2023 Toyota BZ4X First Drive Review: Electric Relaxation

It may seem like Toyota is a little late for the electric car party, but the carmaker has been experimenting with electric cars in its native Japan and in the state of California since the first generation of the RAV4 EV back in 1997 and again with second generation in 2012. So it’s fitting that its first 50-state electric car – the new 2023 Toyota BZ4X – is also a compact electric SUV.

The Toyota is mechanically and aesthetically identical to Subaru Solterra, with only badges and minor differences in trim level and equipment between the two. With pleasure Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ, this joint venture between the two automakers will see the two SUVs roll out of the same assembly line in Japan and China.

The terrible name is divided into three main parts. Beyond Zero (BZ) refers to Toyota’s current electrification initiative. “4” indicates the size of the vehicle – as in approx RAV4 size while X identifies this as an SUV. The carmaker refuses to comment on future products, but if Toyota plans to use the same naming convention in the future, a hypothetically larger electric SUV could be called the BZ6X, while a sedan could be the BZ4S or something similar.

Split design

Again, the BZ4X is the same size as the RAV4, but specifically the electric SUV’s wheelbase is 6.3 inches longer by 112.2 inches. By pushing the wheels to the corners of the chassis combined with a roof that is 2 inches shorter (65.0 inches), the BZ4X appears significantly longer than the RAV4, despite the fact that it is actually only 3.7 inches longer overall (184 , 6 inches). Surprisingly, the BZ4X’s ride height remains within a quarter of an inch of its sibling, retaining 8.1 inches of headroom.

The vehicle, which lives within these dimensions, is a strange-looking but not unattractive, with a design that blends sharp angles with organic curves, a flat “hammer head” front end with a large panel where the grille should be, and – the most controversial bit – large, contrasting black fenders. It’s a strange bird at first blush, but closer inspection reveals that the design does not actually deviate too far from the aesthetics of RAV4 or Lexus’ NXespecially when paired with a dark shade like my example’s Heavy Metal silver that downplays the contrast of the fenders.

Two electric drivelines

The biggest difference between the 2023 BZ4X and its Pleiades-branded siblings is that the Toyota is available in both front-wheel and four-wheel drive variants, where the Subaru is only available with the latter.

The front-wheel drive configuration combines a 71.4 kWh battery pack with a 150 kilowatt electric motor on the front axle to produce 201 horsepower and 196 pound-feet of torque. Expect up to 252 miles of estimated range in the BZ4X’s lighter XLE configuration or 242 miles with Limited specs extra features. Heavy-footed drivers will find a respectable 7.1 seconds of 0-to-60 mph time.

With an 80-kW engine on each axle, the four-wheel-drive BZ4X delivers a total of 214 hp and 248 lb.-ft. of torque. Zero-to-60 mph sprints are shortened to 6.5 seconds, but the range also drops to 228 miles for XLE and 222 miles for Limited characters. Interestingly, this spec uses another 72.8 kWh battery pack. Toyota chose a different supplier for this configuration with a slightly different chemistry, which resulted in a difference of 1.4 kWh.

Of course, the BZ4X will be cross-shopped with Kia EV6which crosses 310 miles or 274 miles, respectively, in its rear and four-wheel drive configurations when equipped with its corresponding-sized “long-range” battery pack. VW’s ID 4 will run 280 miles and more expensive Tesla Model Y boasts 318 miles in its Long Range configuration. In a world where range is king, the Toyota comes sadly short.

Toyota’s EV performs well enough, but its range and charging speeds lag behind those of its competitors.

Antuan Goodwin / Roadshow

Public charging and home charging

The two battery packs also charge at different peak DC fast charging speeds. The 71.4-kWh package can reach up to 150 kW, while the speed of the 72.8-kWh package is limited to 100 kWh. Either way, owners are looking at about an hour for fast charging from 20% to 80% at a suitably powerful station via the CCS connection. It’s on par with Mustang Mach-E and VW ID 4, but lags behind the 350 kW-capable Ioniq 5 and EV6, which gets the job done in as little as 20 minutes.

Toyota works fine with this, as he reckons that most charging will take place at level 2 charging stations. The BZ4X includes one year of free EVgo public charging – integrated with the Toyota app – and to help owners get started charging at home, the option to purchase the Chargepoint Home Flex Level 2 charger directly through your dealer. With one of these 240-volt AC connectors, the BZ4X can accept up to 6.6 kW, which adds about 25 miles of range per hour when it’s fastest, and – because the battery’s charging rates are not linear – fully charges in about 11 hours. .

Comfortable commuter

Turn the rotary selector to D and press the accelerator and the BZ4X will slightly exceed the specified specifications. Like most electric cars, this is due to the instantaneous and linear application of torque rather than building power for a crescendo. Around town, when you pull away from traffic lights, pass or merge, the SUV feels more responsive and lightning fast than its numbers on paper suggest.

The crossover’s driving is soft – noticeably softer than the competitors from Kia and Ford – but not sloppy or vague. Squat and dive at start and brake feel nicely controlled, although I noticed that the body leaned into the corners. At both highway and parking speeds, steering remains predictable and easy, if not an emotionless feeling. It’s not the most fun ride in this class, but it’s an easy and comfortable commute.

The 8.1-inch ground clearance potentially gives the BZ4X an advantage on gravel roads or bad weather compared to most of the low-hanging electric crossovers in this class, especially when paired with the AWD configuration’s X-Mode system with traction programs for snow / Check dirt, snow / mud and hill descent. I was not able to test the BZ4X offroad, but my colleague came away satisfied after a while soft-roading in the identical Subaru Solterra.

The BZ4X also has a user-selectable Boost Mode regenerative brake mode that is almost a one-pedal driving mode, but not quite. Boost Mode provides full regeneration on lifting, and brakes the SUV to a crawl, but not to a complete stop. However, the high rain setting is not compatible with the X-Mode settings, and one must be disabled before the other can be used.

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The driver’s seat initially feels awkward, but is surprisingly ergonomic and comfortable.

Antuan Goodwin / Roadshow

Cabin and ergonomics

The BZ4X boasts nearly an inch more headroom (38.6 inches) and legroom (42.1 inches) than the RAV4 on the front row. Rear seat passengers, however, lose about two inches of head and legroom – 37.1 and 35.3 inches, respectively – to the BZ4X’s steeper sloping roof. There is 27.7 cubic feet of load capacity behind the seats (or 25.8 cubes with the upgraded JBL sound system subwoofer), which is about 10 cubic feet less than the RAV4. (Toyota does not currently indicate the folded flat load volume of the BZ4X.)

The driving position feels awkward at first, but it grows on you. The SUV’s 7-inch digital instrument cluster is placed high and set far forward on the dashboard, which requires placing the steering wheel lower relative to my driving position than usual to see the gauges above the rim instead of through it. After just a few miles, however, I began to appreciate and even prefer this more ergonomic angle, which significantly reduced the strain on my wrists over a long day of driving and increased forward vision. Meanwhile, the rest of the BZ4X’s cabin looks good with high-quality materials and a clean, minimalist design.

Infotainment and security technology

The main infotainment display is the same 12.3-inch Toyota Audio Multimedia system with “Hey Toyota” hot-word detection, which debuted on the Tundra, but where the pickup has a thick volume knob, the BZ4X disappointingly settles for small volume knobs. For the most part, this is a well-organized and responsive menu system. However, parts of the interface may be too simplistic, which can make it easy to overlook some commonly available features.

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is standard via wireless connection or the individual USB Type-A media port in the center console. (An additional four USB Type-C charging ports can be found split between front and rear passengers.) Alexa and Google Assistant smart home and digital assistant integration are also included as part of the Toyota Remote Connect telematics service – subscription-based after the included 3-year trial version – which also rolls in features like digital key, remote charging monitoring and more.

The BZ4X uses the same 12.3-inch infotainment as the new Toyota Tundra.

Antuan Goodwin / Roadshow

The Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 technology package for driver assistance is standard equipment for all BZ4X models that roll in precollision alarm and brake assist with pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and crash barriers. It also has standard lane-centered steering assist, adaptive cruise control that works in stop-and-go traffic and automatic high beam. The standard technology for monitoring blind spots now rolls into a feature called Safe Exit Assist, which warns passengers when they open a door into oncoming traffic.

Prizes and competition

The 2023 Toyota BZ4X starts at $ 43,215 for the base single-engine XLE, including $ 1,215, but before any federal or state EV tax incentives. Add $ 2,080 for four-wheel drive with two engines. Going up to the limited quality, replacing the standard rear camera with a 360-degree camera system and adding multi-LED headlights, an electric lift door, SofTex synthetic leather seats with eight-way power adjustment and heated and ventilated surfaces and a heated steering wheel starts at $ 47,915 with one engine or $ 49,995 with two.

2023 Toyota BZ4X is pretty good. I enjoyed its comfort-oriented driving and ergonomics and from there came satisfied with its modest performance, excellent build quality and value. Unfortunately, this compact electric SUV class is already packed with half a dozen models like the Tesla Model Y, Kias EV6, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Ford Mustang Mach-E and Volkswagen ID 4, offering better range, faster charging, better technology or all three .

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