2023 Nissan Ariya Electric SUV First Look: The Affordable EV SUV?

What you’re looking at isn’t a concept car—it’s the production version of the Nissan Ariya electric SUV first shown in the before times, way back at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show, and it’s coming to the U.S. and Canada late in 2022. With up to 300 miles of range, a flat-floor cabin, a hands-off driving mode, and a $47,000-ish price tag, the Ariya promises to be the electric crossover for those who don’t want to fade into the battery-powered background of look-alike Teslas.

2023 Nissan Ariya: The Design

Compliments to the Ariya’s stylists, who certainly weren’t shy. Nissan calls the design theme “Timeless Japanese Futurism,” and while we’re not sure about the first word, the last two certainly ring true. Honestly, we didn’t know quite what to think of the Ariya when we first saw it—that downward-sloping dish in the doors is one of several elements that take some getting used to—but the more we looked at the pictures, the more we began to embrace the Ariya’s look.

Had we been shown the Ariya without explanation, we might have assumed it was a future version of the conventional Murano midsize SUV, even though the Ariya is smaller—dimensionally it sits mid-way between Audi’s slightly-smaller Q4 E-Tron and Tesla’s slightly-larger Model Y (as well as Ford’s Mustang Mach E, which is similar in size to the Tesla). But it has the same bulk and swagger as the Murano, with a cleaner window line and a robot-warrior version of Nissan’s corporate SUV grille.

Nissan will offer the Ariya in six two-tone paint schemes, so clearly, it is prepared to grab onlookers by the neck and forcefully remind them that the future is now. With its 20-inch wheels (19s are standard on the front-wheel-drive 2023 Ariya Venture Plus), the Ariya Platinum Plus with the available e-4ORCE AWD really does look like the SUV of tomorrow. The name of its AWD system sure stands out.

The Cabin Is Spacious and Ariya

Inside, the Ariya takes a minimalist approach that emphasizes the utility of its flat floor—not just for the back seats but between the front seats as well. The dashboard’s strong horizontal lines and clean surfacing makes it seem like a time-traveler from the 1970s. Rather than fitting a “frunk,” Nissan has reserved the underhood space for the climate control system, which frees up space under the dash. The climate controls are touch-sensitive with haptic feedback, and are integrated into the wood trim of the dashboard.

The two-screen setup with steering wheel controls is a nice middle ground between traditional interiors and the stark futurism of the Tesla Model Y, though some might argue that the central entertainment screen seems rather old-fashioned compared to the giant tablet displays in the Mach E and the Tesla. The center console storage box is disconnected from the dashboard and fully adjustable; besides storage space and a wireless charging pad, it houses the palm-sized shifter and touch-sensitive drive-mode controls that go dark when the Ariya is shut off.

The Electric Drive System

The Ariya will be available with either a single motor and front-wheel drive or the “e-4ORCE” dual-motor all-wheel-drive system, which we sampled in 2020 on a prototype mule built from a Nissan Leaf. The single-motor Ariya delivers 238 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque, while the all-wheel-drive Aryia produces 389 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque.

Both powertrains will be offered in standard and long-range versions, the former with a 65-kWh battery (63 kWh of which is usable) and the latter with 91-kWh battery (87 kWh usable). Nissan estimates a battery range for the single-motor long-range version of around 300 miles while the dual motor e-FORCE will have about a 265 mile range. With rivals’ battery ranges far higher, it’s a surprise that Nissan continues to use low-kWh battery packs. However, considering the Ariya will also take a 130-kW charge rate with a DC fast charge, it would take just around 42 minutes to charge to 100 percent with the 91-kWh battery pack. Charging that larger pack to 80 percent would take just over 33 minutes.

The Nissan Ariya’s Onboard Safety & Technology

The Ariya will come with a full suite of active safety and driver assistance systems, including Nissan’s answer to Tesla’s Autopilot, which it calls ProPILOT Assist v2.0 on the Premiere FWD and Platinum Plus e-FORCE models. Nissan’s ProPILOT Assist with Navi-link comes standard on the Venture Plus trim. Under certain conditions—primarily divided highways that aren’t too twisty—ProPILOT will allow drivers to take their hands off the wheel. Like Cadillac’s Super Cruise, the Ariya has a monitoring system that attempts to ascertain whether the driver is paying attention to the road ahead. We had a positive experience with the lane- and speed-keeping features of ProPILOT Assist in our Four Seasons Infiniti QX50, so we are optimistic that this next generation of the system will work even better. The Premiere FWD and Platinum Plus will also feature ProPILOT Park, Nissan’s automated parking system.

As you’d expect, the Ariya will be loaded with infotainment tech, including compatibility with wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto through Nissan Connect. Most car functions will be adjustable by voice command. The Ariya will be capable of over-the-air software updates, not just for the infotainment unit but for the powertrain, chassis, and climate control systems.

2023 Nissan Ariya: Late Arrival Due to Supply Issues and Pricing

Originally, the Ariya was to go on sale in Japan in mid-2021 and was scheduled to arrive in the U.S. and Canada in late 2021. Unfortunately, supply issues have now pushed that back into late 2022 in North America and now launching as a 2023 model. “Nissan is facing various industry challenges,” said the brand when asked about the delay, “including the semiconductor shortage and supply chain crisis. Our priority is to ensure that we deliver the all-new, all-electric Nissan Ariya to customers with the highest level of quality and care. To that end, we have delayed the start of sales of Ariya, which will now be available in the U.S. starting in fall 2022 with reservations beginning on November 16, 2021.”

Nissan says U.S. pricing for the first of four trims of the Ariya—the Venture Plus—will start at $47,125 with a $500 reservation opening on November 16, 2021. The first 10,000 reservations made before January 31, 2022 will also qualify for a free EVgo two-year membership plus $500 when they take delivery of their Ariya. According to Nissan, that’s, “worth up to an estimated 5,000 miles of EV driving for the Ariya Venture Plus.”

While the styling may be a bit, er, polarizing, we think the Nissan Ariya will appeal to the cutting-edge futurists who first embraced the Tesla, while the relatively low price and Nissan’s experience in EVs—it has sold a half-million copies of the Leaf—should bring more cautious buyers into the fray as well. The Ariya looks set to serve as a solid bridge between the cars of today and the electric SUVs of tomorrow. We’re eager to take one for a drive—or perhaps to let it take us for a drive.

2023 Nissan Ariya Highlights

  • Drivetrain: Electric
  • Range: up to 300 miles
  • Price: $47,125
  • Performance: TBD
  • Prime feature: Combines electric drive with advanced driver assistance technologies at a relative bargain price.

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