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Test Driving a Nissan Leaf Electric Car: 5 Things I Learned the Fun Way

Test driving a Nissan Leaf. (photo by Tui Cameron)
Test driving a Nissan Leaf. (photo by Tui Cameron)
The Nissan Leaf electric car has a 100 mile range - really. (photo by Tui Cameron)
The Nissan Leaf electric car has a 100 mile range - really. (photo by Tui Cameron)

In January, my fiance and I test drove a Nissan Leaf electric car over in Dallas. It was a gray, rainy day, but the dealership was packed with people eager to take one for a spin – not at all what I expected here in Texas, land of oversized pickup trucks.

Full disclosure: I was a passenger on this jaunt, not a driver. Why? Because I hate driving. I can handle driving around a small town, but highways make me jittery.

In other words, I am not a “car person,” in much the same way that some people are not “cat people,” or ‘dog people.” I don’t get all excited when friends tell me about their new car purchase. I’m happy for them, of course, but I’m not going to gush about it as if it were a new baby.

Electricity for the Nissan Leaf is much cheaper than gas. (photo by Tui Cameron)
Electricity for the Nissan Leaf is much cheaper than gas. (photo by Tui Cameron)

Besides, “new car smell,” makes me nauseas, and back when I was single, I was completely immune to any “chick magnet” appeal exuded by anything my boyfriends drove. (I’ve even had suitors get pissed off at me for not fawning over their vehicles – ugh!)

The first car that ever impressed me in a chick magnet sort of way was my current boyfriend’s Honda Insight, a hybrid vehicle. Not only do I think it looks cool, but I am impressed that it averages 72 miles per gallon, depending on driving variables. Not bad, eh? (And considering that we are currently engaged to be married, I guess it worked out pretty well for him, too.)

So, for me to get excited about a car is, frankly, quite uncharacteristic. That said, allow me to share 5 big reasons I would love to own a Nissan Leaf:

1. The Nissan Leaf has a 100 mile range
When I mention electric cars to people the initial response I get is always, “but you can only go 30 miles before you have to plug it in.” This is not the case with the Nissan Leaf, which has a range of 100 miles when fully charged. Also, in order to assuage people’s “range anxiety” the car’s onboard GSP not only helps find charging stations near you, but it will tell you if the station is currently occupied or not. Here in Texas, Half Price Books offer charging stations free of charge (literally) for electic vehicles. (I like the idea of browsing for books while my car charges up.)

2. The Nissan Leaf has Excellent Cell Phone Apps
Not only will your Leaf text you when it has reached full charge, but you can use cell phone apps to pre-heat or pre-cool the interior, as well as start or stop it from charging via cell phone.

3. The Nissan Leaf is a Full Sized Vehicle
I was impressed by how roomy and comfortable the interior of the Nissan Leaf is. Our Honda Insight only seats two people, but the Leaf easily seats five.

4. The Nissan Leaf is Made from Recycled Material
A whopping 60 percent of the Leaf’s interior is made from recycled plastic, and 99 percent of the car’s weight is recyclable when it reaches the end of its life. I love this!

5. Personal Quirk: No Stinky Gas
Maybe it’s just me, but I hate the smell of gasoline. So aside from the savings at the pump, it is nice to know that you would never have to fill up at a stinky gas station. No oil changes, either. Whee! (I will still listen to Car Talk on NPR, however. I love those guys.)

The only bummer that I can see so far is the sticker price. With a cost of roughly $32,000, the Leaf ain’t cheap. Californians have it made, though; they get a $5000 rebate on top of the $7500 federal tax credit available to all American when they buy a Leaf.

Even so, I would love to own a Leaf. Strange words coming from a non-car person such as myself. A dream writing assignment for me would be to travel cross country in a Leaf and blog about it along the way – of course, I call shotgun!

What do you think about electric cars? Do they intrigue you at all, or could you care less? Are you, like me, waiting for the price to come down?

Tui Snider
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Published inTravel Photo Essays


  1. Glad I found you through Chasing Joy #FBF. I’m not a ‘car person’ either., just something reliable to get from point A-B. Always buy used… I would definitely be interested in this car if the price comes down. And that does sound like a dream writing assignment! I’ll drive if you need… well, after I check with my family. ;-D

    • mentalmosaic mentalmosaic

      Hi Victoria,

      Nice to meet you, too. Chasing Joy’s #FBF is a fun way to find other blogs. I’ll be dropping by yours later today, in fact.

      Yes – let’s make that road trip happen! :)

  2. […] I admitted when I blogged about test driving an electric car, I am not a car person in much the same way that other folks might claim not to be a “cat […]

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