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2023 Nissan Ariya Review: Gives the top EVs a run for their money

Bynewsmagzines

Mar 20, 2023
2023 Nissan Ariya Review: Gives the top EVs a run for their money

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Pros: Functional and stylish cabin; various performance, range and trim level combos; well-equipped

Cons: Charging is on the slow side; no one-pedal driving and weird e-Step functionality

The Nissan Ariya was revealed way back in the dark days of summer 2020, yet is only reaching dealers in early 2023 in front-wheel-drive guise with the all-wheel-drive e-4ORCE version arriving later in the spring. It was worth the wait. This compelling electric SUV is the first new model to really challenge the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6 for all-around excellence. Although it falls well short of those in terms of charging speed, everything else from its interior space and functionality to its available performance and range align closely. The Ariya actually offers a broader selection of battery, performance and trim level combinations, making it possible for buyers with more realistic EV expectations to avoid paying for range, speed and/or features they don’t really need.

This breadth of offerings with price tags ranging from $43,000 to about $60,000 allows the 2023 Nissan Ariya to not only compare favorably with those class-leading EVs, but also with cheaper models like the Kia Niro EV on the low end, and pricy luxury models like the Mercedes EQB and Lexus RZ 450e on the upper end. The Ariya Platinum certainly provides superior performance and range over those particular luxury EVs, while boasting an interior that’s arguably just as luxurious and far more stylish. That cabin also gives it a leg up on the Tesla Model Y.

Ultimately, the Ariya is a well-rounded electric car made by a company that has been making them longer than almost everyone. Not only is it a great advancement over the humble Leaf, but Nissan clearly applied the knowledge it learned selling that electric car for 12 years and two generations to a new vehicle that consequently comes across as less of a prototype or trial balloon than other EVs. If you’re looking for an electric car, check it out.

Interior & Technology   |   Passenger & Cargo Space   |   Performance & Fuel Economy

What it’s like to drive   |   Pricing & Trim Levels   |   Crash Ratings & Safety Features

What’s new for 2023?

The Ariya is an all-new model.

What are the Ariya interior and in-car technology like?

Unlike many other EVs, the Ariya manages to offer style, functionality and quality. It looks terrific with the sort of minimalist aesthetic seemingly expected of an EV, but there are still stalks on the wheel and buttons to press (even if many are touch-sensitive haptic “buttons” that thankfully do work). The touchscreen infotainment system is required to operate a few too many functions such as the heated seats, but in general, it’s one of the easiest systems to use whether you’re a technophile or just want to use the darn radio. As with many new cars, that widescreen infotainment display is paired with a similarly sized instrument panel display that can be configured to show different types and amounts of information right in front of the driver. There’s also a head-up display above it that is uniquely standard.

The Ariya takes advantage of its electric architecture to provide a flat, open floor in not only the back seat, but the front as well. Not only does this provide a visual sense of openness and space, but owners of larger purses will probably appreciate the vast area to stash it without stealing front passenger legroom. Now, should you want a less open, cockpit-like feeling, the center console can actually motor forward by quite an extensive distance. This also allows the electronic shifter, cupholders and armrest to be placed just-right for drivers of different heights.

In terms of quality, the Ariya can be considered a genuine rival for luxury branded EVs. The beautifully patterned real leather found in the Platinum trim level is an icy shade of blue and pairs with a rich, faux suede on the dash and doors in the same color. The wood dash trim found on every Ariya really completes the premium vibe. That said, even lower trim levels benefit from fashionable rose gold accents and padded leatherette trim on the dash and doors. We also love the “Kumiko” patterned pieces throughout the cabin, including the carpets, speaker grilles and ambient lighting fixtures (below right). In short, the Ariya cabin is special.

How big is the Ariya?

The Ariya is basically the same length and width as the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and awfully similar to the Kia EV6 as well, but it’s a few inches taller than both (especially the Kia), resulting in a more SUV-like appearance. You also feel like you’re sitting higher in it, which also applies to comparisons with the otherwise bigger Mustang Mach-E. It doesn’t have quite as much sprawl-out space in the back seat as the Hyundai, Kia or Ford, but that’s OK – 6-footers can still fit front-and-back, and there’s plenty of space for someone to sit in front of a rear-facing child seat. There’s also sufficient rear headroom, although the high seating position and available panoramic sunroof may make the roof feel uncomfortably close to the heads of those up front.

Cargo space with the back seat up is an unremarkable 22.8 cubic feet, a figure considerably less than the competition. We’ve seen surprisingly inconsistent real-world cargo space performance with the EV6, Ioniq 5 and Mach-E, however, so we wouldn’t automatically write off the Ariya. Don’t count on a front trunk bolstering its capacity, though, as there isn’t one. Considering how tiny most frunks are, we really don’t think this is an issue.

What are the Ariya range, charging and performance specs?

There is a wide variety of power, range and drivetrain offerings in the Ariya lineup. Let’s dig in.

The Engage trim has a single motor on the front axle that produces 214 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. It has a 66-kilowatt-hour battery and a range of 216 miles. Thankfully, this base trim level is generously equipped, meaning those with more realistic range needs won’t necessarily need to pay for extra battery capacity just to get unrelated comfort/convenience items.

The Venture+, Evolve+ and Empower+ get a 238-hp motor with the same 221 lb-ft. They also have a 91-kWh battery pack good for either 304 miles (Venture+) or 289 miles (all others). Nissan says this version will go from 0-60 mph in a quick 7.2 seconds.

The Engage e-4ORCE adds a second motor, this time on the rear axle. This results in all-wheel drive as well as considerably more performance: 335 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque. It also has the 66-kW battery, which means its range drops to 205 miles.

All other trim levels with e-4ORCE have a bit more power: 389 hp and 442 lb-ft of torque. This would be the quickest Ariya with an estimated 0-60-mph time of 4.8 seconds. Range stands at 272 miles (Engage+ and Evolve+) or 267 miles (Platinum+).

Charging is not the Ariya’s strong suit. It maxes out at 130 kW at a public DC fast charger (the Mach-E and ID.4 are good for 150 kW, while the Ioniq 5 and EV6 can utilize ultra-fast 350-kW chargers thanks to their 240-kW max). You’ll be waiting around to charge longer with an Ariya. Its onboard charger can also only manage 7.2 kW, meaning it won’t be able to charge quite as quickly at home, either. This would only come into play, however, if you have a home charging station versus simply plugging into a 120- or 240-volt outlet.

What’s the Ariya like to drive?

The Ariya offers an impressively refined driving experience. It is quiet thanks to both its electric motor and abundant sound-deadening materials, and its ride is nicely damped. We’d probably skip the big 20-inch wheels on the Platinum since they add a touch of firmness and reduce range. The steering is also precise with natural, consistent weighting. There is a Sport mode, but we didn’t notice much of a difference in steering or throttle response (unlike those of many rivals). The most obvious change is the whirring Jetsons noise that plays over the sound system when accelerating. Our main dynamic complaint is the lack of one-pedal driving. There is a B mode that slightly increases regenerative braking and a weird feature dubbed “e-Step” that significantly increases regen but does so while moving the brake pedal as if a ghost was suddenly driving. No thanks. It makes for awkward stops when you have to take over for the last 5-10 mph of braking.

As with most other electric cars, opting for all-wheel drive doesn’t just improve poor-weather traction, it significantly increases performance due to the added motor. The e-4ORCE Ariya models are in fact considerably quicker, with a solid snap off the line and abundant passing power. You’ll never get tired of charging up highway on-ramps. That said, the base two-wheel-drive Ariya is not slow by any means – a 0-60 time of 7.2 seconds was considered quick not too long ago and the immediate torque provided by its electric motors makes it feel even quicker.

The other thing to consider is that the two-wheel-drive Ariya is front-wheel-drive – the Ioniq 5, EV6, Mustang Mach-E and VW ID.4 are all rear-wheel-drive. While driving enthusiasts may lament this because of RWD’s handling advantage, front-wheel drive is far superior in poor weather. Those in snowy climates therefore don’t have to opt for all-wheel drive and pay considerably more for added performance they don’t want or need.

Now, if they do go with the e-4ORCE all-wheel drive, they will find one of the more sophisticated setups in the electric market. Not only can its two motors proportion differing levels of power front and rear depending on various factors, the system can also differ the amount of power between the left and right wheels. This is called torque vectoring and it’s beneficial in both wet and dry conditions. While we didn’t detect the sort of handling benefit as we would in an Acura SH-AWD car, it is nevertheless one more reason beside performance and poor weather traction to pay extra for AWD.

What other Nissan Ariya reviews can I read?

2023 Nissan Ariya First Drive Review

First impressions of the Ariya, including more details about its design, engineering and driving impressions of the front-wheel-drive/large battery version. 

Nissan Ariya Interior Preview

Our first glimpse of the Ariya interior happened way back in 2021, but it thankfully got even more impressive since then.

What is the 2023 Nissan Ariya price?

The Ariya is competitively priced for an electric vehicle, and we like that it offers a greater variety of trim/equipment levels than its competitors. We also like that its base trim level is so well-equipped. Standard equipment includes front and rear parking sensors, dual-zone climate control, proximity entry on all four doors, an eight-way power driver seat, heated front and rear seats, driver memory functions, leatherette upholstery, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, two rear USB ports, twin 12.3-inch instrument and infotainment displays, a head-up display, satellite radio, wireless Apple CarPlay, wired Android Auto, the unique power-sliding center console and a full complement of safety technology features detailed below. That’s more than even the famously generous Hyundai and Kia offer.

You can find what the upper trim levels add here along with specs and local pricing. All prices below include the $1,335 destination charge. The + indicates trim levels with the larger battery pack, while e-4ORCE equals all-wheel drive.

Engage: $44,525
Engage e-4ORCE: $48,525

Venture+: $48,525
Evolve+: $51,525
Engage+ e-4ORCE: $52,525
Empower+: $55,025
Evolve+ e-4ORCE: $55,025
Platinum+ e-4ORCE: $61,525

What are the Ariya safety ratings and driver assistance features?

The Ariya has not been crash tested by a third party.

Every Ariya comes standard with more driver assistance features than its rivals. This includes forward collision warning with pedestrian detection, automatic front and rear emergency braking, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist, blind-spot warning and active mitigation, rear cross-traffic warning, and a driver inattention warning system. Standard on the Empower+ and Platinum+ trim levels is the ProPark automated parking system and the ProPilot Assist 2.0 that allows for hands-free driving on most controlled access highways.

We found that ProPilot Assist 2.0 works very well, both in full hands-free and token-hand-on-the-wheel modes (like what you get with Hyundai/Kia and many other brands), and like that it will warn and then disengage if it detects the driver is not looking at the road ahead.

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