Refreshing or Revolting: 2018 Nissan Leaf


No longer the oddball EV

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It’s relatively uncommon that you encounter a vehicle changing so radically in appearance from one iteration to the next. But such is the case with the 2018 Nissan Leaf, which has morphed from a comically rounded electro-pod to a smart and somewhat athletic-looking hatchback. But how did it get there? And does the new design make it disappear into a sea of other electric vehicles on the market?

Unlike the previous Leaf, which resembled none of Nissan’s other products, the 2018 model features recognizable cues. One of the most familiar features you’ll notice is the V-Motion grille that has spread throughout the Nissan lineup. Inside this grille, the Leaf features a unique 3D mesh pattern with blue accents. The new Leaf ditches its bug eyes for more conventional headlights. The charging attachment is no longer sandwiched between the headlights but above them, looking like part of the hood. Like the old model, the 2018 Leaf eschews the recent trend of squared-off edges around the front fascia and keeps its rounded hood.

The new Leaf looks less cartoonish now that its bulging haunches have been toned down. Looking at the Leaf’s side profile, you’ll notice the solid character line that once ran all the way across the side of the vehicle has softened. The new Leaf gets subtler, varying character lines that give it a more windswept appearance. It also borrows its floating roof design from other Nissan vehicles like the Maxima and Rogue.

The rear of the Leaf adopts a more layered and creased look compared to the old model. It’s also less upright than the rear of the old Leaf, partially aided by the new boomerang-shaped taillights that aren’t as vertically oriented. The top of the rear is painted black to blend in with the floating roof. The new Leaf also has a diffuser-style rear bumper with blue accents.

Inside the cabin, a new instrument cluster with a 7-inch TFT display sits in front of the driver. No longer does this area feature two semi-circle displays stacked on top of each other.  And instead of a slab that juts out in the center console, the new Leaf presents its touchscreen, buttons, and air vents in a layered fashion. There is also more depth to the dashboard. A new flat-bottom steering wheel adds athletic flair, as does blue stitching throughout the cockpit.

The new Leaf gets a more mainstream shape for 2018, bringing it closer to conventional-looking EVs like the Chevrolet Bolt, Volkswagen e-Golf, and Ford Focus Electric. While it loses its signature insect look, the model gains maturity, in our opinion. Do you think the 2018 Nissan Leaf is refreshing or revolting?

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