2023 Nissan Ariya Review and Test Drive

A powerful and roomy electric crossover.

2023 Nissan AriyaPerry Stern

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Nissan was one of the first companies to offer a mainstream electric vehicle in the U.S. when it introduced the Leaf in 2010. It's taken some time, but now the company is adding a second EV to its lineup: the all-new 2023 Ariya. Launching the Ariya is a step toward Nissan's goal of making electric vehicles 40% of U.S. sales by 2026.

The 2023 Nissan Ariya is a five-passenger crossover built on an EV-specific platform. Nissan says the Ariya offers more space inside than is typical of vehicles the same length, and attributes that extra space in part to powertrain elements that are more compact than those in gasoline-powered vehicles.

The Ariya comes in five trim levels: Engage, Venture+, Evolve+, Empower+, and Platinum+. E-Force (Nissan calls it e-4ORCE) all-wheel drive is available on Engage, Engage+, Evolve+, and Platinum+. Base prices range from the mid-$40,000s to the low $60,000s, including the destination charge to ship the electric crossover from the Tochigi assembly plant near Tokyo, Japan, to your local dealership.

2023 Nissan AriyaPerry Stern

Nissan invited me to Healdsburg, California, to experience the new Ariya firsthand, and covered my travel, lodging, and meals. For this Ariya review, Nissan provided me with a 2023 Nissan Ariya Platinum+ E-Force equipped with a Super Premium two-tone paint job pairing Passion Red Tricoat with Black Diamond Pearl. This paint and a set of optional floor mats brought the manufacturer's suggested retail price to $62,770, including the $1,335 destination charge.

The Design

The Ariya introduces a new look for the Nissan brand that will likely carry on to future electric models. Slim LED headlights and stylish running lights that create a V-shape provide a tie to the rest of the Nissan lineup. With no need for airflow into an internal combustion engine, the grille is solid and features a pattern mimicked in several places throughout the Ariya's cabin. At the rear, a single light bar spans the vehicle's width, incorporating brake, backup, turn signal, and running lights.

2023 Nissan AriyaPerry Stern

Slide into the Ariya's cabin and you'll find a clean design with almost no hard buttons on the dashboard. The only exceptions are those for starting the vehicle and the audio power/volume control. In addition, Nissan presents a 12.3-inch digital instrumentation display and a 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment display as one unit; there's a wave shape between them that provides better driver access to the center screen.

One of my favorite design elements is the row of haptic climate controls integrated into the wood-trimmed lower dashboard. Making a selection delivers a small feedback pulse, and the controls practically disappear when the vehicle is off.

The interior also includes a hidden storage compartment under the dashboard that slides open using haptic switches on the center console. This space could be used to store valuables, as it's hidden and remains secure until the car is powered up.

2023 Nissan AriyaPerry Stern

The top-level Ariya Platinum+ I tested had soft Nappa leather seat upholstery with an asymmetrical design. The front seats employ what Nissan calls Zero Gravity designs shaped to provide proper support from the hips to the shoulders to reduce fatigue. They are among the most comfortable I've experienced, with excellent padding and soft leather. In addition, synthetic suede covers the dashboard and door panels, adding to the luxurious environment.

Rear-seat passengers are likely to find plenty of legroom and headroom, with the flat floor providing good space, even for those relegated to the middle seat. The seats are comfortable, and the soft Nappa leather has the same pattern as the front seats. The rear doors open very wide for easier entry and exit.

With a good-sized cargo space, the Ariya brings the utility expected of a compact crossover. There's plenty of room for multiple pieces of luggage, with 22.8 cubic feet behind the rear seats. Folding down the 60/40-split rear seats increases the maximum cargo capacity to almost 60 cubic feet. A hard cover that rises with the rear hatch keeps valuables out of sight.

2023 Nissan AriyaPerry Stern

Unfortunately, the Ariya does not have a front trunk under the hood. Instead, the space under the hood houses the climate-control system and other components to add more room to the cabin.

The Technology

The Nissan Ariya includes a 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment display that I found to be a significant improvement over systems in older Nissans. The new system's home screen is easily configurable with tiles that can be moved and changed to keep your favorite features at the forefront.

2023 Nissan AriyaPerry Stern

Static icons remain on the left of the screen, providing shortcuts to navigation, audio, communication, and climate functions. In addition, these icons remain even when using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, making it easier to access Nissan's native platform and functions.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on all trim levels. However, only CarPlay will connect wirelessly — Android Auto requires a cable connection. I plugged my Samsung Galaxy S21 into the conveniently located USB port below the center console, and Android Auto started up almost immediately.

While the touchscreen is the easiest way to interact with the infotainment system, a voice-command interface is available through Nissan's natural-language voice-recognition system. The system comes to life with the prompt "Hey, Nissan." You can ask the digital assistant to perform various tasks, such as changing the radio station, setting the temperature, or locating a destination. I had mixed luck with the system. When I told it that I was cold, it raised the cabin temperature by a single degree, and I was successful in having it change the radio station. However, I tried multiple times to set the navigation to my hotel, and the system could never understand my request.

2023 Nissan AriyaPerry Stern

Every version of the Ariya comes with a long list of advanced driver-assist systems, including ProPilot Assist, which builds on the adaptive cruise control with hands-on steering assist to help keep the vehicle in the center of the lane. The Ariya is the first model from Nissan to offer ProPilot Assist 2.0, allowing hands-free driving under certain conditions.

With ProPilot Assist 2.0, the Ariya takes a step closer to autonomous driving. The system will operate on approved divided highways and requires good weather and visibility. There are three levels of engagement, each accompanied by a color theme in the driver display. White reflects standard adaptive cruise control, green adds steering assistance, and blue means taking your hands off the wheel is OK. Your eyes must stay on the road, and the system warns if you look away for too long.

2023 Nissan AriyaPerry Stern

The hands-free driving worked well with no weaving or jerky movements. However, when approaching a slower vehicle, the system wouldn't change lanes automatically, but it did suggest making a lane change. To do this, the driver's hands must return to the wheel until the vehicle is in the new lane and the lights return to blue.

As I write this review, neither the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety nor the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has performed crash tests on the 2023 Nissan Ariya.

The Drive

2023 Nissan AriyaPerry Stern

Nissan provided me with the dual-motor Ariya E-Force for my drive through Northern California. Two electric motors power the E-Force, one at the front and the other at the rear, and the total output measures 389 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque. An extended-range 87-kWh lithium-ion battery pack mounted below the floor supplies the juice to power the SUV.

The responsiveness of that high-torque electric powertrain was evident from the moment I set out on the road. The Ariya is fast off the line and always seems to have the power to quickly get around slower cars. Nissan claims the Ariya accelerates to 60 mph in as little as 4.8 seconds.

A Sport driving mode is available, which quickens the acceleration response, weights the steering feel, and adds an accompanying sporty soundtrack. However, this mode doesn't affect performance, and I found the fake engine sounds annoying, so I didn't use it much.

The EPA lists the Ariya as making 101 MPGe in combined city and highway driving. During my 150-mile drive in the Ariya, I averaged 3.0 miles/kWh, which equates to 101 MPGe.

2023 Nissan AriyaPerry Stern

When I started my drive, the Ariya indicated a range of 219 miles with 98% of the battery remaining, a figure based on the previous driver's behavior. When I looked at the estimated range at the end of my day in the Ariya, the trip computer indicated 78 miles remaining at 32% battery, which works out to a 243-mile range.

Whether cruising at speed on the highway or driving through town, the Ariya was quiet and comfortable. Acceleration felt effortless, and the accelerator pedal was easy to modulate for smooth power delivery. Unfortunately, Nissan doesn't offer one-pedal driving on the Ariya, but an E-pedal option increases regenerative braking. It won't stop the SUV completely, but it does slow the vehicle significantly when lifting off the accelerator.

2023 Nissan AriyaPerry Stern

I found braking to be strong, and the pedal offered a quick response to input, as I discovered when I looked away from the road for a moment. The car in front of me stopped suddenly, and I was immediately alerted by the forward-collision warning system to take action. While I assumed that the automatic emergency braking would save me, I didn't wait to see — instead I applied the brakes hard and avoided the need to test any other safety systems.

Nissan set up a handling course at Sonoma Raceway to safely showcase the Ariya's capabilities. (No, I didn't get to drive the Ariya on the racetrack, but it would have been fun.) Driving quickly through a slalom on wet pavement, I found the Ariya exhibited a lot of body lean but tracked perfectly with no understeer or oversteer. Pushing the SUV hard through a 90-degree turn on the wet course had similar results, with the Ariya following the turn line without any issue.

Later in my drive on the twisty back roads outside of Sonoma, the Ariya's predictable handling, good steering response, and stable ride impressed me.

Is the 2023 Nissan Ariya a Good electric crossover?

Nissan made a big splash when it came to market with the Leaf, its first EV. Now the company ups its EV game with the all-new Ariya, but it's harder to make a big splash when the pond is so much larger. Nevertheless, the Ariya delivers on the range and efficiency that electric vehicle shoppers want, and it does this while offering a comfortable, spacious interior with the qualities and capabilities expected of a five-passenger crossover SUV.

2023 Nissan AriyaPerry Stern

The vehicle comes with Nissan's ProPilot Assist 2.0, a system of driver-assistance and safety tech with features such as guided freeway driving and hands-off driving. That technology plus an available dual-motor all-wheel-drive system, impressive handling, and solid performance are likely to put the 2023 Ariya high on the list of anyone shopping for a new EV.

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Perry Stern
I have loved cars and trucks since childhood, and that fascination with anything that drives is just as strong today. As a teenager, I knew I wanted to become an automotive journalist, and during the past three decades, I have driven, written about, and photographed all manner of automobiles ranging from affordable econocars to exotic supercars. With the idea that there is a perfect car, truck, or SUV for everyone, my goal is to help consumers determine the right one for their wants and needs.