Here we go. Without making any huge leap into a second-gen model, Nissan has upgraded the 2016 Nissan Leaf from the 2015 model with a big range increase and a more durable battery. According to the new EPA numbers, the new Leaf will go 107 miles from a 30-kWh battery pack.
That's going to get people's attention, since the current Leaf has an 84-mile range from a 24-kWh pack. You will still be able to get an 84-mile Leaf in the 2016 model year, since Nissan is keeping the S trim level with the lower, 24-kWh pack size. If you opt for the more expensive SV or SL trims, then you'll not only get the 27-percent greater range, but also a battery pack that is slightly heavier (by 46 pounds) and has more modules (eight vs. four) but the same number of cells. The two packs are the same size. In the end, the EPA rates the 30-kWh with 124 city, 101 highway and 112 combined MPGe fuel economy, while the S trim keeps the 126 city, 101 highway and 114 combined MPGe of the 2015 models. All the new 2016 Leafs keep the same 80-kW AC synchronous motor from earlier models. It still offers 107 horsepower and 187 pound-feet of torque.
Prices for the new Leaf start at $35,050 for the Leaf SV (up from $32,950 for the 2015), $37,640 for the Leaf SL (up from $35,970) and $28,060 for the Leaf S (no change from 2015). All prices include $850 delivery charge but not the potential federal tax incentive of $7,500.
The 2016's exterior is virtually identical to the 2015, aside from some new colors with names like Forged Bronze, Coulis Red and Deep Blue Pearl. Nissan is offering a few upgrades on the inside, though. There's a new graphic interface display on the 7-inch color screen (5-inch on the S trim) and a new "beam forming microphone" that should make the car's voice recognition better. The information that is displayed on the screen has also changed, with the charging screen info being updated every 12 miles.