Nissan's First Electric SUV
Nissan is a true EV pioneer. Long before Tesla started making headlines with its big, luxurious Model S sedan, the Japanese company was selling the Leaf, a 150-mile electric-powered wonder, the first mass-produced electric car available on U.S. soil. Over the past decade or so, Nissan has sold over half a million Leafs, making it one of the world’s best-selling EVs.
Frank Kuna, General Sales Manager of Avondale Nissan, 11 miles west of the center of Phoenix, AZ, has been with the Nissan brand since 2000 – and in the past 22 years he’s seen a tremendous amount of change. Attracted initially by the quality and the value of family sedans like the Sentra and Altima, he started driving a Leaf as his daily driver when it launched because he wanted to experience what it was like to drive an electric car.
“I could have chosen to drive anything,” he says. “But Nissan always says, driving an EV is a transformational experience. All of the torque, the energy, and no sound; the Leaf was one of the most exciting vehicles I’ve ever driven. And when Nissan recently enhanced the Leaf with a Plus version, with 226 miles of range instead of 150, we saw sales increase.”
Avondale Nissan is a dealership that has chosen to embrace electric driving in all areas. “We’ve installed four charging stations – three available for customers and one in the workshop. And while Nissan only requires us to have one electric vehicle master technician, we’ve actually trained two, and have acquired all of the specialized equipment to service customer cars.”
Frank is extremely excited about the arrival of the Nissan Ariya, the brand’s first EV SUV.
“The Ariya is raising a lot of eyebrows. Since the announcement, we’ve already received seven reservations for customers, and there are more coming every day. Nissan was smart to launch it with the highest-range 87-kWh battery at the start – you can only reserve vehicles with the big battery online. This ensures a great customer experience for those who are switching from gasoline. There are a wide range of trim levels available, starting at an MSRP just over $45,000 rising to just under $60,000 before incentives.”
Best Build for 2023: Nissan Ariya
If Frank was getting an Ariya for himself, he’d love to have an Ariya Platinum+. It’s the highest trim level, at an MSRP of $58,950 before incentives, and is the only Airya that comes with standard E-Force all-wheel drive. The Platinum+ uses that all-wheel drive and 389 horsepower to dash to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds, delivering range of up to 265 miles.
In Arizona, a front-wheel drive Ariya will meet most customers’ expectations if they don’t expect to go off-road, says Frank. “So far, the majority of our orders are for the Evolve+ version, followed by the least-expensive Venture+.”
2023 Nissan Ariya Evolve+ MSRP of $48,950
“The Evolve+ is one trim level up from the base model,” says Frank. “While all Ariya models offer a high level of standard equipment, you get a lot for a $3,000 price premium.”
The Evolve+ trim starts with the bigger 87-kWh battery, which lets it get to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds and delivers 238 hp, more than enough for any daily driving. Range is an impressive 285 miles, and it can charge up to 150 kW on a DC fast charger.
“Most of the best features of the Evolve+ are inside,” says Frank. “You get an 8-way power front driver’s seat, heated seats front and rear, a heated steering wheel, a color heads-up display that projects onto the windshield, a power moonroof, and a power liftgate.”
There’s also very cool use of motorized interior pieces linked to the seat memory. “The center console is motorized and can slide to the exact position you want; you can also customize the angle of the three dashboard screens to have a more curved or flat arrangement, depending on your preferences.”
Everest Pearl Tricoat, Black Diamond Metallic Exterior $0
“Nissan makes it easy to spec an Ariya. Once you choose a trim level, there are no individual options to choose – just color. I love the way the Ariya looks with two-tone paint, and the white and black has the highest contrast.”
Light Gray Interior $0
Each exterior color choice comes paired with one interior color. The Ariya’s light gray interior combines high-tech recycled fabrics with synthetic leather to create a welcoming space. Three digital screens are perched on top of the dashboard, and climate and other haptic controls are embedded into matte-finished trim that looks like recycled wood. A copper-colored trim strip bisects the dashboard and hides the air vents. The ambience is high-tech, welcoming, and distinctively Japanese in its use of colors and materials.
Total Price: $48,950
“It’s no surprise that the Evolve+ trim is the most popular so far,” says Frank. “It has everything you’d want and need for a great price. Reserving an Ariya is easy, and can be done on the Nissan website, or at our dealership.”