The 2023 Nissan Ariya is one of the most important models in the company’s “A-to-Z” rejuvenation. Following the Leaf as the company’s second all-electric offering, the Ariya can drive an impressive 304 miles in front-drive form. But I found myself grateful to be piloting a dual-motor Ariya during California’s recent deluge of rain, and the confusingly named e-4ORCE system felt well worth the drop in range – to a still-impressive 272 miles.
The Nissan’s long legs make it a good foil for the Hyundai Ioniq 5 HTRAC and Volkswagen ID.4 AWD, which go 256 and 255 miles per charge, respectively. On the other hand, both of its chief rivals offer quicker charging than the Ariya, which tops out at 130 kilowatts on a DC fast charger. And the Japanese EV is on the pricey side, starting at $48,525 for a base trim. Still, it’s a disservice to only pay attention to the specs, as Nissan’s first long-range EV offers serene driving manners and a stylish cabin to boot.
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|Quick Stats||2023 Nissan Ariya Evolvo+ e-4ORCE|
|Motors:||Dual Externally Excited Synchronous|
|Output:||389 Horsepower / 442 Pound-Feet|
|Price As Tested:||$55,875|
My first experience with the Ariya came about a year ago, when fellow Senior Editor Tom Moloughney and I traveled to Spain to sample a pre-production version of the crossover on a closed course that did its best imitation of a suburban neighborhood. I came away from that brief, limited experience impressed with the Ariya’s smooth power delivery and comfortable ride, traits that mostly hold up when driving the car on public roads.
With 389 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque on tap from the motors, the Ariya has more than enough passing and merging power, but power delivery is far more measured than it is in some rivals. Unsurprisingly, the Nissan isn’t intended to be a sharp, snappy athlete, but that’s not a complaint. As with the Lexus RZ I drove last week, I appreciated the genteel accelerator tuning, with none of the accidental whiplash that some EVs dole out when pulling away from a stop. The Ariya is properly quick, hitting 60 miles per hour in about 4.8 seconds, but it doesn’t shout its intentions every time you glance at the skinny pedal.
Unsurprisingly, the Nissan isn’t intended to be a sharp, snappy athlete, but that’s not a complaint.
The firm springs and dampers give the Nissan crossover a busier ride than I remember, but it absorbs bumps without any hint of harshness. But neither is it as smooth and isolated as it should be, given its accelerative demeanor. Potatoes looking for a couch will probably find that the Hyundai Ioniq 5 smothers road imperfections better. The Ariya is undeniably quiet, however, with precious little wind noise or tire roar at speed. Some credit for the quiet cabin goes to the standard acoustic glass on the front and side windows.
It’s not likely that many Ariya customers will make a habit out of flogging their EVs, as evidenced by the numb, light steering. But push the Ariya hard and that buttoned-down suspension pays dividends with limited body roll and great stability. The so-called e-4ORCE all-wheel-drive system can control each brake individually, limiting understeer in low-grip situations, and stability control intervention is nearly imperceptible, which adds both fun and driver confidence. And when braking, the rear motor provides more regenerative resistance than the front, palpably reducing dive to the benefit of both passenger comfort and handling stability.
My favorite feature of the Ariya is its deliberately Japanese cabin styling. The Yokohama-based automaker imbued plenty of traditional details into the design, with a kumiko-inspired pattern appearing on the speaker grilles, ambient lighting, and even the texture of the floor mats. The matte-finish wood trim also features haptic-feedback buttons for the climate controls, with a physical volume knob flanked by air vents that hide a toggle-style track and hazard switch buttons. Once you figure out where each function resides, you start to appreciate the minimalist look of the cabin.
There are also a few goo-gaws to play with, like the electrically operated, sliding center console. In its forwardmost position, the armrest is in a good place for front-seat passengers and there’s a bit of extra knee room for the rear center occupant. Scoot it back and it opens up space between the two front seats, giving the cabin an airy feel – especially since it reveals an attractive room light with that aforementioned kumiko pattern at foot level up front. Admittedly, the Ioniq 5’s center console has more storage space, and I prefer its easy manual-slide feature to the Ariya’s electric adjustment – one less thing to break in 10 years.
A high seating position front and rear gives Nissan occupants a good view of the road ahead, but the swooping roofline made me feel a bit claustrophobic, even though I’m only about 6 feet tall. My Evolve tester’s standard panoramic sunroof meant 37.9 inches of front and 36.6 inches of rear headroom, numbers that lag pretty far behind the competitive set. Ditto cargo space, with the Ariya’s 22.8 cubic feet bringing up the rear against the Mach-E (34.4), ID.4 (30.3), and Ioniq 5 (27.2). Like the Murano, the Ariya is great for couples who fold the rear seats down before they hit the road, but families of four may want to apply elsewhere.
Juiced And Jolted
The Ariya e-4ORCE comes in four different trims. Only the base Engage is offered with the 66.0-kWh battery, giving it an adequate 205 miles of range. But go for the Engage+ or Evolve+ and you get a larger battery and 272 miles between charges, while the Platinum+ gets a bit more equipment (and weight) to the detriment of 5 miles. That’s better than the Volkswagen and Hyundai, though the Mach-E California Route 1 AWD can go a healthy 312 miles and Tesla’s popular Model Y can do 330 miles.
The Ariya comes standard with a 7.2-kW onboard charger that takes a long 14 hours to fully recharge on a Level 2 charger if you have the long-range battery that I drove. Using a 50-kW DC fast charger, the Ariya goes from 10 to 80 percent in 90 minutes, while uncorking the full 130-kW charging speed drops that time to 40 minutes. There’s no denying it – the Ariya is a bit lackluster in this regard.
The Ioniq 5, for example, is capable of 235-kW charging speeds and includes a 10.9-kW onboard charger, while both the Mustang and ID.4 can accept 150 kW from a DC fast charger and 11.0 kW from a 240-volt plug. And the Tesla will give you 11.0 kW at home and 250 kW abroad. Charging times may not actually be meaningful for folks with the typical 50-mile daily commute, but it’s a well-known phenomenon that Americans think they need more capability in their cars, so the Ariya’s recharging drawbacks may be hard for some to overlook.
All That Glitters
The price of entry is another obstacle. The front-drive Ariya starts at $44,525 including $1,335 destination, and adding all-wheel drive is another $4,000 above that. The ID.4 is about $5,000 cheaper, while the Ioniq 5 and Mach-E undercut the Nissan by about $3,000. The Ariya does come standard with lots of stuff that’s optional on the competition, like heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel, a head-up display, wireless smartphone mirroring, and power-folding mirrors, so that helps explain away some of the cost.
My Evolve+ e-4ORCE tester’s $55,875 price (with destination and $350 for two-tone paint) includes most of the features that shoppers will want. A pair of 10.2-inch screens is standard, handling infotainment and instrumentation duties, and all Ariya trims come with Pro Pilot Assist 1.0 that includes adaptive cruise control, lane centering, and blind spot monitoring. The most compelling reason for choosing a flagship Ariya Platinum+, in my opinion, is the hands-off functionality included in Pro Pilot Assist 2.0.
Given the Nissan’s price structure and some compromises in cabin space and charging specs, it might be hard to convince shoppers to take an Ariya for a spin.
Unlike other similar systems, the hands-off feature engages automatically with no driver input required – if the car is on a pre-mapped, limited-access highway with clear lane lines and good visibility, the driver can take their hands off the wheel and cruise along. Although it doesn’t offer the automatic, input-free lane changes of GM’s Super Cruise, Pro Pilot Assist 2.0 will suggest lane changes based on navigation route or slow-moving traffic ahead. I sampled the system for a few minutes during my time in the Ariya and came away impressed with how simply it activated and how well it maneuvered the car through light freeway traffic.
The Platinum+ e-4ORCE demands at least $61,525, which beats out both the ID.4 Pro S Plus and Ioniq 5 Limited by about four grand, even eclipsing the $60,290 Mach-E California Route 1. Meanwhile, Tesla will happily give you a Model Y Long Range for $54,990 – a compelling choice if the company chief’s public antics aren’t a turnoff. Given the Nissan’s price structure and some compromises in cabin space and charging specs, it might be hard to convince shoppers to take an Ariya for a spin.
If they do, however, they should find plenty to like in the smooth, drama-free driving manners and gorgeous, culturally informed interior design. The 2023 Nissan Ariya e-4ORCE plays the game in a quiet, refined way, and the EV crossover segment is the better for it.
Ariya Competitor Reviews:
2023 Nissan Ariya Evolve+ e-4ORCE