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Exclusive photo: Nissan Leaf electric car now in red

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Exclusive photo: Nissan Leaf electric car now in red

08:25 PM

Nothing but somber silver and boring blue -- until now. Upon our encouragement, Nissan's intrepid California outpost (which used to be the U.S. headquarters before Nissan hightailed to Tennessee) yanked a red Leaf electric car out of some nook and provided a photo for USA TODAY's Drive On readers first.

It shows that in a snappy color, Leaf loses some of its ugly-on-a-stick ambiance. Doesn't even quite trigger the gag reflex:

There's much more to Leaf than its shade. We give you the lowdown in this week's Test Drive column.

Generally, though, we remain baffled that eco-cars seem to come only in boring colors. Honda, bless it's hybridic little head, offers the sporty CR-Z gas-electric two-seater, which we reviewed in a previous Test Drive column, in exciting colors (with an exciting manual transmission for the excitement-oriented).

Please. Shouldn't going really far on a really small amount of fuel and money be exciting? Shouldn't a car that inspires a polar bear to trek from his icy neighborhood to yours in this Nissan Leaf TV ad be worth a hued shout? If you can't get all heat up about saving the planet, and insist on showing it in your automotive palette, just what kind of gray thinking is going on in there?

Our proposal: A "dull" tax on bland-colored eco-cars. Get a white Toyota Prius and lose your right to travel the commuter lanes without passengers. Get a brown Lincoln MKZ hybrid and pay twice the listed price for gasoline. Get a silver Chevy Volt and it comes with a thimble for a gas tank, so that on-board gasoline generator gets you almost nowhere after the 40-mile batteries run dry.

Yellow, for the sun. Red for fiery passion. Purple for all the extra plums a well-tended Earth will grow (OK, smart-aleck, you come up with a good one for purple ...).

-- James R. Healey/Drive On



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