2023 Toyota bZ4X LE Review

Toyota's first EV signals a promising start.

By Kunal Dsouza Wheels.ca

May 24, 2023 5 min. read

Article was updated 4 months ago

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Better late than never is a good way to sum up Toyota’s first entry into the rapidly growing high-demand BEV segment that’s poised to replace internal combustion cars as we know it. Whether you think this whole EV thing is going to succeed or fail, nearly all major automobile manufacturers have invested big money into it, and the train isn’t stopping for anyone. Toyota, one of the largest and most recognized automakers in the world is late to the EV party, especially when compared to the Koreans and Americans who already boast many excellent choices. And Toyota’s first electric car, the bZ4X hasn’t exactly enjoyed the smoothest of launches.

Now that the issues are largely behind them, what’s the Toyota bZ4X like?

2023 Toyota bZ4X

It feels very similar to the VW ID.4 though it has less power and range. Base models get a single 150 kW motor driving the front wheels, and the bZ4X XLE, the top trim, gets two 80 kW motors, one on each axle, giving it all-wheel drive. Toyota loaned me an LE, which is a single motor trim with about 200 hp and a similar amount of torque. The dual motor version isn’t much more powerful but has 248-lb-ft of combined torque.

If you make it a numbers game, the bZ4X has less power and less range than the Kia EV6, Hyundai IONIQ 5, Nissan Ariya, and the ID.4. The Toyota can charge at a maximum rate of 150kW (100kW for AWD models) which is also slower than some of its rivals, but that’s assuming you can find a charger capable of reliably supplying that output, and in my experience that happens far less than it should.

2023 Toyota bZ4X

I’m not a fan of the bZ4X’s unpainted fenders, but on my dark blue tester, they blended in and weren't very noticeable. Its design is definitely EV-forward with a grille-less front end and styling and proportions that sit somewhere between the Tesla Model Y and the Kia EV6. If you took the badges off it would be hard to identify what brand it came from.

Inside the bZ4X looks and feels high quality with its fabric-covered dashboard panels, large centre screen, logically laid out controls, and large windows lending to great outward visibility. The 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen is standard equipment and runs the latest Toyota software, which is easy to use and quick to respond. A strangely placed gauge cluster high and far away from the driver is said to be better for keeping your eyes on the road but I found the steering wheel cut some of it off. It’s still better than consolidating everything into a large centre screen. Rear-seat passengers get lots of legroom and the cargo area is generous for a compact crossover.

2023 Toyota bZ4X

By Toyota’s estimates, a fully charged front-wheel drive bZ4X can travel 406 km, which is mid-pack. All-wheel drive models are rated for 367 km. My tester was at 100 per cent charge when I picked it up and the range estimate was sitting at 390 km on a chilly spring day. However, turning off the climate control system added an extra 100 km to that range, a rather shocking jump that I haven’t encountered on any other EV.

Toyota spent a lot of time making the bZ4X as efficient as it could be, so a heat pump comes standard, which heats and cools the cabin much more efficiently and also greatly conserves range in colder weather. The climate control can also be configured to only send warm or cool air to the driver when there aren’t any passengers. Then there are radiant foot well heaters (on LE and up), which I haven’t seen before. They’re basically pads affixed to the bottom of the steering wheel and where a glove box would be and they quickly warm up the driver and passenger footwells when switched on. Between these, the heated seats, and the heated steering wheel, I found little need to run the climate control system even when it was below zero outside, except for windshield defogging purposes.

2023 Toyota bZ4X

The bZ4X isn’t the fastest EV in its class, but even with its modest power figures it feels quicker than a RAV4 or Toyota Venza, which are both similar in size. It also handles really well for what it is and a big part of that can be attributed to its low centre of gravity and a suspension that absorbs most lumps and bumps but still exhibits excellent body control through a corner. The steering has no feel but it is precise and to be fair no one buying a bZ4X is going to care about steering feel. I found it rather fun to drive and the thought of more power didn’t cross my mind. Neither did the fact that my tester didn’t have all-wheel drive. I would personally be happy with a good set of winter tires and the additional range you get with a front-wheel drive bZ4X.

.At the end of the week, I was averaging 20 kWh per 100 km, a good figure that should only improve as the weather warms up. That near 500 km range estimate was actually pretty accurate providing the climate control was switched off, which I did about 50 per cent of the time.

2023 Toyota bZ4X

Toyota’s goal for the bZ4X was to balance power, battery size, and range, and I’m fully behind it. Big batteries and big power make EVs heavier and less efficient, and they take longer to charge. Toyota wants to ensure the bZ4X is as reliable and as long lasting as its famously bulletproof cars and trucks.

Toyota may have been late to the EV game but the bZ4X, despite its initial teething problems, is a solid effort and another excellent BEV for consumers to choose from. And if you’re already a fan of the Toyota ecosystem, it’s absolutely worth checking out.

2023 Toyota bZ4X LE

BODY STYLE: 5-door, 5-passenger electric crossover

CONFIGURATION: Single motor (150kW), front-wheel drive battery electric vehicle (BEV)

POWER:  200 hp; TORQUE: 196 lb-ft

BATTERY: 71.4 kWh lithium-ion

EV RANGE: 406 km

EFFICIENCY (Le/100km): 1.8 city; 2.2 highway; 2.0 combined

CARGO CAPACITY: 784 litres

PRICE: $49,990 (base); $52,006 (as-tested)

WEBSITE: Toyota Canada


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