Toyota bZ4X review: solid EV SUV let down by poor range
The Toyota bZ4X is a capable, all-electric family car that impresses across the board, although some will find it expensive to buy
Believe it or not, but the Toyota bZ4X is not the Japanese manufacturer's first all-electric car, but it is the first car to use the ‘bZ’ or Beyond Zero name prefix. It's a spacious five-seat electric family SUV that has a comfortable ride, while keen drivers will appreciate the bZ4X’s dynamic prowess and its ability to deliver a surprising amount of fun on the road.
It’s not the cheapest family EV available, and nor does it offer the same range as the class leaders, but the bZ4X is well equipped and has a premium feel to its cabin, with enough practical touches and onboard tech to compete with close rivals. A smart and sophisticated exterior look adds to its appeal, while Toyota’s reassuring warranty package – which could potentially last up to 10 years – might just be the icing on the cake that wins customers over.
About the Toyota bZ4X
A quick rewind back to the nineties and early 2010s finds that Toyota has actually dabbled in producing electric vehicles before. But these were converted Toyota RAV4 models mostly sold in small numbers in California, with the later second-generation actually using some EV technology from Tesla.
The market for all-electric vehicles wasn’t as mature as it is today, so these early models never went into mass-market production, Instead, Toyota focused on leading the way in hybrid technology with the Prius, firstly as a saloon in the Japanese domestic market and later in the UK as a hatchback model from around mid-2000. It was among the first mass-produced cars to use a hybrid powertrain, only being narrowly pipped to the post by the first-generation Honda Insight.
Developing hybrid technology and applying it to almost every Toyota model, from the Yaris supermini to the RAV4, has helped deliver much-improved fuel economy and low CO2 emissions compared with its pure-petrol and diesel rivals. However, for a brand that’s embraced electrification with such gusto, it was a little surprising that Toyota left it until 2022 to launch a mass-market all-electric car, the bZ4X.
Toyota has promised there will eventually be an entire family of electric bZ (beyond Zero) models in its showrooms, with the number in the name indicating the size of the car. So, with the ‘4’ being a mid-size vehicle, and the ‘X’ representing an SUV, it leaves the door open for a variety of EVs in the future.
The bZ4X enters the all-electric family SUV market at a busy time, with a host of high-quality alternatives for buyers to choose from. The Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6 are fantastic options, with the former offering a more relaxed, practical character and the latter a focused, sportier drive and sleeker looks. Our 2022 Car of the Year, the Nissan Ariya, which we’d recommend for its all-round ability, will also be on most buyers’ shortlists, along with the Skoda Enyaq iV, Volkswagen ID.4, Tesla Model Y and Ford Mustang Mach-E.
Every bZ4X is powered by a 75kWh battery, 71kWh of which is usable, and allows for a maximum range of 271 miles if you get the 201bhp front-wheel drive model. However, that figure shrinks to 255 miles if you get the 215bhp all-wheel drive version, which features two electric motors, one on each axle. For context, all of the bZ4X’s rivals we list above boast official ranges of well over 300 miles.
There are also three core trim levels to choose from: Pure, Motion and Vision. Standard kit is decent, with every model featuring a seven-inch digital instrument panel, heat pump, 18-inch alloy wheels, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, plus a host of safety systems. But the sweet spot is arguably the Motion specification, which includes niceties such as privacy glass, a panoramic glass roof, heated front seats and a bigger 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen, as opposed to the base model’s eight-inch display. Prices currently start from just under £43,000 for a FWD Pure trim, rising to around £51,500 for the top-spec Vision AWD model.
For an alternative review of the Toyota bZ4X, visit our sister site drivingelectric.com...
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe Toyota bZ4X is a capable, all-electric family car that impresses across the board, although some will find it expensive to buy
- 2Electric motor, drive and performanceThe Toyota bZ4X offers decent driving dynamics and just enough power to keep things interesting
- 3Range, charging and running costsRapid charging ability is a welcome feature, but insurance costs for the Toyota bZ4X are likely to be expensive
- 4Interior, design and technologyA stylish exterior design and a high-quality feel to the cabin should help the Toyota bZ4x win over buyers
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spacePracticality is a mixed bag for the Toyota bZ4X; boot space is adequate, but rear passenger space could be better
- 6Reliability and safety The Toyota bZ4X offers impressive levels of safety and a reassuring warranty package