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Posted: 2:59 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011

Clark reviews his new Nissan Leaf

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After months of waiting, I finally have my Leaf -- the all-electric, no gas car from Nissan. I want to tell you how it actually drives and what the pros and cons are with this cutting-edge vehicle.

Simply put, the Leaf is my very expensive science project. It sells for about $36,000 before various federal and state credits that dropped the price for me to $24,000. Credits will vary by state, if applicable.

It's very comfortable in the front, but cramped in the back. As far as speed, it's fast as all get out and not a good choice to give to a lead-footed teenager. There's enormous torque from zero to 30. Going 31 to 60, not so much! But the initial burst of power is shocking.

I'm getting decent range. I've had no issues (called "range anxiety") where I'm worrying that I'll run out of charge and be stuck on the side of the road with no juice.

So for the second generation of electrics cars, it is a very nice automobile though it is a little small.

My wife, who loves cars, is afraid to drive it. Why? She's afraid to drive it and love it so much that I will never be the driver again, only a passenger. So if you hear me at some point say, "My wife's Leaf…" you'll know what happened!

GM handles safety concerns with class

Unlike my Leaf, the Chevy Volt has a small gas engine that picks up when you run out of charge. It's designed to be an electric car, but you have that backup.

As the feds were doing crash testing of the Volt -- which has gotten great safety ratings, by the way --  one of the test vehicles parked in a government garage combusted weeks later and burned up other vehicles around it. Then it happened again when the feds tried to replicate the circumstances.

There have been a lot of questions about battery placement in the Volt and how they're arranged and how that impacts cooling. GM, instead of getting into fighting mode, denied there was a problem, but said that if any Volt owner is worried, there are free non-Volt loaner cars available to them as long as it takes to get to the bottom of this.

That's a classy, smart business move. It's so much better than how Toyota handled its own safety issues just a few years ago.

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