Nissan LEAF is first Electric Car to Earn 5-Star Safety

LEAF IIHS Side TestBy John Addison (7/29/11)

Nissan LEAF is the first electric car to earn five stars from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

The 100-percent electric Nissan LEAF earned a 5-star overall vehicle rating for safety as part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s New Car Assessment Program (NCAP). The Nissan LEAF is the first fully electric vehicle to earn this highest distinction from the program. Starting with 2011 models, NHTSA introduced tougher tests and requirements in order to earn 5-star ratings.

The Insurance Institute also gives the Nissan LEAF a Top Safety Pick for Highway Safety in all these crash tests:

  • Frontal impact
  • Side impact
  • Roof strength
  • Rear crash protection / head restraint

Standard Nissan LEAF safety systems include Nissan Advanced Air Bag System (AABS) with dual-stage supplemental front air bags with seat belt and occupant classification sensors, front seat-mounted side impact supplemental air bags, roof-mounted curtain side impact supplemental air bags for front and rear-seat outboard occupant head protection, 3-point ALR/ELR seat belts (driver’s seat ELR only), child seat upper tether anchor, LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) system and child safety rear door locks. Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) and Traction Control System (TCS) are also standard on all LEAF models. Safety features include vehicle dynamic control (stability control), traction control and six airbags. Nissan has included a number of safety features in the Leaf including:

  •     3-years of roadside assistance including in price
  •     Advanced air bag system (AABS)
  •     seat-mounted driver and front-passenger side-impact supplemental air bags
  •     front-seat active head restraints (AHR)
  •     pipe-style steel side-door guard beams (all side-doors)
  •     Zone body construction with front and rear crumple zones
  •     Energy-absorbing steering column
  •     Tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS)
  •     Vehicle dynamic control (VDC)
  •     Traction control system (TCS)

My wife and I have been driving our Nissan LEAF for over three months. This electric car feels safe to us on city streets and on freeways.  The LEAF is easy to charge. It won’t let us drive anywhere if we forget to disconnect the charge point. When backing out of our shared condo parking, the mirrors and backup camera are helpful. When a pedestrian jaywalks in front of us, the silent EV emits an audible sound.

The LEAF accelerates well on to freeways, even in the range-extending ECO mode that we almost always use. OK, it’s not zero to 60 in 3.7 seconds like a Tesla Roadster; acceleration is fine. Visibility is fine when driving. At times, the hands-free GPS/map system is helpful.

Anecdotally, we find the electric range to be about 120 miles when driving under 40 miles per hour, but only 60 when driving 70 mph. With the LEAF, we are careful to drive the speed limit, which probably adds to the safety.

The 2012 Nissan Leaf SV starts at $35,200 or leases for $369 per. This five-door hatchback seats 5. The drop down back seat has made it comfortable to fill with bicycles for a fun trip or with groceries and goodies when shopping.

The Nissan LEAF is the first electric car to receive the NHTSA top 5-star rating. A pioneer in zero emission mobility, Nissan made history with the introduction of the Nissan LEAF, the first affordable, mass-market, pure-electric vehicle and winner of numerous international accolades including the prestigious 2011 European Car of the Year award.

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About Author: John Addison

Founder of the Clean Fleet Report, author of Save Gas, Save the Planet. John writes about electric cars, renewable energy, and sustainability.

2 thoughts on “Nissan LEAF is first Electric Car to Earn 5-Star Safety

  1. Paul Cohen
    July 31, 2011 at 5:36 am

    I don’t suppose anyone has experience with how this new car handles in snow and ice. When it becomes possible, I hope someone takes the time to comment on this.

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