Testing out electric SUVs back-to-back is becoming a common thing for me and other car bloggers. If you haven’t noticed, it looks like the new fall-winter 23-24 car lineup is really focusing on a special type of car that manufacturers and drivers both love, but in very different ways.
Now, it’s time to talk about the bZ4X, Toyota’s first all-electric vehicle. Is it a rival to the Toyota RAV4, or at least the RAV4 Plug-in? I’ll get straight to the point: No, they’re two distinct cars, but they complement each other well.
bZ4x and his Brothers
The bZ4X isn’t exactly new, and there are two reasons why. First, its reveal was way back in October 2021, but due to unrelated production issues like the global microchip crisis, its release kept getting pushed back.
Second, the bZ4X has kind of been around since last year, in disguise. It’s almost identical to the Subaru Solterra and closely related to the Lexus RZ 450e, which came out more recently.
Toyota is only offering the bZ4X in a dual-motor all-wheel-drive version. It has two 80 kW electric motors, one for each axle, adding up to 218 horsepower and 330 Nm of torque, and it’s powered by a 77.4 kWh battery, which should get you up to 414 km of driving. This setup is exactly like the Subaru e-SUV, as Subaru, being more experienced with all-wheel drives, led the development of this feature in the project.
On the Road
Driving the bZ4x around the city was a pretty solid experience, even though I didn’t take it off-road. Having driven its close relative, the Subaru Solterra, in the wild, I’m confident that the bZ4x can handle rough terrains thanks to its well-performing chassis and electronics. But let’s be honest: this nearly 4.70-meter SUV seems more at home in urban settings than in the countryside. This is not just because charging stations are easier to find in the city.
Dynamically speaking, driving the bZ4x feels a lot like driving the Solterra, which is great news! Despite its size, it handles tight turns well and offers excellent forward visibility.
Here’s a rarity: a low dashboard! Plus, a slender steering wheel that lends itself to nimble handling, a semi-high driving position that offers confidence, and a hood that doesn’t block your view of the road. The design is thanks to the vehicle’s electric platform, which doesn’t need to accommodate an engine and transmission under the hood, allowing it to be lower.
The bZ4x packs a punch with its red fibers, accelerating from 0-100 km/h in just 6.9 seconds. Even without exact numbers for the “0-50”, it feels like it can hold its own against high-end sports cars, especially given its robust 330 Nm of torque.
The sleek roof and slanted pillars don’t obstruct views of landmarks or road hazards like protruding cobblestones, sharp curb edges, or the fenders of other cars jostling for room at intersections.
In the chaotic streets of the Eternal City, the Toyota bZ4x stands its ground. And with the classic One Pedal function, providing adjustable regenerative braking also helps extend the life of the braking system.
Inside the bZ4x
The dashboard of the bZ4x has a cool, ‘Japanese-style’ design. It’s not just unique but also pretty practical. From the driver’s seat, I can easily reach all the tech features, including a digital dashboard that’s a bit far but still easy to read, even if your eyesight isn’t perfect.
The 12.3-inch central infotainment display, which works with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, is also easy to get the hang of, thanks to its simple native menu. The ‘double bridge’ center console gives plenty of storage, but it’s a bit in the way for your elbow.
In the back, there’s lots of room. It has a 2.85-meter wheelbase, which is 16 cm longer than the RAV4’s, making it pretty comfy. Plus, there’s only a tiny bump in the floor, so a fifth passenger can fit easily. And with a 441-liter trunk, it’s tempting to pile in and head out on a big road trip.
However, the bZ4X isn’t really built for long-distance travel. Sure, the 71.4 kWh batteries are supposed to give you 411 km of range. But the range isn’t everything: charging times (30 minutes from a 150 kW charger, to get from 10% to 80%), charger availability, and a top speed that’s capped (here at 160 km/h) mean that, for now, it’s not as good for long trips as other options.
The bZ4X has a pretty unique and aerodynamic exterior design, with a nice balance between the front and back, and enough aggressiveness to it.
Personally, I’m a fan of the rear three-quarter view, where you can really see its muscular sides and the cool, full-width rear lights.
The front view? A bit less exciting for me, even though it has some nice LED headlights. But hey, that’s just my taste.
bZ4X vs RAV4
Comparing the bZ4X to the RAV4 Plug-in Hybrid really doesn’t make sense. Sure, their prices might be similar, but everything else about them is totally different. It’s like they’re from separate worlds, and you just pick which one you want to live in. Now, about those prices.
|Motor||electric front and post.|
|Combined power||218 HP|
|Acc. 0-100 km/h||6.9 seconds|
|Max. speed||160 km/h (limited)|
|Price||$42,000 – $48,780|
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