Toyota bZ4X long-term test: report 3

Toyota has long been at the vanguard of hybrid technology, but the bZ4X is its first modern electric car. We're seeing what it's like to live with...

Toyota bZ4X panning

The car Toyota bZ4X AWD Vision Run by Allan Muir, managing editor

Why we’re running it To see whether this all-new electric SUV has what it takes to justify choosing it over established rivals

Needs to Be practical, comfortable and good to drive in everyday use, and deliver a long enough range to make light work of motorway journeys

Mileage 1310 List price £54,950 Target Price £51,835 Price as tested £56,125 Test range 180 miles Official range 259 miles  

7 December 2023 –  The good, the bad and the short

Your perception of Toyota might be different from mine, but I’d stopped thinking of its products as being good to drive – as in agile and enjoyable, rather than just competent transport.  

However, some of the brand’s recent models seem to be disproving the notion that they are dull to drive. The latest Toyota Corolla family hatchback, for example, is highly regarded by What Car? for its dynamic qualities. And I’d have no hesitation in singling out the Toyota bZ4X for similar praise.

Toyota bZ4X cornering

No one should expect an electric SUV to handle like a Porsche Cayman, but I am finding my bZ4X remarkably satisfying to drive. In fact, I’m enjoying it much more than the Skoda Enyaq Coupé vRS I ran previously, despite the fact that the latter was supposedly a sporty model, whereas the bZ4X has no such pretensions. 

Unlike the Enyaq vRS, my bZ4X has a supple, relaxed ride, which soaks up bumps and potholes effortlessly at any speed. Yet it still has excellent body control over humps and along uneven country roads (despite not having adjustable driving modes other than Eco and off-road settings), and I’m continually impressed at how well balanced and responsive it feels through corners. The steering may not be super-quick, but it’s precise and ideally weighted, and best of all, the car doesn’t feel ponderously heavy (again, unlike the Enyaq and some other electric cars I’ve driven). 

Toyota bZ4X parking

The warmth that I feel for my bZ4X cools slightly whenever I do any low-speed manoeuvring, though. The continual beeping noise inside the car when reverse gear is engaged is irritating enough, but more of an issue is how distracting it can be when I’m backing into a parking space. With two beeps trying to outdo each other, I often struggle to tell which one I should be listening to. True, my car comes with a rear-view camera and a 360-degree camera, both of which are helpful, but I still rely on the parking sensors the most.

In addition, when I’m reversing into a parking spot, the car has a tendency to automatically jam on the brakes slightly before the rear parking sensor sound becomes a solid tone, making me think I’ve bumped into something when I’ve still got space behind the car. The fact that the bZ4X lacks a wiper for the back window sometimes hinders rearward visibility, too, especially after a rain shower or a drive in grimy winter conditions.

Toyota bZ4X low battery level

Colder weather isn’t doing my car’s range any favours, either. Currently it’s averaging around 180 miles between top-ups – low enough to add some stress to long journeys, as colleague James Tute found out recently when he borrowed my car for a trip from London to Stafford and back.

On each leg, he ended up running on the electric equivalent of fumes after about 165 miles (because he was travelling mostly at motorway speeds in chilly conditions) before he could get to a charging point. And that's despite the fact that the predicted range readout was optimistically showing more than 230 miles before setting out with a 100% battery level.

My experience so far has been similar, with the indicated range tending to fall at a significantly quicker rate than the actual miles covered. I haven’t experienced that much of a discrepancy in any of the other electric cars I’ve run in recent years.

For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here

Read more about our long-term Toyota bZ4X >>

Read about more long-term test cars >>

Buy a new car with What Car?

Like the sound of the Toyota bZ4X?

If so, check out the latest Toyota bZ4X deals available through our free New Car Deals service.

Our network of What Car? approved dealers use our Target Price discounts (the most our mystery shoppers think you should pay) as the basis for their savings.

Also consider