Nissan Ariya Arrives As The Sexy EV The Leaf Never Was

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And it packs a 300-mile range.

Late last year, Nissan revealed the Ariya Concept as a glimpse into the company's electrified future. Numerous teasers showed that the production version would look nearly identical to the concept and now, the Nissan Ariya has made its official debut. Nissan's first electric crossover is set to go on sale in 2021 with a $40,000 starting price (not counting any tax credits).

This puts the Ariya nicely below the Tesla Model Y Long Range, which costs $49,990. In terms of range, Nissan is targeting a 300-mile distance for the 2WD model, putting the Ariya just 16 miles behind the AWD Model Y. The Ariya may fall just a bit shy of the Tesla's performance figures but in terms of styling, the Nissan wins without a contest.

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The Ariya's electric platform removed fundamental limitations of the styling process and allowed designers to create what looks like a road-going concept car. Nissan says the Ariya represents a redefinition of the company's "Timeless Japanese Futurism" styling methodology, which embraces a chic, cutting-edge nature along with seamless, elegant, and fresh lines. We particularly love the 3-D Japanese Kumiko pattern grille with the redesigned Nissan logo that lights up using 20 LEDs.

Along with the light-up logo, the LED running lights carry down into the V-Motion grille. A single, uninterrupted horizontal line crosses the side profile, connecting the front and rear fascia designs. The rear looks equally futuristic with a raked C-pillar and one-piece light blade that looks blacked out when not in use. Six two-tone exterior paint combinations will be available, each with a black roof, including the signature Copper paint, which is part of an Akatsuki package (a name which should be familiar to Naruto fans).

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As with the exterior, the Ariya's electric platform allowed the engineers to free up valuable space in the cabin. For example, the climate control system is mounted under the hood where the engine would be, eliminating the need for a large transmission tunnel and creating a flat floor. This gives the Ariya vast amounts of passenger space and allowed the designers to get creative with the interior layout.

The Ariya features some cool touches including an adjustable center console with a fold-out tray, haptic controls, and two massive 12.3-inch displays for the infotainment and driving data. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa are all included in these futuristic displays along with a hybrid voice recognition system with advanced natural language understanding technology. All of the information on these displays can be customized and the system supports over-the-air updates.

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Nissan will offer front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive versions of the Ariya with either 66 kWh or 90 kWh battery sizes. Official range estimates for all four versions have not been given but the FWD 87 kWh model will have the longest range of around 300 miles. AWD models will make use of Nissan's new e-4ORCE system, which borrows technology from the GT-R's ATTESA E-TS torque split system. Nissan says the lower end Airya will produce around 214 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque while the more powerful model will produce 388 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque.

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On the safety front, the Ariya will debut with ProPILOT Assist 2.0, which is currently available on the Leaf, Altima, Rogue, and Rogue Sport. This system helps the car stay centered in the lane, navigate stop-and-go highway traffic, and maintain a set distance behind another vehicle. Drivers will be able to take their hands off the wheel under circumstances, relieving some of the burdens of driving.

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Sales are set to begin in Japan starting mid-2021 with US availability to follow later in 2021. This likely means the Ariya will arrive as a 2022 model here in the US, which is close to when Nissan will lose its full $7,500 federal EV tax credit. Since Tesla has already lost this credit based on its sales volume, the Ariya should still be a strong competitor when it arrives late next year.

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