Nissan Debuts Tech-Laden 2022 Ariya EV SUV

Up to 300 miles of range, bold exterior styling, and innovative technology and interior prepare Nissan to ride the EV wave.

The 2022 Nissan Ariya features the automaker’s first illuminated front badge. (Nissan)

Nissan became an electric-vehicle pioneer when it debuted the Leaf in late 2010, and even with a meager 73 miles (117 km) of range the first-generation 5-door hatchback became the world’s best-selling EV. Then came Tesla – and Nissan’s well-publicized internal drama and long sales slump. The 2022 Ariya is Nissan’s second EV and a second chance in a now competitive and growing market.

The Nissan Ariya dashboard incorporates a pair of 12.3-inch screens, one in the center and another that serves as the instrument cluster, below which are haptic climate controls. (Doug Newcomb)

When it goes on sale at the end of 2022, the Ariya will compete with segment-leader Tesla Model Y and new electric SUVs from mainstream automakers including Hyundai’s Ioniq 5, Kia’s EV6 and Volkswagen’s ID.4. Unlike the FWD-only Leaf, the Ariya will be available in an optional AWD configuration by using dual front and rear electric motors.

The ’22 Ariya will come in four trim levels: the $45,950 base Venture Plus, $48,950 midgrade Evolve Plus, $58,950 flagship Platinum Plus and a special $53,450 Premiere edition available for advance-order only (and won’t be sold at dealers). All except the Platinum Plus are equipped with an 87-kWh liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery that produces 238 hp (177 kW) and 221 lb-ft (300 Nm). The Platinum Plus gets an AWD dual-motor setup that uses the same battery but provides a total of 389 hp (290 kW) and 442 lb-ft (600 Nm).

According to Nissan, driving range on a full charge runs from 300 miles (482 km) on the Venture Plus to 265 miles (426 km) on the Platinum Plus. Unlike the CHAdeMO connector Nissan uses on the Leaf, the Ariya comes with a combined charging system (CCS) plug that can fast-charge the battery at a rate of 130 kW to supply 80% of range in about 45 minutes, the company claims. A full state of charge with a Level-2 220-volt charger can be achieved in about five hours.

Making a bold statement

While the EV powertrain is rather conventional, the Ariya’s exterior and interior design makes a bold statement. The front features Nissan’s first-ever illuminated brand badge and a unique Tech Shield front fascia with a striking, 3D-like Japanese Kumiko pattern just under the surface. It’s framed by wing-like daytime running lights and what Nissan calls crystal-cube LED projector headlights.

“Because the Ariya is an EV and doesn’t need a grille, we were able to hide the sensors for the driver-assist systems behind the Tech Shield,” said Simon Kinderknecht, a planner for Nissan North America’s electric vehicle sales and marketing team. “You don’t see the sensors, like on a lot of cars.”

A horizon line runs from the front fascia to just under the side windows and all the way back to blade-style taillights, which features Nissan’s first wordmark in the center. The Ariya’s 182.9-in. (4645-mm) overall length is similar to the Nissan Rogue SUV, but its 109.3-in. (2776-mm) wheelbase is about three inches (76 mm) wider than Rogue’s due to its EV architecture, Kinderknecht noted. “The EV platform allows bringing the wheels out, with smaller overhangs on the front and rear for a good profile and side stance,” he added.

Cabin tech and UX

The EV architecture and location of the battery at the base of the chassis also allows for a more spacious cabin and a flat, open floor. An available adjustable center console can be moved front or back by about six inches (152 mm) via buttons on the side and a preferred position can be saved as part of the driver's profile.

An available adjustable center console can be moved front or back by about six inches and houses a small shifter and integrated haptic controls. (Nissan)

The console also houses a small shifter and integrates haptic controls for changing drive modes, engaging Nissan’s e-Pedal range-saver and other features. While the haptic controls make for a sleek, seamless appearance, other automakers have gone back to physical buttons after complaints from consumers and some media over how difficult and potentially distracting non-tangible controls can be. Kinderknecht said the haptic center-console controls, which disappear when the vehicle is turned off, fit with “the simplicity and modernism of the Ariya. We wanted to eliminate clutter in the interior,” he added.

The dashboard incorporates a pair of 12.3-inch screens: one in the center and another that serves as the instrument cluster, with a small, curved section in between. The only physical controls are a stop/start button and a power/volume knob, below which are haptic climate controls. Information such as battery range, navigation and media choices can be shared and swapped between the two displays with a swipe. Nissan said that presenting information on one horizontal plane makes its more easily and safely processed by the driver.

“A lot of vehicles are going with tablet-style center screens that can sometimes take your eyes off the road,” Kinderknecht said. “The screens in the Ariya keep a driver’s line of sight higher and closer to the road.” The Ariya is also the first Nissan model to come with over-the-air software updates to keep aspects of the infotainment system, climate control, EV settings and even the electronic architecture and chassis systems current.

With electrification sweeping over the auto industry and governments around the globe mandating a future of emission-free vehicles, the Ariya is a crucial vehicle for beleaguered Nissan. It “is the spearhead, showing our vision of the future,” Ivan Espinosa, the automaker’s senior VP of global product planning, said at the vehicle’s recent unveiling.

“I’m not afraid to say this is probably the most technologically advanced car that Nissan has made in its history,” Espinosa added. “We’re putting all of our resources and know-how behind this car.”