Credit Nissan for truly bringing pure EVs to the mainstream 12-years ago with the five-door LEAF. But surprisingly, it has taken Nissan until now to deliver a follow up to their pioneer. So, let’s find out if the all-electric Ariya SUV should inherit the limelight.

It’s not time for Nissan to turn over a new Leaf, but it is time for a new blossom to sprout from their EV tree with this 2023 Nissan Ariya crossover.

First things first, the Ariya is very enjoyable to drive, riding on a new EV-specific architecture developed with Renault. It’s also spacious, comfortable, and very quiet inside. All the things we look for and appreciate in state-of-the-art EVs.

Unlike the Leaf’s more entry-level approach, the Ariya leans more to the premium side of the market, especially when outfitted in Platinum trim; and there’s a healthy dose of performance too, if you opt for the newly available e-4ORCE all-wheel-drive.

When equipped with the + long range 87-kWh battery, the 290-kw dual-motor setup delivers 389-horsepower and 442 lb-ft. of torque. Standard 63-kWh battery e-4ORCE models put out 335-horsepower. Two power levels for the front-wheel-drive version too, 214-horsepower standard, 238 in +.

With the big battery and front-wheel-drive, the Ariya offers a max range of 304-miles; though it doesn’t have quite as high charging speeds as some competitors, maxing out at 130-kW.

Our Platinum+ trimmed e-4ORCE is rated at 267-miles of range, which is exactly where we were headed on our driving loop.

With around 600,000 Leafs on the road, no doubt Nissan’s battery tech is pretty well-sorted at this point.

The Ariya’s regen braking lacked the natural feel of some EVs but worked well. As does the e-step mode. It’s just short of 1-pedal driving though, as it won’t bring you to a full stop.

The lack of hard switches inside gives a very contemporary, minimalist vibe that we liked. You’ll have to make most adjustments either on the 12.3-inch touchscreen, or the wooden touch-sensitive dash panel.

Platinum trim is the only one that comes with Nappa leather instead of leatherette or cloth, and it’s quite nice.

The Ariya does have a couple of other cool tricks; there’s a drawer for storage that deploys out from under the dash, and a power sliding center console that’s both practical and fun to play with.

Rear seat passengers have a wealth of space, aided by a completely flat floor that maximizes legroom.

The majority of Nissan’s available safety systems are standard in the Ariya, with upgraded ProPILOT Assist 2.0 and ProPILOT Park the only exceptions.

At our Mason Dixon test track, Ariya was quick off the line, and hitting 60 in 5.2-seconds is indeed getting it done. Power builds linearly the whole way down the track, without any tapering off before completing the ¼, which we finished in 13.6-seconds at a speedy 106 miles-per-hour.

In addition to managing torque flow to all 4 wheels, which enabled great grip for launching, e-4ORCE also uses selective braking to tighten up cornering and minimize steering input.

And it worked surprisingly well through our handling course, as the Ariya didn’t feel particularly sporty on the way to the track. But here, steering was very direct and responsive, there was lots of grip, near 50:50 weight distribution, and a neutral feel that had us pushing harder and harder, with the Ariya more than willing to oblige.

But if this is something you plan on doing often, be prepared to slide around a bit as the highway comfortable front seats could use more side bolstering.

In panic braking runs, the pedal felt soft, and there was some front end vibration. Still results are impressive, stopping us from 60 in only 112-feet.

As for SUV practicality, cargo volume is 22.8 cubic-ft. behind the rear seats, and 59.7 cubic-ft. with them folded flat.

Much like the Leaf, the Ariya has a unique appearance. Nissan calls the theme “Timeless Japanese Futurism” which sounds like an Anime series some of our staffers would be really into, and it clearly involves 2-tone.

And since the Ariya is not your typical Nissan, no need for pedestrian trim levels like SV or SR. Here we have Engage, Venture, Evolve, Empower, Premiere, and Platinum, with prices starting at $44,525 for a base front-wheel-drive Engage; top all-wheel-drive Platinum + starts at $61,525.

The 2023 Nissan Ariya may not break any new ground as far as range or EV technology, but it does offer Leaf buyers a long-awaited larger SUV option to step up to, while at the same time, delivering to the market a more premium feel than most mainstream EV offerings. It took Nissan quite a while to do that, but Ariya owners, will certainly be pleased with the outcome.


As Tested

  • Motor Setup: 290-kW Dual Motor
  • Horsepower: 389
  • 0-60 mph: 5.2 seconds
  • 60-0 Braking: 112 feet (avg.)
  • Peak Charging: 130-kW
  • Battery: 87-kWh
  • Torque: 442 lb-ft.
  • 1/4 Mile: 13.6-seconds at 106 mph
  • Range: 267 miles