Nissan Leaf, actual-driving experience

Today I had to run an errand in Burien, so I got to try the Leaf in somewhat-more-chaotic driving conditions than what I did during my test drive yesterday.

After fully charging overnight, the car read an estimated range of 134 miles. After driving around 7 miles, it read an estimated range of 127 miles. Go figure.

All of the level 2 self-driving functionality seems to require the front camera to work (unsurprisingly), so I need to get that fixed sooner rather than later. Fortunately there’s a 100-day warranty from Carvana and that seems to be covered, so I’m already starting the process of getting that taken care of. Unfortunately their local warranty service dealerships are all places like Meineke, although I do have the option of taking it to my own mechanic and paying a $50 deductible, so I might just take it to my favorite local mechanic.

(Although really, this repair is almost certainly going to be trivial and straightforward, and I could do it myself if only I could figure out how to open up the camera housing!)

Anyway, nonfunctional ProPILOT aside, I got a better feeling for the car.

One big thing I learned is that one-pedal driving deceleration is a little unintuitive, and it’s still sometimes necessary to press the brake if you underestimate the regenerative stopping distance.

Also, I did verify that the blind spot monitoring does beep after all (although the beep is a little… passive?), but also it seems to be entirely camera-based, so its safety range isn’t nearly as good as on the Mazda (which used a radar system for the actual monitoring). So it’s important to remember that it’s a last-ditch emergency help and not something to rely on.

Technically the Mazda blind-spot system was supposed to only be used in that way too (as a confirmation check on top of a visual check) but the radar range is so wide that it ended up seeing a lot of stuff well before I physically could, almost like psychic powers, and I’d grown so used to the car seeing hazards many seconds in advance.

In theory I see this change as a good thing, though. What I dislike about many modern vehicles is that they make it very easy to lose focus on what you’re doing but require you to be focused at all times just in case. The Leaf, on the other hand, makes me have to pay attention when decisions are being made, and lets me not care so much about rote things like maintaining speed and distance where it’s a lot more difficult to maintain focus long-term. It also has a driver alertness monitor which will be interesting to see how that works, although it’ll probably be a long time before I have the sort of drive where it can even be effective.

Oh, also, even with the front camera not working, the rest of the wraparound camera system works fine, and it was very useful when parking and seeing exactly how I was aligned in the space. I still haven’t gotten to test it with parallel parking but I expect it to be really useful for that as well.

Anyway. I probably won’t have any more thoughts to share on the car until I get the ProPILOT camera fixed, and/or have to drive to Seattle for some reason, whichever comes first.


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