Goodbye, dear Leaf. I had mixed feelings about seeing our Nissan electric car loaded onto an auto transport trailer a few days ago.
It needed a lift, given the Leaf's 100 mile range. I was happy to have sold the Leaf, since the Chevy Volt that we ordered to replace it is on a train at the moment and should arrive in a few weeks. Yet I enjoyed the Leaf and was sort of sad to see it go.
(As described below, my wife felt differently.)
After placing an Auto Trader ad for the Leaf, I got quite a few emails from people asking "Why are you selling the car?" Good question, since we only owned the Leaf for about eight months and it had just 3,000 miles on it.
Here's the detailed answer that I shared.
Our reasons for selling the Leaf are kind of unusual. Meaning, quite specific to us. My wife has a sensitive back. Even though she test-drove a Leaf several times before we bought ours, almost as soon as we got the Leaf home she started feeling uncomfortable in the front seats. That's the main reason we had leather put on the seats, added some firmness to the driver's side seatback, and got the electrically activated lumbar supports in the front seats.
My wife also didn't like the front headrests, which, like on most new cars these days, are angled forward in an attempt to reduce the "whiplash" distance in an accident. So after some negotiating with Nissan, we were able to buy some headrests from another Nissan car that are much more upright. Thus we have two sets of leather headrests that will go with the car when we sell it.
I found the Leaf seats comfortable. Researching this subject on Leaf discussion groups, I learned that some people don't like the seats, while most people do. Consumer Reports thought they were somewhat soft and lacked support. Adding leather and the other things we did helped quite a bit, but my wife still gets some back pain when driving the Leaf. (She also has trouble with many mattresses and chairs, her back being quite sensitive.) So that's one reason.
Another reason -- and this only will make sense to you if you're an avid dog lover, or know someone who is -- is that when the rear seats are folded, the Leaf "luggage" compartment slopes downward toward the hatch, because of the battery stack in the middle of the car. Our oldest dog is 12 1/2 years old. She's getting some hip problems, being a Lab/Shepherd mix. Our dog tilts downhill when she's on the pad that we put in the luggage compartment. Pretty clearly, she doesn't like riding in the Leaf as much as she likes to ride in our Mini Cooper or Highlander SUV. This might not seem like a big deal to you, but you don't know how dog crazy my wife is.
Lastly, we live about six miles from the Salem city limits, out in the country. Even so, range in the Leaf hasn't been a big issue. When the Leaf is fully charged, usually it shows an estimated 100 miles of range, or thereabouts. That's a lot of driving, even starting six miles from Salem -- where we do most of our shopping, errands, and such. Range, though, drops to 80 miles or so in the winter if it's near freezing, given the need to use the heater, wipers, and headlights more. So a minor issue added on to the more important "seat comfort" and "dog" issues is range.
We've ordered a Chevy Volt, which is being built for us. It's supposed to arrive in late May or early June. We're staying electric. But the seats in the Volt feel more comfortable to my wife, and the luggage area where our dog(s) will go is completely flat. That's why we're selling the Leaf. I might have told you more than you need, or want, to know, but felt that if you're thinking of a Leaf, it would be helpful for you to fully understand why we're selling it.
Obviously, it's also got a lot of plus's. Aside from the environmental benefits, freedom from gas stations, and low cost of "filling up," I like the light, quick, airy, high-tech feel of the car, even though I mostly drive my Mini Cooper S. Meaning, I like a responsive sports car feel, yet the Leaf has its own distinctive driving appeal. The Volt feels more sporty, yet the Leaf has an air of quietness (literally, road noise is less in the Leaf than in the Volt), responsiveness, and openness (Leaf feels more spacious than the Volt, and visibility is better) which I like a lot.