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First Look: Nissan Ariya

Nissan has debuted its new Ariya, an affordable all-electric SUV packed with the latest connectivity, convenience, driver-assistance and safety technologies.

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  • All-electric SUV at an attainable price 
  • Choice of two battery packs 
  • Optional all-wheel-drive 
  • Latest safety and tech features 

 

The Nissan Ariya is the Japanese automaker’s first all-electric crossover SUV. But it’s hardly Nissan’s first EV. Before Tesla became a tech darling and status symbol, Nissan pioneered the modern mainstream electric vehicle with its Nissan Leaf hatchback a decade ago, bringing a battery-powered vehicle to the masses at a lower price point. 

Nissan hopes the Ariya will hit a similar nerve with those looking for an all-electric crossover SUV. This time around, Nissan faces far more competition. A slew of electric SUV rivals are already here or coming, from the Tesla Model Y to the Ford Mustang Mach-E and Hyundai Kona EV, not to mention plug-in hybrid SUVs like the Toyota RAV4 Prime. 

The Nissan Ariya SUV will be offered in either front- or all-wheel drive and a choice of two battery packs. At its best, Nissan says the Ariya will have a maximum range of 482 kilometres (preliminary Nissan estimated range for the long-range FWD model). 

Still, the Ariya looks like it will be a tempting proposition for those seeking an electric SUV. It has sleek looks and an inviting yet practical interior, a full suite of active safety features, and the latest version of Nissan’s ProPILOT semi-autonomous system featuring hands-off highway driving. 

Perhaps most tempting is the Nissan Ariya’s price: At around $40,000 in U.S. dollars (Canadian pricing has not been released yet), it would undercut its Ford and Tesla competitors. The Nissan Ariya is set to go on sale later in 2021. 
 

Driving the Nissan Ariya 

We are just as eager to drive the Ariya as you are. Electric vehicles, in general, are far more fun than you might imagine. The instant torque of an electric motor means zero lag in acceleration. While we've yet to get behind the wheel of the Ariya, on paper, it looks like it should be very zippy. 

With the larger battery pack, the Ariya will boast 389 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque—serious numbers for a compact SUV. We'd guess 0-96 kilometres per hour times in as little as the 5-second range, but stay tuned for our official impressions after testing it. 

Another feature we are looking forward to trying is the Ariya's e-pedal. A similar setup is found in the Leaf and other EVs, and while it takes getting used to, it enables you only to use one pedal to drive—and not the brake pedal—thanks to regenerative braking to slow the car. 
 

Nissan Ariya Interior 

The Ariya is a 2-row, 5-passenger crossover SUV. But that’s where similarities to other compact crossovers like its gasoline engine Rogue sibling disappear. The Ariya has taken a minimalistic approach to its cabin. 

The instrument panel is mostly devoid of buttons, relying instead on haptic-based touch input. Twin 12.3-inch digital screens sit behind the steering wheel and in the middle to relay driving data and infotainment. It does appear there is still a physical knob for volume control. We count that as a win for humanity. 

The drive selector is a rectangular hunk that looks easier to use than the dial-shaped device in the current Nissan Leaf. The center console between the driver and passenger is also adjustable and houses a wireless phone charging cradle. 

Nissan hasn’t released all passenger room stats, but the Ariya looks like it will be roomy and airy with a flat floor. Nissan describes it as a “lounge.” Fold-flat seats will enhance the Ariya’s cargo-carrying practicality. Nissan says there are 467 litres of storage space for FWD models and 413 litres for AWD. By comparison, the smaller Rogue Sport has 650 litres of storage, but we’ll reserve judgment until we see and test the Ariya in person. 

Nissan says the Ariya will also have surprisingly nifty features like a storage box in the middle of the console with a fold-out tray that can be used as a mobile office or picnic table. 
 

Nissan Ariya Exterior 

The Nissan Ariya is about the size of the current Nissan Rogue compact SUV. But its looks clearly point toward the future. The Ariya electric crossover has a flowing shape and a seemingly endless variety of curves and rounded edges. Just try to find a sharp edge on this thing. 

Other distinctive features include a solid, flowing-plate front grille, aggressive boomerang-like LED running lights, a rear spoiler, and a pair of shark-like antennae centred on the roof. Yet for its futuristic design, the Ariya is still clearly a Nissan. Look closely, and you’ll see hints of the Murano and Maxima. The Ariya will be offered with six different two-tone floating roof patterns, each with a black roof.  

 

Nissan Ariya Standard Features 

Nissan has yet to release full details on the Ariya, but we’ll share what we know so far. 

The Ariya will be the first Nissan to feature over-the-air (OTA) firmware updates, similar to what Tesla does, and what other automakers are beginning to do. These work in similar ways as the updates to your phone or computer—making them better or fixing issues from anywhere without the need to visit an auto shop. 

The Ariya will also include the Nissan Safety Shield 360. This system bundles automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, automatic rear braking, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and automatic high-beam assist. 

 

Nissan Ariya Options 

As with its standard feature set, details are still vague on options for the Ariya. But we do know you can get a longer-range battery pack and AWD instead of FWD. 

Also available will be the ProPILOT Assist 2.0 that’s capable of hands-off single-lane highway driving. 
 

Nissan Ariya Engine 

Nissan will offer two battery capacities in the Ariya— 63 kWh or 87 kWh. Both will offer FWD or AWD. AWD models use a twin-motor system called e-4orce. The sophisticated system allows precise torque distribution to the wheels and can independently brake each wheel. Nissan says the result will “maximize the cornering force.” 

Still to be announced are estimated recharging times, but Nissan has said that Level 2 charging yields up to 7.2 kW. 

With either a 63- or 87-kWh lithium-ion battery motor, Nissan gives the Ariya’s powertrain a 389-horsepower rating and either 221- or 443-pound-feet of torque, respectively. 

 

When will the Ariya go on sale? 

The Nissan Ariya will go on sale in Japan from mid-2021, with North American availability to follow later in 2021. 

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