That starting price is for the entry-level S trim. Stepping up to the mid-grade SV you're looking at a $39,405 Leaf, and the top-tier SL will ring in at a much higher $43,445. So yes, the long-range Leaf gets pricey quickly, but a lot of the equipment added is well worth your time. When you step up to the SV you get the portable charge cable, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels, fog lights, adaptive cruise control and the new eight-inch infotainment system. You are also granted the ability to check some option boxes that aren't available on the base S.
Go for the more expensive SL and you'll add these on top of the SV: a heated steering wheel, heated mirrors, LED headlights and DRLs, eight-way power driver's seat with two-way lumbar, leather seats all around, heated in front, Bose premium audio system, hybrid heater (heat pump), auto-dimming rearview mirror, 360-degree camera, and ProPilot Assist along with all the other Nissan driver assistance systems. ProPilot Assist is optional on the SV, but you can't tack it on to the cheaper S unfortunately.
With Tesla having just unleashed the base Model 3 into the world yesterday, the Leaf Plus is a fantastic point of comparison. For $36,200 (including destination) you can get into the 220-mile range Tesla, so the Leaf comes in $1,245 more expensive. Tesla has reached the magical 200,000 cars sold with the $7,500 tax credit, though, so you only get a $3,750 credit added there. Nissan still qualifies for the full $7,500 credit, and will for some time. Doing the math with the tax credit included, the Leaf is a net $2,505 "cheaper" than the Tesla. You'll be able to take advantage of the full tax credit on the Leaf and Leaf Plus for some time now, as Nissan is still about 70,000 cars away from reaching its limit. The Leaf Plus ekes out six more miles of range than the Model 3, but the Tesla destroys it in performance — 0-60 in 5.6 seconds plus rear-wheel drive make the Model 3 a much more enticing option for those who love to drive.