The 2011 Nissan Leaf gets a strong Total Car Score in the Compact Sedan and Wagon Category. This all-electric hatchback claims its place in automotive history as the first such car to be mass produced by a major manufacturer.
The Leaf has impressed reviewers with its extremely green approach to motoring combined with its everyday drivability. Primarily, it is applauded for both its zero tailpipe emissions and for its zero dependency on gas. The first point underpins the Leaf's miniscule carbon footprint, while the latter is the reason for the Leaf's incredible efficiency and very low operating cost. To that, the car also offers a very significant green car federal tax credit. In terms of driving experience, the Leaf enjoys spirited acceleration, quiet road manners and a comfortable ride for the daily commute. Other positive claims include a spacious forward cabin, the presence of standard navigation and a mindful dose of safety features.
Despite its long list of accolades, the Leaf is not without faults. Reviews called it expensive compared to similarly sized vehicles and impractical for anyone needing to exceed its 100-miles-on-a-single charge range (the EPA rates the Leaf's driving range at only 73 miles). An almost non-existent recharging infrastructure has also been blamed on this front. Beyond its range issues, the Leaf has been said to be very numb in terms of steering and handling. And the rear seat can be tight on legroom for some adults.
The Leaf is ideal for those who don't intend on traveling very far. That means around-town driving and short commutes only. Anyone shopping for a long-distance cruiser should look elsewhere.
The 2011 Nissan Leaf is an all-new model.
The 2011 Nissan Leaf is an all-electric five-door hatchback, available in two trim levels: SV and SL.
Notable standard features on both Leaf trims include 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic climate control, keyless push-button start, Bluetooth, LED headlights, navigation and a six-speaker stereo with iPod connectivity. The uplevel SL adds extras such as a solar panel to power certain electrical functions and a rearview camera system.
The Leaf's standard safety features include six airbags, ABS and stability control.
Also standard is Nissan Connection, a remote system that allows owners to access battery information while the Leaf is plugged in and charging.
The Nissan Leaf is propelled by an 80-kilowatt electric motor which gets its energy from an advanced lithium-ion battery. This system generates 107 horsepower and a lofty 207 pound-feet of torque.
The 2011 Nissan Leaf receives very high crash-test ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Adminstration (NHTSA) and the highest possible safety score from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
Since the Nissan Leaf is all-electric, the term "fuel economy" does not apply to it. For this reason, the EPA gives the Leaf a miles-per-gallon equivalency rating of 106 mpg city/92 mpg highway/99 mpg combined. These figures make it the most effiecient mainstream vehicle in America.
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