Get Pre-Approved For Your Car Loan Apply Now
2023 Nissan Ariya
Blog Car Guide

First Drive: 2023 Nissan Ariya Review

The Ariya arrives late to the party, but that doesn’t seem to bother Nissan who has a great deal of EV experience under its belt thanks to the LEAF. Canada Drives heads to Nashville, Tennessee to put the battery electric compact crossover SUV to the test.

Key Features:

  • Impeccable build quality
  • Different trims and batteries to choose from
  • Competitive range

Direct Competitors:

It was in 2011 that Nissan launched the first-generation LEAF here in Canada, the first mass-produced electric vehicle. The LEAF was such a sales success for Nissan, that it quickly became the all-time top selling plug-in electric car in the world, all the way to 2020 when it was surpassed by the Tesla Model 3.

Nissan’s next chapter in electrification isn’t to become the most sold electric vehicle in the world, but rather to step up its game in electric mobility all while taking on a new crop of next-generation electric SUVs. 

If Nissan’s original release for the Ariya was planned before everyone else, the global COVID-19 pandemic and the chipset shortage had other plans for this renowned Japanese carmaker. This forced Nissan to delay its launch by a full year. 

Well, it’s finally here, so we flew down to Nashville, Tennessee, during its North American launch to see how it performs against very stiff competition. 

Nissan Ariya price: starts at $52,998 in Canada

2023 Nissan Ariya | Photo: Nissan 

Nissan’s deployment strategy with the Ariya is rather broad, with a wide range of trim levels that span different price brackets. This is because Nissan knows that the segment is already crowded with competitive entries like the Volkswagen ID.4, the Kia EV6/Hyundai IONIQ 5 twins, the Ford Mustang Mach-E and the Toyota bZ4x. Heck, although Nissan acknowledges that the Tesla Model Y is a much more expensive vehicle, it has it too in its crosshairs.

For now, the Ariya only comes in a front-wheel drive configuration. But as Nissan eventually overcomes its production issues, the all-wheel drive models will be added to the lineup early next year.

There’s a total of six trim levels to choose from, with pricing kicking off at $52,998 before EV incentives for an Engage FWD. Consumers can then opt for a Venture+ FWD ($59,498), an Evolve e-4orce ($60,598), an Evolve+ FWD ($64,998), a Platinum + e4orce ($69,198) and a Premiere + e4orce ($69,998). 

Interior: Nissan EV with impressive build quality and premium feel

2023 Nissan Ariya | Photo: Nissan 

Where the Ariya really distinguishes itself from its main rivals is in its impressive build quality and premium feel. The model we tested was equipped with the optional Zero Gravity seats wrapped in leather. They proved very comfortable and supportive the moment we strapped ourselves into them.

Panel gaps are tight in the Ariya, and material quality is superior to what you typically find in this price range. Nissan also decorates the cabin with a neat design theme, with unique ambient lighting that mimics a Japanese lantern and a clean, unobstructed dashboard design language with integrated haptic commands. It all looks and feels modern, of good quality and, above all, purely Japanese.

2023 Nissan Ariya | Photo: Nissan 

That all being said, the front seating area suffers from some odd ergonomic faults. For instance, Nissan integrated a massive center console that moves around at the touch of a button. That’s neat. But the problem with that console is that it’s too high, so the arm rest isn’t installed at the same level as the one in the door, leading to an awkward seating position. Then there’s the lack of actual storage space in that console, which makes you wonder why Nissan even put it there in the first place.

Out the rear, however, the Ariya doesn’t have these issues. It’s rather roomy back there, where a tall passenger will find comfort thanks to more than ample leg and head clearance that are amplified by different position settings.

Finally, cargo space is competitive in the Ariya without necessarily leading the pack. Once all seatbacks are folded flat, you’ll end up with 1,691 liters of total cargo space. While good, that number is behind everyone in this segment except for the South-Korean twins (1,679 liters). 

2023 Nissan Ariya | Photo: Nissan 

Performance & range: up to 389-hp with the 87-kWh battery and all-wheel drive

Nissan offers two different battery capacities for the Ariya: 63 kWh and 87 kWh. Both come with either front or all-wheel drive.

Nearly 500 km electric range in front-wheel drive form

In front wheel drive form, the 63-kWh battery pumps out 214 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque. Opting for the 87-kWh battery will bring those numbers up to 238 horsepower and 231 lb-ft of torque. Adding all-wheel drive cranks things up to 335 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque with the 63-kWh battery, and 389 combined horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque with the 87-kWh battery.

Range for the front-wheel drive models is EPA-rated at 348 and 490 km according to the battery you choose. Nissan still hasn’t published range numbers for the all-wheel drive Ariya. Charging speed is rated at 130 kW for the entire lineup on a compatible fast charger (level 3) while the onboard charger (for level 2 charging) is rated at 7.2 kW. 

Driving impressions: how does the compact Ariya handle?

2023 Nissan Ariya | Photo: Nissan 

The immediate sensation behind the wheel of the Ariya is how smooth and upscale it feels. Its build quality is immediately apparent from how rock solid it is on a bumpy road and how its entire cabin remains utterly quiet and rattle-free.

On a winding bit of pavement, the Ariya is well planted and exhibits confidence-inspiring handling. Power delivery in front-wheel drive form with the 87-kWh battery is ample without being excessive. The Ariya picks itself up and goes with little fuss, but we had more fun driving a rear-wheel drive Ford Mustang Mach-E. There’s also the all-wheel drive Mach-E GT we reviewed, putting down 480 horsepower and 634 lb-ft of torque.

As for regenerative braking, Nissan ditches the LEAF’s innovative i-Pedal one pedal driving technology in favour of a new feature called e-Step. The good news is that it now allows the driver to modulate different levels of braking resistance. That resistance will even change according to the drive mode you select. 

Unfortunately, it never allows you to drive the car with one pedal. Nissan even engineered a creep mode which makes coming to a full stop impossible when using e-Step. It's an odd decision coming from a carmaker that basically invented one-pedal driving. 

Verdict: is the Nissan Ariya worth it?

2023 Nissan Ariya | Photo: Nissan 

The 2023 Nissan Ariya has some tough competitors to take on and we’ll only see the full picture of this much-anticipated electric SUV when the all-wheel drive models come out next year. But after spending some quality seat time with it, we feel Nissan did its homework and knows precisely what EV buyers want. 

The Ariya is well built, looks dashing, is comfortable and comes in enough flavours to satisfy all needs and budgets. With all that in mind, we feel that yes, Nissan’s latest EV is worth your consideration. 

More content about

You May Also Like:

The Easiest Way to Buy or Sell a Car