraint whiplash protection. Further safety features include LED headlights and a remote antitheft alarm.