But I wanted to try a test drive in "not so friendly" conditions AKA "Puget Sound Gridlock" the acid test of any ACC. (Adaptive Cruise Control) But my original meet time was for Southcenter Mall at 2 PM which meant there was a good chance that I would have to drive around the airport to find good gridlock at that time of day but as "luck" would have it, my job in Silverdale ran long so we decided to meet at the EvGO stations at Tacoma Mall at 4 PM instead where Jose, my host got a firsthand look at what I deal with every day which meant gridlock caused him to be 30 mins late. Considering I started it all by being two hours late, I was ok with it.
Before taking off, I set one pedal, Eco and B mode since this is how I would likely drive the car. There is no creep at all. In fact, at low speeds, the car drags like the parking brake is on. Not sure that I will want this all the time and made me wish the car was fully charged to see if it reacted differently like my current LEAF does when there is no regen. I am guessing friction brakes take over to minimize any differences in the driving experience.
At parking lot speeds under 10 mph, One pedal brings car to a full stop in 10 feet or less. This will take a bit of getting used to. Keep in mind, you can also simply release accelerator slowly for a more gradual stop as well. For me; I think I would have that mastered within a day. There is a great "feel" of the regen at work here. IOW; Regen is MUCH stronger.
I enabled ProPilot as we turned onto Tacoma Mall Blvd headed to the 56th on ramp to I-5. You need to be going a certain speed for this to work. Not sure what that speed is other than I couldn't do it when not moving but was able to do it while moving pretty slowly so guessing more than about 10 mph? During the drive, I noticed that on surface streets with newly painted lines, any place that had the double yellow lines, the lane was not recognized. But if I moved over, where there is just the dashed white lines, it worked fine even on surface streets.
When the lanes are recognized, you will see a green border on the road. This tells you Lane Centering is active. Despite what you may have read "directly from Nissan's site" ProPilot works from ZERO to Max speed. A reviewer quoted Nissan's Webpage as saying ACC only works from 10 to 62 MPH. That is a COMPLETELY WRONG statement.
The ProPilot screen will also display cars it recognizes and this we will soon find out is a good thing.
Since we were in ProPilot mode, as the light turned green at the 56th Street on ramp, I simply tapped the "Res +" button and the car took off to hit its preset speed. (You can also just tap the accelerator to resume) On the pix above; On the right is a circle with a MPH display. Here is where you can see what your ACC speed is set to. A pretty cool thing especially when you are moving from a 35 mph street to a 60 mph freeway. I was able to adjust my speed to 59 mph (as if I thought I would actually go that fast...) as I was entering the on ramp well before highway speed.
In the pix above when the car is moving you will see lines in front of the car designating what your following distance is. Hitting the button on the left toggles from 1 to 2 to 3 and back to 1 again. I found that 3 and 2 were simply too far so I set it to 1 on the freeway. As I toggled thru, I could feel the car adjusting its speed since traffic was not moving at 60 mph. (what a surprise... NOT!) A following distance of one worked well but still allowed too much room so naturally cars cut in which made for a bit of excitement especially since we were approaching the double exit to Highway 512 which meant cutting in AND slowing down. Although the car beeped (I am guessing to alert me that PP saw the car) I decided some manual brake action was needed anyway.
Now we are sitting at the entrance to Highway 512 coming off I-5 from the North which means its a 3 lane left turn. Something that PEOPLE can have issues with keeping in their own lane.
leaving the pix at the right. Pro Pilot pulled it off flawlessly
This brings up another key point of the Lane Centering Function. Although you can easily feel the steering adjustments, they are effortless to overcome. The LEAF makes no large movement instead electing to make very fast small adjustments. When exiting I-5 to Highway 512, we were in the 2nd lane from the right so going straight was an option but as I turned off and the LEAF recognized this after a split second and then helped to make the turn.
Again, my speed is still set to 59 mph and it takes quite a while before traffic gets up to that speed. Two miles later, I exited the freeway onto Pacific Ave (Highway 7 for the out of towners) where I had hoped to see heavy traffic with stop lights every half mile or so. Traffic was disappointing at first and I realized that ACC doesn't work well if you are first at the light. I "almost" (not really that close mind you) let the car follow the other car thru the light. And yes, we did see a few people running red lights including one guy who went halfway into the intersection before deciding to stop and back up!
But it only took a mile or so for traffic to thicken up and I found that at 35 mph, a following distance of 2 seemed to work the best. In the normal stop and go, the car worked very well. It was more relaxing than having to moderate speed which was kind of a surprise to me since I still had to steer, make sure there was a car to follow, monitor lights, etc. It didn't seem like the car was doing much of anything but later back in my 2016 when I had to do EVERYTHING I realized that it did take off some of the load!
One of the things that ProPilot needs to work on is its reaction time to merging traffic. The time between when cars exited the street and the LEAF recognized it was a bit too long. But when the car did recognize the space, it sped up QUICKLY. The same thing happened when cars cut in. Instead of a gentle metered slow down, it was a rather strong deceleration. Now, I have to admit I failed to go thru the entire menu screens so there very well could be adjustments to address these issues.
I did kick around the idea of plugging in LEAF Spy just to get a few readings but figured they would not be accurate so decided against that. One thing I want to find out is how much, if any, friction braking was involved in those strong deceleration events. If its all regen, this would somewhat explain the delay since it would take what? a ¼ second to ramp up to the level required? If that is they case, I might very well be ok with that.
Finally and yes, I was in a fully loaded SL (purposely avoided the surround view. Didn't want to be tempted!) so my impressions will probably be a bit slanted but after sitting in a dozen Bolts (several with leather) over the past few months, the LEAF simply feels like its in a different class. The seats are firm (which I need) but VERY comfortable. I love range but the reality is 2 hour stretches in the seat are far too common for me to be able to compromise comfort.
In reality; it will still come down to price/features but I just priced a Bolt and it was still $37K after incentives for a lease to purchase after just under $4000 in incentives (buyers would get that PLUS the fed credit!) The T3 would be waaaay down the line and priced a few thousand less but lease to purchase is not likely and the WA State tax bill of $3K + would apply making it just slightly more than the Bolt but much better cargo utilization and SC network puts more than makes up the difference but still have to see one first. I can't/won't do a car with a low seating position.
So it comes down to the LEAF (again!) With half the incentives I received on the 2016, I am still looking at car in the $23-25 K range. That is simply too much money to ignore especially for my budget. With several programs in motion to add public charging, I am hopeful that my 140-150 mile LEAF would do the job (My 30 kwh LEAF is doing a pretty good job now without the added future public infrastructure improvements!)
Again; for anyone doing test drives, grab them screens! Ask any questions below. Just because I didn't mention it doesn't mean I didn't notice it!
Test drives are in selected areas only but I don't live in one of those areas but close enough to drive there so meeting somewhere besides your home is an option. Sign up here to check for availability