Update 5/3/22: This review has been updated with test results.
Since the introduction of the Prius, Toyota has been the league leader in hybrid vehicles, offering an impressive slate of gas and electric models. In electric vehicles, Toyota has mostly been content to watch from the stands—with the exception of two seasons in minors with the RAV4 EV on sale in California in 1997 and again in 2011. Now, at last, Toyota is taking the top spot with the bZ4X, an electric vehicle that will be They are sold all over the country. It is a careful effort not to swing the fences.
Although the name might sound like the result of a product planner slapping his fist on the keyboard, Toyota says bZ stands for “Beyond Zero Emissions,” the number 4 denotes the size of the vehicle, and the X denotes the SUV body style. More electric bZ models will follow, and the next model will likely be the BZ5X SUV the size of a Highlander.
The bZ4X is slightly longer and slightly lower than the RAV4, and was co-developed with Subaru, which offers the nearly identical Solterra. The designs are mostly featured on the front, with the bZ4X getting an unpainted trapezoid while the Solterra is shaped like a hex. Both have the same sculpted side and heavy black plastic elements above the wheel arches. Taking a page from Tesla, there is only one standard color: black. White, Red, Silver and Gray cost an additional $425 and can be paired on the Limited with a black roof for $500.
The main difference between the two models is that Toyota offers a single-engine version with front-wheel drive as well as a two-engine all-wheel drive version, while Subaru has gone exclusively with all-wheel drive. The bZ4X powertrain can be had in XLE or Limited. The standard setup produces 201 horsepower, a respectable number that matches perfectly with the Volkswagen ID.4 engine and Kia Niro EV. We expect the FWD bZ4X to hit 60 mph in just under seven seconds, which would be better than the 7.6 seconds we had with VW but slower than the 6.2 we scored with Kia.
What’s unusual, however, is that while other automakers put their twin-motor all-wheel drive electric cars out for high performance, the twin-engine bZ4X adds just 13 horsepower, for a total of 214 horsepower. This is in stark contrast to the similarly configured versions of the ID.4 (295 hp), Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6 (320 hp), and Polestar 2 (408 hp).
Toyota claims it wants a similar driving character for both models, though the real reason is likely to maintain some separation between the mechanically similar bZ4X and Lexus RZ450e, which uses the 201-hp front and 107-rear engine versus the 308-horsepower combined. Either way, the all-wheel drive version has superior off-line traction, with our Limited AWD test car hitting 60 mph in 6.3 seconds. Unfortunately, the dual-motor ID.4 is noticeably faster at 5.4 seconds, and the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6 even more so at 4.5 seconds.
In our drives around suburban San Diego, the bZ4X’s engines felt equally lively. Both have a satisfying initial response, but not as extensive, as you pull away from a stop or accelerate to overtake the highway. Additionally, the chassis felt taut but compliant with the bumps, and the steering has an adequate amount of weighting. The button on the console promotes regenerative braking, but not as standard as one-pedal driving. Stopping from 70 mph on the AWD Limited model takes 174 feet, which is roughly average for the segment.
The all-wheel drive version includes more than just typical off-road equipment, courtesy of Subaru. There’s hill incline control, as well as X-Mode programming which includes two off-road modes. There is also a brake-based system to send torque through either axle when one of the wheels loses grip. We didn’t get a chance to get out on the pavement with the bZ4X, but we did with its brother Subaru, which has cleared itself well on some off-road sandy trails.
The two bZ4X models have nearly identical battery sizes of 63.4 kWh (on the single motor version) and 65.6 kWh (on the dual motor). Their EPA range estimates are adequate but not class-leading: 242/252 miles (Limited/XLE) for the front-wheel drive version and a little lower for the all-wheel drive model at 222/228 miles. In our highway range test, the limited twin engine did well for just 160 miles, which ties the Nissan Leaf down near the bottom of our EV range results.
Toyota includes a year of free shipping at EVgo locations, and buyers can assemble a Home ChargePoint Level 2 charger as part of their $699 purchase (which does not include installation). With a level 2 supply, the modest 6.6 kW charger on board can replenish the battery in about 11 hours. The bZ4X can also be powered by a DC fast charger, which Toyota claims takes just under an hour to add 80 percent of the charge, with maximum charge rates of 150 kW for the front-wheel drive variants and 100 kW for all-wheel drive. Models. In other markets, bZ4X offers roof-integrated solar panels, but this feature has not worked in the United States
American cars get a fixed glass roof as standard, which makes the interior airy. The thin shafts aid in outward visibility. The rear seat cushion is low, allowing enough headroom, and the back legroom is wide. An optional feature on the Limited is a radiant heating element in the lower dashboard that warms the legs of the front seat passengers. A high center console bisects the front seats and has a wireless charging pad and a large open storage space underneath. There’s no glove box or stowage box, and the rear luggage compartment can swallow 26 to 28 cubic feet (versus 38 for the RAV4). Unlike Prius models, the bZ4X’s digital instrument cluster is directly in front of the driver. But it’s positioned so that you’re looking over the steering wheel, and drivers who prefer a higher wheel position may find the screen partially obscured. The central 12.3-inch touchscreen features sharp graphics and wireless phone mirroring but uses silly plus and minus buttons for volume and onscreen touch points to adjust volume. Subscribe to Wi-Fi and you can stream music through your Apple or Amazon Music account. Both the navigation and “Hey, Toyota” voice recognition system are subscription-based as part of Toyota’s Drive Connect service, with three years free.
The bZ4X XLE starts at $43,215 and is limited to $47,915. The cost to upgrade to a dual-motor all-wheel drive powertrain is $2,080. All models include adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and safe exit assist. Extras for the Limited include a power-assisted tailgate, a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, a multi-view camera system, 20-inch wheels, and Softex synthetic leather upholstery. Sales have already begun in ZEV states, and the bZ4X will be introduced nationwide by the end of the year. Note that Toyota’s $7,500 federal tax credit for electric vehicles will likely begin to phase out in the last quarter of this year — thanks mostly to 150,000 or so Prius Primes sold since 2017 — so buyers may want Those interested move quickly, even if Toyota itself has been slow to get into the EV game.
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