toyota bz4x review
Automotive,  EV Vehicles

Toyota bZ4x 2023 Review – Toyota is Making a New Powerful Electric Vehicle

The Toyota bZ4X. I guess naming a car is hard work, almost as hard as picking a name for a baby. Still, someone at Toyota eventually got frustrated when naming their first electric SUV and just slammed their keyboard and typed bZ4X. They then sat back and thought. That’s the name. And apparently, everyone else at Toyota was like, yeah, okay, we agree. That sounds good. And why did no one stand up at that meeting and say are you guys seriously considering calling this the bZ4X? Obviously, that didn’t happen, and now we’re here.

So yeah, this is the bZ4X. And if you’re wondering what that name stands for, by stands for beyond Zero, four stands for the size of the vehicle because this is similar to the RAV4 in size and X stands for SUV because that’s how the rest of the automotive industry does it. Not that we’ve got that out of the way. Let’s talk about this oddly named electric SUV.

This is Toyota’s first dedicated electric vehicle. Yes, Toyota is pretty late to the electric game, but better late than never, I guess. Honestly, I am surprised that it took them this long, but here’s an interesting story for all of you. Back when Tesla was looking for its first factory to make the first allocation of the Tesla Model S, they purchased a GM Toyota plant in Fremont, California.

Elon Musk got the plant, which was 10 times bigger than what Tesla needed, at a bargain price after meeting with Toyota’s president, Akio Toyoda. At the time, Akio promised Elon that Toyota would be making a sizeable investment in Tesla, which they did. And then I’m pretty sure you know how the story goes.

Tesla then went on to take over the world and became the leader in electric cars, while Toyota stuck to making Prius and other hybrids. But eventually, Toyota formed its own unit to make electric vehicles in 2016. Well, it’s now 2022, and here we are. So how is Toyota’s first electric vehicle? Let’s find out. But first, let me give you a tour of this vehicle that’s named like Elon would name his child. We’ll take a look at the outside. We’ll take a look at the inside. We’ll talk about the whole electric car part of it.

BZ4X Specification

So let’s kick it off by talking about the most important bits, the power, the range you get on a full charge and the charging times. The bZ4X, I still can’t get over that name, is going to be available as a front-wheel-drive model or an all-wheel-drive model. The front-wheel-drive gets one motor making 201 horsepower and 196 lb-ft of torque. Now, unlike other EVs where the all-wheel-drive model is significantly more powerful, the all-wheel-drive bZ4X isn’t too far off, making 214 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque.

And I’m guessing the reason behind not making the all-wheel-drive more powerful is so it doesn’t step on the toes of the Lexus RZ450e. Keep in mind, though, that this Toyota electric vehicle with a bunch of letters is Subaru’s sibling. The Solterra will only be available with the all-wheel-drive since, you know, Subarus are known to come standard with all-wheel drive.

As for 0 to 60, there isn’t a huge difference between the front wheel and the all-wheel drive. The front wheel will do it in seven seconds, while the all-wheel-drive will do it in 6.6, 6.7 seconds. And that makes the bZ4X slower than the rivals like the Hyundai IONIQ 5, the Kia EV6, and even the Volkswagen ID.4.

All right, so let’s talk about the range, the most important part. On a full charge, the bZ4X XLE front-wheel drive will get a total of 252 miles. At the same time, the XLE all-wheel-drive will get 228 miles. If you end up getting a little fancier with the Limited trim, your range will drop, but only slightly. The front-wheel-drive Limited gets 242 miles on a full charge. At the same time, the all-wheel-drive Limited gets 222 miles. Either way, those are not super out-of-the-park figures, but they aren’t too far off from other EVs, like the Volkswagen ID.4 or the Hyundai IONIQ 5 and the Kia EV6.

All right, so let’s talk about how long it’ll take to charge this thing. Using a standard 6.6-kilowatt charger that comes with the bZ4X and charging at level two will take between nine to 10 hours to go from 0 to 100%. Toyota says that a faster 11-kilowatt charger will be an option by the end of this year. Now, if you’re out and about, the ZB four X will, bZ4X will allow you to charge at 150 kilowatts and going from 10 to 80% should take you around 30 to 45 minutes. Again, it is not as quick to charge as the IONIQ 5 and the EV6.

Toyota BZ4X Motor

Toyota bZ4X Interior

Let’s take a seat inside this thing and it’s actually pretty comfortable but a pretty simple place to be. I wish Toyota got a little fancy with the interior as they did on the Sequoia and the Tundra because the competition is really heating things up with the interiors of their electric vehicles.

The bZ4X feels pretty much the same old simple Toyota. Honestly, besides the 12.3-inch touchscreen display with the new infotainment system, it’s pretty much as simple as it gets in here. You have a somewhat digital gauge cluster display. Nothing too fancy here. By the way, I don’t know if I’m missing something, but I haven’t been able to find the battery percentage readout.

You just see how many miles you have left, which is refreshing since the percentage decrease usually gets me all stressed out. Now, one thing that I thought was a bit strange was when you adjusted the steering. The whole column moves up and down instead of just the steering. And when you set the steering position a little higher, you kind of end up covering the gauge cluster. I don’t know why Toyota went this route, but once you find the right position for you, you can see the gauge cluster, but not all of it.

The other strange thing that I’ve found here is that you don’t have a glove box. Toyota wanted to create more leg room for the front passenger, so they thought you don’t need a glove box here. That said, I do like the fact that, unlike most EVs, you have some physical buttons. Right here, under the giant screen, you have your climate control with physical controls. Below that, you have access to your drive modes on the centre console. And this icon right here will activate your one pedal drive.

And, of course, since real shifters are starting to die, you have this circular knob-styled gear selector. And then check this out. You have a cap for your wireless charging tray. I dunno why that is, but it’s see-through, and it has a cool little design, but yeah, you have a cap for your wireless charging tray. Other than that, quality-wise, it’s pretty entry-level Toyota. Everything is well put together here, but it’s not the highest quality feel. The dash on the XLE that I’m testing here is wrapped in fabric. And I’m curious to see how that holds up over the course of a few years.

As for a second-row leg room in the bZ4X, you’re working with a total of 35.3 inches back here. I’m about six feet tall. That’s my seating position. As you can see, I still have plenty of room. It is actually surprisingly comfortable back here. Considering these seats don’t feel that very well cushioned or very plush. It is still pretty comfortable back here. Let’s check out the cargo capacity. The XLE does not get a powered tailgate. The Limited does. So to pop the trunk, you just pull this button right here under the Toyota logo, and once you get it open, you have 27.7 cubic feet behind the second row. And with this second row folded, you have 57 cubic feet.

Interior

Exterior Design

Let’s take a look at the exterior design of the bZ4X, that name, man. It’s really gotta go. If Subaru can come up with the name for theirs, Toyota, I think you can too. That said, I don’t think the overall exterior design of this is bad at all. It’s one of the more stylish Toyota CUVs, SUVs or whatever you want to call it.

Size-wise, this is pretty close to the RAV4. It’s a little bit longer than the RAV4 and a little bit shorter than the Mustang Mach-E. You’ve got a solid mixture of cuts and sharp character lines. The front end here looks pretty sleek. You have this body-coloured eyelid right here above the headlamps.

The rear end looks pretty solid. The only thing is this two-tone colour combo. I’m unsure how I feel about this, but it’s different. And you can’t get rid of it either. The only way to get a bZ4X that doesn’t have that blacked-out panel is to go for an all-black one. Otherwise, every other colour comes with that black panel.

Feature and usability

Everything is standard since there isn’t much going on in here since this is a pretty simple EV. On the outside, the XLE comes standard with LED headlamps, while the Limited comes with multi-LED headlamps. Both get LED daytime running lights, and both get LED taillights. The XLE gets standard 18-inch wheels while the Limited gets 20-inch wheels. They both get a power tailgate, but the Limited gets the whole kick to open the tailgate.

And all bZ4X trims across the lineup get a panoramic glass roof that doesn’t open. It’s just fixed. Hop inside and get fabric trim seats on the XLE and SofTex trim seats on the Limited. To get heated front seats and a heated steering wheel on the XLE, you’ll have to add on the weather package for $500. The Limited gets heated and ventilated front seats and a heated steering wheel, all as standard.

And the Limited also gets heated rear seats as an option. All bZ4X trims get dual-zone climate control as standard. Now, in terms of tech, all models of the bZ4X come standard with a 12.3-inch touchscreen display. It has wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto. However, navigation is optional.

A wireless charger is a standard across the lineup. And if you want a nine-speaker JBL sound system, you’ll have to go for the Limited. And even then, it’s optional on the Limited. Safety and driver assist tech-wise. Everything is standard across the lineup. You get adaptive cruise control, Lane Keep Assist, blind-spot monitoring, roadside recognition, and a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection. And as for the camera game, the XLE only comes with the rear view camera while the Limited gets the full bird’s eye view camera.

Now, before I give you my opinion on how it is to drive the bZ4X, let me put a few important daily usability features that I’ll love to show all of you. You have four cup holders, two in the front right there. You’ve got some bottle holders, but they don’t count as cup holders. And then you have two in the back in the centre armrest and what looks like a place to put your pens and stuff. Here are what the keys look like to the bZ4X.

Nothing too exciting. The Limited trim does get the digital key. So if you want that credit card key, go for the Limited. The door opens and closes sound from the outside. And from the inside. (car door thuds) Pretty Toyota-ish. Charging game-wise, you’re working with a USB-A port and a wireless charger right here, which is standard on every trim.

Front passengers also get two USB-C ports right here. Pretty cool. And then rear passengers also get two USB-C ports. Good for them. It is now time for an indicator and horn sound test. This time with the Toyota bZ4X. Indicator first. Same old Toyota indicator. Now for the horn sound, lower the window a little bit. I don’t know what I’m expecting here. I haven’t honked it yet, so let’s take a listen. (car horn beeps) Oh yeah. That’s pretty Toyota Corolla-ish. Nothing that exciting.

Test Drive

So how does the bZ4X drive? It drives like a pretty basic SUV. There’s nothing too exciting about it. Let me just hit the accelerator while I’m going 54. That was a little fun, but there’s no big jolt that comes and knocks you back into your seat. It’s comfortable. It’s pretty well balanced. The chassis feels very cooperative when you’re going over bumps and imperfections on the road. Let’s just say it’s as exciting to drive as the RAV4, but it is definitely much smoother.

So if you’re looking for a RAV4 that’s quieter, smoother, and has a little bit of a kick to it, you might want to get this. Of course, electric cars deliver power in a very smooth and seamless manner. So bringing this kind of power delivery to a Toyota SUV is something that feels really nice.

Final Thoughts

Like other Toyota SUVs, it’s not more exciting to drive than the competition. Toyota’s compact SUVs are slightly more reserved and more concerned with safety, ride quality and quality. You have to understand that the bZ4X and the Subaru Solterra are from two brands that don’t particularly sport. When Toyota and Subaru have time to do anything sporty, they team up with other brands and create things like the Toyota Supra or even team up with each other and create the BRZ and the 86.

I think the Hyundai IONIQ 5 and the Kia EV6 have slightly more fun driving dynamics than the Solterra and the bZ4X. You also have the Mustang Mach-E and the Volkswagen ID.4. Again, both feel slightly more exciting to drive than this. But I will say that this is a bit more comfortable than the competition. Yes, it might not be as exciting, but it feels very well balanced as a daily driver.

The suspension feels very comfortable, and the power delivery feels a little bit more calibrated, but it could be that it’s just slower than the competition. It doesn’t have much excitement to give you. That said, if you’re looking for a simple EV with good quality to get you from point A to point B, this might not be a bad option, but if you’re looking for a little bit more excitement, a flashier interior, you might want to check out the IONIQ 5 and the EV6.

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