Announcing its arrival in 2023, Toyota bZ4X may not have all the latest tech charm as its competitors, but it is efficient, well-appointed, and convenient. The bZ4X stands out as an all-electric SUV, offering over 250 miles of range in some variants, seating for five, optional all-wheel drive, and suitable ground clearance for light off-road adventures. Alternatives include Volkswagen ID.4, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6, Tesla Model Y, and Ford Mustang Mach-E, along with the closely related Subaru Solterra.
Externally, the bZ4X may resemble a Prius crossover with an abundance of Subaru Wilderness cladding, though some may appreciate the modern Prius-style interior. The bZ4X is unique and generally appealing. The exception is the front end, particularly the sharp leading edge of the hoodline and the slender, stylish headlights. Two large sections of glossy black cladding flow from the headlamps and enclose the wheel wells, with a considerably larger cladding around the front wheels than the rear wheels, resulting in an unusual sense of proportion, as if the front wheels are larger than the rear ones. It would be preferable to see this design without the cladding.
The bZ4X is adequately quick and sacrifices some precision for a comfortable ride and off-road capabilities. In essence, the bZ4X does not display all the performance theatrics flaunted by the newest electric crossovers. Borrowed from Subaru, the dedicated off-road mode, known as X-Mode, provides plenty of authentic outdoor credibility, a rarity in this class. The bZ4X comfortably traverses pavements and slippery surfaces while preserving its gentle handling and good ride quality, aligning with its mission.
There are two different configurations for the bZ4X: a single-motor, front-wheel-drive version producing 201 hp and 196 lb-ft, and a dual-motor, all-wheel-drive version producing 214 hp and 248 lb-ft. The single-motor version is equipped with a 71.4-kwh pack filled with Panasonic cells, while the dual-motor version utilizes a 72.8-kwh pack integrating CATL cells. Ironically, the front-drive version is equipped with what Toyota considers the superior pack, allowing for faster charging.
Weighing up to 4,464 lb, the AWD bZ4X is approximately 800 lb heavier than the gasoline RAV4 crossover. This might not be noticeable due to the powerful motor system providing a silent push and the low-mounted battery pack delivering an almost agile feel. Despite being built on a dedicated EV platform, the bZ4X mimics the layout of other compact sedans and crossovers, featuring a four-wheel independent suspension, front struts, four-wheel disc brakes, and electric power steering. The steering is accurate, though the 40.0-foot turning circle is larger than other compact vehicles. The ride is on the softer side, and the handling is tuned to be easy and predictable, rather than overtly sporty.
Strikingly, the bZ4X does not include a Sport mode. It offers Eco and Normal modes, along with a regenerative boost mode that provides a driving experience similar to one-pedal driving found in other EVs; however, you will need to apply the brakes in the final few feet. The Hold button deactivates the idle creep when lifting off the brake pedal, keeping the vehicle stationary until the accelerator is pressed again.
While the bZ4X may not charge at the same speed as other rival models (only 100 kw for AWD versions), its well-coordinated brake regeneration, comfortable ride, and overall refinement make up for it. The bZ4X is one of the few electric crossovers suitable for off-road driving. With an EPA-rated 119 MPGe, it trails only the Tesla Model Y in electric crossover efficiency on pavements.
The dual-motor all-wheel-drive versions of the bZ4X emphasize a different approach compared to some other models in this competitive segment, prioritizing enhanced performance over additional traction. Subaru’s X-Mode is included in all-wheel-drive versions of the bZ4X, allowing for a different torque distribution and a tad more wheel spin when required for snow, dirt, or mud. In single-motor front-wheel-drive form, the bZ4X can accelerate to 60 mph in a Toyota-official time of 7.1 seconds, while the dual-motor version achieves it in 6.5 seconds. It may not be as speedy as other electric vehicles, but it is faster and quieter than rival gas models.
The bZ4X is the most efficient SUV with a dedicated off-road mode. The 2023 Toyota bZ4X can cover a range of up to 252 miles, making it one of the most efficient options among the latest electric SUVs. Toyota anticipates a combined 119 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) for the front-wheel-drive XLE, or 114 MPGe for the heavier Limited. Dual-motor all-wheel-drive versions achieve 104 and 102 MPGe in XLE and Limited trims, respectively. In terms of range, this translates to an estimated 252 or 242 miles in front-wheel-drive form (XLE and Limited, respectively), or 228 or 222 miles for the AWD versions of those two.
There is a battery discrepancy between the two models. Front-wheel-drive bZ4X versions are equipped with a 71.4-kwh battery pack, while AWD models are rated at 72.8 kwh. The former can fast-charge at up to 150 kw, whereas the latter charges at up to 100 kw. Toyota refrains from disclosing 10%-to-80% times, as done by other brands, but asserts that approximately 90 miles of range can be regained in about 30 minutes. Regardless, its 6.6-kw onboard charging hardware facilitates recharging the bZ4X from zero to full using a Level 2 (240-volt) home charger in about 9 hours.
The bZ4X introduces state-of-the-art safety hardware and features. The 2023 Toyota bZ4X is constructed on a new “e” iteration of the Toyota TNGA platform, shared with the Subaru Solterra and the upcoming Lexus RZ 450e. The IIHS has commenced crash testing, but as of now, only partial testing has been completed, and it has not yet received a Top Safety Pick rating, which is anticipated in the future. The NHTSA has not conducted a crash test on the bZ4X yet.
The bZ4X is the first model to unveil the company’s Toyota Safety System (TSS) 3.0, which encompasses a wider detection range integrated with a new camera system to enhance lane recognition and cyclist detection within its pre-collision functions. Automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and blind-spot monitors are all standard, as well as a new feature that alerts occupants exiting the vehicle of approaching vehicles from behind. Limited versions of the bZ4X also include a surround-view camera system with a bird’s-eye view.
Internally, the Toyota bZ4X boasts a cockpit layout with a sculpted, futuristic twist. Naturally asymmetrical, with an instrument screen pushed forward to the base of the windshield, the interior is akin to a high-tech, sleek version of the Prius, which aligns with its design objective. Up close, the profusion of physical buttons is not off-putting, though there is an excess of glossy piano black and smeary surfaces.
The front-seat layout of the bZ4X raises some doubts. While the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Volkswagen ID.4 favor an open, spacious layout, the bZ4X feels somewhat restrictive in front due to the center-console arrangement. Although it offers some storage below and positions some controls within easy reach, it fails to showcase some of the best flexibility of EVs.
Once past the initial reservations, things improve. The front seats of the bZ4X are quite accommodating for taller drivers, as even this 6-foot-6 editor fit comfortably in the backseat, with the front seat still adjusted nearly all the way back. There is 42.1 inches of front legroom, 35.3 inches of rear legroom, and 27.2 cubic feet of cargo space. While there is no frunk, a practical two-tiered cargo area largely compensates for that, along with a flat-folding rear seatback.
The recessed placement of the 7.0-inch instrument display makes it challenging to position the steering wheel without obstructing the display. Another peculiar layout decision is Toyota’s renewed design of the shifter, opting for a twist-and-press mechanism.
event that requires some adaptation and presents no physical or practical benefit. The strength of the bZ4X lies in its comfortable and quiet cabin, displaying minimal (similar to Lexus) levels of wind noise and road noise at 75 mph.
The bZ4X’s range of features is not dazzling, but there are no major omissions in its cabin technology. While the technology in the Toyota bZ4X is not user-friendly, a comprehensive list of connectivity options, connected services, and cabin amenities gives this model added points for value and technology. Although it’s not lacking any major features, there is not much space to incorporate additional options and add-ons.
All variants of the 2023 bZ4X come with a 7.0-inch multi-information display located well ahead of the driver, coupled with a sleek 12.3-inch touchscreen in the center of the dashboard. Although the menu system of the touchscreen is not particularly straightforward, it is compatible with wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa. The bZ4X also caters to your phone needs with a fantastic small storage compartment in the console that includes wireless charging. There’s one larger USB-A port in the center console, as well as four other USB-C ports.
The base XLE in front-wheel-drive configuration is priced at $43,215 before any incentives. To get front heated seats and a heated steering wheel, we would opt for the $500 Weather Package. Here, the bZ4X makes its strongest case in terms of value and efficiency, and as you progress through the model lineup, you lose sight of both of these strengths. The top bZ4X Limited with all-wheel drive comes at a cost of $49,995. When opting for two-tone paint and a black roof, in addition to the top Limited Weather Package (radiant heat, JBL nine-speaker sound, and a split roof rear spoiler), the bZ4X’s price reaches $52,050.
Ultimately, the 2023 Toyota bZ4X may just be the initial EV you desire. It’s competitive pricing, excellent safety technology, and value accompanied by Toyota reliability, make it an exceptional small crossover EV for first-time buyers. With the bZ4X, Toyota has found the perfect balance by introducing its first competitive family EV. It covers everything you desire with Toyota refinement and reliability.
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