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2023 Toyota bZ4X Review: Electric Adequacy

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Verdict

7.9 / 10

Design | Comfort | Technology | Performance | Safety | Efficiency | Price | FAQs

Toyota hybrids and plug-in hybrids are now well-known entities in the automotive world. After several smaller-scale attempts at a battery-electric vehicle, the company is now fully diving into EVs with the 2023 Toyota bZ4X.

With a funky design and an EPA-estimated 242 miles of range, the bZ has enough going for it to attract Toyota brand loyalists. But for anyone shopping multiple options in the segment, our Star Ratings system has a list of better options.

A vehicle's ratings are relative only to its own segment and not the new-vehicle market as a whole. For more on how Motor1.com rates cars, click here.

Quick Stats 2023 Toyota bZ4X Limited
Motor: Single Permanent Magnet
Output: 201 Horsepower / 196 Pound-Feet
EV Range: 242 Miles
Base Price: $42,000 + $1,335 Destination
As-Tested Price: $49,470

Gallery: 2023 Toyota bZ4X: Review

Design

5/10
  • Exterior Color: Elemental Silver
  • Interior Color: Light Gray
  • Wheel Size: 20 Inches

With so many cars in its lineup, not every Toyota is bound to be a looker. And well, the bZ4X is definitely unique, to say the least. It has the same general two-box form factor as segment rivals like the Kia EV6 and Ford Mustang Mach-E. But the Toyota lacks the flair of those two rivals, and the Elemental Silver paint job of this tester isn’t doing much to help. Then again, if you’re a big fan of two-tone, then this design is just for you.

I’m calling the bZ’s interior “Prius evolved.” It builds on that car’s functional, straightforward layout, with a similar smattering of generic materials. The center console consists of fingerprint-prone piano black plastic, and the dash uses an expansive amount of gray and black. This arrangement feels downmarket compared to the aforementioned cars above, in addition to other favorites like the Hyundai Ioniq 5.

Comfort

7/10
  • Seating Capacity: 5
  • Seating Configuration: 2 / 3
  • Cargo Volume: 25.8 Cubic Feet

In this Limited trim, the bZ4X comes loaded with heated and ventilated front seats, with eight-way power-adjustability for the driver and six-way for the passenger. The Toyota is down on headroom compared to some of its closest rivals, and taller people will feel that squeeze. Legroom is also lesser than a Mach-E or Ioniq 5 as the chart shows. If overall space is a big consideration, the bZ4X is near the back of the pack with what it offers.

Interior Dimensions Headroom, Front/Rear Legroom, Front/Rear Cargo Volume
Toyota bZ4X 38.6 / 37.1 Inches 42.1 / 35.3 Inches 25.8 Cubic Feet
Ford Mustang Mach-E 38.9 / 38.2 Inches 43.3 / 38.1 Inches 29.7 / 59.7 / 4.7 Cubic Feet
Hyundai Ioniq 5 39.8 / 38.7 Inches 41.7 / 39.4 Inches 27.2 / 59.3 Cubic Feet
Volkswagen ID.4 40.6 / 37.9 Inches 41.1 / 37.6 Inches 30.3 / 64.2 Cubic Feet

There are some positives to point out. The bZ’s ride quality is excellent, with a compliant suspension that does extremely well during a normal commute. Faced with the usual varying quality of LA tarmac, the Toyota attacks everything with little trouble. It’s a comfy easy to live with cruiser that makes a daily commute less of a stresser.

Technology & Connectivity

7/10
  • Center Display: 12.3-inch Touchscreen
  • Digital Instrument Cluster: 7.0 Inches
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto: Yes/Yes

My colleagues and I haven’t been shy when gushing about the new Toyota Audio Multimedia system. This interface is a ground-up re-work and makes the company’s most recent group of cars more compelling as a whole. The bZ4X comes standard with a 12.3-inch touchscreen running the new software, and includes wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

But unfortunately, the 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster leaves a lot to be desired. It’s located far away from the driver physically, and tends to be blocked by the steering wheel, depending on angle. From performing more advanced functions to just simply seeing your speed, the display is a real problem, and a weird one considering how great the center touchscreen is.

Performance & Handling

5/10
  • Motors: Single Permanent Magnet
  • Output: 201 Horsepower / 196 Pound-Feet
  • Transmission: Single-Speed Automatic

Buyers have a wide range of EVs to pick from if performance is at the top of their priority list. That said, the bZ4X is not one of them, at least not in single-motor front-wheel-drive guise. Toyota claims a modest 201 horsepower and 196 pound-feet of torque, which is down on most other single-motor cars in the class

This is also a rare example of a single-motor EV with its power unit at the front axle. Yes, few others like the Chevy Bolt do, too, but it’s an uncommon layout. With power going only to the front wheels, the bZ feels more like an economy car than its rivals. The car suffers from substantial understeer in corners, made worse by applying power mid-turn. It also feels just as heavy, if not even heavier, than its rivals with slow, reluctant movements.

Safety

8/10
  • SAE Level: SAE Level 2 Hands-On
  • NHTSA Rating: Not Rated
  • IIHS Rating: Not Rated

The bZ4X comes standard with Toyota’s latest Safety Sense suite that includes adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist, and rear cross-traffic alert. There is no option for level 2 hands-free driving at this point. The car’s systems work as promised and mostly stay out of the way. Only the lane-keeping assist can be overbearing at times, and I promptly switched it off on the highway.

Neither the National Highway Traffic Association nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has formally rated the bZ4X yet. Expect those ratings to come closer to the end of the year.

Fuel Economy

7/10
  • City: 125 MPGe
  • Highway: 103 MPGe
  • Combined: 114 MPGe

With its 71.4-kilowatt-hour battery pack, the FWD bZ4X has an EPA-rated range of 242 miles. As the chart demonstrates, this number trails every major competitor, some by a huge margin. If a single-motor EV6 can achieve over 300 miles of range to a charge, I’m left wondering why the bZ4X can’t hang with the pack.

While the AWD version of the bZ4X has gone through its fair share of ridicule for its embarrassing 100-kilowatt max charging rate, the front-drive version does slightly better at 150 kW. This is by no means an ultra fast-charging vehicle, but it gets the job done with speeds that are segment-competitive.

Pricing

7/10
  • Base Price: $42,000 + $1,335 Destination
  • Trim Base Price: $48,035
  • As-Tested Price: $49,470

Equipped with front-wheel-drive, the XLE trim of the bZ4X starts at $43,335, including the $1,215 destination charge. This Limited test car is the next step up, starting at $48,035 in single-motor form and $50,015 with twin motors. With a few add-ons like the $580 JBL audio system and $425 paint the all-in price is $49,470.

Even in dual-motor form, the bZ4X handily undercuts similarly equipped, single-motor versions of the Hyundai Ioniq 5 ($53,395) and Mustang Mach-E ($51,715 with the standard-range battery). But considering the added range in those two competitors (303 miles and 247, respectively), the extra coin might be worth it. Both the Volkswagen ID.4 and Chevrolet Bolt are cheaper than the Toyota, with comparably optioned cars at $47,025 and $38,995, respectively.

bZ4X Competitor Reviews:

FAQs

How Much Does The 2023 Toyota bZ4X Cost?

Prices for the 2023 Toyota bZ4X start at $43,335, including the $1,215 destination charge. The range-topping Limited trim demands $48,035 in single-motor form and $50,015 with twin motors.

How Much Range Does The Toyota bZ4X Have?

In single-motor form, the 2023 Toyota bZ4X can cover 258 miles in XLE form and 242 miles in Limited. The dual-motor model reduces those figures to 228 and 222 miles, respectively.

When Does The 2023 Toyota bZ4X Go On Sale?

Toyota released the 2023 bZ4X earlier in 2022. It's currently on sale, although inventories are extremely limited.

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