2019 Nissan Leaf Plus ProPilot Assist Test Drive

Self Driving and Driver Assist Technology

I was seriously considering buying a Nissan Leaf Plus SL over the past few months.  The 2019 models are being discounted around $5k, plus there is still the $7500 federal incentive.  Illinois ComEd electric is offering an additional rebate of $2500 for the Leaf Plus models and $3500 rebate for the standard Leaf Models.  The lowest price I saw for a 2019 Leaf Plus SL was around $39,500, which means with rebates it would be around $29,500.  The range is supposed to be about 220 miles.  That is plenty for my approximately 80 mile round trip commute, but with Chicago winters some rare days being as cold as 40 below, I have no idea just how much range I will lose.  I have heard different reports of Leaf range in ultra cold weather, with 50% range loss being about the worst reported.  I should still have enough range on those days, but the last thing I’d want is to be stranded when it is that cold.  It does look like there is a place I could charge my vehicle on the return trip if absolutely necessary, but I also wouldn’t want to be charging my car when it is 40 below.

Anyway, I saw a car configured exactly as I would want it so I took the 2019 Leaf Plus SL for a test drive.  The car itself drove as I would expect – smooth and responsive.  I really wanted to test the ProPilot Assist though.  I only had the car for a few miles and a small stretch of it was on the highway.

On the brief highway stretch, it seemed to do okay.  It found the lane markings, but took a few seconds before it would take over the steering.  There were no significant curves in the road, so it wasn’t the most challenging test.  The adaptive cruise seemed okay.  I’m not sure it was as good as my current 2016 Subaru Legacy, but it didn’t seem much different.

I was very disappointed on the non-highway parts of the drive.  Granted, the lane markings were not very good, but there was no part of my drive off the highway where the ProPilot detected lane markings, meaning there was no lane centering when off the highway.

I’m not sure if the 2020 ProPilot is going to have any updates, but overall, it was a disappointment.  The salesperson said he was surprised, saying he never had issues with it detecting lane markings before.  I may go back over that same route again with my 2016 Subaru Legacy and see if Eyesight is able to detect those same lane markings for the Lane Keep Assist.

So, maybe it wasn’t that fair of a test; however, I believe that the current versions of Comma.ai’s OpenPilot do a pretty good job now on roads with minimal lane markings.  I’m not sure how Tesla’s Autopilot does at present with minimal lane markings.

After the test drive, though, I decided the Nissan Leaf was not going to be a good choice for me.  I will admit that I love much of the other technology in that car – Android Auto and Apple Carplay, blind spot detection and rear cross traffic (not available on Tesla), and the 360 surround camera when parking are great.  Being right on the verge of appropriate range combined with ProPilot assist being nothing too special just don’t quite fit the bill for me.