2023 Toyota bZ4X EV Quick Drive Review – All-New SUV Launches Beyond Zero Electric Family

By John Faulkner Clean Fleet Report

The 2023 bZ4X is the first mass production all-electric vehicle from Toyota. It joins the lineup of cars and SUVs powered by hybrid, plug-in hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell technology that have made Toyota a world leader in electrified vehicles.

The bZ4X will be sold throughout the world. In America, it will be offered starting this month, in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. A nationwide rollout is planned for late 2022. [Ed note: bZ4X is also available in Japan, via Toyota’s KINTO subscription service.]

If you’re wondering what bZ4X means, here’s a brief tutorial: “bZ” = “Beyond Zero”; “4” = “midsize”; “X” = SUV. Toyota says, “bZ” is to “provide customers with value that exceeds mere zero emissions.” This concept of emission-free mobility is coming from many auto manufacturers as they move away from gasoline-only propulsion.

Exterior Styling

The bZ4X exterior design doesn’t stray far from the current-generation Toyota RAV4, keeping with an upright stance and a high belt line.

bZ4X has what Toyota calls a “hammerhead shark-like shape” consisting of a flat nose, curved bumper corners with a slim grille, narrow multi-LED projector headlights and daytime running lights.

Cladding, more abundant than found on most current SUVs, wraps the headlights and continues over and around the front wheels, below the doors, encasing the rear wheels and then across the lower rear fascia.

The front and rear overhangs are short. Low profile roof rails frame the power sunroof. The foot-activated power liftgate has an interesting dual-wing top spoiler with a more conventional lip spoiler at the bottom of the steeply sloped glass. Narrow LED taillights, with a connecting light strip, take-up little space, revealing a modern design.

Power and Range

Riding on the new BEV-dedicated e-TNGA platform architecture (shared with the Subaru Solterra), bZ4X has either one or two electric motors powered by a 355-volt lithium-ion battery.

Front-wheel drive models feature a single 150 kW motor, rated at 201 horsepower (hp) and 196 pound-feet (lb.-ft.) of torque. Estimated 0 to 60 mph is 7.1 seconds. It has a 71.4 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery, 6.6 kW onboard charger, 150 kW maximum DC charging, and an EPA-estimated Driving Range of 252 miles for the XLE and 242 miles for the Limited.


Related video: bZ4X Driving On Snow

This video, from the Toyota Japan YouTube channel, shows a bZ4X with AWD X-MODE® running on a snow-covered test track. (video: Toyota) (Note: Prototype vehicle shown driving on closed-circuit conditions)


All-wheel drive models sport dual 80 kW motors, with a combined output of 214 hp and 248 lb.-ft. of torque. Estimated 0 to 60 mph is quicker, at 6.5 seconds. The battery is rated at 72.8 kWh. It also has a 6.6 kW onboard charger, 100 kW maximum DC charging, and an EPA-estimated Driving Range of 228 miles for the XLE AWD, and 222 miles for the Limited AWD.

Hitting the Road

The bZ4X offers a choice of driving only the front wheels or having a symmetrical all-wheel drive system.

The latest generation of X-MODE®, with Snow/Dirt and Snow/Mud modes, increases grip and traction in icy, slippery and off-road conditions.

Having these two drive options makes the bZ4X ideal for those who spend all of their time in town, or may do a bit of off-pavement driving in the country. Its 8.1-inches of ground clearance provides good clearance for most off-road needs, but it’s not for rock crawling.

The bZ4X shines in town and on the open road. Acceleration is more than adequate for entering freeways and passing big rigs, and the smooth operation is what makes driving an electric vehicle so wonderful.

There are two drive modes – normal (the default) and Eco, along with a button that increases the amount of regeneration to replenish the battery by converting kinetic energy into electricity when braking or coasting. I would have liked options to set the regeneration one click higher, and for the bZ4X to have one pedal driving as opposed to creep mode. There is a very handy Brake Hold button that locks the brakes when at a stoplight, relieving pressure from the driver’s right leg to hold down the brake pedal.

Handling was solid with a low center of gravity as the batteries are placed under the seats. Eighteen-inch all-season tires are standard on the XLE, with 20-inch on the Limited. Brakes are ventilated front and rear discs, with a MacPherson strut front suspension and multi-link in the rear.


Related Video: How to Charge Your Toyota Electric Vehicle

This related video, from the Toyota USA YouTube channel, highlights charging options for the bZ4X. (video: Toyota)


Charging choices include Level 1 (120V AC), Level 2 (240V) and Level 3 (DC Fast Charging). All 2023 bZ4X owners receive one year of free DC Fast Charging at EVgo charge stations (nationwide). Estimated charging time is 11 hours for Level 2 (10% – 100%), and 1 hour for Level 3 (to 80%).

Roomy Interior

Driver visibility is very good with thin A pillars, a sloping hood, and tall windows. Spending about two and a half hours in the bZ4X, I found the front seats are supportive, with power for the driver and front passenger in the Limited trim (driver only in the XLE).

The XLE seats are fabric with SofTex® (a synthetic leather) trim, while the Limited seats get the full SofTex® treatment. The Limited front seats are heated and ventilated, with heated rear seats an option. The XLE has the option for heated, but not ventilated, front seats, but no rear seat heater. The pattern here is moving up from XLE to Limited brings more comfort and convenience.

The spacious rear seat is designed to hold three passengers and provides ample shoulder, head and leg room.

The 30 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats is generous, and increases when the 60/40 second-row-split seat is folded flat.

Standard on both XLE and Limited, the multimedia system has a 12.3-inch touchscreen, with a six-speaker audio unit. Available on the Limited is the great sounding nine-speaker JBL® premium audio system with a subwoofer and amplifier.

Both systems get navigation, SiriusXM®/AM/FM radio with wireless Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™. USB A and C ports and wireless phone charging are standard. Adding a channel tuning knob would have assisted in keeping the driver’s eyes on the road, as would a head-up display.

Convenience

The bZ4X comes with a dual-zone automatic climate system with dust and pollen filters, rear passenger vents, power door locks and windows with auto up/down, Smart Key, Wi-Fi Connect, tilt-and-telescoping steering column, soft-touch dash and armrests, and ambient floor lighting. Digital Key compatibility and an auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink® is standard on Limited.

Safety

Safety systems include backup (standard) and Bird’s Eye View (Limited) cameras, child protector rear door locks and power window lockout, a tire pressure monitoring system and an anti-theft system with immobilizer. Active and passive safety and advanced driver assist systems (ADAS) include eight airbags, and Toyota Safety Sense technology.

Also standard are range detection through millimeter wave radar and a monocular camera for a pre-collision system that includes low-light cyclist and daytime motorcyclist and guardrail detection, pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist and full-speed adaptive cruise control.

Observations: 2023 Toyota bZ4X

This is the first of several “bZ” vehicles that will appear between now and 2025, when Toyota will offer around 70 electrified vehicles globally, 15 of them being battery electric, including seven bZ models. By 2030 80-percent of the company’s global sales will be electrified with hybrid, plug-in hybrid, battery electric or hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles.

The all-new, all-electric bZ4X compact SUV is an important step for Toyota as it has been conspicuously absent from offering all-electric vehicles. The commitment to convert much of the lineup to some sort of electrification is a big step, and should help Toyota attain its goal of being a worldwide leader in zero-emission transportation.

Toyota understands, in consumer’s minds, EVs can be intimidating and overwhelming, and there needs to be a comfort level around home charging and public charging. Driving range, or “range anxiety,” still weighs heavily on potential EV owners.

Toyota is playing catch-up in the world of electric vehicles, and the importance of the bZ4X cannot be understated. Consumers are aware Toyota is an environmentally friendly company, with its leadership in hybrid, plug-in hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell technology. So this first step needs to be quickly followed-up with more electric vehicles of different sizes and for different uses.


Going Beyond bZ

What will power the next generation 4Runner, Sequoia, Land Cruiser, Tacoma, Tundra, and Supra? Or will they be discontinued and replaced with all new exciting models? Stay tuned! [Ed note: Toyota Cruiser EV concept shown above]


Pricing for U.S. Market

The 2023 Toyota bZ4X comes in two trim levels, each with a FWD and AWD option. The base Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Prices (MSRP) at launch are:

  • XLE FWD $42,000
  • XLE AWD $44,080
  • Limited FWD $46,700
  • Limited AWD $48,780

Prices do not include $1,215 delivery processing and handling fee


Related EV News: Toyota and Lexus recently revealed 15 new prototype EVs, including electric sports cars, SUVs, cruiser, pickup, and vans, during a presentation in Japan. See the news summary on CarNichiWa.com


For more product information visit Toyota.com

For more reviews by the author visit Clean Fleet Report


About the Author

John Faulkner is Road Test Editor at Clean Fleet Report. He has more than 30 years of experience branding, launching, and marketing automobiles. He is a journalist member of the Motor Press Guild.


bZ4X press fleet vehicle provided by Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. Prices and vehicle information applies to U.S. market models, not including taxes, title, license, etc. All product information, including prices, features, and specifications, is subject to change without notice.

Photos (as noted) © 2022 John Faulkner. Additional photos courtesy of Toyota. Videos courtesy of Toyota USA and Toyota Motor Corp.

Story © 2022 Clean Fleet Report – This review is reposted with permission on CarNichiWa.com