Take Charge of the Future
We recently had the chance to check out Toyota’s all new, all-electric crossover with the forgettable name… bZ4X. And, no, bZ4X is NOT the name of a new Star Wars droid. It is, in fact, a sleek and savvy little EV that, unlike Toyota’s short lived RAV4 EV, is being mass produced and available in dealerships from coast to coast.
Toyota changed the world of personal transportation with the Prius mainstream hybrid car when it debuted in 2000. The EPA rated the Prius among the cleanest vehicles sold in the United States in 2007. As of 2017, the plucky Prius was the world’s top selling hybrid car with four million units sold. But when the world began to go all-electric, Toyota held back… until now.
The bZ4X is another upstart in the growing line of four-door crossover SUV hatchbacks that are very popular sellers. That means it has to compete with the excellent Ford Mustang Mach E, the Hyundai Kona Electric, the Volkswagen ID.4, and even the Chevy Bolt. It was developed alongside the Subaru Solterra and the two are nearly the same car. So, is the bZ4X worth the wait?
One Motor or Two?
Toyota wanted a whole new look for its premier electric vehicle and the bZ offers a sleek new design. You can get it with one electric motor for front wheel drive or two motors for all-wheel drive. For 2023, the bZ4X is offered in base level XLE or Limited trims. Both are available in front wheel or all-wheel drive and the later will take you an EPA-estimated 252 miles on a charge… but that’s a bit light compared to cars like the Mustang which has an EPA-estimated range of 303 miles on a charge.
Standard equipment includes a beautiful panoramic roof and adaptive cruise control. The Limited trim includes a power liftgate, heated faux-leather seats, and 20-inch wheels. Cargo space with the rear seats down is 28 cubic feet compared to the bigger RAV4’s 38 cubic feet. Standard driver assist tech gives you automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and safe exit assist.
Inside, the bZ cabin is quite spacious and refined. The 12.3-inch touchscreen takes you to all the infotainment wonders, navigation, and driver assist features. But there’s no glovebox. Perhaps Toyota is telling us that no one will wear gloves in the future. You’ll get Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as well as a Wi-Fi hotspot and wireless smartphone charging.
The new EV is offered in basic XLE trim or more upscale Limited trim and both are available in either single motor, front-wheel drive or dual motor all-wheel drive which costs $2,080 more in either trim level. The standard single motor version has an MSRP of $43,215 and cranks out 201 horsepower while the two-motor variant retails at $45,295 and gives you 215 horses, which is considerably less than its competition.
Speed and Charging Times
As you might expect from an EV, acceleration is quick off the line though regenerative braking does not allow for one pedal driving. The car is smooth and quiet, but it won’t win any races in the EV wars. Zero to 60 time even with the dual-motor version is around 6.4 seconds. That’s two seconds slower than the slowest version of the Mustang Mach-E.
Toyota offers a 63.4-killowatt hour battery pack for the single-motor version giving you a range of 252 miles, and a 65.5 battery for the dual motor version with a range of 228 miles. But with all-wheel drive, you may get less than 200 miles of range on the highway, especially if you use the air conditioner. At Level 2charging, the bZ will take nine hours to charge and DC Fast Charging will get you to an 80 percent charge in under an hour.
Buyers will get a year of free charging at EVgo locations as well as a three-year navigation subscription and two-years of free maintenance. Toyota is known for making excellent commuter cars that are reliable and get you where you’re going. The bZ4X does that and more. In fact, it rivals the gasoline-powered Camry TRD for acceleration and even the sporty GR86. Only the Supra is quicker. Body roll is minimal thanks to the low center of gravity and the steering wheel is perfectly weighted.
The Future is Here
The bZ4X is pleasant to drive. The seats are plush and supportive. The handling is crisp, and the steering is predictable. Plus, like all Toyotas, the bZ is likely to be extremely reliable for many trouble-free miles. But that name still reminds me of C-3PO. Who knows, maybe soon we’ll all be driving a Toyota droid car into an all-electric future. They are showing up in showrooms now.