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Toyota bZ4X AWD Review

The Toyota bZ4X is the brand’s first all-electric car and it’s fun to drive; it even managed to make it through a week of snow, despite only having standard road tyres

  • Toyota bZ4X
  • Toyota bZ4X
  • Toyota bZ4X
  • Toyota bZ4X
  • Toyota bZ4X
  • Toyota bZ4X
  • Toyota bZ4X
  • Toyota bZ4X
  • Toyota bZ4X
  • Toyota bZ4X
  • Toyota bZ4X
  • Toyota_bZ4X_Fastned_Chargecurve_Q4_2022
Green Car Guide Rating: 9/10

Key stats

  • Model/Engine size:   Toyota bZ4X MOTION 160kW AWD
  • Fuel:   Electric
  • Electric driving range (WLTP): 286 miles
  • Maximum rapid charging rate:   150 kW

Summary

  • Fun to drive
  • Capable in the snow even with standard road tyres
  • Practical size
  • Dashboard design is a different approach to current ‘minimalistic’ fashion

Background

Toyota has been a global leader with hybrid cars, but it hasn’t embraced battery electric cars. In fact the company has only just launched its first pure EV, the bZ4X (not a memorable name). We must admit that our expectations for Toyota’s first EV weren’t high, so were we pleasantly surprised…?

Toyota bZ4X Toyota bZ4X

Design & Engineering

The Toyota bZ4X AWD has a 71.4kWh lithium-ion battery, two electric motors with a total power output of 215bhp, and all-wheel drive. The bZ4X is also available with just one electric motor and front-wheel drive.

The exterior design is modern and angular, with most of the front wings covered in black plastic, and a few familiar Toyota styling details thrown in. The interior is predominantly dark plastic with quite a few buttons, in contrast to many rivals going for an upmarket and clean ‘premium’ appearance.

Although the bZ4X doesn’t look as big as many SUVs from the outside (it’s more of a crossover than an SUV), space inside seems to be better than it should be for the car’s footprint. There’s a good amount of rear legroom, and a decent 452-litre boot, with a storage compartment underneath for charging cables.

Toyota bZ4X Toyota bZ4X

Toyota bZ4X Driving Experience

The headline is that the Toyota bZ4X is surprisingly good to drive. We say surprisingly because although increasing numbers of Toyota products have been getting better to drive over recent years, we weren’t sure if this attribute would translate to the brand’s first EV.

So why is the bZ4X good to drive? Well, firstly, the main connection between a car and the road is its steering, and the bZ4X has a small steering wheel and when you turn it, the car responds quickly. You look over the wheel to the driver’s instrument display, in a similar way to Peugeot’s i-Cockpit.

Then there’s the next key ingredient for a driver’s car – the handling. We could mention quite a few EVs which have handling that has no agility, however the Toyota, despite its two-tonne weight, does feel agile, which is no doubt helped by its relatively compact size (and the fact that many EVs weigh over two tonnes). Grip is a factor here; on normal roads, although the bZ4X has good traction from its all-wheel drive system, there’s also a playfulness that results from its chassis and its Yokohama tyres – and these relatively high profile tyres are also likely to contribute to the bZ4X’s comfortable ride quality.

Then there’s the performance. The bZ4X has one standard driving mode, with an ‘Eco’ button, but there’s no Sport mode. Performance is good, although there are no Tesla-like levels of acceleration; you get the feeling that it would be good to have a Sport drive mode to heighten the responses.

So the bZ4X’s dynamics make it an enjoyable and practical car to drive on twisting country roads.

During our week with the car it snowed. Not just a bit of a snow, but a lot of snow – in the Peak District and in the Lake District. Our bZ4X had all-wheel drive, but it only had standard road tyres. Yet it managed to get everywhere we needed to go in the snow. One feature that helped with the car’s ability in the snow was a button for ‘X-Mode’, which is technology from Subaru. X-Mode gives the option of Snow/Dirt Mode or Deep Snow/Mud mode.

All the above resulted in the bZ4X reminding us of the second-generation (2003 onwards) Subaru Forester Turbo (the bZ4X has been co-developed with Subaru). Both cars are playful to drive, with good adjustability when you want it, but both also have good levels of grip off-road when you need it.

You can get a good driving position in the bZ4X; there’s a wide centre console, but it doesn’t have too much impact on legroom for the driver. The centre console features a rotary gear selector. There are no steering wheel-mounted paddles, but there is a standalone button for increased brake regeneration.

As with virtually all new cars, there’s a large central touchscreen, with separate heating and ventilation controls underneath. There’s no home button on the touchscreen and if you’re using Apple CarPlay it’s not particularly clear how to get back to the car’s own infotainment controls – an obvious button would be helpful.

The responsive steering is interfered with by the lane departure warning system. How to switch this off is not obvious until you discover that you have to press the top left button on the steering wheel and then press another button underneath it.

Although the bZ4X had heated seats, there was no heated steering wheel – this would have been welcome for a week in the snow.

Perhaps the biggest issue with the bZ4X was the message that repeatedly appeared on the driver’s instrument display, along with a beep, saying ‘Driver monitor unavailable, see owner’s manual’, which appears to happen particularly if you have your hands at the top of the steering wheel – not something that you’re likely to do very often, but the driving experience would be better without this message appearing.

There’s also no rear window wiper, and the bZ4X’s rear window was often full of water/sleet/snow, so hindering rear vision.

Toyota bZ4X Toyota bZ4X

Toyota bZ4X Electric Range and Charging

The all-wheel drive version of the Toyota bZ4X has a WLTP combined electric driving range of 286 miles (the front-wheel drive model has a range of 318 miles).

In the real-world, switching off the heating makes a huge difference to the projected range – this is despite the bZ4X featuring a heat pump. After a week of mixed driving, with much of it in the snow, the average electric driving range after a full charge was 189 miles, which jumped to 245 miles with the heating switched off.

You would imagine that pressing the Eco button would also extend the projected range but it appeared to make no difference at all.

The bZ4X’s maximum rapid charging rate is 150kW, which should provide a 0% to 80% charge in 30 minutes.

Electric cars do not charge at their maximum charge rate for an entire charging session – their charge rate typically starts off high with a battery with a low state of charge, then the charge rate decreases as the battery charge increases. See the charge curve for the Toyota bZ4X from Fastned below.

Toyota_bZ4X_Fastned_Chargecurve_Q4_2022

How to charge an electric car

Toyota bZ4X Toyota bZ4X

Price And Model Range

The Toyota bZ4X is available in four grades and is available with front or all-wheel drive: Pure (front-wheel drive) with 204hp and a 318-mile range (£46,110); Motion (front-wheel drive) with 204hp and a 313-mile range (£49,910); Vision (front-wheel drive) with 204hp and a 278-mile range (£51,810); and Premiere Edition (all-wheel drive) with 218hp and a 257-mile range (£55,710). Motion and Vision trim levels have all-wheel drive as an option.

Our Motion test car was priced at £52,110 and had the option of Platinum White Pearl Pearlescent Paint (£965).

There’s also the Subaru Solterra which is basically the same car as the bZ4X but with slightly different styling and all-wheel drive only.

Toyota bZ4X Toyota bZ4X

Conclusion

If you’re looking for an electric crossover that’s enjoyable to drive then the Toyota bZ4X should be very near the top of your list. When you turn the small steering wheel, the car moves; the bZ4X is also relatively compact (yet a practical size), so the car feels agile. The all-wheel drive bZ4X also managed to keep going through lots of snow in the Peak District and in the Lake District, even with standard summer tyres; Subaru’s X-Mode is likely to have been a factor in this.

The all-wheel drive Toyota bZ4X’s official WLTP driving range of 286 miles dropped to 189 miles in the real-world during a week in the snow, although this did rise to 245 miles with the heating switched off. The bZ4X’s interior is predominantly black plastic, which is in sharp contrast to the more premium interiors of many rivals, but if you can live with that, then the Toyota bZ4X is definitely worthy of a test drive. The Toyota bZ4X is awarded a Green Car Guide rating of 9 out of 10.

Car facts and figures Toyota bZ4X AWD Review

  • Test electric driving range: 189 miles (winter)
  • Consumption (WLTP): 4.0 miles/kWh
  • CO2 emissions (WLTP): 0 g/km
  • Vehicle tax rate (VED):   £0
  • Benefit in Kind (BIK) company car tax liability (2022/23): 2%
  • Price:   £52,110
  • Insurance group:   38E
  • Power:   215 bhp
  • Torque:   337 Nm
  • Max speed:   100 mph
  • 0-62 mph:   6.9 seconds
  • Weight:   2,000 kg
  • Towing capacity: 750 kg
Paul Clarke

Review by:
Paul Clarke, GreenCarGuide Editor