~ A DriveWays Review ~
by Frank A. Aukofer
What the bZ4X?
Yep, it sure looks like a cuss word in a comic strip. But it’s actually the brand-new 100% battery electric vehicle from Toyota. Not only that, the bZ4X name actually means something:
The bZ stands for “beyond zero,” as in tailpipe emissions that pollute; the 4 refers to Toyota’s similarly sized RAV4 crossover SUV, which once was fully electrified, and the X tells us that this all-new entry is a crossover sport utility vehicle with available all-wheel drive.
It is a tongue twister that stands out, as it should, among the Toyota lineup of Corolla, Camry, Avalon, GR86, Mirai, Prius, Supra, 4Runner, Highlander, RAV4, Sequoia, Sienna, Tundra, Tacoma, Venza and a couple of others that are being phased out.
Toyota is the world’s second-largest vehicle manufacturer, behind No. 1 Volkswagen, so it was inevitable that it would be part of the stampede toward all-electric vehicles. It already had been a pioneer of sorts with the Prius, now a quarter-century old and earning the title of best-selling hybrid in the marketplace.
The company reportedly is undergoing a business overhaul to develop appealing battery electric vehicles, leading off with its luxury brand, Lexus, which has a goal of selling one million BEVs globally by 2030 and becoming fully electric by 2035. Overall, Toyota intends to sell 3.5 million electric vehicles. It will take rapid acceleration from its world-wide sales in 2022 of 24,446 BEVs. However, with its Prius, the company has sold 2.6 million hybrids worldwide.
The bZ4X was developed in concert with Japan’s Subaru, which calls its version the Solterra. They are nearly identical, though in keeping with Subaru’s penchant for all-wheel drive, the Solterra only comes with four claws on the pavement.
The bZ4X offers a choice of front-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive. Tested for this review was a Limited model with front-wheel drive. There also is an XLE version, called a trim level in the industry. Both come with a single motor to drive the front wheels; upgrading to dual motors with all-wheel drive costs an additional $2,080 on either trim.
The tested Limited came with a base price of $48,035, including the destination charge. Standard equipment included automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert and lane tracing with steering assist, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, hands-free power lift gate, 20-inch alloy wheels and rain-sensing windshield wipers.
With a short list of options that included heated rear seats, special two-tone paint and a foot and leg heater up front, the suggested retail price came to $49,728.
Inside enhancements delivered Apple Car Play and Android Auto, a 12.3-inch center screen, SXM satellite radio, panoramic fixed glass roof with a power sunshade, wireless device charging, and heated and ventilated front seats trimmed with Toyota’s comfortable Softex synthetic leather.
The bZ4X is powered by a 150kW electric motor that makes 201 horsepower and 196 pound-feet of torque, or twisting force. The power gets to the pavement via direct drive, which operates like an automatic transmission but without discernible shift points. Zero to 60 miles an hour acceleration has been clocked in five to seven seconds with a range of up to 242 miles. A 240-volt home system recharges in 9-11 hours.
Like other electrics, the bZ4X Limited makes use of regenerative braking to help keep the 63.4 kWh battery pack topped up. There’s a button on the dash that signifies so-called one-pedal driving, which employs aggressive braking that, in addition to charging, can bring the vehicle to a full stop without using the brake pedal. However, the bZ4X’s system is not aggressive enough to stop on its own. Other systems allow the driver to adjust the regenerative system’s strength.
If it were a car instead of a crossover SUV, the bZ4X would, on the basis of its interior volume, be classified as a large car, defined as one with more that 120 cubic feet of volume. The bZ4X has 94 cubic feet for passengers and 28 cubic feet for cargo, for a total of 122 cubic feet. It is roomy overall, though as usual the center-rear passenger gets cramped.
On the road, the bZ4X exhibits the characteristics that are rapidly endearing electrics to buyers. With the electric motor’s instant torque, acceleration is quick, and city or highway motoring is quiet and relaxed with decent handling and a fine ride.
- Model: 2023 Toyota bZ4X FWD Limited four-door crossover sport utility vehicle.
- Motor: 150 kW, 355-volt electric; 201 hp, 196 lb-ft torque.
- Transmission: Direct drive automatic with front-wheel drive.
- Overall length: 15 feet 5 inches.
- Height: 5 feet 5 inches.
- EPA/SAE passenger/cargo volume: 94/28 cubic feet; cargo 57 rear seatbacks folded.
- Weight: 4,398 pounds.
- EPA city/highway/combined miles per gallon equivalent: 125/103/114 MPGe.
- Base price, including destination charge: $48,035.
- Price as tested: $49,728.
Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided the vehicle used to conduct this test drive and review. Photos © Toyota
Leave a Reply