Since the fuel crisis of the 1970s, when Nissan was still known as Datsun, Toyota and Nissan have been fierce rivals in the market in the United States. This rivalry dates back several generations. As we go into the electric age, these two automakers are competing against one another in what is quickly becoming the core of the mainstream electric vehicle market: mid-size crossovers with prices in the $40s and $50s. They are comparable enough to be cross-shopped, therefore we have grouped them together in one article. The Toyota bZ4X is marginally cheaper and comes in at a slightly smaller size than the Nissan Ariya.

Nissan Ariya

The Ariya lineup was initially introduced with only a single-motor drivetrain; however, with the recent inclusion of a dual-motor, all-wheel-drive configuration, the lineup is now in its full flower. In addition, the Nissan customer must navigate between four different trim levels for the version with two motors and five different trim levels for the version with a single motor. The beginning price of the Ariya is competitive at $44,525, but the price tag for the top-of-the-line Platinum+ e-4orce (all-wheel drive) pushes above $60,000. At this price point, the Ariya finds itself competing with vehicles from luxury brands.

The bZ4X lineup is a relatively straightforward one. There are only two tiers of fanciness available, and they are XLE and Limited. Either one can be ordered with a powertrain consisting of a single motor and front-wheel drive, or two motors and all-wheel drive. The pricing begins at an alluring $43,335 for the XLE and rises to $48,035 for the Limited; adding a dual-motor powertrain will add an additional $2,080 to either trim level.

Ariya and bZ4X Range

When designing the bZ4X, Toyota decided to go with battery packs that had a capacity of only 63.4 kWh for the single-motor version and 65.6 kWh for the dual-motor version. The battery pack that comes standard on the Ariya’s most affordable model, the Engage, is of a comparable size; however, the pack that comes standard on all other trim levels is significantly larger at 87.0 kWh. The EPA estimates that the larger battery pack gives the Ariya a range of up to 304 miles when it is equipped with the single-motor Venture+ model. When equipped with the dual-motor Platinum+ that we tested, the range was 267 miles, which is still a significant improvement over the EPA’s estimate of 222 miles for our dual-motor bZ4X Limited. The Ariya maintained its lead in C/D’s highway range test at 75 mph, recording 210 miles, while the bZ4X could only muster up 160 miles during the same test.

Comparison of the Ariya and bZ4X Performance

The combined output of the Toyota’s two motors is 214 horsepower, which is only somewhat greater than the output of the single-motor version and a long cry from the Nissan’s 389 horsepower (the entry-level all-wheel-drive Ariya makes do with 335 horsepower). The Ariya weighs in at a hefty 5087 pounds, which is substantially heavier than the bZ4X, which comes in at a relatively svelte 4436 pounds. However, the increased power provided by the Nissan more than makes up for the Ariya’s weight disadvantage.

Both the Nissan and the Toyota have a rapid acceleration off the line, reaching 30 miles per hour in 2.1 seconds and 2.2 seconds, respectively. The Ariya, with its time of 5.0 seconds when it reaches 60 mph, is a full second faster than the bZ4X, and the Nissan has a comparable advantage in the quarter-mile, with its time of 13.4 seconds when it reaches 108 mph in comparison to the Toyota’s time of 14.6 seconds when it reaches 94 mph. This is demonstrated in the Ariya’s superior performance in highway passing manoeuvres, where it can get from 50 to 70 mph in 2.4 seconds, whilst the bZ4X takes 3.7 seconds to make the same jump. At 70 miles per hour, the Nissan is only producing 64 decibels of noise when travelling, whilst the Toyota produces 66 decibels of noise within the same speed range.

In neither vehicle do you locate paddles on the steering wheel that let you to manage the lift-off regen. When driving the Ariya, shifting from Drive (D) to Neutral (B) enables regen, and pressing the e-Step button located on the centre console brings you a little bit closer to driving with only one pedal. A similar tactic is utilised by the bZ4X. Pressing a button on the control panel enables the user to select an additional degree of regen, but that is the extent of its capabilities. Because there is a lot of play in the beginning of the Ariya’s pedal travel, reducing the amount that a driver interacts with the brake pedal is very beneficial when driving this vehicle. The brake pedal on the Toyota has a more familiar and comfortable feel to it. However, the Nissan’s ability to come to a stop from 70 miles per hour in 176 feet is far better than the Toyota’s attempt, which took 184 feet.

This market does not provide much in the way of driver involvement, and none of these two vehicles comes close to matching the Ford Mustang Mach-E in terms of engagement or handling. Both offer a comfortable ride, although the Ariya may benefit from additional damping. Both also steer pretty well, with a fair sense of on-center and reasonable efforts; however, the Ariya displays far more stick on the skidpad than the bZ4X does, at 0.86 g compared to 0.80 g for the latter.

The interior design firm of Ariya and bZ4X

The interiors of the two cars couldn’t be more different from one another. The Ariya has a complete living room configuration. The cabin is spacious and has a high ceiling, and both the front and the back floors are level. It’s an interesting feature, but the centre console can move either forward or backward, giving you control over how much space is available in front of the seats. These chairs are at chair height, and with their high seatbacks and substantial headrests, they are reminiscent of the plush lounge seats found in a luxury movie theatre. Padding on the dashboard and door panels of the Platinum+ model is upholstered to look like suede, and nappa leather is used for the seating surfaces. The fact that the door armrests are so much lower than the centre armrest is the only thing that detracts from the overall level of comfort.

The inside of the Toyota is designed more like a cockpit, with a large centre console that ramps up to meet the dash (there is open storage underneath). The majority of the materials here are variants on black plastic, which is a step down in quality from the Ariya. However, the driver of the Toyota has a somewhat improved field of vision thanks to the vehicle’s thin pillars and low cowl. Because the screen for the instruments in the bZ4X is placed at an unusually forward position towards the base of the windscreen, the driver must look over the steering wheel in order to see it. If you are not comfortable driving with the wheel positioned low, you may discover that the rim of the wheel blocks your view of the instruments. Inexplicably for an EV, the readout on the display only shows a bar graph rather than the percentage of charge that the battery currently possesses.

Neither automobile wins any awards for its user-friendliness in terms of its switchgear. Unfortunately, Nissan installed haptic-touch buttons on the dashboard and the console, which means that nothing can be handled by feel. Furthermore, the driver attention monitor is quick to reprimand drivers whose eyes are taken from the road. Give Nissan credit for at least maintaining a volume knob; Toyota, on the other hand, replaces it with plus and minus buttons (who thought this was a good idea? ), but it still maintains some physical buttons on the centre stack.

The fact that the infotainment display of the Nissan, which is 12.3 inches in size, can be split into three places to display several tasks on the home page is a positive, but some of the reactions are sluggish. The infotainment system in the Toyota is not any simpler to operate than the one in the Honda, but the display, which is likewise 12.3 inches, looks noticeably sharper. Phone mirroring and charging are both wireless options for each of the vehicles.

Ariya vs. bZ4X Conclusion

Nissan emerges victorious in this matchup because to a superior combination of power, range, and interior quality. The problem is that it’s going to cost you quite a bit more money. The price tag of $62,770 that was placed on our Platinum+ test vehicle seems excessive to us, but the Engage+ and Evolve+ e-Force versions both offer the exact same mechanical package for $52,525 and $55,525, respectively. However, those prices would still be more than those of the bZ4X, which begins at $45,415 for the all-wheel-drive model and reaches $52,439 for the Limited trim level that we tested, but we believe that the additional money is well spent.