The slick 2023 Ariya compact is a brand new Nissan, and the company’s first all-electric SUV. Nissan is no newcomer to the EV scene, having helped lay the groundwork for today’s electric vehicles when it introduced the Leaf hatchback in 2010.
Giving buyers a lot of leeway, Ariya is available with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, and a choice of 63 kWh or 87 kWh battery capacity for both configurations. All-wheel-drive models have two electric motors and are labeled “e-4ORCE.” That seeming typo is accurate. Nissan says it’s pronounced “e-force” but that’s a difficult sell to this particular person who doesn’t think “4” can be a letter.
Ariya’s lineup includes Engage, Venture+, Evolve+, Engage+, Empower+, Premiere, and Platinum+ trims. The Venture+ model with front-wheel drive has the longest range: 304 miles. The Engage model with all-wheel drive has the shortest: 205 miles.
Pricing for the 2023 Ariya starts at $44,525 including a $1,335 destination charge.
I drove the Empower+ with front-wheel drive and the 87 kWh battery pack. This setup has a 289-mile range, 238 horsepower, 221 pound-feet of torque, and an MPGe rating of 105 city, 91 highway, 98 combined. Overall, a nice way to go.
Ariya delivers an enjoyable driving experience, taking curvy roads with competence and not losing its mind when faced with rough patches on the highway. Passengers are treated to the comfort of Nissan’s zero-gravity seats. Along with the absence of engine noise, Ariya’s cabin keeps out unwanted exterior noises. Though the interior feels roomy like a larger SUV, Ariya slips into annoyingly skimpy parking spaces with ease.
The infotainment system has a 12.3-inch touchscreen I enjoyed sporadically. Having to reach over and press a certain spot with a certain amount of pressure for a certain amount of time is the bugbear of infotainment touchscreens, and Ariya’s is a little fussier than some others. There’s one physical control, a volume adjustment knob, which is a good thing.
Ariya’s high-class interior gets extra credit for also being practical. Flat floors at both rows of seats provide additional space for foot placement or stowage of personal items like purses, briefcases, or laptop bags. With the touch of a button, the center console moves forward or backward to adjust available space as preferred. Pushing another button on the console opens a hidden stowage bin in the lower dash.
The rear cargo area has 22.8 cubic feet of room when second-row seats are in upright position, and 59.7 cubic feet when the seats are folded.
2023 NISSAN ARIYA EMPOWER+ FWD
Base price, including destination charge: $55,025
Price as driven: $57,885
Mary Lowry is a member of the Motor Press Guild and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. She lives in Snohomish County. Vehicles are provided by automotive manufacturers as a one-week loan for evaluation purposes only. Manufacturers do not control content of the reviews.