The Toyota Bz4x: Solidly Middling EV

When it comes to battery electric vehicles, Toyota isn’t the first name that springs to mind. Toyota may be the world’s largest carmaker, with over 9.5 million cars sold worldwide, edging even Volkswagen Group, but the business has been noticeably missing from the battery electric vehicle (BEV) field. That is until the Toyota bZ4X debuted in 2023. Toyota has shown 30 various hybrid, battery-electric, and alternative powertrain designs ranging from pickup trucks to sports cars, all of which will be available by 2030. The corporation has also stated that it would invest $17.6 billion in battery technologies and will develop a battery facility in North Carolina.

For the time being, the 2023 Toyota bZ4X is the lone representative of the firm’s electric car aspirations — an oddly titled crossover that raises some doubts about what the corporation truly believes is the future of battery-electric vehicles and how serious they are about it. The Toyota bZ4X was given a first drive by TechCrunch and other media outlets. Here’s what we discovered.

The all-electric Toyota bZ4X is the Subaru Solterra’s fraternal twin; both cars are the result of a cooperative development initiative between the two manufacturers. The battery architecture, body, and cabin were created by Toyota, while the all-wheel-drive technology was handled by Subaru. What is the major distinction between the two? The pricing will be the deciding factor for potential clients. Subaru consumers will still be eligible for the $7,500 federal tax credit, although Toyota only has a few incentives available after the popular Toyota Prius received the majority of the company’s incentives. Aside from the name on the emblem, the two cars are nearly identical.

The 2023 Toyota bZ4X starts at $42,000 for the XLE model and $46,700 for the Limited edition, with a $2,000 premium for all-wheel drive and a $1,215 delivery cost, according to Toyota. Before you add any upgrades, like as an improved radio, split rear spoiler, or the better-looking two-tone exterior colors, the all-wheel-drive version will set you back just $5 shy of $50,000. That’s a lot of money for a crossover buyer, and after spending only three hours in a pair of prototype Toyota bZ4X crossovers in front-wheel and all-wheel-drive configurations in Encinitas, there’s no compelling reason to pay that much for the Toyota-badged version. In the next month, I’ll have another chance to spend a full week in the bZ4X to see if spending more time inside would change my view.

The front-wheel-drive XLE variant produces 201 horsepower and 196 pound-feet of torque, and Toyota claims it will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds. That’s comparable to the majority of today’s gasoline-powered crossovers. It’s neither outstanding nor dissatisfying, but it’s fairly ordinary. The EPA estimates the bZ4X XLE with front-wheel drive to have a range of 252 miles, which is the greatest of either model. A firmly average rating once more.

I had an outstanding 294 miles of range on the odometer when I got into the car in the morning. I returned to the hotel with an estimated 200 miles of range remaining after an hour and a half of stop-and-go traffic and a little ride down the highway to test the driver assistance systems (ADAS). Given the weather, traffic conditions, and the manner I drove, this was more than plenty. When Toyota unveiled the bZ4X at the LA Auto Show last year, the firm said that the front-wheel-drive vehicle would have a range of 300 miles.

As the bZ4X hits the market, those EPA estimates place it barely short of that goal, but well within the long-term forecast (252 miles of range in the front-wheel-drive XLE version and 222 miles for the Limited all-wheel-drive version.) That’s not unheard of in the automobile world, because vehicle range testing changes from place to country, and many manufacturers, like as Toyota, base their estimations on the testing protocols in their home nation, in this case, Japan.

The EPA range, on the other hand, is shorter than that of some of the other electric vehicles in the competition, such as the Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6, Tesla Model Y, and Chevrolet Bolt EV. Both the front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive variants of the bZ4X would charge from “low to 80 percent within one hour,” according to Toyota representatives at the event. More specifically, a 2023 bZ4X all-wheel-drive version will add 90 miles of range in 30 minutes, according to the business. According to Toyota, the front-wheel-drive version would add 180 miles in 30 minutes. That compares well to competitors such as the Chevy Bolt, which can go from zero to 100 miles in around 30 minutes using a DC Fast charger.

The all-wheel-drive version of the bZ4X is restricted at 100 kW of maximum charging input, while the front-wheel-drive variant is bound at 150 kW, according to Toyota’s spec sheet. This is because the two batteries are produced by separate sources, according to Toyota: PPES produces the front-wheel-drive variant, whereas CATL produces the all-wheel-drive version. This implies that at maximum charge, the all-wheel-drive variant will charge somewhat slower than the front-wheel-drive version. A normal Level 1 charging cable is included with the bZX4. All of this is, once again, mediocre. We’ll have to wait and see if Toyota buyers are happy with the bZ4X’s battery options and range.