The 2013 Nissan Leaf.

The 2013 Nissan Leaf.

Nissan is updating its Leaf electric vehicle for model-year 2013 with a number of enhancements, including improved aerodynamics, energy management, a wider range of regenerative braking, a new on-board charger, and a new, lower priced entry-level Leaf grade. Nissan added that the 2013-MY Leaf should offer improved range but hasn’t yet announced the new range yet.

The new entry-level grade is the “S,” which joins the current SV and SL grades. Nissan said it upgraded the SV and SL grades with including leather-appointed seating and 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels. The automaker is also offering three new option packages, including Nissan’s “Around View Monitor” and 7-speaker Bose audio system.

One of the key changes for MY-2013 is retail pricing for the vehicle. The new S grade starts at an MSRP of $28,800. The SV grade is priced at $31,820, and the SL grade is priced at $34,840.

On the outside, Nissan said it improved the coefficient of drag for 2013 by 0.01, reducing it to 0.28. The automaker is also offering seven exterior colors, including the new colors Metallic Slate and Glacier White. Other color choices include Brilliant Silver, Super Black, Cayenne Red, Pearl White and Blue Ocean.

The new on-board charger is a 6.6 kW version that cuts 220V charging time almost in half, according to Nissan, to approximately four hours for a full charge. The new on-board charger is optional on the new entry-level Leaf “S” model (the S comes with the 3.6 kW charger) but is standard on the SV and SL grades. Nissan said all of its Leaf models come with a standard portable trickle charge cable.

Nissan is also offering an available hybrid heater system that’s designed to help the sedan get improved cold-weather performance while consuming less energy. The Leaf comes with a new charge port light and lock, and the automaker added a charge port door release button to the Leaf’s key fob.

Other changes include new driving modes and routing features. A new “B” driving mode, standard on the SV and SL grades, enhances regenerative braking during deceleration (for example while moving downhill), and the available navigation system comes with a new "eco route" feature that suggests routes that consume less energy.

Inside, the Leaf comes with heated front bucket seats and a 60/40 split folding heated rear seat and rear HVAC duct. Nissan also offers its “CARWINGS” telematics system, which is standard on the SV and SL grades. CARWINGS allows Leaf drivers to use a smartphone to remotely turn on air conditioning, set charging functions, features an on-board charging timer, and shows areas the vehicle can get to with its current charge level as well as nearby charging stations. This telematics system requires a subscription but comes with those grades at no charge for 36 months.

For the different Leaf grades, standard features on the new entry-level S grade include a six-way manual driver's seat, a four-way manual front passenger's seat, a trip computer, an Automatic Temperature Control (ATC), center console storage, and a 3.6 kW onboard charger. The vehicle also comes with standard Nissan Intelligent Key with push button start, power windows, power door locks, remote charge door release, two cupholders, four bottle holders, variable intermittent windshield wipers, a 12-volt power outlet and 16-inch steel wheels with full wheel covers.

The Nissan SV grade adds the Nissan Navigation system, a 7.0-inch color LCD screen, Nissan’s “CARWINGS” telematics system, a six-speaker audio system, Pandora link for iPhone, 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, the new 6.6 kW onboard charger, the hybrid heater system, cruise control, an auto-dimming inside mirror, partially recycled cloth seat fabric, a passenger side map pocket, and the new "B-mode" regenerative braking feature.

The 2013 SL model adds a solar panel spoiler, fog lights, auto on/off headlights, cargo cover, the HomeLink Universal Transceiver, a Quick Charge Port, leather-appointed seats, LED headlights, and 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels.

The three new options packages include the Quick Charge Package (available for the S grade only), the LED Headlights + Quick Charge Port Package (available on the SV grade only), and the Premium Package (available on the SV and SL grades). The Quick Charge Package includes the 6.6 kW onboard charger, Quick Charge Port and RearView Monitor. The LED Headlights + Quick Charge Port Package includes LED headlights, auto on/off headlights, fog lights, and the Quick Charge Port. The Premium Package offers the Around View Monitor and Bose 7-speaker audio systems.

Updated 1/15/2013 with MSRP information.

Originally posted on Automotive Fleet