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It’s hard to believe, but Nissan was one of the first proponents for all-electric vehicles. The Leaf rolled onto dealership lots a decade ago, and the Japanese brand has sold nearly half a million examples since. Now it’s stepping into a different sector with the Ariya crossover.
The Ariya is roughly the same size as the recently revealed 2021 Rogue. It’s practically identical in length at 182.9 inches from nose to tail, but it’s lower to the ground and wider. There’s some family resemblance up front thanks to narrow headlights and a blocked-off version of Nissan’s V-Motion grille, but the Ariya is an altogether more modern-looking item. The flanks curve inward slightly, with a faint shoulder line running the length underneath the windows. An aggressively raked rear window and full-width taillights give it a sportier stance than the Rogue as well—and a more premium look in general.
The Ariya runs the current 65 kWh Leaf Plus battery pack, but as its base setup. Buyers will also be able to spec a larger 90 kWh item, and it’s this one that Nissan is targeting over 300 miles of range with. That’s with front-wheel drive as well; both battery packs will be available with the option of Nissan’s e-4ORCE electric all-wheel drive setup. It reads like a randomly generated password, but e-4ORCE features an electric motor at each axle, and Nissan is promising a level of dynamic satisfaction buyers may not typically associate with EVs. This is in part thanks to the battery pack’s low placement in the new chassis.
Power outputs sit at 214 hp and 221 lb-ft for the single-motor setup, with 389 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque for the dual-motor. Opting for the all-wheel drive model does cost some storage space however: the count goes from 16.5 cubic feet to 14.6.
For North America, Nissan will be ditching the CHAdeMO charger it used with the Leaf. It will move to the CCS standard, with a DC fast-charger rate of up to 130 kW. Level 2 charging is a slower 7.2 kW rating.
The Ariya features what Nissan calls e-Pedal, a one-pedal approach to driving. We’ve tried similar systems before—most recently in the Chevrolet Bolt—and while it takes a little getting used to, it’s one of the unique advantages of EVs. ProPILOT Assist 2.0, a hands-off single-lane highway driving assist feature, is also standard, as is the Safety Shield 360 suite of driving assists. The latter includes automated emergency braking, blind spot warning, rear cross-traffic assist, lane departure warning, and auto high beams.
SEE ALSO: 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV Review
Inside, Nissan’s taken advantage of the low-mounted battery pack for a flat floor. The company’s excellent Zero Gravity seats are standard-fit. The dash is incredibly minimalistic, with a handful of controls baked into the thin sliver of wood stretching across the lower portion. These use haptic feedback for clear use. When the Ariya isn’t on, the lighting all disappears as well, leaving nothing more than faint etching—very cool. An ultra-wide dual-screen setup sits atop this, pulling double duty as central infotainment and instrument panel. It’s all quite elegant, though we want to get some seat time to determine how easy it truly is to use on the move.
We might be waiting a while, though. Nissan won’t launch the Ariya until mid-2021 in Japan, and later that year for us here in North America. With a projected starting price of $40,000 US, it will have the new Tesla Model Y squarely in its sights when it does touch down.