Toyota bZ4X review

Category: Electric car

Toyota's first fully electric car is great to drive, although it can't match some rivals for range and charging speed.

Toyota bZ4X 2022 front right tracking
  • Toyota bZ4X 2022 front right tracking
  • Toyota bZ4X 2022 wide rear cornering
  • Toyota bZ4X 2022 interior dashboard
  • Toyota bZ4X 2022 interior rear seats
  • Toyota bZ4X 2022 interior infotainment
  • Toyota bZ4X 2022 wide left tracking
  • Toyota bZ4X 2022 wide rear right tracking
  • Toyota bZ4X 2022 front right cornering
  • Toyota bZ4X 2022 right panning
  • Toyota bZ4X 2022 rear tracking
  • Toyota bZ4X 2022 right side boot open
  • Toyota bZ4X 2022 badge detail
  • Toyota bZ4X 2022 charging port detail
  • Toyota bZ4X 2022 interior front seats
  • Toyota bZ4X 2022 interior instrument panel detail
  • Toyota bZ4X 2022 interior steering wheel detail
  • Toyota bZ4X 2022 interior usb-c sockets detail
  • Toyota bZ4X 2022 drive mode selector detail
  • Toyota bZ4X 2022 boot open
  • Toyota bZ4X 2022 front right tracking
  • Toyota bZ4X 2022 wide rear cornering
  • Toyota bZ4X 2022 interior dashboard
  • Toyota bZ4X 2022 interior rear seats
  • Toyota bZ4X 2022 interior infotainment
  • Toyota bZ4X 2022 wide left tracking
  • Toyota bZ4X 2022 wide rear right tracking
  • Toyota bZ4X 2022 front right cornering
  • Toyota bZ4X 2022 right panning
  • Toyota bZ4X 2022 rear tracking
  • Toyota bZ4X 2022 right side boot open
  • Toyota bZ4X 2022 badge detail
  • Toyota bZ4X 2022 charging port detail
  • Toyota bZ4X 2022 interior front seats
  • Toyota bZ4X 2022 interior instrument panel detail
  • Toyota bZ4X 2022 interior steering wheel detail
  • Toyota bZ4X 2022 interior usb-c sockets detail
  • Toyota bZ4X 2022 drive mode selector detail
  • Toyota bZ4X 2022 boot open
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Introduction

What Car? says...

Believe it or not, the Toyota bZ4X is the Japanese brand's first modern fully electric car. 

It’s particularly surprising given that Toyota has been a trailblazer for electrification over the past quarter of a century, with the first-generation Prius hybrid arriving in the mid-Nineties and several plug-in hybrid models going on sale since.

Still, you could argue that Toyota has timed the launch of the bZ4X perfectly. It arrives at a time when the demand for electric SUVs is sky-high, with long waiting lists for some rivals, which include the Kia EV6, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Tesla Model Y and VW ID.4. Put simply, if the Toyota bZ4X is good, it has every chance of being an unmitigated success.

In case you wondered, bZ refers to Toyota's Beyond Zero strategy, with plenty more bZ-branded models (smaller and larger) on the way. The 4, meanwhile, signifies the car's size (it's roughly as big as a Toyota RAV4) and the X marks it out as an SUV.

Two versions are offered, and the cheaper one has a single 201bhp motor driving the front wheels. If you spend a bit extra, you'll get a second motor driving the rear axle, giving the bZ4X four-wheel drive, 215bhp and slightly nippier acceleration. However, the extra weight does slash a few miles off the range between changes.

So how far can each version of the Toyota bZ4X go on a full charge, and when the battery does run flat, how long does it take to charge back up again? We'll answer those questions and many more over the next few pages. We also have a first drive of the closely related Subaru Solterra.

And whether you decide to buy a Toyota bZ4X or something entirely different, head over to the free What Car? New Car Buying service to find out how much you could save on the asking price. You'll find loads of fantastic electric SUV deals.

Overview

The bZ4X is a fine all-rounder – especially in front-wheel-drive (FWD) form and mid-rung Motion trim. It's good to drive, roomy in the back and reasonably priced, plus you get a 10 year warranty on the battery if you take your car to a Toyota dealer for an annual EV health check.

  • Good to drive by electric SUV standards
  • Huge amounts of rear leg room
  • 4WD version has impressive off-road performance for an electric vehicle
  • Range is average for the class
  • Kia EV6 and Tesla Model Y can be charged faster
  • No front boot
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

The single-motor, front-wheel drive Toyota bZ4X is plenty quick enough. In our tests, it managed to sprint from 0-60mph in 7.1sec – very slightly quicker than a Kia EV6 RWD.

The four-wheel-drive version is faster, but not by as much as you might imagine. It's more powerful, yes, but also heavier, and can officially do 0-62mph in 6.9sec. It doesn't deliver the neck-snapping acceleration of a Kia EV6 AWD or Tesla Model Y Long Range, but certainly accelerates quicker than most petrol or diesel equivalents.

Toyota BZ4X image
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The smooth power delivery encourages you to drive the bZ4X in a relaxed manner, which suits its personality down to the ground. The suspension is noticeably softer than on the Model Y, giving the bZ4X a more supple ride. Indeed, comfort is roughly on a par with the EV6.

Fortunately, that hasn't come at the expense of handling, because the bZ4X goes round corners without too much lean and inspires plenty of confidence. Yes, the lower-riding EV6 is more agile but the bZ4X has the edge over many other rivals, including the VW ID.4.

The steering is also naturally weighted and builds weight progressively as you turn into corners, giving you confidence. From 2023, the bZ4X will be available with a ‘steer-by-wire’ system, which can supposedly gives you full lock with just a 150-degree turn of the accompanying (and yet to be signed off) Tesla-inspired ‘yoke’ steering wheel.

Refinement is decent, too, with less road and suspension noise than in the Model Y, although the EV6 and Hyundai Ioniq 5 are even quieter choices. The brakes deserve a special mention, too – it's easy to judge how much pressure to apply to slow down smoothly, which isn't the case in many electric cars.

The bZ4X might look like the very definition of a ‘soft-roader’, but the AWD model benefits from a version of partner Subaru’s X-Mode terrain control system, which allows it to overcome deep snow, mud and other obstacles.

We tested these systems – including the bZ4X’s Jeep Renegade beating 500mm wading depth – on a challenging off-road course. The way the four-wheel-drive system manages to find grip in the muckiest of situations is truly impressive, with the two-motor drivetrain sensing slip and metering out power to each wheel as needed.

Ground clearance over particularly severe obstacles is more of a limitation when things get really rough, but we can confidently say that you’re not going to get stuck in your local National Trust car park.

What about the bZ4X's range between charges? Well, all versions have the same 71.4kWh (usable capacity) battery, but the more efficient front-wheel-drive version can officially do up to 317 miles (depending on the trim). In our tests, efficiency was slightly behind the EV6 RWD and Ford Mustang Mach-E Standard Range RWD, suggesting a real-world range of around 250 miles. 

The heavier four-wheel-drive model can officially manage a respectable 286 miles on a charge. We haven't had a chance to put this version through our real-world tests yet.

Toyota bZ4X 2022 wide rear cornering

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

The Toyota bZ4X has a relatively low roofline for an SUV, but the interior still feels open and airy thanks to the tall side windows. You also sit high up in the car, which not only helps gives you a good view out to the front and sides, but also makes you feel like you're driving a proper SUV. The height of the driving position is more akin to the VW ID.4 than the lower-riding Kia EV6.  

Rear visibility is slightly restricted due to the chunky rear pillars, but all models get a reversing camera as standard to help out with parking. You get front and rear parking sensors if you go for mid-rung Motion trim or above.

Ignoring how far you like to sit from the road, the bZ4X has a fundamentally sound driving position. The seat is comfortable, offers much more side support than you get in the Tesla Model Y and adjusts electrically in all but entry-level Pure models. The seat, steering wheel and pedals line up neatly with one another, too.

The only complaint you might have is that the steering wheel partially blocks your view of the digital instrument panel behind it. This will depend on your height and driving position, so we'd advise sitting in a bZ4X to check before placing your order. The 'yoke' steering wheel option that will be offered from 2023 might well remedy this problem, but we don't yet know what it will be like to use or how much extra it will cost.

Quality is a mixed bag. There are some suitably upmarket materials on show, including soft-touch plastic on the insides of the doors, fabric inserts on the dashboard and gloss 'piano' black across large swathes of the centre console. Less impressive are the low-rent door pulls. On balance, the EV6 feels a bit more upmarket inside.

Entry-level Pure models have an 8in touchscreen infotainment system, with all other trim levels getting a larger 12.3in screen. We've only tried the larger screen, and despite sometimes being a little slow to respond to prods, it's reasonably easy to get to grips with. All models gets Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring, with wireless phone-charging standard on all but entry-level Pure cars.

Toyota bZ4X 2022 interior dashboard

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

The bZ4X is a similar size to the Toyota RAV4 so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there's plenty of space in the front – even if you tick the box for the optional panoramic sunroof. 

There's plenty of storage, too, including a large cubby under the centre armrest, a lidded tray for your phone behind the gear selector, an open tray underneath the 'floating' centre console and door bins each capable of holding two large bottles of drink. That's a good thing because, unusually, the bZ4X doesn't have a glovebox.

Rear leg room is frankly ridiculous – and in a good way. Due to the bZ4X’s long wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear wheels), you’ll have loads of knee room, even if you're tall and are sitting behind someone similarly lofty. Mind you, the same can be said of the Kia EV6 and the Hyundai Ioniq 5

Headroom isn't so great, and if you're more than six feet tall, you might find that your head hits the ceiling when you try to relax back in your seat and use the head rest. Mind you, the flat floor and broad interior mean it's not too much of a squeeze for three adults sitting in the back. You can also adjust the angle of the seatbacks – a handy feature that's also offered in many rivals, including the EV6 and Skoda Enyaq iV.

With the rear seats in place, the bZ4X has 452 litres of boot space. For comparison, an EV6 offers 490 litres and the Enyaq a vast 585 litres. The official numbers only tell you so much, though, because we managed to fit eight carry-on suitcases below the bZ4X's parcel shelf, compared with seven in the EV6. The Enyaq swallowed nine, though.  

In short, some rivals have a bigger boot, but there's still plenty of room for a family holiday. You get a small underfloor storage area for the charging cables, which is handy because, unlike the EV6 and Tesla Model Y, the bZ4X has no extra storage under its bonnet.

If you need to lug around an even bigger load, you can always fold down the 60/40 split rear seatback. This leaves a gentle slope but not enough of one to cause any real inconvenience. 

Toyota bZ4X 2022 interior rear seats

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

The Toyota bZ4X is priced roughly in line with the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6 and is a bit cheaper than the Audi Q4 e-tron, Ford Mustang Mach-E and Tesla Model Y. Resale values are expected to be strong, although the Model Y is likely to depreciate even more slowly.

Meanwhile, PCP deals are competitive, and Toyota also offers an all-inclusive leasing contract, covering the vehicle, maintenance, wall-box charger installation and access to connected services. The idea is to try to make the EV buying experience as painless as possible.

The bZ4X’s maximum charging speed of 150kW is faster than the Skoda Enyaq iV and VW ID.4 can manage, but a lot slower than the EV6 and Tesla Model Y, which can both accept more than 200kW. In ideal conditions from a fast enough CCS charging point, a 10-80% charge in the bZ4X will take around 32 minutes. A full 0-100% charge from a 7kW home wall box will take just under 13 hours.

Even entry-level Pure models are fairly well equipped, with 18in alloy wheels, adaptive cruise control, keyless entry and start and a pre-conditioning system for the interior. You also get a heat pump to improve range in colder conditions – something that's an option on most competitors, including the EV6. 

Stepping up to mid-spec Motion trim adds some visual enhancements, including a rear spoiler plus some genuinely useful kit, including rain-sensing wipers, an eight-way electrically adjustable and heated driver’s seat, rear privacy glass and a powered tailgate. Venturing further up the range pushes the price into the territory of better premium cars, including the Audi Q4 e-tron 50 Quattro, so it’s not something we’d advise. 

You get plenty of safety tech whichever trim you go for, including automatic emergency braking (AEB) and lane-keeping assistance, with blind-spot monitoring fitted from Motion trim. A Euro NCAP safety appraisal wasn't available at the time of writing.

We don’t have any reliability data for the bZ4X (it's too new), but Toyota finished an excellent second place out of 32 brands in the 2022 What Car? Reliability Survey. It will be offering an extended care programme that guarantees the battery will still operate to 70% of its original capacity after up to 10 years of ownership (or 620,000 miles), subject to the owner taking their car to an authorised dealer for an annual EV health check. 

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Toyota bZ4X 2022 interior infotainment

FAQs

  • The Toyota bZ4X didn’t feature in our 2021 What Car? Reliability Survey, but Toyota as a brand scored well. It finished joint fifth place with Mini out of 30 brands with a score of 97.0%, beating Kia, Honda and Volkswagen. Toyota offers an extended care programme for the battery. Subject to an annual EV health check, it guarantees it will still operate to 70% of its original capacity after up to 10 years of ownership (or 620,000 miles). Read more here

  • While all versions come with the same 71.4kWh of usable battery capacity, the Toyota bZ4X’s range depends on which model you pick. The more efficient front-wheel-drive version can officially do up to 317 miles (depending on the trim), and the four-wheel-drive model can officially manage 286 miles. From our experience, the front-wheel drive model will deliver a real-world range of around 250 miles. Read more here

  • We recommend the Toyota bZ4X in single motor, front-wheel drive, 150kW form combined with Motion trim. The single motor version has the best range in the line-up while still retaining good performance, and Motion trim brings a decent amount of useful kit over the entry-level Pure model. That includes the addition of rain-sensing wipers, an eight-way electrically adjustable driver’s seat and a powered tailgate. Read more here

  • At the time of writing, the Toyota bZ4X has yet to be crash-tested by the safety experts at Euro NCAP. However, you get plenty of safety tech whichever trim you go for, including automatic emergency braking (AEB) and lane-keeping assistance, with blind-spot monitoring fitted from Motion trim and up. Read more here

  • Entry-level Pure models have an 8in touchscreen infotainment system, and all other trims get a larger 12.3in screen. We've only tried the larger screen, and despite sometimes being a little slow to respond to prods, it's reasonably easy to get to grips with. All models come with Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring as standard. Read more here

  • The Toyota bZ4X has 452 litres of boot space. For comparison, the Kia EV6 offers up to 490 litres and the Skoda Enyaq iV has a vast 585 litres. We managed to fit eight carry-on suitcases below the bZ4X's parcel shelf, compared with seven in the EV6 and nine in the Enyaq. Read more here

At a glance
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RRP price range £42,860 - £54,010
Number of trims (see all)3
Number of engines (see all)2
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)electric
Available doors options 5
Warranty 3 years / 60000 miles
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £86 / £108
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £171 / £216
Available colours