Nissan Leaf review

Nissan rejuvenates the 2016 Leaf with longer range

Nissan Leaf

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NissanConnect EV replaces CarWings on previous model years as the telematics service in the Leaf. CarWings relied on AT&T's 2G network, which shuts down in December 2016. NissanConnect EV upgrades the telematics module to AT&T's 3G network, which doesn't have a shut off date yet, but not quite as sexy or fast as their LTE network.

Nissan Leaf

However, the functions that require cellular connectivity aren't high bandwidth tasks. NissanConnect EV enables the driver to remotely access functions of the car, such as check on the battery levels, manually start or stop a charge, set a timer for charging (to only charge at off-peak hours for cheaper rates) or climate control (to get the car warmed up on cold mornings), and driving history (distance and energy consumption only, not location). The functions are accessible via web browser or a smartphone companion application.

New to NissanConnect on 2016 Leaf's is the ability to locate your car, in case you forget where you parked it. I've personally never forgot where I parked my car that requires using such a feature, but some of my fellow editors mentioned it's happened to them.

The functions all work as intended, but it's slow as molasses – yes, I went there. Nissan's move to AT&T's 3G network did not help speed things up at all. It takes 25 seconds to login to the NissanConnect EV application and just as long to trigger any of the remote functions, while I was connected to my home Wi-Fi network with a 100/15Mbps Internet connection. Maybe I'm impatient and spoiled, but it shouldn't take that long to log in or use any of the functions.

As of Apr. 1, 2016, Nissan has restored access to NissanConnect EV services via mobile apps. The app should automatically update and fixes the security vulnerability.

Bose premium audio

Nissan loves Bose-branded premium audio, and offers the option on most of its new vehicles, including the Leaf. The Bose premium sound system is part of a $1,570 premium package (not available in UK or AU) that also adds the Around View Monitor 360-degree camera system.

The Leaf's Bose system features seven speakers, each with individual amplification from an energy-efficient amplifier, in a four channel configuration. The front speakers consist of 1-inch tweeters in each A-pillar and 6.5-inch speakers in the front doors. The rear doors have smaller 5.25-inch speakers while a 4.5-inch woofer is located in the trunk, in an acoustic waveguide bassbox. The door speakers all use neodymium magnets to keep the weight down.

Nissan Leaf

As with most Bose sound systems engineered for space savings, the old saying "no highs, no lows, must be Bose," definitely applies to the Leaf, and every other Bose-equipped vehicle I've listened to. The tweeters produce average sound quality with a slight hint of clarity but no detail – you won't hear crisp sound of cymbals or other high notes.

The entire mid and low range is laughably pathetic, because the system tries to trick your brain into thinking the frequencies are being produced, but it sounds dull and sloppy. It sounds like going up to a large, marching band bass drum and giving it a light tap instead of smashing the drum with a mallet – there's no depth, smoothness or warmth to the sound.

Around View Monitor

Bose premium sound aside, the premium package includes one of the best tech features available today, and that's the 360-degree camera system. Nissan calls it Around View Monitor (AVM). The system stitches together four cameras to produce a top-down view of the car, side-by-side with a second view, and feeds it to the infotainment screen.

Camera's are placed on the front, back and side mirrors. You can trigger the cameras at low-speeds or while parked. When the car is put in reverse, the rear view is the default view. The system switches to the front view if you put the car in drive after reversing first too. There's an option to pull up each individual side cameras as well.

Nissan Leaf

I can't say it enough, I love 360-degree camera systems. They make parking so much easier, especially in tights spots or the dreaded parallel park. I wish more companies would offer it in their entire vehicle ranges, but so far, Nissan is the only non-luxury brand to have it as an option on anything from the Versa (or Note for our friends across the Atlantic) to the Armada.

As much as I dislike the Bose sound system in the premium package, it's a bundle deal to get the excellent AVM, unfortunately. The AVM is also the reason I opted for the premium package for my wife's 2015 Leaf too.