The 2022 Nissan Leaf Had Me At Hello.

2022 Nissan Leaf Featured Image Photo: Sara Lacey
2022 Nissan Leaf Featured Image Photo: Sara Lacey

In a rapidly growing pool of electric car choices, don’t forget about the 2022 Nissan Leaf.

Tesla. Rivian. Ioniq. Lucid. Lightning. There are so many new electric car brands and new electric cars that belong to brands that have been around for a long time. But you know who has gotten lost and forgotten in all of it? The Nissan Leaf. It’s been around since 2010, and is the best selling electric car worldwide. Like, ever. And let me tell you, the 2022 Nissan Leaf SL Plus actually dazzled me for the most part. I have never driven this little electric car that has been all-electric since day one, and I could tell that it’s had some time to perfect itself.

Related: Why the All-Electric 2018 Nissan Leaf Feels Good All Over

2022 Nissan Leaf Front Angle. Photo: Sara Lacey

2022 Nissan Leaf front angle. Photo: Sara Lacey

The 2022 Nissan Leaf was very Charming

I am so impressed with the fit and finish of the 2022 Nissan Leaf. It’s a great little car. Comfortable, the buttons, knobs, and upholstery all have a high-quality feel, there are no squeaks or rattles.

The exterior has been updated and it looks fresh. But it’s still cute. I never minded the sloped rear hatch in the older models, and loved that it was distinctive. The new Leaf retains it, but to a much lesser degree. I have a hard time deciding if all cars just look more like electric cars these days or if electric cars look more like regular cars. But either way, the Leaf looks updated, new, and not super futuristic. My test car was a fun metallic orange.

Related: How the Inflation Reduction Act Will Save You Money, Clean Up the Environment and Help Everyone Afford an Electric Car

The Front Seat Of The Nissan Leaf. Cute, Right? Photo: Sara Lacey

The gearshifter looks nifty and a bit futuristic, making the front seat a fun place to be.  Photo: Sara Lacey

Inside, the black, suede-trimmed seats were comfortable for all my trips, and there were nice touches that reminded me that the car was electric. There is a nifty gear shift knob, a touchscreen, and lovely trim accents. Interior storage is economical. What’s cool thing about most electric cars, and the Leaf is no exception, is that Nissan has added some nice features like heated seats and heated steering wheel because they use less power than the HVAC system. Sign me up! The 2022 Nissan Leaf SL Plus has a 60 kilowatt battery and an estimated range of 212 miles.

The Leaf SL Plus I tested had a base price of $37,400. After some splash guards, that fun orange paint job, and a couple other accessories, the Leaf rang up at $39,255.

Related: Charging an Electric Car is as Easy as 1, 2, 3

Destination Is What? Photo: Rich Lacey

Destination is what? Photo: Rich Lacey

Charging the Leaf can be done at Home or on the Go

Charging is easy, and I used the charging unit that came with my test car. It was for use with a regular 120v outlet, nothing different than a hair dryer. So, it charged easily at home. Unfortunately, it didn’t charge a lot at home. It took a really long time to get enough miles to go anywhere (I live kind of far from stuff). Mostly I drove to the nearest Level 3 charger and spent about 30-40 minutes there getting enough juice for the next few days.

If you were to own a Leaf, you would probably want to install a Level 2 charger to get more juice faster. There are different options, you can hard-wire a charger, or buy one to use with  a 240v outlet (what you use for your dryer).

Related: USED: Fun to Drive and Great Electric Range, Is a Used 2017 VW e-Golf a Good Electric Car?

The Leaf Charging Up At Home. Photo: Sara Lacey

The Leaf charging up at home. Photo: Sara Lacey

Range Anxiety is Real, Friends

I mostly used an EVGO charging station by the Walmart close to my house. I didn’t mind plugging the car in and then going to get some groceries. There is an indicator on the dash that shows three different lights, illuminating to show how much charge you’ve got from the outside. There is a readout in the instrument cluster that shows how many miles you have. Frustratingly, it’s a bit of a nail biter to know for sure (I mean, this is true with gas engines, too) but the swings I experienced in my estimated mileage was at times really scary. 

Related: Grab A Coffee With Friends While Charging Your Electric Vehicle

Charging Indicators As Seen From Outside. Photo: Sara Lacey

Charging indicators as seen from outside. Photo: Sara Lacey

The Leaf’s In-Car Charging app could use Some Help.

I was in a situation that can be chalked up to user error to a certain degree, but there was an afternoon that we spent just hopping from charger to charger to get home when I hadn’t charged up enough. I blame the in-car charger search app. It happened more than one time where It would point us to a charger, but then the charger wound up being one that was built for residents in an apartment building and inaccessible to us.

Attempting To Filter Out Level 1 (Slower) Chargers And Private Chargers. Photo: Sara Lacey

Attempting to filter out Level 1 (slower) chargers and private chargers. Photo: Sara Lacey

When it wasn’t pointing us to chargers we couldn’t use, the system pointed us to Level 1 chargers. Which means (as I mentioned in regard to the home-charging) it’s the slowest kind of charging. So we daisy-chained our way home, thankfully we didn’t have any plans so we could take all the time we needed to get back to the aforementioned supercharger. Again, I don’t want to downplay that this was frustrating and a little scary even though we weren’t inconvenienced.

I drove the Leaf the vast majority of the time in ECO mode, with the E-Pedal engaged. Which means that when driving the Leaf, I press down on the accelerator to, well, accelerate. Then, when I lift my foot off the accelerator, it slows the car down. This enables the car to make the most of the regenerative braking system, putting the energy generated from the brakes back into the batteries.

Nissan Leaf Charger. Photo:sara Lacey

Nissan Leaf Charger. Photo: Sara Lacey

The Actual Car is Great When you’re not Freaking Out

I mean it! My wrestling a bit with the charging doesn’t take away from the fact that the Leaf was a pleasant car to be in. There was seating for five (more realistically, four). It had reasonable pick-up and was great for just doing day-to-day driving. The backseat has a 60/40 split fold with tether anchors in each of the three seats. There is no center fold down armrest, the cupholders are on the floor at the base of the center seat. So it’s not going to rock your kids’ worlds in terms of amenities, but it’s excellent for school drop-offs, runs to ballet lessons, and the like.

Related: How to Decide if an Electric Car Is Right for Your Lifestyle

2022 Nissan Leaf Back Seat. Photo: Sara Lacey

2022 Nissan Leaf back seat. Photo: Sara Lacey

No Surprises in the Cargo Area

The cargo space is capable of managing a grocery trip, but you’ll need to drop the kids at school first to free up some space if you do big membership warehouse shopping trips.

2022 Nissan Leaf Cargo Area. Photo: Sara Lacey

2022 Nissan Leaf cargo area (pictured with the charging cable case). Photo: Sara Lacey

Though the Leaf had me at Hello, I was also okay with Goodbye

The big lesson for me during my test drive of the Leaf is that it takes some real learning and patience to adopt a new electric car if you don’t have faster charging available to you at home. Once you locate reliable chargers and get a handle on the moodiness of the mileage indicator, it’s totally fine. Though it was a bit small for me at this moment in time, it was a fun test drive and I really valued my time with it. Tesla, Rivian, Lucid, Leaf!

Nissan Leaf Rear Angle. Photo: Sara Lacey

Nissan Leaf rear angle. Photo: Sara Lacey

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Sara has written about cars since 2005. She used to beat them up with her kids and write about... More about Sara Lacey