Toyota bZ4X, the first electric car from a Japanese company

The Toyota bZ4X is comfortable and loaded with many technological features. However, its limited autonomy, functionality and interior design are serious limitations.

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The Toyota bZ4X is the automaker’s first mass-produced electric car and is currently the only electric car offered by the brand. The bZ4X is closely related to the new Subaru Solterra. This electric car from Toyota has some attractive features, but it’s also not the miracle you’d expect considering how long it took Toyota to finally bring it to market.

Styles

The 2023 Toyota bZ4X is an oddly named all-electric SUV that comes in two trim levels, XLE and Limited.

Powertrain

The single-engine, front-wheel-drive model produces 201 horsepower and 196 pound-feet of torque. The twin-engine, all-wheel-drive model is slightly more powerful, with 214 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque.

Interior style

The bZ4X’s interior is conservative in terms of design and innovation, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as there really is plenty of room for all but the tallest occupants in any of the rows.

Ground clearance and ground clearance make getting in and out a breeze. The front seats are also nice, with enough support to keep you safe in corners and enough adjustment to accommodate most people’s preferred driving position.

If you have small children, the spacious back seat should make installing a child car seat relatively easy. There is plenty of room for a rear facing seat and the anchors themselves are easily accessible.

Behind the rear seat is 27.7 cubic feet of cargo space (or 25.8 cubic feet if the bZ4X is equipped with the JBL audio system). It is an average amount per class, but the space itself is spacious and usable.

The boot floor can also be lowered, which is useful as the sleek roofline limits the height of items. There is also a front trunk like the Tesla Model Y or the Ford Mustang Mach-E.

Technique

The touchscreen interface is a step up from what Toyota has been using in most of its vehicles in recent years. It’s not as big as some rivals, but it’s sharp and responsive, and the menu structure is easy to navigate.

Not everything is tied to the touchscreen, and I like that Toyota is using actual buttons for some of the controls instead of putting everything on the touchscreen.

The bZ4X has four USB-C ports, one USB-A port and a wireless charging pad. In addition, Toyota offers wireless connectivity for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration.

The navigation system is responsive and easy to use, using information derived from Google for points of interest and other locations.

Wireless updates ensure information stays up to date. You can enter navigation instructions manually or using the built-in voice commands. Voice control can also be used to adjust the climate, sound and more.

My test bZ4X had a premium JBL audio system, but I was disappointed with the sound quality.

Safety

Standard advanced driver assists include automatic emergency braking, lane departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping system, blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert and traffic sign assist.

All advanced bZ4X drivers work well and are easy to use. Adaptive cruise control smoothly changes speed and can maintain a close distance from the car in front.

Other driving aids, such as lane keeping assistant, also work well. The only major complaint I have is the parking sensors, which are annoying and beep non-stop in parking lots.

On Highway

For better or worse, the bZ4X looks more like a regular SUV, like the Toyota RAV4, than a true EV. It’s faster than most small gas SUVs, but slower than most rivals like the Tesla Model Y, Kia EV6, or Hyundai Ioniq 5. It has enough power for around town or highway speeds, but their numbers are low.

The brakes provide sufficient stopping power, but I found the pedal a little soft and inconsistent, making it difficult to stop smoothly.

Another disadvantage is the absence of one-pedal control. Many electric cars can use their regenerative braking to slow down, rather than coasting to a complete stop when you let off the accelerator.

But in the bZ4X you have to slow down with the brake pedal. This will make the bZ4X stand out from its competition, but not in a good way. I think it’s a missed opportunity.

Steering and controls are somewhat average. The steering wheel is small for a crossover. It’s light and quick enough to make parking a breeze, but the lack of road feel and the soft suspension don’t provide an appreciable amount of grip.

The BZ4X has a smooth ride and is quite comfortable over bumps. On the road, the bZ4X is fairly quiet, but annoying with all sorts of warning beeps. And unfortunately they cannot be turned off. It is the only Toyota that is not on par with its competitors.

Price and performance

Pricing starts at $43,215 with the base model, with the car rated at 131 MPGe in the city and 107 MPGe on the highway.

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