Tested: 2023 Nissan Ariya vs. 2023 Toyota bZ4X in a Mainstream-EV Face-Off

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Toyota and Nissan have been head-to-head competitors in the U.S. market for generations, going back to the 1970s fuel crisis (when Nissan was still Datsun). As we enter the electric era, the two again face off in the emerging heart of the mainstream-EV field: mid-size crossovers priced in the $40s and $50s. Toyota’s bZ4X is slightly smaller and less expensive than Nissan’s Ariya, but they’re close enough to be cross-shopped, so we’ve brought them together here.

After launching solely with a single-motor drivetrain, the Ariya lineup is now in full flower with the addition of a dual-motor, all-wheel-drive setup. The Nissan shopper also wades through four trim levels for the dual-motor version or five with a single motor. The Ariya’s $44,525 starting price is competitive, but the sticker for the top-spec Platinum+ e-4orce (all-wheel drive) balloons past $60K, where the Ariya finds itself swimming among premium-brand entries.

The bZ4X lineup is comparatively simple. There are only two levels of fanciness: XLE and Limited. Either can be had with a single-motor front-drive powertrain or dual motors and all-wheel drive. Pricing starts at an enticing $43,335 for the XLE, rising to $48,035 for the Limited; with either, a dual-motor powertrain adds $2080.

Ariya and bZ4X Range

Toyota opted for relatively small battery packs for the bZ4X: 63.4 kWh for the single-motor version and 65.6 kWh for the dual-motor. The Ariya’s price-leader model (Engage) comes with a similar-size pack, but all other trim levels get a more substantial 87.0-kWh unit. Per the EPA, that larger pack nets the Ariya as much as 304 miles of range (for the single-motor Venture+ model); in the dual-motor Platinum+ that we had, that number is 267 miles—still substantially better than the 222-mile EPA estimate for our dual-motor bZ4X Limited. In C/D‘s 75-mph highway range test, the Ariya maintained its advantage, clocking 210 miles, while the bZ4X managed just 160 miles.

Ariya and bZ4X Performance Compared

The Toyota’s two motors combine for 214 horsepower, which is barely more than the single-motor version and far behind the Nissan’s 389 ponies (the base-model all-wheel-drive Ariya makes do with 335). Weighing a burly 5087 pounds, the Ariya is considerably heavier than the bZ4X, which checks in at a comparatively svelte 4436 pounds, but the Nissan’s additional muscle easily overcomes its weight disadvantage.

Michael Simari|Car and Driver

With a 2.1-second (Nissan) or 2.2-second (Toyota) time to 30 mph, both cars squirt quickly off the line. By the 60-mph mark, though, the Ariya, at 5.0 seconds, is a full second ahead of the bZ4X, and the Nissan boasts a similar advantage in the quarter-mile—13.4 seconds at 108 mph to the Toyota’s 14.6 at 94 mph. That plays out in highway passing maneuvers, where the Ariya accelerates from 50 to 70 mph in 2.4 seconds, versus the bZ4X’s languid 3.7-second stroll. And when you’re just cruising, the Nissan is a hushed 64 decibels at 70 mph, whereas the Toyota is slightly noisier at 66 decibels.

Toyota bZ4X
HIGHS: Affordable price, svelte for an EV, well-tuned brake pedal.
LOWS: Weak range, down on horsepower, weird driving position.
VERDICT: An EV that feels like a first effort.

Nissan Ariya
HIGHS: Comfy seats, luxe interior, available long-range battery pack.
LOWS: Wonky brake-pedal action, haptic-touch controls, ambitious pricing.
VERDICT: The Murano morphs into an electric.

You won’t find steering-wheel paddles to control lift-off regen in either car. In the Ariya, shifting from D to B adds regen, and pressing the e-Step button on the console gets you a smidge closer to one-pedal driving. The bZ4X employs a similar strategy—a button on the console selects an additional level of regen, but that’s as far as it goes. Lessening one’s interactions with the brake pedal is particularly advantageous in the Ariya because there’s a lot of slop in its initial pedal travel. The Toyota’s brake pedal has a more natural feel. The Nissan’s 176-foot stop from 70 mph, though, is a bit better than the Toyota’s 184-foot effort.

This segment doesn’t offer much in the way of driver involvement, and this pair doesn’t approach the Ford Mustang Mach-E in engagement or handling. Both ride comfortably, though the Ariya could be better damped. Both also steer reasonably well, with a fair sense of on-center and reasonable efforts, although the Ariya exhibits considerably more stick on skidpad at 0.86 g versus the bZ4X’s 0.80 g.

Ariya and bZ4X Interior Design

There’s much greater contrast in the two cars’ interiors. The Ariya goes full living room. The cabin is wide and tall, with a flat floor front and rear. Interestingly, the center console powers forward or rearward, allowing you to choose the amount of open space ahead of the seats. Those seats are chair-high, and with their tall seatbacks and large headrests, they recall the comfy lounge seats in a high-end movie theater. In the Platinum+, the dash and door panels have suedelike upholstered padding, and the seats feature nappa leather. The only off note, comfort-wise, is that the door armrests are so much lower than the center armrest.

The Toyota cabin is more cockpit-style, with a wide center console that ramps up to meet the dash (there’s open storage underneath). The materials here are mostly variations on black plastic, a cut below the top-spec Ariya. Narrow pillars and a low cowl give the Toyota driver a slightly better view out, however. The bZ4X’s instrument screen is located oddly far forward toward the base of the windshield, meaning the driver looks over the steering wheel at it, and if you’re not comfortable with the wheel positioned low, you may find that the rim blocks the instruments. Strangely for an EV, that display doesn’t tell the battery’s percent charge—instead, there’s only a bar-graph readout.

When it comes to switchgear, neither car gets a prize for ergonomics. Nissan unfortunately went all-in on haptic-touch buttons on the dash and the console, meaning nothing can be operated by feel—and the driver-attention monitor is quick to scold those whose eyes are diverted from the road. Give Nissan credit, at least, for preserving a volume knob; Toyota instead uses plus/minus buttons (who thinks this is a good idea?), but it keeps some physical buttons on the center stack.

The Nissan’s 12.3-inch infotainment display can be divided into three spaces to display multiple functions on the home screen, which is a plus, but some responses are laggy. The Toyota’s infotainment system isn’t any easier to use, but its display—also 12.3 inches—looks notably sharper. On both cars, phone mirroring is wireless, as is charging.

Ariya vs. bZ4X Conclusion

In this matchup, Nissan takes the win with more power, better range, and a nicer interior. The catch is that it’s considerably more expensive. Our Platinum+ test car’s $62,770 sticker strikes us as overly ambitious, but one can get this same mechanical package in the $52,525 Engage+ or $55,525 Evolve+ e-4orce models. Those would still represent a premium over the bZ4X, which starts at $45,415 in all-wheel-drive form and reached $52,439 in our Limited test car, but the extra spend strikes us as worth it.

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2023 Nissan Ariya e-4orce AWD Platinum+
Vehicle Type: front- and rear-motor, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon


Base/As Tested: $61,525/$62,770
Options: Passion Red Tricoat/Black Diamond Pearl premium two-tone paint, $995; carpeted floor mats and first-aid kit, $250


Front Motor: current-excited synchronous AC, 215 hp
Rear Motor: current-excited synchronous AC, 215 hp
Combined Power: 389 hp
Combined Torque: 442 lb-ft
Battery Pack: liquid-cooled lithium-ion, 87.0 kWh
Onboard Charger: 7.2 kW
Peak DC Fast-Charge Rate: 130 kW
Transmissions, F/R: direct-drive


Suspension, F/R: struts/multilink
Brakes, F/R: 14.3-in vented disc/13.0-in vented disc
Tires: Bridgestone Alenza Sport A/S
255/45R-20 101V M+S


Wheelbase: 109.3 in
Length: 182.9 in
Width: 74.8 in
Height: 65.7 in
Passenger Volume, F/R: 53/44 ft3
Cargo Volume, behind F/R: 60/23 ft3
Curb Weight: 5087 lb


60 mph: 5.0 sec
100 mph: 11.4 sec
1/4-Mile: 13.4 sec @ 108 mph
Results above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.
Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 5.1 sec
Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 2.0 sec
Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 2.4 sec
Top Speed (gov ltd): 128 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 176 ft
Braking, 100–0 mph: 342 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.86 g


Observed: 79 MPGe
75-mph Highway Driving: 74 MPGe
75-mph Highway Range: 210 mi


Combined/City/Highway: 90/93/87 MPGe
Range: 267 mi

2023 Toyota bZX4 Limited AWD
Vehicle Type: front- and mid-motor, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon


Base/As Tested: $50,115/$52,439
Options: JBL 9-speaker premium audio, $580; two-tone exterior, $500; Wind Chill Pearl paint, $425; Limited weather package, $350; carpeted floor and cargo mats, $269; split roof rear spoiler, $200


Front Motor: permanent-magnet synchronous AC, 107 hp, 124 lb-ft
Rear Motor: permanent-magnet synchronous AC, 107 hp, 124 lb-ft
Combined Power: 214 hp
Combined Torque: 248 lb-ft
Battery Pack: liquid-cooled lithium-ion, 65.6 kWh
Onboard Charger: 6.6 kW
Peak DC Fast-Charge Rate: 100 kW
Transmissions, F/R: direct-drive


Suspension, F/R: struts/multilink
Brakes, F/R: 12.9-in vented disc/12.5-in vented disc
Tires: Bridgestone Turanza EL450 Enliten
235/50R-20 100V M+S


Wheelbase: 112.2 in
Length: 184.6 in
Width: 73.2 in
Height: 65.0 in
Passenger Volume, F/R: 54/40 ft3
Cargo Volume, behind F/R: 56/26 ft3
Curb Weight: 4436 lb


60 mph: 6.0 sec
1/4-Mile: 14.6 sec @ 94 mph
100 mph: 17.2 sec
Results above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.
Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 6.1 sec
Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 2.5 sec
Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 3.7 sec
Top Speed (gov ltd): 105 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 184 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.80 g


Observed: 76 MPGe
75-mph Highway Driving: 86 MPGe
75-mph Highway Range: 160 mi


Combined/City/Highway: 102/112/92 MPGe
Range: 222 mi


Deputy Editor, Reviews and Features

Joe Lorio has been obsessed with cars since his Matchbox days, and he got his first subscription to Car and Driver at age 11. Joe started his career at Automobile Magazine under David E. Davis Jr., and his work has also appeared on websites including Amazon Autos, Autoblog, AutoTrader, Hagerty, Hemmings, KBB, and TrueCar.

Source: Reviews -


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