Toyota bZ4X long-term test: report 5

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 Fastned rapid charging

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 2020 List price £51,950 Target Price £49,008 Price as tested £56,125 Test range 180 miles Official range 259 miles  

24 January 2024 – Cruising streak

Aside from the inconvenient fact that its real-world range is on the stingy side, my Toyota bZ4X is proving to be an exceptionally good long-distance cruiser. I took it on a run around Wiltshire recently, with a fair bit of motorway driving mixed in with some A and B-road meandering behind slow-moving traffic, and it was utterly relaxing the whole way. 

While many new cars are fitted with advanced driver aids such as adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assistance to make motorway driving safer and less stressful, the bZ4X’s systems seem to be less intrusive than most of the ones I’ve encountered elsewhere. 

Toyota bZ4X cruising

The adaptive cruise control (ACC) is not only simple to operate – a single press of a button on the steering wheel sets or cancels it – but also it doesn’t over-react when it detects another car ahead. Nor does it have any trouble bringing the car to a stop automatically when the traffic ahead grinds to a halt. I feel like I can trust it.

The steering assistance, which keeps the car centred in its lane, is excellent, too. Unlike a lot of other cars I’ve driven, the bZ4X is capable of steering itself around a long, constant-radius bend in one reasonably smooth movement, rather than taking multiple tiny stabs at it. And thankfully, it refrains from giving me continual reminders to keep my hands on the steering wheel.

Because it’s so effective, I tend to use the steering assistance regularly on the motorway. Even better, when I’m driving along a country road, the driver aids aren’t continually trying to steer me away from the edge or centreline of the road; in fact, you’d never know they were there.

Toyota bZ4X rapid charging

The bZ4X isn’t the quietest electric vehicle (EV) I’ve driven – there’s some wind and road noise to contend with – but fundamentally it feels at home on the motorway, with plenty of performance on tap and a supple yet well-controlled ride. So far, the latter is probably the aspect that has impressed me the most; my car is exceptionally comfortable at all speeds.

The main limitation, as I said earlier, is range. My car’s efficiency has actually crept up again following the gentle run over to Wiltshire, but it still can’t go nearly as far between charges as my previous Kia EV6 or Skoda Enyaq Coupé could manage; currently it’s around 180 miles. Stopping to top up the battery is therefore necessary even on some not particularly long out-of-town trips.

I’ve never been a fan of EVs’ charging ports being located on the front wing (as the bZ4X’s is), because getting the fat cables of public rapid chargers into place can be a wrestling match, or they simply won’t reach. Having said that, this is less of an issue when the charging bays are spacious and have good cable management (hung well off the ground) like those of the Fastned facility I stopped at in Melksham.

Toyota bZ4X charging port

The bZ4X doesn’t charge as rapidly as the likes of the EV6, but its 150kW peak rate is still fast enough to add a useful amount to the range in the time it takes for a (very leisurely) lunch or coffee break at a nearby Costa or Starbucks. If I’m going to do many more long journeys in my bZ4X, I’ll have to find out whether they offer loyalty cards…

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