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Nissan Leaf continued from page 79
effect in 2014. At a cost of about $100 per month, Leaf owners could sign
up at any time for the program and immediately get a new battery pack with the latest available technology that is compatible with their vehicle. The replacement battery had a full
12 bars (one-hundred percent) of capacity. Nissan provides assurance that the replacement pack would maintain at least 9 bars (seventy percent capacity) or more capacity
for the time that they own their car
and make monthly payments. The program also provided protection from defects in materials or workmanship for the time they owned their Leaf and remain in the battery program. In summary, all batteries installed under this program would have coverage similar to the terms of standard battery coverage under the “Nissan New Electric Vehicle Limited Warranty.”
In mid 2014, Nissan USA announced an updated battery replacement program allowing the outright purchase of a new battery pack for $5,499.
The price did not include labor and the trade-in of the old pack was mandatory. Older 2011–12 model year Leafs would require a mounting kit to retrofit the new pack for an additional $225. The new pack would be the same as the one in the 2015 model year Leaf, with the latest battery chemistry which Nissan claims would be more heat tolerant. Financing for the replacement battery was to be announced by the end of 2014.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency official range is 73 miles, much less than the 100 miles quoted by Nissan. The Federal Trade Commission, which is supposed
to label all alternative fuel vehicles, disagrees with the EPA rating, and considers that the correct range is between 96 to 110 miles. Although the FTC does not conduct its own tests as EPA does, it relies on a standard set by SAE International and the results reported by automakers. The Leaf had a range of 109 miles.
Based on third-party test drives carried out, reviewers found that the range available from a single charge can vary up to forty percent in real-world situations; reports vary from about 62 miles to almost 138 miles depending on driving style. Nissan tested the Leaf under several scenarios and obtained
47 miles and 138 miles.
Lexus RX 450h
      This Lexus comes with a 308-horsepower hybrid powertrain that combines a V6 and three electric motors. While it can’t match the verve of some rivals’ engines, this SUV acceler- ates quickly and has enough power for all driving situations. You expect a hybrid to outpace its nonhybrid rivals when it comes to fuel economy, and that’s exactly what this Lexus does. It earns 31 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the high- way, which are even ahead of some other hybrids’ ratings. But the really questionable expenditure on this Lexus is for the L model itself, which, at $51,615 to start, is the priciest of
all RX models. It will lower your budget for bulky “unexpected” booty by a hefty $4725 compared with the two-row RX hybrid. And with its second-row captain’s chairs limiting the effective seating capacity to four adults and maybe two prepubescent kids, the RX450hL is also a tough sell against the RX350L, which has a standard second-row bench that can accommodate three adults. While the hybrid has the mpg advantage over the standard V-6 according to the EPA, RX. The RX450hL is a conflicted creature—both too much and not enough at the same time.
  The ES 300h gets a bump in power for 2020, with its horse- power rating increasing from 200 to 215. The 300h has a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, an electric motor, and a contin- uously variable automatic transmission. This system deliv- ers the one-two punch of being both energetic and efficient. This Hybrid does not yet have a fuel economy rating from the EPA, but Lexus estimates that it will deliver 44 mpg in thecityand45mpgonthehighway. Ifthesenumbershold true, this will be the most fuel-efficient vehicle in our luxury class. Thiscardoesn’tdrivelikeahybrid...inagoodway.
Itsregenerativebrakingsystemissilkysmooth,makingtheES300hfeelmorelikeanonhybridcar. That’snotalwaysthe casewithhybridbrakes. Thesuspensionsystemhasbeengreatlyimprovedfromthepreviousgeneration,resultingina controlled yet comfortable ride quality. This 2020 Hybrid is fully redesigned, with more power, nimbler handling, and a full suiteofadvancedsafetyfeatures. Itislargelyanexcellentcar,butitranksinthemiddleoftheluxurymidsizecarclass because of its frustrating infotainment system and the presence of more well-rounded rivals.
Lexus LS 500h MSRP $79,810
3.5L, ?kWh, 354HPc, MPGe 25/33, 0e, Wt 3,788
The LS 500h requires a close look to tell it apart from the standard LS 500. Since the design is fresh, it goes into 2020 unchanged. There is one powertrain choice for the LS 500h, and the only major choice buyers will have to make is wheth- er they want rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.
Like the standard LS model, the LS 500h gets a 3.5-liter V6. There aren’t turbochargers like there are on the regular LS 500. Instead,theV6isaidedbytwoelectricmotorsand aLithiumIonbatteryforacombined354horsepower. The transmission setup is a novel continuously variable trans-
mission that works with a conventional 4-speed automatic to simulate the ratios found in the 10-speed found in the LS 500. TheLS500hisavailablewitheitherrear-wheeldriveorall-wheeldriveandfeaturesmulti-linksuspension. Ofcourse,the big reason to buy a hybrid version of any automobile is savings at the gas pump, and even though the LS 500h is a big and heavy luxury sedan, it manages 25 mpg city and 33 highway with RWD. Depending on the situation, the hybrid gets 4-6 mpg better than the standard LS 500..
Lexus LC 500h MSRP $96,810
3.5L, ?kWh, 354HPc, MPGe 40/40, 0e, Wt 4,435
There are two versions of the LC to choose from: the V8-powered LC 500 ($92,300) and the hybrid LC 500h ($96,810). The powertrain and $4,500 price disparity are themaindifferencesbetweenthesetwotrims. Thehybrid powertrain of the Lexus LC 500h includes a 3.5-liter V6 en- gine, two electric motors, a multi-stage hybrid transmission, and a LithiumIon battery.
The LC 500h does look a lot like the standard LC 500 on top. While the LC 500h is a lot more frugal at the gas pump thanthestandardcar,it’snoslouchintheperformance. The
total system output is 354 horsepower and the LC 500h will do 0-60 miles per hour in 4.7 seconds, only 0.3 seconds behind the V8. The hybrid’s top speed is 155 mph. Of course, fuel economy is the big question with any car that has an “h” in its name,andtheLCwilldo26mpgcity,35highway,and30combined. WhilethecostishigherforahybridLC500,itwon’t take too much time of daily driving to make up the difference at the gas pump, because the hybrid gets over 10 more mpg in any setting.
MSRP $46,100 3.5L, ?kWh, 308HPc, MPGe 31/28, 0e, Wt 4,857
  Lexus ES 300h
MSRP $41,400 2.5L, ?kWh, 215HPc, MPGe 44/45, 0e, Wt 3,788
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