2024 Nissan Ariya Road Trip: The European Staycation

Kyle Patrick
by Kyle Patrick

Cambridge to Paris: done in a single day and, in the 2024 Nissan Ariya, a single charge.

For those who are now rushing to Google Maps: it's probably doable by taking the most direct route, at least for the most well-known versions of those two cities. From the university town in England to France's capital is 327 miles (526 kilometers); the longest-range Ariya currently on sale in America is quoted at 304 miles, while Canada's long-distance option is 465 km. Discounting the Chunnel train, and with some careful driving, the Ariya should pull it off.

Except we also visited Hamburg, Lisbon, Stratford, London, Sparta, Copenhagen, and Vienna between, in that order. Google calls that 9,229 miles (14,853 km) and nearly a week straight of driving. What the?!

To give journalists a fun way to get to know the 2024 Ariya, Nissan Canada arranged a cheeky European Tour right in its own backyard. Southern Ontario plays host to Canuck versions of every one of those towns, giving us a 300-ish kilometer-long chance to revisit one of the segment's more unique offerings.

What's new for 2024?

Not a whole lot. The Ariya touched down last year with a bunch of (frankly confusing) trim names, split between front- and all-wheel drive (e-4ORCE in Nissan-speak) models. Unlike most competitors, Nissan also offered two battery capacity options alongside the drivetrain configurations, allowing buyers to mix-n-match for their needs.

For its sophomore model year, that's still the case in both America and Canada, but now with useful price reductions. The latter's trim lineup is much simpler this year however: Engage and Evolve pair the 63.0-kilowatt-hour (usable) battery pack with front- and all-wheel drive, respectively. The Evolve+ trim with the 87.0-kWh pack is available in either single- or dual-motor setups. We're in the latter, which gifts the Ariya with a very stout 389 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque. Those are some of the highest outputs in the segment.

Powertrain and efficiency: the Ariya giveth...

It's not like we're going to be drag racing all over Southern Ontario, mind you. Nissan starts the day by letting us know there are prizes for the best efficiency. My driving partner and I can't resist the lure of competition, so beyond two full-power highway merges, we stick to a gentle cruise. It's more in keeping with a tourist approach anyway, is how we rationalize it.

The Ariya has one of the smoothest electric setups in the segment. It's not forceful or abrupt: it simply pushes forward like a large, gentle wave. Keeping speeds steady on our Eur-faux-pean trip is simple, and key to get that efficiency figure down. Helping on that front is the regenerative braking, which has various levels to suit. What the Ariya doesn't have is a proper one-pedal drive mode, which is still surprising considering Nissan introduced it in the second-generation Leaf years ago.

By lunch—in London, back in Blighty!—we're mid-pack. The next leg takes us first through Sparta, an old town by Canadian standards (founded in 1813) but not a patch on the city-state in ancient Greece founded almost 3,000 years ago from which it borrows its name. Soon after we're through Copenhagen, a tiny community of around 300, before a pit-stop in Vienna at the Edison Museum. It isn't open for the season yet—it now is, at the time of publishing—but it's an appropriate place to stop in an EV. The Ariya will gulp down electrons at a fast charger running the direct current (DC) Edison championed, enough to top up the battery in around half an hour, though we won't be doing that here.

The final leg is mostly back-country roads, giving us a first-rate look at Spring in bloom. Without going to extremes, we continually whittle down the efficiency rating. As we pull into our final stop at the Dog-Eared Cafe in Paris, Ontario's pretty downtown, we hit 15.5 kWh per 100 km. That's a hair over 4 miles per kWh, and enough to top the rankings for the afternoon. It's not enough to get us the crown for the day, however.

Handling and drivability: Isolation chamber

The Ariya's laidback approach extends to its handling and ride. The steering is very light yet consistent, lending it a no-fuss feel across the largely grid-like roads of Southern Ontario. It's a relatively light vehicle for an EV this size, yet the Ariya feels dense in its deliberate, measured responses. This isn't a sporty vehicle and that's fine: everything else in the segment tries for that anyway. Good on Nissan for taking a different approach.

An early-adventure stop in Stratford gives us the chance to get teas. We try for coffee first, at a small local shop where an employee seems hell-bent on not actually selling the main attraction. That's fine: a nice Earl Grey is more appropriate.

Ride quality and comfort: big softie

Whereas the ride felt busy when I initially tested the e-4ORCE a year ago around Napa Valley, this Ariya is right at home on the rough tarmac and occasional dirt roads. Bumps disappear under the all-electric Nissan, and road noise is kept to a minimum. It's the sort of classy, isolating ride that seems better suited to a vehicle wearing an Infiniti badge if I'm honest.

Nissan's NASA-inspired seats are super supportive, with zero aches over a full day of driving. I appreciate the big glass roof for the added natural light it adds, though those in warmer climes may be less enthusiastic.

Interior style and quality: Serene space

Full disclosure: I've been a fan of the Ariya's cabin since I first laid eyes on it years ago. I love the pared-back minimalism and little touches of Japanese culture, like the Kumiko pattern that adorns the grille and ambient lighting. For the latter, it's all indirect for a softer glow, unlike the discotheque harshness of say, Mercedes. The suede-like material all along the dashboard begs to be touched, and the wood along the lower edge and center console wouldn't look out of place in a luxury car. Nissan's giving folks a taste of BMW iX for half the cost.

Over the course of a day, some of the quirks proved less appealing. The power-sliding center console is gimmicky, and never quite aligns with where you want it most. Similarly, the power-operated cubby below the touchscreen is worse in every way than a simple latch-based closure. Popping something in after parking? You'll have to watch the drawer power out, then watch it slowly retract, before powering the Ariya off.

To be consistent, I should dislike the haptic controls etched into the wood. I think they're very pretty, but yes, actual buttons—ones I can reliably use without pulling my attention away from the road—are better. The infotainment screen is fine, but the new Google-based setup in the '24 Rogue already has it looking dated.

Final thoughts: 2024 Nissan Ariya

The 2024 Nissan Ariya continues to march to the beat of its own drum. A distinctly softer personality than many of its EV brethren, the Ariya feels tailor-made for a cruise across the Old World continent. And if you can't make that happen? Southern Ontario offers up a much quicker tour.

Become an AutoGuide insider. Get the latest from the automotive world first by subscribing to our newsletter here.

Kyle Patrick
Kyle Patrick

Kyle began his automotive obsession before he even started school, courtesy of a remote control Porsche and various LEGO sets. He later studied advertising and graphic design at Humber College, which led him to writing about cars (both real and digital). He is now a proud member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), where he was the Journalist of the Year runner-up for 2021.

More by Kyle Patrick

Join the conversation