Nissan has been struggling and not just because of COVID-19. The brand has been languishing in automotive mediocrity for some time due to its rather dated an unexciting product offerings. Only with the introduction of the new Altima, Sentra, and Versa sedans has it injected some freshness. But the hottest segments like crossovers, pickups, and SUVs haven't received much attention from Nissan. The Frontier is Jurassic-era, and the Rogue is as exciting to drive as a golf cart. The 370Z is also desperately in need of a redesign. 

nissan ariya front

But Nissan is working on things (a new Frontier and new Z car are coming!), and so is the brand's second EV and first crossover EV, known as the Ariya (no, not named after the GoT Night King killer). Introduced at the Tokyo Motor Show last year, Nissan will bring it to production, and it's about damned time. It will also usher in a new era for the brand's design language with cleaner lines, more fluidity, and less overstyling (Maxima, Murano).

What is the Ariya?

nissan ariya front 34

The Ariya is the brand's very first all-electric crossover. That's a big move for the brand since they've only had one EV that used to be the most successful (the LEAF), but that car has long since been eclipsed by other electric cars such as the Telsa Model and the Chevy Bolt. The crossover segment is absolutely the right choice for Nissan right now since it's still the hottest passenger car segment, and EVs are on the rise. It joins the second-generation LEAF hatchback, essentially doubling the number of electric offerings. Nissan hopes it will draw buyers with its longer range, all-wheel drive option, and its fresh styling.

What's the Ariya's range?

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While Nissan hasn't given any details about the Ariya's exact all-electric driving range, it's definitely going to be more than the LEAF extended range's 226 miles, which is great news since the Chevy Bolt gets 248, the Kia Niro EV gets 239, and the Hyundai Kona EV gets 258. 

nissan ariya charging port

Word is that the Ariya's range will be close to 300 miles. The Ariya will be powered by two electric motors that drive the front and rear wheels. It will also benefit from Nissan's new semi-autonomous driving system, ProPilot 2.0, so it's more than a one-trick pony.

The Ariya marks a new design direction

nissan ariya front 34 2

If you notice one thing, the Ariya's design departs from the brand's current crossovers including the Murano and the Rogue. The lines of the Ariya are cleaner and more elegant with much less disparate angles. The "V-Motion" grille that's on the current line of Nissan vehicles gets replaced by a new shield grille. It isn't functional on the Ariya, of course, but it does get texturized by what's known as a "kumiko" pattern that makes reference to Nissan's new "Timeless Japanese Futurism" design language. Embedded in the grille are sensors, so Nissan is covering the grille with a translucent polycarbonate cover.

nissan ariya grille

The quad beam LED headlights are linear and attractive, as is the big LED strip of a taillight. We have to say we also love the contrasting gold/copper accents that show up in the grille, roofline, and wheels. The overall body contouring is also very tasteful and virtually eliminates the busyness of the Murano's bodywork. 

nissan ariya wheel

Nissan seems to have moved in the opposite direction from its current crossovers and opted for a more elegant and refined style versus the overuse of lines and layers. Even the floating roof on the Ariya is much improved over the version on the Murano. We have to say we find it very attractive. It's just what Nissan needs right now.

The interior gets seriously upgraded

nissan ariya interior 2

To say the interior of the Ariya looks nothing like any current Nissan is an understatement. We have not been big fans of the Rogue's rather bloated and cheap interior. Their infotainment system is also one of the worst we've used in the industry. The Ariya goes minimalist in its cabin, another important departure for the brand. They've ditched physical buttons for flush, smooth touch versions, as well as a futuristic touchscreen that extends into the instrument cluster like the 2020 Mercedes-Benz line of vehicles. 

nissan ariya interior

The center console doesn't connect with the dash and allows for a vast open leg area that makes the Ariya look airy and clean inside. Metallic and matte faux wood surfaces abound, giving the cabin a crisp appearance. Even the seats have a fresh design with angular tapered headrests and big side bolsters.

The Ariya will get Door-to-Door Navigation, which uses your smartphone's navigation to transfer directly to the infotainment system in the car. Scheduling can be synched, and the Ariya will cue the HVAC accordingly while it's docked for charging, offering new levels of interior comfort. ProPilot 2.0 also allows you to use Remote Park. It can park the car or summon it via smartphone. See? Nissan is thinking about the future, and it's about time.

It looks like the Ariya will be priced at around $40,000, which we think is a bargain given the level of technology and the new design direction. This, of course, isn't the final product. Some of it won't make to fruition, but the overall look and feel of it are vast improvements over anything the brand has right now. Even the name will likely change, but that's not important. We welcome the new design with open arms and think the direction Nissan is headed in is the right way to go for their brand that has seemed stale of late.