UPDATE 3/1/19: Nissan has announced that the 2019 Leaf Plus starts at $37,445, $6560 more than the standard car. We have updated our story accordingly.
Nissan has fulfilled its promise to introduce a long-range version of the Leaf electric car: the 2019 Leaf Plus will go on sale this spring with a larger battery pack and a more powerful electric motor. But the Nissan's new 62.0-kWh battery pack, although significantly bigger than the base Leaf's 40.0-kWh pack, makes for an EPA range estimate of 226 miles-below the Chevrolet Bolt EV's 238 miles, the Kia Niro EV's 239 miles, and the Hyundai Kona Electric's 258 miles.
Other than that crucial range figure, the Leaf Plus's other numbers are competitive with those rivals. Its electric motor is more powerful than the base Leaf's 147-hp unit, producing 215 horsepower and 251 lb-ft of torque. This extra grunt should make it usefully quicker than the base car, which already went from zero to 60 mph in a decent 7.4 seconds in our testing.
Nissan also says that the Leaf Plus will offer similar charging times as the standard model despite the extra battery capacity. This is thanks to a more powerful onboard charging system, although the company hasn't released official estimates for different levels of charging yet. And because the bigger battery is more energy dense than the smaller one, it's a similar physical size as the standard battery pack, meaning there's no compromise in cargo space. The Leaf Plus does gain weight compared with the base car, though Nissan isn't saying how much; the one-pedal driving system that Nissan calls e-Pedal has been recalibrated to compensate for the extra weight and extra power.
The longer-range Leaf's name in global markets will be e+, but U.S. models will wear the name Leaf Plus. It will be identifiable by a "Plus" badge on the hatch and a slightly different front end with bits of blue trim. Plus models also get a new 8.0-inch touchscreen inside, compared with the standard car's 7.0-inch screen, and an updated navigation system.
The same S, SV, and SL trim levels as the base Leaf will be available for the Plus model. The base S Plus commands a premium of a $6560 over the standard-battery Leaf's starting price of $30,885, costing $37,445, while the SV Plus starts at $39,405 ($6020 more than the base SV) and the SL starts at $43,445 ($6350 more than the base SL). These prices hew closely to the aforementioned competitors, as the Kona Electric and Bolt EV both start $50 higher than the Leaf, at $37,495.
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