Toyota bZ4X vs Nissan Ariya: Which Electric Crossover is Right for You?

The Toyota bZ4X and Nissan Ariya represent the first volleys from two major automakers aiming at the bullseye of America’s booming electric vehicle market. As the Japanese brands’ inaugural mass-market EVs, restless designers were given free rein to shape distinctive vehicles unburdened by ties to legacy powerplants.

Both of these futuristic electric SUVs promise silent, eco-friendly transport packing the latest technology features. But beyond the next-gen styling and underlying EV mechanical commonalities lie key differences that distinguish each model’s appeal and performance. Let’s compare these two compelling new choices across the areas buyers care about most when shopping in the red-hot EV crossover segment.

Powertrains – Efficiency vs Performance

Toyota prides itself on efficient drivetrains, so the bZ4X was optimized for range through prudent power rather than pulse-racing speed. Its modest 201HP permanent magnet front motor meets urban commuting needs but won’t overwhelm drivers. Adding a 80HP rear induction motor in AWD models boosts output to just 214HP total.

Conversely, Nissan configures Ariya models for exhilarating performance courtesy of up to 389 ponies on tap. The range-topping 87kWh Performance trim channels maximum power and 443 lb-ft torque to all four wheels via dual motors. Even the 87kWh Advance route serves up 335HP for potent acceleration. Both routes eclipse the bZ4X handily.

Toyota bZ4XNissan Ariya
Battery Size71.4 kWh87 kWh (Perf.) / 63 kWh (Adv.)
Power Output201HP (FWD) / 214HP (AWD)389HP (Perf. AWD) / 335HP (Adv. AWD)
0-60 MPH Time7.0 seconds (est)4.8 seconds (Perf) / 6.0 sec (Adv)
Top Speed100 mph (limited)124 mph (Perf) / 111 mph (Adv)

Nissan’s zippier power comes from focusing development on performance-oriented customers rather than just efficiency, according to vehicle engineer Yasushi Nakamuta. Category-leading acceleration and pent-up demand for an electrified SUV prompted the approach.

Driving Range & Charging Speeds

But does the Ariya’s extra oomph come at the cost of driving distance between plug-ins? Thankfully not, as Nissan managed to squash two segment-stretching range ratings from its hefty liquid-cooled lithium batteries while still enabling heady power output.

Even in peak Performace garb, the Ariya PHEV travels up to 285 miles per charge – while the Advance route extends reach up to 300 miles courtesy of less energy-intensive components. For comparison, the bZ4X caps out at 252 miles range.

Digging deeper into charging capabilities reveals further Ariya advantages. Its 800V electrical architecture and compatible DC fast charging network enables juicing back up to 80% battery capacity in just over 30 minutes. Toyota hasn’t revealed specific bZ4X charging details but notes substantially longer times.

Dimensional Footprints – Passenger and Cargo Considerations

The bZ4X and Ariya straddle the line between compact and midsize crossover categories, with the Nissan sporting racier tapering lines but the Toyota delivering more usable interior space in nearly the same outward footprint.

Up front, both EV SUVs provide ample head and legroom for taller drivers thanks to flat cabin floors. But the Ariya’s plunging coupe-like roofline does cut into rear passenger headspace and perceptions of openness. The boxy bZ4X conversely maintains excellent rear head clearance alongside generous legroom.

Cargo hauling flexibility and capacity similarly favor the intelligently-packaged bZ4X:

Toyota bZ4X Cargo SpaceNissan Ariya Cargo Space
Behind Rear Seat28 cubic feet16 cubic feet
Rear Seats Folded71 cubic feet56 cubic feet

So families or outdoor adventurers needing to swallow bulkier items and passenger loads should appreciate the bZ4X’s thoughtful utilization of its footprint. Just beware its lower 6.3 inch ground clearance compared to the Ariya’s 7.0 inches.

Exterior Styling – Function or Flair

Contrasting design themes reflect the mechanical differences under the sheetmetal. The Ariya follows a slinkier profile with coupe inspiration, while the bZ4X adopts a conservative upright shape and angular details.

Sweeping character lines, a tapered rear roof pillar, and standard 20-inch wheels key the Ariya’s racy form. Toyota pennned the bZ4X as a futuristic RAV4, with more prominent fender flares sheltering available 20-inch alloys. Full-width light bars front and rear provide visual distinction.

Ultimately styling preferences will steer your choice more here – both look appropriately modern and incorporated slick aerodynamic aids like active grille shutters and underbody covers to cheat the wind. Just expect the Ariya to draw more wanderful glances.

Cabin Treatments – Simplicity vs Decadence

Inside as well, Nissan injects more flair through the Ariya’s finessed cabin treatments and tech-forward cockpit. Sweeping dash structures house haptic touch switches and a minimalist design theme. Quilted leather seats add upscale accenting for a lounge-like environment. Ambient interior lighting provides the final touch of class.

In familiar fashion, Toyota opts for sensibly-finished surfaces and functional switchgear over daring aesthetics. Grained soft-touch dash pieces pair with cloth seats even on Limited models. The 12.3-inch touchscreen looks suitably modern but the bZ4X won’t wow passengers with posh appointments.

Both EVs provide excellent outward visibility thanks to slim pillars and surround camera systems. Toyota gets bonus points for standard heated front seats and steering wheel (part of a $2,120 cold weather package on Ariya models) to ease winter morning wake-ups.

Advanced Technology Suites

As the tip of Toyota and Nissan‘s technological spears, the bZ4X and Ariya come fully equipped with the latest infotainment, connectivity and driver assistance technology. Wide touchscreens with natural voice recognition and wireless smartphone integration enable easy access and control of navigation, audio and vehicle settings.

You‘ll also find suites of active safety systems like automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning, lane keeping assist and rear cross traffic alert standard across trim lines. Some advanced options like automated parking assistants and highway pilot mode hint at the autonomous future.

Dig into the features list and slight Equipment packaging differences emerge:

|| Toyota bZ4X Tech | Nissan Ariya Tech |
| Infotainment Screen | 12.3-inches | 12.3-inches w/ heads-up display option |
| Premium Audio | 8-speaker JBL | 10-speaker Bose w/ headrest speakers |
| Smartphone Integration | Wireless Apple Carplay/Android Auto | Wireless Apple Carplay/Android Auto + wireless phone charging |
| WiFi & Connected Services | WiFi hotspot capable | Complimentary 3GB WiFi data plan |

But essentially both deliver satisfying tech and connectivity experiences, particularly compared against non-EV competitors still reliant on internal combustion engines. Toyota offers the edge in audio quality while Nissan provides more connectivity courtesy features.

Safety Technology and Ratings Analysis

While official crash testing data isn‘t complete yet, I expect both electric SUVs will achieve high safety marks and Top Safety Pick designations based on their standard equipment alone. Key protection items like airbags, stability control and steel safety cages provide fundamental barriers.

Their modern EV platforms also intrinsically improve collision performance, as floor-mounted battery packs strengthen structures while lowering centers of gravity to resist roll. Judging by early Nissan Leaf and current Toyota RAV4 results, both automakers take safety seriously as well through rigorous testing procedures.

Indeed, Toyota and Nissan targeted world-class collision protection efforts during bZ4X and Ariya development cycles according to executives. Extensive computer simulations of high speed, low speed, rollover and offset barrier impacts aimed to optimize energy absorption and minimize cabin intrusion. Sophisticated side impact countermeasures and pedestrian safety mechanisms provide additional confidence.

While we await verifying evidence from National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) testing, buyers can expect first-rate protection from either model based on the brands’ safety commitments.

Cost Comparisons: TCO Analysis Beyond Stickers

On upfront sticker prices alone, the Ariya commands only a small premium over its Toyota rival at each end of the lineup spectrum:

|| Toyota bZ4X | Nissan Ariya|
|Base FWD Model | $42,000 | $43,190 |
|Top AWD Model | $46,700 | $48,950 |

However, buyers eligible for the full $7,500 federal tax credit and potential state incentives effectively narrow the gap further. And cost conscious shoppers who aren’t swayed by badge cachet will note Toyota’s strong resale values that could offset higher depreciation expected on the splashier Ariya.

Factoring in ownership costs beyond MSRP reveals:

|| Toyota bZ4X | Nissan Ariya |
|5-Year Total Cost of Ownership Estimate | $52,500 | $56,700 |
|Cost per Mile of Range | $208 | $189 |

So while Nissan touts more sizzle through the Ariya lineup, balance sheet buyers can take solace in Toyota’s proven reliability reputation and higher expected resale value. The extra range provided by Ariya’s larger battery pack does help offset its price premium over 5 years of operation compared to the bZ4X however.

Either way, both Japanese automakers deliver sensible EV options spanning needs from eco-conscious commuting to sporty road tripping at reasonable prices compared against Tesla and luxury European opponents.

The Right Electric SUV Choice Depends on You

For buyers wanting a comfortable, well-equipped electric SUV without showy pretensions, Toyota’s bZ4X makes a practical choice focused on passenger space, operational range and owner value. Families needing flexibility or outdoor adventurers prioritizing cargo capacity will appreciate its ingenious packaging too.

But shoppers desiring exhilarating performance alongside avant-garde styling will find driving nirvana in the Ariya. Nissan imbues its electrified crossover with pulse-racing power worthy of a sport sedan, cloaked in a swoopier skin projecting more prestige as well. Just prepare to shell out a bit more upfront and long-term over the bZ4X.

Either way drivers transitioning from internal combustion engines can rest easy knowing Toyota and Nissan have each baked the latest safety, technology and road-focused refinements into both these electric models. The biggest decision comes down to whether straight line kicks or interior practicality holds priority in your electrified vehicle shopping checklist. Let your preferences guide you – there’s no wrong answer between the impressively executed bZ4X and Ariya.

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