2023 Nissan Ariya Pros
– The lounge-like cabin is sumptuous.
– General EV performance is up to par.
– Styling is unique and attractive.
2023 Nissan Ariya Cons
– The Ariya is overpriced.
– Pricing and trim structure are overly complex.
– Ride is bouncy and occasionally unsettled.
– The competition outguns it in many ways – something that will catch up to it and hurt it.
Electric vehicles are all but common at this point in time. The continued rise in offered models has meant that competition is getting fiercer however, demand still greatly outstrips availability. This will continue to be the case for a few more years meaning that all EVs will find new homes even though there are better ones out there. This scenario is key for the Nissan Ariya.
The auto industry evolves at an incredible rate but never has bulldozed its way through time as it is doing today. Case in point: FWD single-motor EVs have become less desirable. In fact, this layout is objectionable to the point that Volvo and Polestar have switched their single-motor models to RWD from FWD. With the exception of all EVs offered only with a single-motor layout, nearly all others see their single-motor configurations as RWD. The Nissan Ariya is FWD.
Now, I’ll admit this is not the most important talking point in many markets but it’s valid when you weigh in at 4,500 lbs.
Single motor big battery
The Nissan Ariya can be fitted with a 63-kWh battery that powers a single or two electric motors. Other versions get a 87-kWh battery, once again supplying energy to single or two electric motors. The tested Evolve+ is the range master with all of 490 km to go on between fills. Thanks to the larger pack, single motor produces 238hp and 221 lb.-ft. of torque (from 214 and 221 respectively). By current EV standards, these numbers are meek. In the real world, performance is adequate but there’s a problem.
Comparing the Ariya’s performance with almost every electric competitor shows that the Nissan SUV comes up short in the power to weight ratio. Torque is instantaneous however the laws of physics inevitably quash forward thrust. Unlike other EVs, pull is sustained for a while but not so with the Ariya – strangely enough, acceleration’s akin to an average ICE SUV.
A few problems perhaps… I reported that the Ariya’s chassis was clearly tuned for handling over outright comfort in my first drive review and that driving in the Greater Montreal area could reveal an overly harsh ride. The good news is that the Nissan’s remains generally comfortable over level ground however the slightest sign of surface imperfections reveals the difficulties the suspension has controlling the body’s up and down motion.
Priced out of range
The biggest issue with the 2023 Nissan Ariya is that it’s overpriced. At $52,998 to start, it’s about $4,000 more than the IONIQ 5. The latter offers a nearly identical level of equipment and is RWD. Stepping up to the first AWD Ariya involves a $7,500 price jump, or $60,498. The first AWD IONIQ 5 rings in at $54,999 and it offers more kit, more power, and more range.
The tested Evolve+ FWD is an eye-watering $64,998. When compared to the Preferred AWD Long Range IONIQ 5 with the $6,000 Ultimate package, not only is the IONIQ 5 better equipped, but it’s faster and more powerful. Nissan’s math does not add up.
The real deceptions
A disappointing revelation about the Ariya is the absence of Nissan’s e-pedal 1-pedal driving feature, present in the LEAF model. Nissan’s surveyed potential customers reportedly showed no interest in this particular attribute, possibly due to a lack of understanding. I my case, I firmly believe that it’s one of the greatest features of an EV.
Not all is lost as the Ariya includes e-Step which, when used in conjunction with ECO drive mode (alongside Sport and Standard modes) and by selecting “B” on the shift lever, enables the driver to access maximum regenerative braking. The SUV is not designed to come to a complete stop; rather, it is intended to “creep” forward until the brakes are manually engaged.
It’s rather attractive though
The true upsides to the 2023 Nissan are the SUV’s exterior and lounge-like interior. The Ariya sports a sophisticated and streamlined facade. As part of it, the shield seamlessly harbours sensors maintaining the SUV’s extremely slick and smooth surfaces and contours. The EV’s profile is fast and fastback-like. The rear holds little more than an extended light blade that incorporates the taillights. Bottom line it’s a clean and elegant SUV that would look at home in an Infiniti showroom.
Nissan’s cabin design evokes the ambience of a café lounge rather than a conventional SUV interior. This luxurious and spacious approach feels high-end, once more very Infiniti-like. While the rear seating is roomy, front-seat legroom can be compromised by the large, movable center console. Relatedly, its height is too great vis-à-vis the door armrest making for an awkward and uncomfortable seating position. Thankfully, the zero-gravity seats are supremely cushy. And the power-operated centre console is a gimmick, little more.
Cross-shop but buy it if it’s available
The Ariya’s immediate competition, the Ioniq 5, Kia EV6, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Volkswagen ID.4, Toyota bZ4x, and Subaru Solterra, nearly have it beat in more ways than one. This reality would differ somewhat if the Nissan was at least $5,000 less expensive.
Bottom line: The 2023 Ariya is a good EV. It’s possibly not as advanced as some would have liked, coming from Nissan. Despite this, the strong demand for EVs will make sure that there will be plenty on the road in the future.