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I drove the electric Nissan Ariya SUV. It's a strong rival to Tesla, but not as tech-forward and fun to drive.

A blue 2023 Nissan Ariya Empower+ against a concrete wall.
The 2023 Nissan Ariya Empower+ I tested has 289 miles of range and a stylish interior.Tim Levin/Insider
  • Nissan recently started selling its new electric SUV, the 2023 Ariya, and I got to drive it.

  • It's a strong rival to Tesla, but not as tech-forward and fun to drive.

  • The 2023 Ariya Empower+ that Nissan loaned to me costs just under $60,000.

More than a decade after releasing the pioneering Leaf in 2010, Nissan is back with its second electric vehicle.

A blue 2023 Nissan Ariya Empower+ electric SUV against a concrete wall.
The 2023 Nissan Ariya Empower+Tim Levin/Insider

It's called the Ariya, and I got to drive it.

A blue Nissan Ariya electric SUV with trees in the background.
The 2023 Nissan Ariya.Tim Levin/Insider

Let me show you around the new Tesla rival and tell you everything you need to know.

A blue Nissan Ariya electric SUV seen from the front, against a concrete wall.
The 2023 Nissan Ariya.Tim Levin/Insider

The 2023 Ariya SUV comes in a variety of trim levels and battery sizes. The cheapest model retails for $43,190.

The interior of the 2023 Nissan Ariya, with 2 screens.
The 2023 Nissan Ariya.Tim Levin/Insider

Choose a fancier trim and some options, and you could pay around $60,000. That's the cost of the Ariya Empower+ model that Nissan loaned me.

White leather seats in the 2023 Nissan Ariya Empower+ electric SUV.
The 2023 Nissan Ariya Empower+Tim Levin/Insider

Read more: I drove Nissan's electric Ariya SUV — it proves that 13 years after the Leaf, the automaker can compete with Tesla

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All-wheel drive is optional and adds an extra motor. The SUV I tested was front-wheel drive.

A close up of a rear white-leather seat in the 2023 Nissan Ariya Empower+ electric SUV.
The 2023 Nissan Ariya Empower+Tim Levin/Insider

When it comes to styling, the Ariya isn't quite as futuristic looking as a Kia EV6 or Polestar 2, but it isn't boring either. It's stylish and somewhat distinctive, but not over the top.

A blue 2023 Nissan Ariya electric SUV seen from the rear, with a grass field in the background.
The 2023 Nissan Ariya.Tim Levin/Insider

Hop inside and you're greeted by a surprisingly spacious and upscale-feeling interior.

The interior of the 2023 Nissan Ariya Empower+ electric SUV, as seen from the back seat looking toward the windshield.
The 2023 Nissan Ariya Empower+Tim Levin/Insider

My test car had leatherette seats, faux-wood trim, and a big moonroof.

White leather seats in the 2023 Nissan Ariya electric SUV.
The 2023 Nissan Ariya.Tim Levin/Insider

Without an engine taking up space, electric cars offer a lot more packaging flexibility than gas vehicles, often creating more room for passengers and cargo.

A close up shot of the Nissan Ariya electric SUV's headlight.
The 2023 Nissan Ariya Empower+Tim Levin/Insider

Some companies take advantage of that freedom better than others. And the Ariya feels super spacious and open.

The trunk of the 2023 Nissan Ariya.
The 2023 Nissan Ariya.Tim Levin/Insider

Read more: The 14 longest-lasting SUVs that are most likely to drive 250,000 miles

Nissan created a large open space in front of the center console, which makes the whole cabin feel airy instead of cramped.

A backpack sits on the floor in between the front seats of the 2023 Nissan Ariya SUV.
The 2023 Nissan Ariya.Tim Levin/Insider

The back seats are roomy. Even with the driver's seat all the way back, I still had ample legroom.

The white back seats of the 2023 Nissan Ariya SUV.
The 2023 Nissan Ariya.Tim Levin/Insider

Plus, back-seat passengers get USB ports and, optionally, heated seats.

Air vents, USB ports, and heated-seat switches in the 2023 Nissan Ariya.
The 2023 Nissan Ariya.Tim Levin/Insider

One quirk of the Ariya: You can choose an adjustable center console that moves forward and backward using little buttons facing the driver.

The white and grey center console of the 2023 Nissan Ariya Empower+ SUV.
The 2023 Nissan Ariya Empower+Tim Levin/Insider

Here it is in its farthest-back position.

The white and grey center console of the 2023 Nissan Ariya Empower+ SUV.
The 2023 Nissan Ariya.Tim Levin/Insider

Read more: The 23 longest-lasting cars, trucks, and SUVs that are most likely to hit 250,000 miles

Slim air vents running across the width of the vehicle and a lack of buttons add to the minimalist, uncluttered vibe.

The white-leather dashboard of the Nissan Ariya, with faux-wood trim below.
The 2023 Nissan Ariya.Tim Levin/Insider

Capacitive buttons — the kind you tap rather than click — are integrated into wood pieces on the dashboard and center console.

The infotainment screen of the 2023 Nissan Ariya Empower+ SUV.
The 2023 Nissan Ariya Empower+Tim Levin/Insider

That means you don't have to use the touchscreen for some of the most-used functions, like the temperature and fan speed.

The gear selector of the 2023 Nissan Ariya Empower+, with faux-wood trim surrounding.
The 2023 Nissan Ariya Empower+Tim Levin/Insider

Open and close switches by the gear selector grant access to a funky storage drawer that electronically drops out from under the dash.

The storage drawer under the dashboard in the 2023 Nissan Ariya.
The 2023 Nissan Ariya.Tim Levin/Insider

Read more: More and more Americans don't want electric cars

You can use it as a little desk if you keep the cover on.

A storage drawer under the dashboard of the 2023 Nissan Ariya.
The 2023 Nissan Ariya.Tim Levin/Insider

Drivers get a digital gauge cluster and a touchscreen on a curved panel.

The interior of the Nissan Ariya, as viewed from the passenger door.
The 2023 Nissan Ariya.Tim Levin/Insider

Both screens are easy to read and operate.

The digital gauge cluster of the 2023 Nissan Ariya Empower+ SUV.
The 2023 Nissan Ariya Empower+Tim Levin/Insider

But they're pretty basic and don't offer all the tech features you'd find in a car like a Tesla.

The infotainment screen of the 2023 Nissan Ariya SUV displays a map.
The 2023 Nissan Ariya.Tim Levin/Insider

Read more: After testing more than 25 electric cars, these 5 were the most fun to drive

My tester came with extra tech like a digital rear-view mirror. It helped with rearward visibility, since the Ariya's back window is tiny.

The digital rear-view mirror of the 2023 Nissan Ariya.
The 2023 Nissan Ariya.Tim Levin/Insider

The Ariya drives a lot like other mainstream electric SUVs. It's quiet and smooth.

The blue 2023 Nissan Ariya Empower+ SUV is seen from the rear, with trees in the background.
The 2023 Nissan Ariya Empower+Tim Levin/Insider

Like in other EVs, acceleration comes on abruptly and helps with quick merges. But overall, the front-wheel-drive Ariya isn't as exciting behind the wheel as other electric models.

A close-up photograph of the Nissan badge on a steering wheel.
The 2023 Nissan Ariya.Tim Levin/Insider

The all-wheel-drive, dual-motor model offers more power, but I haven't tested that one.

The shiny, black gear selector on the 2023 Nissan Ariya.
The 2023 Nissan Ariya.Tim Levin/Insider

Where the Ariya really excels is range. My tester is rated by the Environmental Protection Agency for 289 miles, and the longest-range version goes up to 304.

The 2023 Nissan Ariya's charging port.
The 2023 Nissan Ariya.Tim Levin/Insider

Read more: A 9-hour drive in Toyota's new electric SUV showed me how brutal EV road trips can be with the wrong car

I also enjoyed ProPilot 2.0, Nissan's driver-assistance feature that offers hands-free driving on some highways.

Sill plates in the 2023 Nissan Ariya read "ARIYA."
The 2023 Nissan Ariya.Tim Levin/Insider

It relieved the monotony of stop-and-go traffic and uses cameras to make sure you pay attention when it's engaged. That's a nice safety feature.

The 2023 Nissan Ariya's infotainment screen displays climate functions.
The 2023 Nissan Ariya.Tim Levin/Insider

All Ariyas come with a generous assortment of safety tech, including blind-spot monitoring, lane keeping, and rear cross-traffic alerts.

A close-up of the black and blue bodywork of the 2023 Nissan Ariya.
The 2023 Nissan Ariya.Tim Levin/Insider

Between its stylish interior, straightforward controls, and healthy range, the Ariya is a great little SUV. It proves that 13 years after helping pioneer electric cars with the Leaf, Nissan is ready to challenge today's best EVs.

The Nissan logo on the nose of the 2023 Nissan Ariya.
The 2023 Nissan Ariya.Tim Levin/Insider

Read the original article on Business Insider