The Nissan Leaf is the first fully-electric vehicle to earn a five-star rating for safety as part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHSTA) New Car Assessment Program (NCAP). The Leaf’s five-star score is the NCAP’s highest rating and comes just as the NHTSA introduced tougher tests and requirements in order to earn the marks.
The NCAP rating is another coup for Nissan, as in April the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the Leaf a Top Safety Pick in the first-ever U.S. crash test evaluations of plug-in electric cars. The Chevrolet Volt, a plug in electric car with a backup gasoline engine and the Leaf’s main competitor, has also earned the top marks from the both the NCAP and Insurance Institute.
While the Leaf is classified as a small car, the additional weight of its battery load puts its weight closer to midsize and large cars. The 2011 Leaf weighs about 3,370 pounds. In comparison, Nissan’s smallest model, the Versa is 2,693 pounds, the full sized Nissan Maxima sedan is 3,540 pounds while the Nissan Xterra 4×4 SUV weighs in at about 4,400 pounds.
The Leaf’s standard safety features include an airbag system with dual-stage supplemental front air bags and 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 seat belts with pretensioners and load limiters, child seat upper tether anchor and child safety rear door locks.