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Advantages and disadvantages of the cheapest electric car

Advantages and disadvantages of the cheapest electric car

  • The 2022 Nissan Leaf is the cheapest electric car in the United States, and we tested it.
  • It costs $27,400, or potentially around $20,000 after the $7,500 federal electric vehicle tax credit.
  • It has a very low price, but you will have to sacrifice some battery life and charging capacity.

Electric cars are getting cheaper as they reach the mainstream, but overall they’re still significantly more expensive than their gas-powered counterparts. In February, the average price paid for a battery-powered model topped $60,000, according to Edmunds.

Still, there are options for anyone looking to go green on a budget. The Nissan Leaf, benefiting from a price cut for the 2022 model, is now the cheapest long-distance electric vehicle on the market.

We tested it to see how many EVs you get for $27,400. Here’s why the Leaf sedan is a great buy – and in some ways it falls short.

Advantage: Lowest starting price of any electric car

The 2022 Nissan Leaf.

The 2022 Nissan Leaf.

Tim Levin / Insider


For 2022, Nissan has slashed the price of the Leaf on all trims by up to $6,500, bringing the MSRP of a base model down to $27,400. If you apply the $7,500 tax credit for plug-in purchases and local incentives, you could walk away with a sheet for less than $20,000.

While a few electric cars can be had for around $30,000 today, most are $40,000 and up.

Disadvantage: the cheapest model has a low autonomy

The 2022 Nissan Leaf SL Plus.

The 2022 Nissan Leaf SL Plus.

Tim Levin / Insider


If you go for the cheapest Leaf, don’t plan on traveling too far all at once. The base Leaf S gets 149 miles of range per charge, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates. While that might be enough for some people, it’s disappointing in an age when newcomers typically promise 250+ miles.

Consider spending an extra $5,000 on the Leaf S Plus, which offers a much healthier 226-mile range.

Pros: Ample standard security technology

The 2022 Nissan Leaf SL Plus.

The 2022 Nissan Leaf SL Plus.

Tim Levin / Insider


All Leafs (Leaves?) come with a solid variety of safety features, including blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist and reverse automatic braking.

ProPilot Assist, an advanced cruise control feature that steers, accelerates, and brakes on the highway, is available on more expensive trims, and I found it worked pretty well.

Cons: Uses a less common fast-charging port

The 2022 Nissan Leaf SL Plus.

The 2022 Nissan Leaf SL Plus.

Tim Levin / Insider


We have to get into the weeds a bit here for a while, but it will be worth it.

DC fast chargers provide the fastest charging experience and are capable of recharging an electric car battery in approximately 20 minutes to an hour. If you don’t tune in at home at night or at work throughout the day, you’ll likely frequent these types of stations.

The Leaf can use DC fast chargers, but only with an aging connector type called CHAdeMOwhich is harder to find at public stations than the newer CCS connect. The Leaf is also equipped with a more common J1772 port, but that’s only good for slower charging.

Pros: Spacious interior

The 2022 Nissan Leaf SL Plus.

The 2022 Nissan Leaf, left, and a first-generation Leaf.

Tim Levin / Insider


The Leaf’s hatchback body may be a little dated in an era when most people crave SUVs. But hatchbacks like the Leaf can be just as practical as SUVs.

The Leaf’s cabin is nice and spacious, and there’s plenty of space for rear passengers thanks to the sedan’s high horizontal roofline. The Leaf offers 23.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, more than the Tesla Model 3, Chevrolet Bolt or Hyundai Kona Electric. But the Leaf’s rear seats don’t fold completely flat.

Pros: Fun to drive

The 2022 Nissan Leaf SL Plus.

The 2022 Nissan Leaf SL Plus.

Tim Levin / Insider


The Leaf SL Plus we tested offers strong, instantaneous acceleration, ideal for highway crossings and executing quick moves in traffic. Most EVs have good acceleration, but expect to feel it more in the Leaf models with the larger battery, indicated by a “Plus.”

The Leaf isn’t quite as quick at 60mph as top-end electric cars, but buyers coming over from petrol cars may appreciate its one-stop perkiness.