I know electric vehicles are the future, but as an old-head car guy, it’s hard to let go of the emotion and excitement that a gas powered car still provides. The problem with EVs is that they are generally devoid of personality, or rather share one personality trait — that of a silent, torquey, and comfortable commuter. The 2024 Nissan Ariya Platinum+ e-4ORCE does nothing to change this perception, but you know what? I’m starting to get this whole electric car thing, and the Ariya helped me get there.
It starts with a bit of reframing. Not every car needs to be a sports car or have a loud and obnoxious personality. Some people are looking for quiet serenity, and an electric car provides that in spades. Instead of lamenting the fact that it’s sometimes hard to differentiate a made-for-the-masses EV from one from a luxury make, we should celebrate the fact that this level or serenity is available at a more affordable price point.
That level of serenity begins inside the Ariya with its well-built, simplistic but elegant interior. Soft-touch fabrics and leather are plentiful, and the white motif lends to an airy and open space. The openness is helped with a floating centre console that is power adjustable to completely move out of the way, if you wish. There’s also a funky power operated central glove box that pops out at the touch of a button. The faux charcoal-looking wood trim looks inviting, and the fact that the climate controls are overlaid overtop the wood as floating buttons is a novel detail. There’s bronze accents throughout the cabin, plus an interesting texture to the speaker grills and even the ambient lighting.
Come to think of it, the Ariya’s cabin has a lot of unconventional accents throughout, but they’re thoughtfully placed and work well without being overwhelming. Overall interior space is competitive, and the zero-gravity seats are comfortable for long hauls. The rear seats are a little tight, but cargo space is solid and the liftover height makes loading easy.
Two 12.3-inch screens make up the digital gauge cluster and infotainment. They’re mostly OK; it’s an attractive-looking setup at first, but Nissan still lags in the graphics and user interface space. The infotainment touchscreen could be sharper and the gauge cluster could relay more information, but my biggest gripe is that the power meter froze a few times while I was on the move. It eventually fixed itself without requiring a restart, but software issues aren’t a good look. Beyond the screens, Nissan and Bose have had a relationship for as long as I can remember, and the Ariya continues that tradition with a good enough for Bose, but mostly unremarkable sound system.
Tire and wind noise is surprisingly minimal, and of course with the absence of any engine noise — unless you enable the faux spaceship sounds, which I kind of liked — the Ariya is easy to live with on a daily basis. The suspension feels comfortable without feeling overly floaty, and the ride is mostly confidence-inspiring behind the two-spoke steering wheel, which itself was well-weighted but devoid of feel. Drive modes affect power delivery more than anything, with Sport offering up that torquey electric-car feel many people enjoy, but the throttle felt a bit like an on-off switch in this mode, so I kept the Ariya in its default Normal setting on most occasions. The Ariya does offer one-pedal driving — Nissan calls this feature e-Step — but unless you dig deep within the infotainment to enable it permanently, you’ll have to activate it every time you hop in.
I laud Nissan for avoiding the arms race and making an appropriately powered electric vehicle. Our tester’s dual-motor, all-wheel-drive setup offers 389 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque is more than appropriate for the Ariya, enabling a more-than-respectable zero-to-100 km/h sprint in 5.1 seconds and more than adequate passing power. To be fair, the Ariya’s numbers slower than some other competitors even with similar power levels, but I’m OK with this if it protects the 87-kWh battery in the long run, or maintains the charge for longer.
Unfortunately, EVs still don’t do well in the cold, and driving the Ariya from Toronto to Ottawa over the holidays made those shortcomings glaringly obvious. On more than one occasion, the available range based on the on-board computer dropped significantly faster than the distance I actually covered. The Ariya can also charge at speeds of up to 125 kWh, though I couldn’t come close to that on any public EV charger, plus the cold weather no doubt held it back from charging at its most optimal rate. Overall range is rated up to 426 kilometres, but I couldn’t do better than 354. Still, I don’t blame the Ariya.
Technology abounds in the Ariya. In addition to the aforementioned screens and floating touch controls, the Ariya also receives a good 360-degree camera system and Nissan’s ProPilot suite of active safety assists. The adaptive cruise control system works well without feeling herky-jerky, but unfortunately the “hands on steering wheel” sensor was so infuriating that I ended up turning off the system entirely. It simply would not register my hands on the wheel, unless I see-sawed the steering wheel like I’m driving a bus in a movie. An unfortunate blemish on the otherwise solid active safety features.
With that being said, I don’t want to end on a sour note. Tech nitpicks aside, the 2024 Nissan Ariya Platinum+ e-4ORCE is a smart commuter with good power, a comfortable interior, and usable range provided you don’t have to venture out too far, especially in winter. Honestly, I could live with it, as long as I also still have a gas-powered sports car in the garage to get my heart racing every now and then.