By on July 15, 2020

Don’t have a compact EV crossover in the works? Are you even an automaker?

Keeping up with the industry Joneses is a longstanding tradition among automakers, and Nissan, despite its troubles, isn’t throwing in the towel when it comes to cutting-edge competition. After revealing a concept CUV last year that promised gas-free driving and a healthy driving range, Nissan unveiled the production vehicle last night.

It doesn’t differ much from the concept.

Few expected it to, given that show car’s fully baked appearance.

Said to arrive stateside sometime in late 2021, following a mid-year Japanese market introduction, the Ariya wears Nissan’s new design language — an ensemble the brand calls Timeless Japanese Futurism. That ethos carries over into the Ariya’s spartan, heavily digitized cabin.

With a starting price of about $40,000, the Ariya boasts two available battery sizes and two powertrains; front- or all-wheel drive can be had, with a long-range single-motor configuration offering the model’s maximum electric driving range of 300 miles (official EPA figures will have to wait). That’s with an 87 kWh battery. Entry-level models will carry a 63 kWh unit.

Output ranges from 215 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque to 389 hp and 443 lb-ft, giving this two-row CUV plenty of oomph for whatever task its owners throw at it. Technologies borrowed from the existing Nissan lineup includes the e-Pedal setup from the long-running Leaf, allowing drivers to make little use of the brake pedal, and the brand’s new ProPilot 2.0 driver-assist system, which allows for hands-free driving under certain circumstances.

“The Ariya, a key model in Nissan’s plan to roll out 10 new models in 20 months, demonstrates our commitment to meeting customer demand for crossovers with the most advanced electrified, automated and connected technologies,” Nissan Chief Operating Officer Ashwani Gupta said during the model’s Yokohama debut.

“The company expects sales of its EVs and e-POWER electrified models to be more than 1 million units a year by the end of fiscal 2023. The Ariya will play a significant role in attaining that goal.”

While Nissan aims to impress with style, range, power, and comfort (the brand talked up the Ariya’s lounge-type cabin and flat floor, as well as Zero Gravity seats), it stands to face stiff competition upon arrival. Ford’s Mustang Mach-E goes a different route, aping a famous performance car, while the premium German Trifecta will have a trio of upscale compact EV CUVs of their own. On the lower end of the totem, Volkswagen’s MEB-based ID.4 will be out and about.

Eco-conscious consumers with little need for excess space can already shop the Hyundai Kona EV, with a Chevrolet Bolt-based CUV on the way to challenge it. Both the Kona and Bolt offer a healthy range for a sub-$40k price.

Nissan will have to prove its worth and fight for every sale.

[Images: Nissan]

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20 Comments on “Nissan Ariya: Keeping Up With the Pack...”


  • avatar
    statikboy

    Why the ridiculously high beltline with no passenger/engine block hood crush standards to worry about?

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Side impact, of course. That’s why almost ALL cars have such ridiculously high beltlines today. And I’m betting that under-hood area is taken up with motor and batteries similar to the older Leaf and existing Bolt… to give them that added 75 miles of range.

      • 0 avatar
        redapple

        Vulpine

        Urban legend. High beltlines has nothing to do with side impact standard. Not me saying. Ralph Giles said it in an interview on vehilce design.

        HIgh beltlines are a styling thing,

        • 0 avatar
          redapple

          PS- I hate HATE high beltlines. This is 1/2 the reason I drive a Forester – its like a fishbowl.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            Lowered visibility is a byproduct of the higher beltlines. The byproduct of the styling is bigger wheels/tires to look more proportional.

            It took a half-century for the 23 inch “artillery type” wheels on the Model-T Ford to shrink to 14 inch wheels as the standard for all full size cars.

            Now, thanks to styling, we’re returning to large wheels and way-too-expensive tires. We may see the industry surpass the Model-T and go to Wells-Fargo stagecoach-sized wheels.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          @redapple: Then let me ask you this: How fat are you willing to have those trim pieces over your head, holding the inflatable side curtains that cover the entire window so you don’t smash your head into the glass in a side impact? Those concealment panels are incredibly thick already and if the windows were larger due to lower belt lines, just how thick do you think they’d get? Remember, not only do they conceal the curtains but they also hold the gas charges (or igniters, as the case may be) to inflate those curtains in a fraction of a second. The longer the curtain, the more material… and gas… is needed. Logic says the companies don’t want to spend a lot of money for safety, especially when that safety is mandated by law. They will use the least expensive means they can to meet those minimum standards and large windows means higher cost across the board.

          Ralph Giles may say it’s a styling thing but that styling thing is still meant to save money on safety equipment. Ergo, it is for safety and not styling alone.

          • 0 avatar
            ToolGuy

            @Vulpine, that is a better explanation than I have seen before – thanks.

          • 0 avatar
            conundrum

            Still doesn’t explain why the Forester has big windows. So after all that tech explanation, how does Subaru manage it? They don’t even have a huge roof roll to conceal the side-curtain bag and gubbins. And they sure don’t waste money. It’s a design choice.

            My 2008 Legacy GT had big windows and frameless at that plus curtain airbags. These new cars are bunkers by design, not engineering need.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @conundrum: Strange… You say the Forester’s windows are huge yet they are no larger than those of any other vehicle its size. They’re just shaped a little differently that gives the impression of larger size.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Aside from the X-shaped mock grille, this Nissan looks a lot like what some have conceived for the true compact Tesla CUV which may or may not be in the works. Tesla has claimed both Chinese and European designers will be working on such a concept, so I wonder if there won’t be two different models to satisfy both markets.

  • avatar
    mcs

    I wonder if they’re going to go with liquid battery cooling/heating this time around? The other issue they have is that I think they are the only automaker in the US still using CHAdeMO. Time to give up on that one. CCS won.

    Edit: I looked it up. Apparently, they are ditching CHAdeMO. Apparently liquid cooled/heated battery as well.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Without a liquid-cooled battery, this car would be DOA, so glad to hear that.

      Also, good news on them ditching CHAdeMO. One clue to that change is the small charging door on the left fender. Ditching CHAdeMO is a move toward a more universal filling standard, so I guess this leaves CCS and Tesla in the US. CCS makes a lot of sense because it simply adds two large pins to the J1772 system, but Tesla’s system is frankly more reliable and available for long trips. I’ve long argued that the mfrs should adopt the Tesla standard and work out billing.

      Ditching CHAdeMO also puts the 3rd party charging companies in a bind. They’ll want to support the handful of Mitsubishis, Kias, and the numerous Leafs that have it, but replacing that hardly-used CHAdeMO cord with a second CCS cord will be very tempting.

      The headline “keeping up with the pack” is appropriate. The Leaf was – for a long time – the sales leader, but by 2019 it had sunk to a distant 5th place among BEVs (US sales):

      Model 3: 158925
      Model X: 19225
      Bolt EV: 16418
      Model S: 14100
      Leaf…: 12365

      The Ariya looks interesting to me. Starting at $40k means it’ll be more like $45k on the ground (and way more for the long-range models), and IIRC Nissan may have reached the sunset on the Federal subsidy. So it will be a bit pricey.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        The important part of switching to a liquid-cooled pack for me is the ability to warm the battery in subzero temps. The ability to heat the battery will give it better range in cold temps. As far as cooling goes, I’ve never had an issue, but I do live in a moderate climate.

        The next commuter car will probably be a new Bolt. With GM kicking in $8,500, the dealer $4k, and the state $2,500, a $38k car is suddenly $23k. Not bad for a car that can do 0-60 in the 6-second range.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    I’m still wondering who is going to buy all these $40,000+ plug-in electric vehicles, when a similar ICE model can be had, usually for $22k-$26k. Even a hybrid would be cheaper, providing the low-end torque without the limited range.

    Not everyone had a garage/driveway for recharging, and recharging stations either aren’t free or won’t be for long. Add the time needed to recharge the batteries vs. a 5-minute fillup, and the virtue signal will have to be very strong to justify the cost and inconvenience.

    • 0 avatar
      deanst

      Every car sends a signal. Many seem to agree that the signal sent by the Bronco is worth $40,000 so why is the signal sent by this vehicle any less worthy? Realistically, both will be used to transport one or two people to the mall – and the Nissan will likely provide more comfort while doing so.

  • avatar
    Varezhka

    This looks… fine. Like a more modern and compact Murano in design.

    I’m sure this is a perfectly nice electric SUV, but I’m not sure if there is much to make this stand out among the crowd. For people looking for a new toy with all the performance pretensions or gadgets and gizmos, there are Teslas and Mustang Mach-E. If you are looking for a sensible, reliable choice without the compromises of a normal EV, you can get a RAV4 Prime PHEV. This seems to be stuck in the middle.

    That said, I’m glad of all the improvements over the existing Leaf, especially the battery cooling.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      IMO, I think this is better-looking than the Mach-E, with more utility.

      Also, compared to Tesla, I’d prefer having front-mounted gauges, normal door handles, good build quality, and no brand/CEO stigma. My Hyundai EV has these features, and they helped turn me away from buying a Tesla.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    I read some of it is a function of the hoodline having to be high enough to allow for the hood to absorb some energy of a pedestrian landing on it in an impact versus them basically hitting the top of the motor as was the case with older designs. This is incidentally my favorite thing potentially about EV’s if true…get those hoodlines back down!

  • avatar
    Rocket

    The minimalist interior and fastback profile trends can’t end soon enough for me. I don’t care if it’s not fashionable … a true utility vehicle should have a functional two-box design, and all vehicles should have real buttons.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    It got me to stop scrolling – I like it. Can’t put my finger on if I like the design on the unusual release color.

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