The Nissan Leaf looks and drives pretty much like any other small hatchback, but it has a secret--it is an electric car. The electric drivetrain doesn't prevent the Leaf from performing like a normal car. Acceleration feels brisk thanks to the electric motor's instantly available 207 lb-ft of torque. The EPA rates the Leaf's driving range at 73 miles per charge, which proved accurate in a two-month test we conducted. However, high-speed highway runs or excessive use of the climate control system can sap the battery's charge rapidly. Fully charging the battery takes twenty-one hours on a household 120-volt outlet or seven hours with a dedicated 240-volt charger. The short driving range and long charge times can give drivers what is known as "range anxiety"--the fear of being stranded with a dead battery--but for many people, the Leaf is suited to use as a daily commuter. The lack of engine noise makes the Leaf extremely quiet--so much so that there's a special sound generator to alert pedestrians to the car's presence at low speeds. With seating for five and generous headroom, the Leaf is fairly roomy inside. Its hatchback design provides a decent amount of cargo space, and the rear seats fold to accommodate larger loads. As befits the world's first mass-market all-electric car, the Leaf abounds with technology: LED headlights, push-button start, Bluetooth connectivity, and touch-screen navigation are all standard. If you drive short distances and can get over the fear of running out of juice, the Leaf is an outstanding car for urban commuting.
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