Toyota bZ4X long-term test

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 LT header

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 4175 List price £51,950 Target Price na Price as tested £56,125 Dealer price now £40,280 Private price now £35,800 Test range 173-205 miles Official range 259 miles Running costs (exc depreciation) Electricity £515

25 March 2024 – In a galaxy not far, far away...

Anyone who has seen the original Star Wars trilogy will know that, delightful films though they undoubtedly are, they’re not without their flaws. Regardless, most viewers enjoy watching them so much that they’re willing to overlook a few plot holes, continuity breaks and other gaffes; in fact, some of the bloopers (such as a lanky stormtrooper bumping his head as he’s going through a doorway in A New Hope) are to be savoured. This, in a nutshell, also describes my experience with the Toyota bZ4X I’ve been running for the past six months.

Toyota bZ4X twin charging

Despite the fact that it’s Toyota’s first (and so far only) electric SUV, there’s a lot to like about the bZ4X, from the slick way it drives to the user-friendliness of its interior. It’s a very different proposition from the brash Skoda Enyaq Coupé vRS I ran previously, but the bZ4X’s more laid-back, sophisticated nature actually appeals to me more. In fact, out of all the company cars I’ve had over the years, it ranks as one of my favourites, electric or otherwise.

Perhaps the defining characteristic of the bZ4X is comfort, thanks to a supple yet well-controlled ride (at any speed) and plush seats. Although it’s not quite as quiet as some electric SUVs, the bZ4X proved to be an exceptionally smooth and relaxing cruiser. In fact, dynamically, it impressed all round, being nicely balanced through corners and changing direction surprisingly willingly, in large part because it didn’t feel anywhere near as heavy as many other electric vehicles (EVs) I’ve driven. 

Toyota bZ4X cruising

Although it isn’t all that powerful by EV standards, my range-topping 215bhp, dual-motor bZ4X delivered punchy performance and could effortlessly keep up with fast-moving traffic on the motorway, where its adaptive cruise control and steering assistance system proved excellent – effective yet relatively unobtrusive.

Some of the other driver aids were more annoying, though, including an automatic rear brake assist system that was a little too eager to intervene when backing into a parking space – often making me think I’d bumped into something when I still had room to spare. The continual chiming to tell me when I was in reverse was highly distracting, too. 

Toyota bZ4X in-car driving

Although the generously equipped interior isn’t at premium level for quality, I thought the materials mostly looked and felt more than good enough, and the functional dashboard layout proved far more user-friendly than that of the Enyaq (and many other rivals), with mostly physical switches and buttons. The driving position might not suit everyone, but I found the high-set, far-away instrument panel surprisingly clear and easy to see over the small, PlayStation-style steering wheel. 

There isn’t much head room to spare (even up front) in versions fitted with a panoramic glass roof (like mine), but rear leg room is generous. The good-sized boot proved easy to load, thanks to a low lip, although the underfloor storage space could do with being bigger; two coiled-up charging cables tended to spill out.

Toyota bZ4X loading e-bike

The main drawback with the bZ4X is its stingy range. Being able to cover just 175-180 miles on average (mostly in cold conditions) between charges was pretty disappointing; the Kia EV6 I ran a couple of years ago could go a full 100 miles (or more) farther between charges.

I’d expect the range to improve in warmer conditions, and it’s worth remembering that the entry-level, front-wheel-drive bZ4X has a significantly longer official range than my range-topper – but even so, I had to plug my car in for top-ups far more frequently than I was used to from my time with the EV6 and Enyaq. You’d get well acquainted with the public charging network if you did long journeys regularly in a bZ4X.

Toyota bZ4X water splash

The fact that I could buy an EV6 – a car that can go much farther between charges and is quicker to recharge – for less money than my bZ4X is slightly galling. If I had to choose between them, I’d probably go for the EV6, which is still the benchmark for me among electric SUVs. But as with Star Wars, a few shortcomings don’t make the bZ4X a bad car – far from it. The Force is stronger than you might expect with this one.

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