2012 Nissan Leaf: A Delightful Mutant Catches My Attention

I’d been researching used cars online for months now, but I hadn’t really narrowed down my list. It’s times like this when I really miss my dad more than I usually do.

“Look. Just ask your dad what kind of car you should get,” a friend told me. She, too, had lost her dad recently and talks with him all the time. “He’ll give you a sign. He really will.”

I no sooner said, “Dad, I’m really hitting the wall on this car thing. Too many to choose from. Could you help me out here?”

Immediately afterward I saw it. A blue Nissan Leaf, parked by itself near one of the local shops. I shit you not. The normally jammed parking strip was nearly empty, save for the car and two others.


2012 Nissan Leaf SV sunning itself in captivity at my local CarMax. Identical to the one I saw on the street immediately after asking my dad for a little sign.

Well played, Dad.

Indeed. I’d been snubbing alt. fuel cars for the past few years. Ugly. Gutless. Too expensive. Driven by smug greenies.

My dad, on the other hand, loved alt-fuel technology, and swore up and down 25 years ago that alt. fuel engines would be the norm.

I headed to my local CarMax pronto for a no-hassle test drive, and walked away a true believer.

In which a jaded car gal eats her words

I got into the Leaf and pressed a button. It clicked, hummed and chimed itself to life. The dashboard was easy to read and provided readouts of battery power, usage, and mph, and mpg equivalent, among other things.

I was surprised at how solid this little car was. High-quality materials, controls within easy reach, and the oddest egg-shaped gear selector I’d ever seen. A push of a button puts it in “Park.” and a nudge puts it in drive.

I put the car through its paces, fully expecting it to be gutless and unenthusiastic. I was dead wrong. While it certainly won’t blow the lane markers off the highway, I was impressed with its power, finesse, and composure.

There was no engine noise, just a quiet whirring sound as the Leaf idled, and a silent, silky smooth ride while driving. I fell in love with this little mutant quickly.

I was impressed with the NHTSA safety ratings, it strong reliability record, and its overall handling.


Take me to your leader…er, garage.

An EV the Rest of Us can afford

The price range for a used 2012 Nissan Leaf SV (the model I tested) hovers around the $9,000-$10,000 range. That’s a fairly steep depreciation from the MSRP of $34,000 new, so that gave me pause.

Time for a little further research.

Still, I could buy a much smaller, cheaply-made car for the price of a used Leaf, and get a lot less car for the buck, and be disappointed in the long run.

The Leaf comes with its own charging kit, and it plugs in to any 120v outlet. Overnight charging takes about 12-17 hours. Battery range varies, depending on the terrain driven, and whether or not I’d run the heat or A/C.

Range anxiety really is a thing, according to a neighbor who drives a Fiat 500e.

I think I can make that adjustment.




Real-Life Review: 2015 Honda CR-V

(Note: My phone died just as I was getting ready to snap some pics, so here’s a photo courtesy of automobile.honda.com)

The cool thing about having friends with new cars is that I get to drive those cars. (I’m not affiliated with Honda in any way, nor am I affiliated with any Honda dealers… bummer).

Without further adieu, here’s the review.

Model tested: Honda CRV-LX base model MSRP: Under $25,000

NTSA Crash Test: 4 out of 5 stars for front impact and rollover, 5 stars side-impact crash test ratings.

IIHS crash test ratings: Good

Let’s face it. Most base models scream “Hey world! My driver is broke AF and this is all they can afford!”  You worry that the grey plastic interior will crack during the first heat wave. The door gives a weak *plink* when you shut it, instead of that satisfying *whoomp!*

The base model CR-V, however, engages in none of those shenanigans. The first thing I noticed right off the bat was excellent workmanship throughout the interior cabin. Are you going to find wood grain inserts and glove leather seating? Nope.

You will, however, find soft-touch plastics and solid construction throughout. The model I drove had leather seats. More on that in a minute. Fit and finish on the exterior was outstanding.

Drive train: All models of the CR-V  are equipped with a 2.4 liter engine mated to a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) that replaces the 5-speed automatic for better fuel economy. 185 horsepower ITEC engine.  On the road, the CRV is eager to please and up to the task. I whooped it around the narrow, hilly streets of my community and was delighted with how well-mannered it was, even on the curviest of the local roads. Continue reading