Toyota has been a leader in developing hybrid vehicles, especially the Prius. But the automaker has been slow to jump on the all-electric bandwagon. The first was the electrified RAV4 which had limited availability. The second is the new 2023 bZ4X crossover, which has arrived at most Toyota dealerships. It has a range of 222 to 252 miles, depending on the trim and whether it’s a model with front-wheel or all-wheel drive.
Base Price: $46,700
As Tested: $49,258
Mileage: 125 MPGe city/103 MPGe highway/114 MPGe combined
Toyota says “bZ” stands for “Beyond Zero” and hopes to launch around 70 electrified models around the globe by 2025.
The bZ4X will appeal to those who love the Toyota brand. It’s similar to the RAV4 and comes equipped with many of Toyota’s features and tech. But other rivals offer better range and more robust performance.
The 2023 bZ4X comes in two trims: XLE and Limited. Starting prices are $42,000 and $46,700, respectively. These prices are about average for an electric SUV. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is available for $2,080. There’s room for five passengers in two rows of seating.
Front-wheel drive models are powered by a 150-kilowatt motor and a 71.4-kWh lithium-ion battery with a combined output of 201 horsepower and 196 pound-feet of torque. All-wheel drive models get an 80-kilowatt motor on each axle and a 72.8-kWh lithium-ion battery that make 214 horses and 248 pound-feet.
Both powertrains provide perky handling. Acceleration off the line is quick, as you’d expect in an EV, but not as fast as some competitors. There’s more than enough power for merging and passing at freeway speeds. The brakes can have that squishy feel found in EVs and hybrids; however, there’s no real one-pedal driving setting so you have to use the brakes to slow down. This reduces energy captured by regenerative braking. The ride is smooth with bumps and rough roads not very noticeable. There’s some body lean when cornering. Visibility is good all the way around. While performance isn’t as quick as some competitors, the bZ4X is a pleasant and easy daily driver.
The steering wheel is small – it almost looks like a toy steering wheel. But the smaller size doesn’t make it more challenging to steer the bZ4X.
The range is decent but some rivals have longer ranges. The XLE with FWD has a range of about 252 miles, while the Limited with FWD has a range of about 242 miles. The XLE trim with AWD has a range of 228 miles and the AWD Limited gets about 222 miles.
With a Level 2 (240-volt) chare, it takes about nine hours to fully charge the bZ4X battery from low to 100%. It can take 24 hours or more with a regular (120 volt) household plug. With public Level 3 (150-kW) chargers, the battery can get up to an 80% charge in only about 20 to 30 minutes.
Toyota is known for its safety features, and maybe that’s why there’s a slew of beeps and warning noises, especially when the vehicle is in reverse or when you’re parking or driving in a parking lot. There doesn’t seem to be a way to turn these off.
The interior looks like, well, a Toyota. It has a familiar feel to anyone who’s spent time behind the wheel of a Toyota. The design has a modern look with glossy piano black trim on the center console and Softex fabric covering the dashboard. Front seats are supportive and comfortable with good leg- and headroom. Rear sets are comfortable as well, and two average-size adults will fit just fine.
Standard features include a rearview camera, dual zone automatic climate control, seven-inch digital gauge cluster, infotainment system with 12.3-inch touchscreen, six-speaker audio system, satellite radio trial subscription, Bluetooth, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, five USB ports, wireless device charging, rain-sensing windshield wipers, automatic high-beam headlights and a panoramic fixed glass roof with power sunshade.
Available features include digital key capability, surround-view camera system, auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated front seats, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, front radiant foot-and-leg warmer, heated steering wheel, heated and leather-trimmed steering wheel, nine-speaker JBL audio system, and front and rear ambient floor lighting.
Standard driver assistance technologies include pre-collision warning with pedestrian detection, automatic-brake assist, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning with steering assist, lane-tracing assist, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and road-sign assist.
Available driver assistance technologies include downhill assist control.
The infotainment system is Toyota’s upgraded 12.3-inch widescreen with over-the-air updates. Graphics are sharp, menus are logically arranged, and the system responds quickly to touch and voice commands. Or just say “Hey Toyota.”
Cargo space is about average for an electric SUV with 27.7 cubic feet with both rows of seats in place. A foot-activated power liftgate is available. While some EVs have a frunk (front trunk), the bZ4X does not.
Lots of standard features and tech
User-friendly infotainment system with large screen
Standard wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
Rivals have larger ranges and better performance
My tester starts at $46,700. Special color is $425. Two-tone paint is $500. Carpet floor mats and cargo mat are $269. Mudguard is $149. Delivery fee is $1,215 bringing the grand total to $49,258.
Toyota has been a leader in producing hybrids, and now finally adds an all-electric vehicle that will be widely available across the U.S. Toyota fans who’ve been waiting for an EV will no doubt like it. But some rivals offer better range and performance and more amenities. So the bottom line is shop around before you choose an EV.