Electric vehicles are becoming more and more popular, and SUVs are one of the most in-demand segments. Two of the newest and most exciting electric SUV options are the Nissan Ariya and Tesla Model Y. But which one is the better buy?
In this comprehensive comparison, we‘ll look at the key stats, features, and ownership experiences of the Ariya and Model Y to help you decide which all-electric SUV best fits your needs and budget.
Overview of the Nissan Ariya and Tesla Model Y
First, let‘s get an overview of each vehicle.
2023 Nissan Ariya
The Ariya is an all-new electric crossover SUV from Nissan. It seats up to 5 passengers and is available in multiple configurations:
- Front-wheel drive with 238 horsepower and 221 lb-ft torque
- All-wheel drive with 389 horsepower and 442 lb-ft torque
Range extends up to 300 miles per charge. Pricing starts around $47,000 before incentives.
The Ariya offers a sleek, futuristic design with two 12.3” displays inside. It‘s the first Nissan built on a new EV-specific platform. Advanced driver aids like ProPilot Assist allow for hands-free highway driving.
Tesla Model Y
The Model Y is Tesla‘s electric compact SUV. It seats up to 7 passengers and is available in two versions:
- Long Range – all-wheel drive, 326 horsepower, 303 miles range. Starts around $65,000.
- Performance – all-wheel drive, 346 horsepower, 305 miles range. Starts around $69,000.
The Model Y has Tesla‘s signature minimalist, modern interior with a large center-mounted touchscreen. As a Tesla, it offers access to their vast Supercharger fast charging network. Autopilot and FSD capabilities allow for automated driving.
Performance and Powertrain
Performance-wise, the Tesla Model Y clearly has the advantage.
The base Long Range Model Y reaches 60 mph in just 4.8 seconds – much quicker than the 5.1 seconds for the quickest Ariya AWD model. The Performance version is even faster at 3.5 seconds 0-60 mph.
Tesla uses permanent magnet synchronous reluctance motors in the Model Y for better power and efficiency. The Nissan Ariya uses traditional AC synchronous electric motors.
Both SUVs offer all-wheel drive capabilities on higher trim levels. But the Model Y‘s low center of gravity gives it better handling and control around turns.
When it comes to efficiency, the Tesla also wins. The Model Y is EPA rated at 120 MPGe combined, while the Ariya gets 96 MPGe. Real-world tests confirm the Model Y‘s energy efficiency advantage.
For normal driving, either EV has plenty of power. But the Model Y offers significantly stronger performance for passing, merging, or just driving enjoyment.
Range and Charging
The Nissan Ariya and Tesla Model Y have similar maximum ranges on a full charge:
- Nissan Ariya – up to 300 miles
- Tesla Model Y Long Range – 326 miles
- Tesla Model Y Performance – 303 miles
However, Tesla holds the charging advantage thanks to its vast proprietary Supercharger network. With over 40,000 Superchargers worldwide, Tesla owners can add hundreds of miles of range in less than an hour.
The Long Range Model Y can add:
- 15 miles of range per minute of charging
- Up to 200 miles in 15 minutes
- 1,000 miles per hour of charging
The Nissan Ariya is limited to public third-party DC fast charging stations. The maximum charging rate is 130 kW, which can charge a low Ariya battery to 80% in about 40 minutes.
For road trips and regular fast charging, the Supercharger network is a major perk of Tesla ownership. You‘ll spend less time waiting at charging stops in the Model Y.
Design and Interior
The Nissan Ariya goes for a sleek, futuristic look inside and out. The Tesla Model Y has Tesla‘s characteristic minimalist style. Which design you prefer comes down to personal taste.
Inside the Ariya you‘ll find dual 12.3” displays with haptic touch buttons. The Model Y has Tesla‘s familiar 15” center touchscreen and digital gauge cluster. Both interiors look high-tech and modern.
Some key differences:
- The Ariya feels more spacious, while the Model Y is tighter for 3rd row passengers.
- Model Y offers more storage with 30.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row versus 19.8 cubic feet in the Ariya.
- Ariya offers a heads-up display directly on the windshield.
- Tesla has the better infotainment system, with access to streaming media, games, and more.
Seating 5 passengers, the cabins are roomy in both SUVs. The Ariya can be upgraded to ventilated front seats, a panoramic moonroof, and premium audio – features not available in the Model Y.
So in terms of interior luxury and design, the Nissan Ariya gets a slight edge over the more minimalist Tesla.
Autonomous Driving and Safety Features
When it comes to advanced driver assistance and self-driving capabilities, Tesla leads the industry.
All Model Ys come with standard Autopilot, which enables:
- Adaptive cruise control
- Automated lane changes
- Summon (bring the car to you)
- Autosteer on local roads
The $15,000 Full Self Driving (FSD) upgrade adds navigation on autopilot, automated lane changes on highways, smart summon, automatic driving in cities, and the ability to recognize traffic lights and stop signs.
The Ariya offers ProPilot Assist as an option. ProPilot enables hands-free driving on highways and can automatically adjust speed based on traffic and navigation routes. But it‘s not as advanced as Tesla‘s system.
Both vehicles have all the expected modern safety features like automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, etc. Tesla‘s have much lower probability of injury scores.
When it comes to self-driving capabilities, no automaker comes close to Tesla right now. The Model Y gives you access to the most advanced driver assistance on the market.
Cost and Value Comparison
With a starting price around $47,000, the Nissan Ariya offers strong value in the electric SUV segment. Even a fully loaded all-wheel drive Ariya tops out around $60,000 before tax incentives.
The Tesla Model Y is more expensive, with a starting price of $65,000 for the dual motor Long Range version. The Model Y Performance starts at $69,000.
However, Teslas tend to hold their value very well. Data shows the Model Y has the lowest 5-year depreciation rate among EVs. Meanwhile, Nissans have average or below average resale values.
Tesla also saves owners money over time by providing free over-the-air software updates that continuously improve vehicle features and functionality. Things like added range, autopilot upgrades, new games, and UI changes come via free remote updates.
Overall, while the Ariya offers great value upfront, the total 5-year cost of ownership is likely lower with the Model Y when you account for resale value retention and Tesla‘s free software additions.
Our Verdict: Tesla Model Y is the Better Electric SUV
While the all-new Nissan Ariya offers compelling range, design and pricing, the Tesla Model Y still reigns supreme in the electric SUV segment.
The Tesla is simply better where it counts most:
- Performance – faster acceleration, better handling
- Efficiency – more miles from every kW used
- Charging – expansive Supercharger network provides freedom for road trips
- Technology – industry-leading self-driving capabilities and software
Unless the Ariya‘s styling and lower upfront cost are most important, we think the Model Y is the smarter buy for most electric SUV shoppers. The Tesla offers the best ownership experience with lower total cost, more convenience, and access to leading technology.