We’ll make no bones about it—the 2022 Nissan Ariya is one of the most significant Nissans of the past 25 years, or maybe even longer. This is not to say we’re sure this electric car will be a roaring success, as the very specific market for non-Tesla EV crossovers costing less than $50,000 is still as of yet unproven and rather unpopulated. But forthcoming EVs like the Ariya, Ford Mustang Mach-E, and the VW ID4 will determine if there’s a nascent untapped well of electric-car customers ready to adopt, or if EVs will continue to be toys for upper-class city folk.
In reality, we reckon the answer is somewhere in between as these new EV crossovers find moderate—but not wild—success in both the upper and the continually shrinking middle class. That’s what Nissan hopes, at least—the beleaguered automaker needs a win, regardless if it’s this new Ariya, the forthcoming new Z car, or the soon-to-be rejiggered Infiniti brand. Of all these endeavors, the 2022 Nissan Ariya stands out as the most forward-thinking and cohesive product, something that’s particularly apparent after recently spending some extended time with the prototype in a closed-studio environment.
2022 Nissan Ariya: The Full Picture
As is most often the case in this industry, pictures are deceiving. The new Nissan EV appears very much as a mid-size analog to the current Murano, with high shoulders and a somewhat tapered profile. It’s smaller than you think; according to brand reps present at this walkaround, the Ariya is Rogue-sized, giving it a dimensional footprint slightly larger than the future Audi A4 E-Tron, and a bit smaller than the Ford Mustang Mach-E and the Tesla Model Y. Regardless, it has presence, especially with smooth, glossy exterior surfaces and an origami-ish anodyne profile that would look very much at home on a Blade Runner set or humming through the streets of Neo Tokyo. Hey, don’t just take our word for it: Nissan claims the Ariya wears a design penned from the ideals of “Timeless Japanese Futurism.”
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We didn’t learn anything shocking about the 2022 Nissan Ariya’s range, power, capacity, or drivetrain during our time with the prototype, but a few granular details stood out.
As we knew before, the Ariya offers two levels of battery with “either a single motor and front-wheel drive or the ‘e-4ORCE’ dual-motor all-wheel-drive system, which we sampled earlier this year in a prototype mule built from a Nissan Leaf. The single-motor Ariya delivers 215 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque, while the all-wheel-drive Aryia produces 335 hp and 413 lb-ft, as enumerated in our first look at the new SUV.
For juice, Nissan will offer both powertrains with a choice of standard and long-range versions, the standard with a 65-kWh battery (63 kWh usable), and the beefier long-range with 90-kWh battery (87 kWh usable). Nissan estimates a battery range for the single-motor long-range version of around 300 miles, but the company isn’t ready to commit to hard numbers at this time. According to Nissan, the Ariya’s battery can quick-charge from 5-to-80 percent in around 45 minutes.
The battery, platform, and motors were all developed under the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, foreshadowing the potential Renault-ification of the Ariya for other markets. Another interesting note is how the SUV’s regenerative braking is tuned; Nissan says the Ariya could be brought to a complete stop without depressing the brake pedal, thanks to the drag from the regenerative-braking system, but customer feedback revealed this pseudo-autonomy proved a bit unnatural. As a result, engineers designed a small amount of creep into the setup.
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With the lion’s share of mechanical gubbins left on the shelf, the 2022 Nissan Ariya makes strong use of the flat-floor design to maximize passenger comfort. To round out the Blade Runner vibe, Nissan did its best to eliminate physical buttons from the interior, instead functioning with a suite of haptic touch panels that operate the climate control and drive selection. For regular infotainment duties and for the gauge cluster, dual 12.3-inch screens dominate the dash, presumably loaded with enough requisite techy features to woo Silicon Valley types.
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In person, the Ariya’s relatively cavernous interior is right in line with what we’ve seen of the new VW ID4, especially regarding the retro-futuristic controls and focus on the flat-floor design. Nissan says it expects a significant portion of its existing Leaf customers to make the jump to the Ariya, while also scoring some additional conquests from existing EV nameplates, along with the all-important first-time EV buyers.
So, the wheels of Nissan’s EV future are greased with the 2022 Nissan Ariya, and it will be interesting to observe whether or not this overall wave of electric-car crossovers will signal the polar shift we’ve been promised for years. As of this writing, pricing isn’t finalized, but Nissan says to expect a base-model Ariya to arrive sometime by the end of 2021 wearing a price tag right around $40,000.
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