Tesla became the biggest name in the electric vehicle space for a reason. The Model S basically set the standards for the modern electric car. However, the Model 3 and Model Y took the automaker to the next level, opening the eyes of many to the potential of driving electric.

The Model Y, in particular, seemed to check all the right boxes for many EV buyers. It is an objectively great car and was not surprisingly the best-selling car in the world in 2023. 

But looking ahead, Tesla’s electric crossover is probably due for some feature and styling updates. Unfortunately, many of the automaker’s latest product offerings and refreshes have not been especially well received and Tesla CEO Elon Musk wants to pivot the company into being anything other than an automaker

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In addition, Musk’s statements and actions in recent years have turned some of Tesla’s former supporters into its most ardent critics. So, it should come as no shock that many former and potential Tesla buyers are looking into alternatives. 

This brings us to The Fast Lane EV’s (TFLEV) look at the Nissan Ariya and Toyota bZ4X. Neither of these Model Y competitors is considered the best in the category. However, with dealer and manufacturer incentives applied, both cars can be picked up remarkably cheap, especially as a lease. 

In Colorado, the Ariya can be leased for under $250 a month with little or no money down. He says these are specialized leases with mileages as low as 5,000 miles a year. Similarly, the bZ4X can be found for about $169 monthly with only a few thousand down. Tommy contrasts this with a typical Model Y leasing term of 36 months for $329 a month and $3,000 down. So, as a second vehicle, and at low lease rates like these, it is easy to look past any limitations of both the Toyota and Nissan.

2024 Nissan Ariya

2024 Nissan Ariya

The Ariya comes with two battery options and driving ranges spanning 205 to 304 miles. The Platinum + featured here is rated at 267 miles and has comfortable, nappa leather-appointed seats and a clean interior design. Some other nice features are the heated and ventilated seats, digital mirror, and a panoramic moonroof, which can actually be opened. Why is this still such a rare feature in electric cars? 

In this trim, the Nissan includes lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, Apple Carplay / Android Auto, and even stalks on the steering wheel. Which you wouldn’t think is a selling point. But in the age of the refreshed Model 3, it is for a lot of people.

“This drives like an Infinity. The build quality feels very high; the ride is supple.” Tommy describes the Ariya. “The steering is not very communicative, but it does its job.” He criticizes the charging rate, which peaks at about 130 kW. However, because the charging curve is so consistent, you can charge the vehicle fairly quickly. 

2024 Toyota bZ4X

2024 Toyota bZ4X

While the bZ4X is not a “world-class electric car,” Tommy feels it’s a very good option if you can find a good lease deal. At a $50,000 MSRP, outright purchasing the bZ4X makes no sense. But with a $150-$200 monthly lease payment, you can’t go wrong. 

The Toyota has a power liftgate and plenty of storage above and below the floorboard. The back seat has excellent legroom and reasonable headroom for a 6-foot passenger. 

Similar to the Nissan, the bZ4X also offers Android Auto / Apple Carplay, adaptive cruise control, lane centering, and other typical driver-assist features. While the Toyota's moonroof does not open, it does have a retractable sun shade, just like the Nissan's. 

On the downside, this Limited trim manages 236 miles of range with a peak charging speed of only 100 kW. The front seat also feels a lot more claustrophobic compared to the Nissan. This is likely due to the small side windows, sloping roofline, and bulky center console. 

“On the road, the bZ4X drives very good. It’s quiet, it’s refined, it’s pretty punchy. It’s actually very punchy for a Toyota.” Charging is the bZ4X’s most significant limitation. The car takes under an hour to charge to 80% at a public fast charger and pulls only 6.6 kW at an L2 charger. The bZ4X also has major limitations when fast charging multiple times over a 24-hour period. So, you probably will not want to be road-tripping this vehicle frequently. 

“Are these good as a Model Y?”, Tommy asks. “In a lot of ways, no, they are not. But they can be leased for some incredible deals. And they are still really good cars that I think would make you really happy to own.” 

Are you someone who was considering a Tesla but decided recently to go with another automaker? What vehicle did you decide to go with, and are you happy with your choice? Let us know in the comments below. 

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