2023 Toyota bZ4X review by Truecar.com
2023 Toyota bZ4X
Toyota made its name in the hybrid segment with the Prius and now it’s entering the battery-electric segment with the all-new bZ4X SUV. Once you get past the odd name, which stands for “beyond Zero, small crossover,” the bZ4X is instantly recognizable as a compact SUV similar to the Toyota RAV4. The bZ4X is actually slightly bigger in most dimensions, so there’s plenty of interior passenger and cargo space. Unlike the RAV4, which offers gas, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid versions, the bZ4X is battery-electric only. It offers both front- and all-wheel-drive configurations; AWD versions are slightly more powerful. Front-wheel-drive versions provide more range, but with a maximum EPA estimate of 252 miles, the bZ4X is on the low side compared to the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6. The bZ4X can’t charge as quickly, so it’s not as well suited to using public fast chargers. It is, however, comfortable and well equipped with a long list of standard safety features. Even the base XLE model has a large touchscreen with good connectivity options. Cargo space is solid, although there’s slightly less rear passenger space than some competitors. Overall, the bZ4X is good but not great. The Ioniq 5 and EV6 both offer more range and bigger cabins. The Ford Mustang Mach-E also has more fun-to-drive configurations and a larger battery.
What’s New for 2023
The Toyota bZ4X is a new model, the first on an electric vehicle platform co-developed with Subaru, and the first of 30 new EVs that Toyota intends to develop globally by 2030 — including seven with the “bZ” prefix.
Trims and Pricing
The 2023 Toyota bZ4X is available in two trim levels: XLE and Limited. Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive available for both trims. The front-wheel-drive Limited is likely to be the top pick for many shoppers, but we like the all-wheel-drive XLE. We’ll explain why below.
The bZ4X qualifies for a federal clean vehicle income tax credit of $7,500, which should apply at least through the third quarter of 2022. It will begin phasing out when Toyota hits the sales limit of 200,000 qualified vehicles. It then will drop to $3,750 for six months and $1,875 for the following six months before disappearing, which could be as early as the fourth quarter of 2023. Tesla and General Motors already have lost federal tax credit eligibility for their plug-in vehicles.
A number of state governments and utility companies also offer financial incentives to EV buyers.
The front-wheel-drive XLE starts at $43,215, including a $1,215 destination fee and before incentives. Standard equipment includes black exterior paint, 18-inch alloys, LED lighting, faux leather upholstery, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, dual-zone climate control with rear seating area vents, a six-speaker audio system, wireless smartphone charging, a fixed glass roof, and a full suite of driver assistance and active safety systems.
The XLE with all-wheel drive starts at $45,295. It is equipped the same as the front-drive version. The electronic all-wheel drive was developed by Subaru and features X-Mode for off-road driving, with Downhill Assist, Snow/Dirt and Deep Snow/Mud settings and Grip Control, a sort of cruise control that helps smooth out low-speed trail driving.
The extra horsepower isn’t much, but the increased traction and off-road capability make the all-wheel-drive XLE our top choice.
Options include four additional exterior colors and a Weather package with heated front seats and a heated steering wheel.
Pricing for the front-wheel-drive Limited trim starts at $47,915. It adds 20-inch alloy wheels, chrome front grille and side-window trim, a heated steering wheel, a power-adjustable front passenger seat, heated and ventilated front seats, a 360-degree bird’s-eye camera system, and a power liftgate.
The AWD Limited, equipped the same, starts at $49,995.
Limited trim options include additional monochrome or two-tone paint schemes, a Weather package with heated rear seats and radiant foot-and-leg heating for the first-row seats, and Weather package variations that add a roof-mounted split rear spoiler and/or a nine-speaker JBL audio system.
Battery and Performance
The 2023 bZ4X is available as a 201-horsepower, single-motor, front-wheel-drive version with 196 pound-feet of torque, or a 214-hp, dual-motor all-wheel-drive version with 248 lb-ft of torque.
The single-motor versions have a Toyota-estimated 0-60 mph time of 7.1 seconds, which is about average among competitors. Dual-motor versions manage a Toyota-estimated 6.5 seconds, which is much slower than competing all-wheel-drive electric crossovers. Toyota chose to maximize the bZ4X AWD’s battery for range rather than power.
That said, both bZ4X versions feel peppier than Toyota’s estimates would suggest (mainstream automakers are usually quite cautious about speed claims), and the dual-motor AWD version feels a lot quicker.
In any configuration, the bZ4X provides a quiet, comfortable ride. Seats are well-padded and bolstered, and braking is fairly linear. Steering, though, is pretty numb — fine for the freeway but not for tight, winding streets.
Toyota omitted one well-received feature of many newer EVs — one-pedal driving. While the bZ4X has several regenerative braking levels, one-pedal driving would let the driver bring it to a complete stop without using the brake pedal. The feature makes things a bit easier in city driving and traffic jams. Its lack is also one of the few things differentiating the bZ4X from its Subaru Solterra cousin.
We didn’t get to try the bZ4X off-road, but because its AWD system is the same as in the Solterra, which we did test off-road, the all-wheel bZ4X ought to be just fine for light- to mid-duty trail running.
Soft suspension tuning that makes for a comfortable highway ride also should help smooth out rugged trails and improve traction on loose surfaces, while the bZ4X’s 8.1 inches of ground clearance will get it over most obstacles.
Range and Charging Time
All Toyota bZ4X versions use liquid-cooled battery packs. Because of ongoing global supply shortages, the FWD versions’ 71.4 kilowatt-hour pack comes from a different supplier than the all-wheel versions’ 72.8 kWh pack. The front-drive XLE trim is EPA-rated for up to 252 miles of range, the heavier Limited at 242 miles. Their AWD versions are rated at up to 228 and 222 miles, respectively.
We found the range estimates to be fairly accurate in real-world driving.
The Kia EV6 is the segment’s range leader, at 310 miles for the single-motor versions and 272 for the dual-motor, all-wheel-drive variants. Only the Ford Mustang Mach-E Standard Range has a lower range rating, at 230 miles for the single-motor version and 211 miles for the dual-motor.
For daily charging at home or in the workplace, the bZ4X is equipped with a 6.6 kW onboard charger, capable of replenishing a depleted battery pack in about 10 hours. A faster 11 kW charger will be an option by year’s end, Toyota said, but that’s already the standard for all of the competing small electric crossovers except the Subaru Solterra.
On road trips or for those without access to home or workplace charging, the front-wheel-drive bZ4X can use DC fast charging at up to 150 kW per hour, good for a 30-minute recharge from 10% to 80% of capacity.
Because their batteries are sourced from a different supplier, the dual-motor versions have a DC fast-charge maximum of 100 kW per hour, effectively doubling the time needed to get to 80% of capacity.
The Hyundai Ioniq 5 and EV6, each with 350 kWh DC fast-charge capability, lead the segment in speedy charging times, but the bZ4X is competitive with the rest of the pack.
bZ4X buyers get one year of free charging sessions on the EVgo network of DC fast chargers and can add a 240-volt home charger and installation to their financing package when ordering through a Toyota dealer.
Official EPA fuel efficiency estimates for the bZ4X haven’t yet been posted, but Toyota says the agency will rate its new FWD EV at 119 mpg-equivalent for combined city and highway driving in the XLE and 114 MPGe for the Limited, and for the AWD versions, the XLE will be rated at 104 MPGe and the Limited at 102 MPGe.
Those numbers for the FWD XLE and Limited translate to energy consumption rates of approximately 28 kWh and 29.6 kWh per 100 miles, respectively, and for the AWD versions, 32.4 kWh (XLE) and 33 kWh (Limited).
That puts the bZ4X in the top third of all EVs for efficiency. The average for the bZ4X lineup is 31 kWh per 100 miles, and the average for all EVs is 34.6 kWh/100 miles.
Inside, the Toyota bZ4X is a thoroughly modern EV, with a fairly minimalist dash layout, a roomy center console topped by a 12.3-inch touchscreen and housing a lidded tray for wireless phone charging, the automaker’s first rotary shifter dial, and some real knobs and switches for climate and audio controls.
Designers tried to mimic a head-up display by placing the 7-inch driver display screen in a hooded housing high atop and far back on the dash. Then they set the adjustable steering wheel lower than usual so that the driver looks over it, not through its spokes. As a result, many drivers will find it awkward or even difficult at first, and taller drivers may find the steering wheel location a tad too low.
Toyota uses a mix of soft-touch surfaces for armrests and the blank passenger-facing areas of the dash, combined with hard plastics and a lot of fingerprint-capturing glossy piano black trim around the center console. Those shiny panels not only require constant polishing, but they also create a lot of glare on bright sunny days.
Compared to the Toyota RAV4, the best-selling small crossover in the market, the bZ4X is almost 4 inches longer overall, and its wheelbase is nearly 7 inches longer. But that doesn’t translate into a wildly spacious passenger cabin.
Front legroom, at 42.1 inches, is near the best in class, but rear legroom is only adequate and, at 35.3 inches, is well below average for the segment. Headroom measures 38.6 inches up front and 37.1 inches in the rear, sufficient for all but the tallest but almost last in class — only the Hyundai Ioniq 5 has less.
While it is a small crossover, there is a lot of storage space in the bZ4X. Its dual-level center console has a small lidded compartment and a large open tray at floor level for purses, laptops, and other bulky items.
Some of the extra interior room made possible by the bZ’s elongated wheelbase went into the cargo area, which offers 27.7 cubic feet of space behind the 60/40-split rear seats — more room than in any competitor except the Volkswagen ID.4 — and even more capacity, 56.9 cu. ft., with the rear seats folded down. Moving the adjustable deck board to its lowest position creates a shallow well that adds 1.3 cubic feet behind the rear seats.
Engineers determined that a front trunk, or frunk, under the hood, could impinge on the crush zones needed for pedestrian protection. Several competitors do have a frunk.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The bZ4X gets the Toyota Audio multimedia infotainment system that debuted in the 2022 Tundra. It runs on a 12.3-inch touchscreen and includes cloud-based navigation, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, dual smartphone pairing, and over-the-air software updates. Voice recognition and Wi-Fi hotspot with integrated music streaming is available by paid subscription.
The XLE trims come with a three-year subscription to Toyota’s Remote Connect service for locking and unlocking, starting and stopping, setting climate controls and other remote interactions via smartwatches, and Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant devices. Limited trims add a digital key function.
There are two USB-C charging ports and one USB-A media port up front, and a pair of USB-C ports for the rear seating area.
The 2023 Toyota bZ4X hasn’t yet been crash-tested by either the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Other EVs built on similar “skateboard” platforms (with the batteries in a reinforced cage beneath the vehicle floor and between the axles) have done well in those tests, however, and Toyota’s new EV is also likely to do well.
The bZ4X gets Toyota’s latest suite of safety and driver-assist systems, Toyota Safety Sense 3.0. It debuts with the bZ4X and provides improved bicyclist and pedestrian recognition and longer-range radar and sonar for improved lane-keeping, forward-collision avoidance, and adaptive cruise control. Blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alerts and front and rear parking alerts with automatic braking are standard.
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