Toyota bZ4X 2023 first drive: an ambitious electric SUV

The 2023 Toyota bZ4X will be the Japanese company’s first attempt at an electric vehicle that will be available in all 50 states. It’s a great machine that feels as good as it drives and is loaded with updated technology – but Toyota has to do Much From work to get this $42,000 car to land with the masses in the non-luxury electric SUV market.

Full disclosure: Toyota invited Jalopnik to drive a Toyota bZ4X at a luxury resort in California. . All opinions are mine

Photo of the article titled Toyota bZ4X First Drive: An ambitious electric car, but will it land with the masses?

picture: Elizabeth Blackstock

Photo of the article titled Toyota bZ4X First Drive: An ambitious electric car, but will it land with the masses?

picture: Elizabeth Blackstock

What is the Toyota bZ4X?

The Toyota bZ4X is the Japanese company’s attempt at an all-electric SUV designed to usher in a new era of electric vehicles for the company, and will be Toyota’s first electric vehicle sold in all 50 states. It is also another collaboration with Subaru; The Solterra and bZ4X share the same platform and are nearly identical but with a few mechanical tweaks and aesthetic changes.

This crossover was announced in November of last year to some mixed reviews. The letter “bZ” in its name stands for “Beyond Zero,” which means the electric vehicle hopes to be more than just carbon-neutral but actively good For the environment. The naming convention, unfortunately, still exists; Toyota notes that it already has plans for the bZ5X—a real tool for anyone who has to write that naming convention, for example, in a review.

Photo of the article titled Toyota bZ4X First Drive: An ambitious electric car, but will it land with the masses?

picture: Elizabeth Blackstock

Photo of the article titled Toyota bZ4X First Drive: An ambitious electric car, but will it land with the masses?

picture: Elizabeth Blackstock

How does the Toyota bZ4X drive?

I’ll admit it: I love a good electric SUV. Where your traditional gas-powered machine can feel a little slow and heavy, the electric version of these larger vehicles delivers an instant, linear application of torque at just the touch of the throttle. I’d be lying if I said I don’t enjoy getting away from stop lights like I would in a drag strip.

However, this brings me to one of the first issues I noticed with the bZ4X. I’ve had the opportunity to drive both XLE and Limited models in both FWD and AWD formats – and wheel spin was almost inevitable on FWD models if you weren’t paying attention. Just hit the throttle hard, and you’ll lose traction for a moment. It’s not something a driver can get used to, but admittedly it’s a bit confusing at first.

Once cruising, the bZ4X is more comfortable than anything else. We’re not talking about a performance car here, so if you want solid suspension and instant response from the steering inputs, you probably shouldn’t choose an SUV anyway.

But bZ4X is competent. On the highway, driving is a breeze. On the twisty mountain trails, you’ll still be able to have a little fun. On gravel, it holds its own (although, again, be careful with throttle application on these FWD models). It does not stand out in terms of driving dynamics, but Toyota is marketing this car as a passenger car – and it will do just fine. If you love to sail the RAV4, you will enjoy the bZ4X.

I’ll note, however, that I didn’t get a chance to do any significant bumpy roads in the bZ4X, so I wasn’t able to test AWD’s X-Mode system, which features additional traction settings for snow/dirt, snow/mud and hill descent. However, I played with Boost Mode, which is Toyota’s name for the regenerative braking setting. It’s not exactly one-pedal driving (you have to use the brakes to come to a complete stop), but you will notice significant deceleration. Also worth noting: You can use Boost Mode with any X-Mode settings.

I had another minor criticism about the bZ4X. The dashboard is neat, but it is so attached to the dashboard that I found the top of the steering wheel blocking my view of the speedometer. After chatting with some of my fellow journalists on the trip, I found that this wasn’t a huge problem for many drivers while it was a major inconvenience to others. This seems to depend on your driving situation; I was able to reset still feel comfortable, but admittedly it was a bit confusing to be unable to sit in my standard driving position.

And yes, I need to talk about the design – specifically, the black cladding on the outside which looks better in real life than it does in the photographs. This single design element will probably be the death knell for many buyers because the livery tends to only look cheap, and I’d expect more exterior luxury from a $40,000+ non-off-road vehicle. The interior also replaced the plastic or dull with a gray fabric that I couldn’t tell if I liked or hated it. I think it’s going to be one of those things that you can’t figure out until you’ve actually driven for a while.

Fortunately, you get Toyota’s updated infotainment system in this bad boy, the same system found on the new Tundra. On the other hand, I quickly got tired of seeing my fingerprints in piano black trim.

Photo of the article titled Toyota bZ4X First Drive: An ambitious electric car, but will it land with the masses?

picture: Elizabeth Blackstock

Photo of the article titled Toyota bZ4X First Drive: An ambitious electric car, but will it land with the masses?

picture: Elizabeth Blackstock

How does the Toyota bZ4X compare to the competition?

The Toyota bZ4X is set to do battle with other electric and non-luxury SUVs like the Chevy Bolt EUV, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Hyundai Kona Electric, Ioniq, Kia Niro EV, EV6, Tesla Model Y, Volkswagen ID.4, and of course its twin Subaru Solterra .

The bZ4X will sit in the middle of all of those vehicles in terms of price, size and appearance — but it benefits from the fact that it’s Toyota, a brand associated with environmental friendliness and reliability. It’s more comfortable and feels like a traditional petrol car than for example a Model Y or ID

The important thing here, though, is that the bZ4X doesn’t exactly offer anything that will make it stand out from the pack. It’s nice and comfortable to drive, and it benefits from its Toyota palette — but we live in a world where people are reluctant to use electric vehicles, and the competition features better range, lower prices, more luxurious interiors, faster charging, or better technology. To make matters worse, Toyota is on the cusp of losing its federal tax credit, which means you can pick up a Subaru Solterra and get a shockingly similar machine with the guarantee that you can get a great return on your taxes.

Photo of the article titled Toyota bZ4X First Drive: An ambitious electric car, but will it land with the masses?

picture: Elizabeth Blackstock

Photo of the article titled Toyota bZ4X First Drive: An ambitious electric car, but will it land with the masses?

picture: Elizabeth Blackstock

Specifications you should know

  • Starting MSRP: $42,000
  • Range: between 222 and 252, depending on the model
  • Four-wheel drive and front-wheel drive options
  • 201 hp front wheel drive, 214 hp four wheel drive
  • 196 lb-ft of torque
  • 71.4 kWh battery front wheel drive / 72.9 kWh battery four wheel drive
  • Two models: XLE and Limited

XLE

  • FWD MSRP: $42,000
  • AWD MSRP: $44,080
  • Front drive range: 252 miles
  • AWD Range: 228 miles
  • 18 inch aluminum rims

Limited

  • FWD MSRP: $46,700
  • AWD MSRP: $48,780
  • Front drive range: 242 miles
  • AWD range: 222 miles
  • 20″ forged aluminum wheels
  • Additional paint colors
  • Optional split roof spoiler
  • Chrome grille and window trims
  • Multiple LED headlights
  • power lift gate

Photo of the article titled Toyota bZ4X First Drive: An ambitious electric car, but will it land with the masses?

picture: Elizabeth Blackstock

Photo of the article titled Toyota bZ4X First Drive: An ambitious electric car, but will it land with the masses?

picture: Elizabeth Blackstock

judgment

The Toyota BZ4X 2023 is a fully competent electric vehicle that stands out in the SUV segment for its comfort…but that’s all there is to it. If you’re a passionate Toyota fan looking to go all-electric, you’ll love this one. If you want better pricing, higher luxury, more range, faster charging, more efficient technology, better tax credits, more capable off-road driving, or sportier driving, you will be able to find it elsewhere in this The ever-growing market. I really liked the bZ4X – you haven’t given me a reason to buy it yet.