Initially, Nissan quoted the Leaf's estimated range at an even 100 miles. From the beginning, we knew that this number was more or less an average of what the car could travel between charges and not a figure that was set in stone for all drivers on any given day. Recently, the automaker laid out some variable range estimates that took weather variations, speed, HVAC settings and more into account. These showed that the Leaf's operating range could drop as low as 47 miles and top out at 138 miles under ideal circumstances.
Real-world results are usually a better indicator than drawn-up estimates, however, and Plugin Cars writer Nick Chambers was recently given the chance to conduct a total range test of the battery-powered Leaf. Chambers plotted a course from Nissan North America's headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee to the famous Jack Daniel Distillery in Lynchburg. The 116.1-mile drive took Chambers across country roads, through small towns flooded with stoplights and onto local byways. Chambers claims that he didn't drive aggressively and often stayed below posted speeds, but did not baby the Leaf "like an obsessed hypermiler" might have.
In the end, the Leaf made the trip; that's 116.1 miles traveled under real-world conditions. The range-testing run utilized around 22.76 kW of the Leaf's total 24 kWh battery, indicating that it was pushed to the limits. Surprisingly, Chambers claims to have called upon the cool air of the range-depleting A/C system for much of the journey. He also engaged the Leaf's range-boosting Eco-mode before starting his jaunt, giving us a decent prediction for what a green-footed driver can expect.