2023 Nissan Ariya Review: This One Is Worth the Long Wait

The number of all-electric vehicles being billed as SUVs is expanding at a rapid rate. Nissan's Ariya is a true modern SUV and an honorable, electric successor to the Nissan Murano.

Nearly a half-decade ago when Nissan began showing concept vehicles that would have their looks and themes eventually evolve into the 2023 Nissan Ariya battery electric vehicle (BEV), it was a breath of fresh air into a lineup that was noted for its uniformity. In the years since, even as the looks of other automakers evolved, Ariya remains good-looking.

Its smooth facade starts with a dark shield replacing a traditional grille. Behind the shield Nissan keeps Ariya's safety and driver assist sensors. The company's logo sits at the shield's center, illuminated by 20 LEDs when the SUV is ready to drive.

The Tesla Model X-like shape of the Ariya is aerodynamic but not wholly unique. The details of the model are what make it so appealing, like a one-piece light blade stretches across the rear of the model proving red illumination when in use, but fades to smoked black.

2023 Nissan Ariya Premiere
The 2023 Nissan Ariya will make its way to U.S. shores this autumn. Nissan Motor Corporation

Buyers can get the electric SUV in their choice of six two-tone exterior paint combinations, each with a black roof. There's neat colors available, like Copper, that you won't commonly find on the road today.

Nissan only sells the Ariya in a two-row, five-passenger configuration. It comes standard with a single electric motor that delivers front-wheel drive capabilities. A dual-motor version, dubbed e-4ORCE AWD, delivers all-wheel drive. The SUV is capable of going up to 300 miles before needing an electron fill-up.

With the single motor version of the Ariya, drivers get access to 238 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. For an SUV with a large, heavy battery pack at its center, that doesn't sound like a lot. But, consider that the torque is instant, available as soon as a foot touches the accelerator. That gives the SUV more oomph than you'll get with the Murano's V6 any day of the week. The horsepower ensures that the SUV easily keeps speed.

The Ariya doesn't have the yaw off the line that other electric vehicles deliver. Despite its immediate power, passengers are ushered forward, not thrust off the line, with minimal strain passed onto the body. This doesn't mean it's not quick. This means that the Ariya is a more comfortable drive experience.

2023 Nissan Ariya Premiere
The red taillight of the Nissan Ariya fades to black when not in use. Nissan Motor Corporation

Add into that the fantastic drive dynamics the Ariya offers and it's easy to find it compelling. The model is able to turn on a dime making it easy to navigate in tight spaces despite its size, and has an engaging amount of feedback from the wheel. It's no German sports SUV, but the Murano punches above its weight.

An e-4ORCE version of the Ariya was not provided for testing.

The Ariya's interior has a lot in common with new EVs by Hyundai and Kia. Its cabin is a complete change from the ones in typical internal combustion engine models, utilizing freed up floor space to create new channels of spaciousness, pushing aside traditional console norms, with style.

Thanks to the lack of internal combustion engine, and sound deadening equipment and technology, the interior of Ariya has a library level of noise that flows from the outside in, even during a complete downpour.

The Ariya rolls on all-season tires that perform far better under strain and at speed on wet surfaces than on dry.

2023 Nissan Ariya Premiere
The red taillight of the Nissan Ariya fades to black when not in use. Nissan Motor Corporation

Unlike some EVs, which have controls and screens that take some getting used to because of their modern functionality and the presence of few physical buttons and knobs, the tap-to-operate touch surfaces of the Ariya come naturally to the fingers. Not only that, there's a conspicuous lack of piano black plastic - hallelujah.

During the short first drive time that Nissan provided in a simulated city/mountain/rural road environment at Circuito del Jarama outside Madrid, Spain, even at speed it was easy for fingers to find the flush touch points on the dashboard where they changed climate control settings.

Audio, cruise control, and other infotainment functions are easily controlled by the steering wheel or central touch screen display.

That display extends from the middle of the car to the edge of the A-pillar on the driver's side. The uninterrupted panel showcases all the information a driver could want, in an attractive way. In the limited drive time, it functioned as expected and its design is far beyond what is in current Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs. The screen is more suited to a luxury electric SUV like the BMW iX, and that's not a bad thing.

2023 Nissan Ariya Premiere
The Nissan Ariya wears all-season tires. Nissan Motor Corporation

The key here is that all these surfaces and displays seemed natural and intuitive to make as part of the driving experience. Getting behind the wheel of the Ariya doesn't give drivers the feel that they're in a foreign environment that's too different than their current Murano.

That's a feature that alternative fuel vehicles struggle with. Getting behind the wheel of a Prius, with its quirky console design, or a button-less Tesla, may seem like too much of a departure from the norm for seasoned automobile buyers.

Nissan has added features from their other vehicles into Ariya but transformed them for the new environment. The company's signature Zero Gravity seats now feature a slim profile and help deliver copious legroom to second-row passengers.
There's a perfectly fine amount of storage at the rear, with 59.7 cubic feet behind the first row - the same as the Ford Mustang Mach-E.

The limited drive time did not allow for proper testing of the car's safety and driver assist technologies. ProPilot Assist, the suite of technology that is available on the new Nissan Rogue and Pathfinder, among others, links with navigation to allow predictive speed control as well as lane keeping and centering assist, blind spot monitoring, and other hands-on functions. It's standard on the model.

2023 Nissan Ariya Premiere
A lack of traditional buttons on the dashboard and center console of the Ariya does not mean there is a lack of touchpoints. Nissan Motor Corporation

Nissan sells the Ariya in four grades: Venture+, Evolve+, Premiere and Platinum+. The 2022 Nissan Ariya Premiere is a special launch edition that has unique accessories. As tested in that grade, the price is $45,950. The SUV starts at $45,950 for a base model, which is right around the starting price of the Kia EV6, Mustang Mach-E and Hyundai Ioniq 5. It goes as high as $58,950 for the upgraded 389-horsepower Ariya Platinum+ top-tier grade.

Those prices do not include incentives, which are commonly available as tax credits rather than cash-back or cash-off offers.

2023 Nissan Ariya Premiere
The new infotainment system in the Ariya is similar to what you'd find in the BMW iX rather than any other Nissan. Nissan Motor Corporation

Reservations for the 2023 Nissan Ariya are already full but, with its competitive pricing, above-par appointments and comfort, and sharp driving dynamics, it's one that is worth waiting for.