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2023 Nissan Ariya e-4orce Review: Because 4-Wheel Drive Is Better than 2!

The Japanese automaker fills out the lineup of its first electric crossover Automotive columnist: , Updated:

2023 Nissan Ariya e-4orce - Three-quarters front
2023 Nissan Ariya e-4orce - Three-quarters front
Photo: V.Aubé

•    Auto123 got in a first drive of the 2023 Nissan Ariya e-4orce.

•    With the e-4orce all-wheel drive system, the Nissan Ariya instantly becomes more attractive for Canadian motorists.

Sonoma, CA - Nissan was a pioneer in the electric vehicle market with its compact LEAF. This EV democratized the technology over a decade ago. But let's face it, Nissan lost its edge in recent years as other brands stormed onto the market with their own electrified and all-electric models.

Which makes the Ariya all that much more important for Nissan, which absolutely must make up for lost time. This is especially true in the compact SUV category, where several models are already making their mark, not least the Volkswagen ID.4, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6 and of course Tesla’s Model Y. These are about to be joined by the Toyota bZ4X/Subaru Solterra tandem.

This week Nissan gave us first access to the new Ariya variant with the e-4orce all-wheel drive system. Yes, this model is more expensive than the two-wheel drive model, but it's better equipped to handle Canadian winters.

Of course, the beautiful roads of California didn't challenge the Nissan Ariya e-4orce with winter conditions. Still, this day spent behind the wheel of the brand's latest model was certainly going to tell us a little more about it.

See also: 2023 Nissan Ariya First Drive Review: Welcome to the Jungle

2023 Nissan Ariya e-4orce - Profile
2023 Nissan Ariya e-4orce - Profile
Photo: V.Aubé

The exterior
The Ariya SUV was first unveiled in 2020, and it has taken some time to finally come to market. But here it is at last with a familiar yet new silhouette. There are certainly a few features associated with Nissan design that are recognizable. There's that front panel that acts as a V-shaped grille, and the LED daytime running lights that follow the panel. The Japanese motif dubbed Kumiko is present on the oputside, just like it is in the interior of the vehicle. The LED headlights hover above the daytime running lights. Also worth mentioning is the position of the charging port, located on the right front fender.

In profile, the Nissan Ariya is similar to the Rogue in terms of exterior dimensions, but the Ariya is lower, sharper - closer to a crossover coupe. The window that ends in a point towards the back ends where the rear window begins. The designers also gave the vehicle a spoiler over the rear window, while the single parking light (at the base of the steeply forward sloping window) also plays an aerodynamic role.

Standing tall on 19-inch wheels, the Ariya got the attention of several motorists and pedestrians we encountered during our test day, which is never a bad sign.

Strong points

  • Improved build quality
  • A design that should age well

Weak points

  • Reduced rear visibility
2023 Nissan Ariya e-4orce - Interior
2023 Nissan Ariya e-4orce - Interior
Photo: V.Aubé

The interior
The exterior design is nice enough, but it's really on the inside that the Ariya stands out from the other Nissans of recent years. You could almost mistake the space for that of an Infiniti model, that good is the impression of quality.

Up front, the dashboard features a new curved panel containing two 12-inch screens.

The central touchscreen is inspired by smart devices with menus and functions that can be accessed by swiping from right to left. The size of the menus makes it easy to navigate, but as with any infotainment system, there is a period of acclimation.

The steering wheel, inspired by what we see on the brand's latest models, has a two-spoke design and retains its flattened base. Of course, it has multiple functions on that also need to be mastered.

Under the centre line of the dashboard we find the ventilation nozzles and a woodgrain panel integrating haptic climate controls. I must say that these buttons are surprisingly pleasant to use. Note also the centre-mounted knob for adjusting audio volume.

2023 Nissan Ariya e-4orce - Seating
2023 Nissan Ariya e-4orce - Seating
Photo: V.Aubé

The centre console serves as an adjustable armrest, but Nissan also thought of the passengers in the second row – it’s possible to move the that element forward or backward.

On top of the console is the small shift lever, as well as additional haptic controls for Brake Energy Recovery, drive mode or parking assist. There’s also a small storage space under the padded armrest.

Also, in Platinum+ e-4orce and Premiere trims, a hidden compartment under the dashboard unfolds (via another haptic button) for storing a smart device or even a small laptop.

An average-sized adult can fit comfortably in the second row, and even the presence of the panoramic roof doesn't interfere too much. The adjustable seatback is quite soft, although the two zero-gravity seats in the first row are the most comfortable. They even offer surprising support for a family-oriented crossover.

Finally, the trunk is certainly not the biggest with its high threshold and no possibility to put things under the false floor.

Strong points

  • Great first impression
  • Haptic buttons nice to use
  • Clear graphics in both screens
  • Comfortable seats (zero gravity)

Weak points

  • Trunk not very roomy
  • Some screen functions tricky to use
2023 Nissan Ariya e-4orce - Under the hood
2023 Nissan Ariya e-4orce - Under the hood
Photo: V.Aubé

The powertrain
The regular two-wheel drive Ariya is available with 214 hp (standard 63-kWh battery) or 238 hp (extended-range 87-kWh battery), and 221 lb-ft of torque in both cases. The Ariya e-4orce beats that, thanks to the contribution of the second synchronous AC electric motor installed on the rear axle.

With the standard battery, the Ariya e-4orce crossover thus delivers 335 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque, while the big battery boosts output to 389 and torque to 442 lb-ft.

Here are the range figures for each available trim level:

Engage FWD Estimated range: 348 km
Venture+ FWD Estimated range: 490 km
Evolve+ FWD Estimated range: 465 km
Evolve e-4ORCE Estimated range: 330 km
Premiere Estimated range : 428 km
Platinum+ e-4ORCE Estimated range: 428 km

Nissan also detailed the Ariya's charging capacity. The SUV can regain 10 to 80 percent of its energy in 35 minutes (63 kWh) or 40 minutes (87 kWh) using a Level 3 charging station with a 130-kW charging capacity. Slower speeds are to be expected in winter, however. A second test on Canadian soil will confirm how much the charging capacity decreases when the mercury drops below zero.

2023 Nissan Ariya e-4orce - Touchscreen
2023 Nissan Ariya e-4orce - Touchscreen
Photo: V.Aubé

Safety and technology
Nissan was one of the first to offer a driver assistance system and the Ariya is certainly no exception to this philosophy. The electric crossover can be delivered with the ProPILOT Park system, a device that parks the vehicle without driver intervention. The same goes for the ProPILOT Assist system, which keeps the vehicle on the right track with lane departure warning.

There's also lane keeping assist, intelligent cruise control and much more.

Unfortunately, I found the ProPILOT system too complicated to use with the menus behind the wheel. As for this version 2.0 of the same system, it won't be available in Canada, unlike our neighbors to the south. Note that this system does not require the driver to keep at least one hand on the wheel.

The drive
It's clear that the power of the Ariya e-4orce (for this launch, only the most powerful versions were available) catapults the vehicle forward quite effectively - especially in Sport mode. That said, we were even more impressed with the vehicle's handling on this day.

The crossover has to deal with a lot of weight, but in corners, it was very stable with only a few interventions from the steering wheel, the steering being a bit heavier when in Sport mode. The artificial sound that emanates from the cabin – a weird kind of whistle - is not very impressive, alas.

An exercise on the wet asphalt of the Sonoma racetrack also illustrated the advantages of the infinitely adjustable all-wheel-drive system.

Strong points

  • Quiet ride
  • Steering is heavy and responsive

Weak points

  • Artificial Sport mode sound
  • One-pedal mode doesn't stop car
2023 Nissan Ariya e-4orce - Three-quarters rear
2023 Nissan Ariya e-4orce - Three-quarters rear
Photo: V.Aubé

The final word
The Nissan Ariya e-4orce gives the brand real hope to attract more EV buyers to its showrooms. The build quality and the driving experience are both quite impressive.

That said, it’s not all roses and sunshine. The price is quite high, even though the Ariya is eligible for federal and provincial EV discounts.

There’s absolutely no doubt AWD will draw some folks in. But Nissan will have to find a way to offer a an electric SUV at a lower price.  

Here are a few of your questions about the 2023 Nissan Ariya:

What's the longest range, and in what version?
490 km, in the Venture+ FWD livery.

Is the Ariya a luxury SUV?
Except for the Nissan badge, the Ariya, especially in Premiere or Platinum+ trim, is on par with Infiniti's SUVs.

What are the prices of the different versions of the Ariya 2023?
Engage FWD $52,998
Venture+ FWD $59,498
Evolve+ FWD $64,998
Evolve e-4ORCE $60,598
Premiere $69,998
Platinum+ e-4ORCE $69,198

The competition

Ford Mustang Mach-E
Hyundai Ioniq 5
Kia EV6
Subaru Solterra
Toyota bZ4X
Volkswagen ID.4


Interior space
Technology and safety
Energy efficiency
Overall value
2023 Nissan Ariya e-4orce - Logo
2023 Nissan Ariya e-4orce - Logo
Photo: V.Aubé

Road Tests and Reviews

2023 Nissan Ariya
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