By Jennifer Newman on April 17, 2012
Very little has changed in the Nissan Leaf for the 2012 model year. It now has heated front and rear seats and a heated steering wheel, which is one of my favorite car features. The battery pack has more insulation and a warming system, too. To learn more about the differences between the 2011 and 2012 Leafs (Leaves?) click here.
Cars.com owns a 2011 Leaf and I spent the better part of last year driving the electric car around Chicago — often with my school-aged kids in tow. This hatchback makes a great family car, but how does it handle rear-facing child-safety seats?
For the Car Seat Check, we use a Graco SnugRide 30 rear-facing infant-safety seat, a Britax Roundabout convertible child-safety seat and Graco high-back TurboBooster seat.
The front seats are adjusted to a comfortable position for a 6-foot driver and a 5-foot-8 passenger. The three child seats are installed in the second row. The booster seat sits behind the driver's seat, and the infant seat and convertible seats are installed behind the passenger seat. We also install the infant seat in the second row's middle seat with the booster and convertible in the outboard seats to see if three car seats will fit. If there's a third row, we install the booster seat and a forward-facing convertible.
Here's how the 2012 Leaf did in Cars.com's Car Seat Check:
Latch system: This electric car has two sets of lower Latch anchors in the outboard seats. The Latch anchors are deeply set into the seat bight, where the back and bottom cushions meet, but they aren't too difficult to use because the seat cushions can be moved out of the way. Three tether anchors are found midway down the rear seatbacks. They sit under hinged plastic covers and are easy to use.
Booster seat: Our high-back booster fit well in the Leaf, thanks to its flat seat cushions. The seat belt buckles are on stable bases but they sit deeply in the bottom seat cushion, making them tough for kids to use independently.
Convertible seat: Both the forward- and rear-facing convertible fit well in the Leaf. There was no need to move the front passenger seat forward to accommodate the rear-facing convertible.
Infant-safety seat: To fit this rear-facing car seat, we had to move the front passenger seat forward slightly — just one click — but the front passenger still had plenty of legroom. This car seat also fit well, and its traditional Latch connectors were easy to use with the Latch anchors.
How many car seats fit in the second row? Two
Editor's note: For three car seats — infant-safety seat, convertible and booster seats — to fit in a car, our criterion is that a child sitting in the booster seat must be able to reach the seat belt buckle. Parents should also remember that they can use the Latch system or a seat belt to install a car seat.
Assistant Managing Editor Jennifer Newman is a certified car-seat technician. A mom of two, she owns a 2013 Subaru Outback crammed with sports gear. Email Jennifer