Actually, we could use another one. If the market is heading towards battery-electric propulsion.
What we really need now is another battery-electric SUV…
Actually, we could use another one. If the market is heading towards battery-electric propulsion, then it would be logical to add a model to a popular segment in this automotive marketplace.
But, from whom?
Nissan is the logical source for such a vehicle. They have been producing EVs for our market since 2010. The Leaf put Nissan in the game since its arrival to the USA. On its second generation, we have seen the lessons learned by Nissan on how to produce an EV for the masses – and not for a niche segment.
Therefore, the logical step is for Nissan to produce a right-sized battery-electric SUV. The result is the Ariya.
The Ariya was born from the waning alliance with Renault. As the collaborative agreement turns towards a new chapter, Nissan saw a need to add the Ariya as the first of a new generation of EVs for the brand. They have done so by creating an aerodynamic shape and fitting it just about the size of the Rogue.
However, the Ariya is not intended to replace the popular Rogue. Nor will it replace the similarly shaped and aging Murano. This is a global EV intended to fit in a size segment that is becoming hotly contested.
One thing to notice when you see an Ariya for the first time is the overall shape. While you can see the similarities with the larger Murano, it is a global form that offers angular views and shapes. You can point out design similarities with other vehicles from competitive brands.
It is not a derivative or standard-issue vehicle. The Ariya offers an identity that is dictated by the solid “grille” panel and tall body space below the window line. You could call this a “coupe SUV,” but it is not.
The tester I had for the brief moment was the Engage model – the lowest price trim level. It certainly did not look basic with its 19-inch wheel covers. Given its black paint job , I would prefer to call it “slealthy.”
The cabin has a very clean design with plenty of familiar parts to it. Two-thirds of the instrument panel is dominated by a tablet-like set-up with two distinct screens. On the left is a fully digital instrument cluster with loads of information that is easy to the eyes. The analog-like dials add a nice touch in a world where being fully digital becomes highly graphical. This is also augmented by a large and easy-to-read head-up display.
The left screen is Nissan’s infotainment system, which is very good to work with. Most of the controls are on the screen, except for a single knob for the volume just below it. Throughout the cabin – including the adjustable center console – you will find a combination of tactile and haptic controls throughout the cabin. That also includes the slider-type transmission control.
Both rows of seats are upholstered in a black leatherette. The front seats offer solid comfort with plenty of electric controls for rake, recline, height, and lumbar support. There is some bolstering to lock you in and they are very wide, fitting within a spacious cabin area. Rear seat room is accommodating for adults with more than enough leg and head room.
The cargo hold starts with 22.8 cubic feet space behind the rear seats. Fold down the rear seats, and you a generous 59.7 cubic feet of you name it. Before you even find a front trunk, there is not one. The space underneath the hood is where the electric drive system lives.
My Engage front-drive tester came with a single 160-kilowatt motor, good for 214 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. Energy to drive this motor comes from a 63-kilowatt-hour battery that can deliver an estimated range of 216 miles. Using a DC Fast Charging station, Nissan states that it would take 35 minutes to go from 10-80% state of charge on the Engage model.
There are other Ariya models available that have larger battery packs and a longer range. All-wheel drive models will be added this summer with a dual motor setup – one for each axle.
On this particular Ariya, I found that the overall driving experience was very solid. The ride was firm, but very confident over rougher pieces of roadway. Handling was also balanced with some roll through the curves. Steering was solid with a good on-center feel. Turning radius was not as tight as one would like, but you can maneuver the Ariya quite well overall.
The Brakes were solid, resulting in good stops during normal and panic situations. Pedal feel was really good when you are in a normal braking mode. If you were looking for a one-[edal drive feature, the e-Step mode can be enabled to give you that feeling. The main purpose for the e-Step system is provide a more aggressive brake regeneration towards sending more power back to the battery pack. When the e-Step system is engaged, just step off the pedals in order to stop the Ariya.
You have four Ariya trim levels to choose from. My Engage front-driver tester came with a sticker price of $45,525.
One may consider this an outgrowth of what the Leaf started for Nissan. You might be right about that. This is the next chapter in battery-electric vehicles for this brand, and they nailed the target spot on.
It at the right size where consumers are familiar with the vehicles occupying this segment. It provides comfortable battery-driven transport for 4-5 people and their stuff. What else can you ask for?
With Nissan, this is an appropriate next step towards providing electric vehicles to its consumer base.
DISCLAIMER: Vehicle provided by Walser Wayzata Nissan, Wayzata, MN
All photos by Randy Stern