Breaking Into the EV World
The 2023 BZ4X small SUV is the first-ever mass production all-electric vehicle from Toyota. It joins the line-up of cars and SUVs powered by hybrid, plug-in hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell technology that have made Toyota the world leader in electrified vehicles. The BZ4X will be sold throughout the world, but in America it will be first offered (April 2022) in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. A full country roll-out is planned for late 2022.
If you are wondering what the heck BZ4X means, a brief tutorial. “BZ” = “Beyond Zero”; “4” = “midsize”; “X” = SUV. Toyota says, “BZ” is to “provide customers with value that exceeds mere zero emissions.” This concept of emission-free mobility is coming from many auto manufacturers as they move away from gasoline-only propulsion.
This Flash Drive review highlights the BZ4X; Clean Fleet Report will write a more detailed Road Test review in the coming months. Until then, here are some notes to get started.
- Standard with front-wheel drive (FWD), optional all-wheel drive (AWD)
- No sharing of its platform architecture with other existing Toyota SUVs (but with Subaru for the Solterra)
- Designed with the American driver in mind
- Two different BZ4X trim levels: XLE and Limited
- Five solid and four two-tone exterior colors
- Wireless Apple Car Play and Android Auto
- Wireless phone charging
Power and Range
The 2023 BZ4X has either one or two electric motors powered by a 355-volt lithium-ion battery.
Single 150 kW motor
201 horsepower (hp)/196 pound-feet (lb.-ft.) of torque
0 – 60 mph: 7.1 seconds
71.4 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery
6.6 kW onboard charger
150 kW maximum DC charging
4,266 – 4,398 lb. curb weight
Driving Range: XLE: 252 miles; Limited: 242 miles
Dual 80 kW motors
214 hp/248 lb.-ft. of torque
0 – 60 mph: 6.5 seconds
72.8 kWh battery
6.6 kW onboard charger
100 kW maximum DC charging
4,332 – 4,464 lb. curb weight
Driving Range: XLE: 228 miles; Limited: 222 miles
Hitting the Road
The BZ4X offers a choice of driving only the front wheels or having a symmetrical all-wheel drive system. The latest generation of X-MODE, with Snow/Dirt and Snow/Mud drive modes, increases grip and traction in icy, sloppy and off-road conditions. Having these two drive options makes the BZ4X ideal for those who spend all of their time in town, or may do a bit of off-pavement driving in the country. Its 8.1-inches of ground clearance provides good clearance for most off-road needs, but it’s not for rock crawling.
Where the BZ4X shines is in town and on the open road. Acceleration is more than adequate for entering freeways and passing big rigs, and the smooth operation is what makes driving an electric vehicle so wonderful.
There are two drive modes–normal (the default) and Eco, along with a button that increases the amount of regeneration to replenish the battery by converting kinetic energy into electricity when braking or coasting. I would have liked options to set the regeneration one click higher, and for the BZ4X to have one pedal driving as opposed to creep mode. There is a very handy Brake Hold button that locks the brakes when at a stop light, thusly relieving pressure from the driver’s right leg from needing to hold down the brake pedal.
Handling was solid with a low center of gravity as the batteries are placed under the seats. Eighteen-inch all-season tires are standard on the XLE, with 20-inch on the Limited. Brakes are ventilated front and rear discs, with MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link rear suspension.
Charging is through Level 1, 2 and 3 DC Fast Charging. All 2023 BZ4X owners receive one year pg free DC Fast Charging at EVgo charge stations.
Level 2 240V 11 hours (10% – 100%)
Level 3 DC Fast Charging 1 hour (to 80%)
The 2023 BZ4X exterior design does not stray far from the Toyota RAV4, keeping with an upright stance and a high belt line. The BZ4X has what Toyota calls a “hammerhead shark-like shape” consisting of a flat nose, curved bumper corners with a slim grille, narrow multi-LED projector head lights and daytime running lights. Cladding, more abundant than found on most current SUVs, wraps the headlights and continues over and around the front wheels, below the doors, encasing the rear wheels and then across the lower rear fascia.
The front and rear overhangs are short. Low profile roof rails frame the power sunroof. The foot-activated power lift gate has an interesting dual-wing top spoiler with a more conventional lip spoiler at the bottom of the steeply sloped glass. Narrow LED tail lights, with a connecting light strip, take-up little space, revealing a modern design.
Driver visibility is very good with thin A pillars, a sloping hood, and tall windows. Spending about two and a half hours in the BZ4X, I found the front seats are supportive, with power for the driver and passenger in the Limited trim (driver only in the XLE model). The rear seat holds three with ample shoulder head and leg room. The 30 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats is generous, and increases when the 60/40 second row split seat is laid flat.
The XLE seats are fabric with SofTex (a synthetic leather) trim, while the Limited seats get the full SofTex treatment. The Limited front seats are heated and ventilated, with heated rear seats an option. The XLE has the option for heated, but not ventilated, front seats, but no rear seat heat option. The pattern here is moving up from XLE to Limited brings more comfort and convenience.
Standard on both XLE and Limited, the multimedia system has a 12.3-inch touchscreen, with a six-speaker audio unit. Available on the Limited trim is the great sounding nine-speaker JBL premium audio system with a subwoofer and amplifier. Both systems get navigation, SiriusXM/AM/FM radio with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. USB A and C ports and wireless phone charging are standard. Adding a channel tuning knob would have assisted in keeping the driver’s eyes on the road, as would a head-up display.
The BZ4X comes with a dual zone automatic climate system with dust and pollen filters, rear passenger vents, power door locks and windows with auto up/down, Digital key, Wi-Fi, tilt and telescoping steering column, soft touch dash and armrests, ambient floor lighting, and an auto-dimming rear view mirror with Homelink,
Safety systems include backup and Bird’s Eye View cameras, child protector rear door locks and power window lockout, a tire pressure monitoring system and an anti-theft system with engine immobilizer. Active and passive safety and advanced driver assist systems (ADAS) include eight airbags and the Toyota Safety Sense technology. Also standard are range detection through millimeter wave radar and a monocular camera for a pre-collision system that includes low-light cyclist and daytime motorcyclist and guardrail detection, pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist and full-speed adaptive cruise control.
Warranty and Pricing
- Battery Eight years/100,000 miles
- Comprehensive Three years/36,000 miles
- Powertrain Five years/60,000
- Corrosion Perforation Five years/Unlimited miles
- Complimentary Maintenance Two years/25,000 miles
- Roadside Assistance Two years/25,000 miles
The 2023 Toyota BZ4X comes in two trim levels, each with a FWD and AWD option. These base prices include the $1,215 delivery processing and handling fee.
- XLE FWD $43,215
- XLE AWD $45,295
- Limited FWD $47,915
- Limited AWD $49,995
Observations: 2023 Toyota BZ4X EV
This is the first of several “BZ” vehicles that will appear between now and 2025, when Toyota will offer 70 electrified vehicles, 15 of them being battery electric. By 2030 80-percent of the company’s global sales will be electrified with hybrid, plug-in hybrid, battery electric or hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles.
The all-new, all-electric BZ4X compact SUV is an important step for Toyota as it has been conspicuously absent from offering all-electric vehicles. The commitment to convert much of the line-up to some sort of electrification is a big step, and should help Toyota attain its goal of being a worldwide leader in zero-emission transportation.
Toyota understands, in consumer’s minds, EVs can be intimidating and overwhelming, and there needs to be a comfort level around home charging and public charging. Driving range, or “range anxiety,” still weighs heavily on potential EV owners.
Toyota is playing catch-up in the world of electric vehicles, and the importance of the BZ4X cannot be understated. Consumers are aware Toyota is an environmentally friendly company, with its leadership in hybrid, plug-in hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell technology. So this first step needs to be quickly followed-up with more electric vehicles of different sizes and for different uses.
What will power the next generation 4Runner, Sequoia, Land Cruiser, Tacoma, Tundra, and Supra? Or will they be discontinued and replaced with all new exciting models? Stay tuned!
Make sure to opt-in to the Clean Fleet Report newsletter (top right of page) to be notified of all new stories and vehicle reviews, including when we get the chance to drive the bZ4X with a full report on its performance, charging speed, and driving range.
Story and photos by John Faulkner.
The other EV SUV challengers
News: 2023 Subaru Solterra EV
Flash Drive: 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5
Flash Drive: 2022 Kia EV6
News: 2023 Nissan Ariya
Road Trip: 2021 Volkswagen ID4
Road Trip: 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E
Flash Drive: 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV
Tech: Benchmarking the Tesla Model Y
Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.
Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at [email protected]