After all, cars don’t have perfect names, because “bZ4X” does not roll the tongue easily. But there is a certain logic behind it! “bz” stands for “beyond zero” and denotes zero emissions. The number 4 indicates the size of the car; in this case medium size. The “X” stands for crossover.
It makes sense that Toyota’s first all-electric car would be a crossover. This tall passenger car with off-road vehicle influences is very popular. In addition, these cars are made high, which facilitates the processing of the battery on the floor. Toyota has developed a new home style for the bZ4X. But the bZ4X is hardly radically different from electric cars from other brands. The build is civilized and the bZ4X isn’t too slim with hidden doorknobs, digital mirrors or other technical features.
And there is a philosophy behind it! Toyota expects the bZ4X to be their first electric car for most buyers. By opting for a retained design, Toyota hopes to make the transition as smooth as possible. Plus, Toyota has had success with the mid-sized RAV4 for decades and with the dimensions and design of the bZ4X a logical follow-up. That’s even true for tech, as the bZ4X is on the so-called “e-TNGA” (Toyota’s new electric global architecture) and it’s a modified version of the platform on which the RAV4 is built.
The bZ4X doesn’t just look like a conventional car, it’s styled in such a way. Some electric cars have a short hood because the electric motor is much smaller than the combustion engine. That’s why these cars have a relatively large interior space and a small engine bay. With the bZ4X, that’s roughly the same ratio as the average car. There’s plenty of room for adults in the front and back, but the bZ4X doesn’t break any records in terms of space or ergonomics.
The interior decoration is also very ordinary. Except for one thing! The clock is above the steering column and that is a new development for Toyota. Gradually, Toyota wants to replace the traditional circular steering wheel with a steering lever like in an airplane. This provides a better view of the instrument, makes room for the camera (more on that later) and can provide a larger steering angle with less effort. However, this hasn’t become a reality so the bZ4X has a regular round steering wheel for now.
“Toyota does not choose revolution, but for further development that is seamless and accessible”
The bZ4X is the second model to feature Toyota’s new generation of audio, communication and navigation systems. It works well and can be operated smoothly, logically and simply. However, it doesn’t offer features that competitors don’t. It even fails at one point: the navigation system can’t automatically schedule a charging stop if the destination is further than the battery charging range. JBL’s optional specialist audio system sounds great, but lacks the refinements or dynamics of a true hi-fi system
Under the title “T-Friend” Toyota incorporates various safety features. Two of them deserve special attention. The new steering column allows the installation of cameras that monitor the driver’s face. If the driver does not look in the direction of travel for too long, a warning will sound. A second function is also based on this camera: when the car makes a turn but the camera detects that the driver is ignoring traffic going straight ahead, the bZ4X can brake independently to avoid an accident.
Toyota is very late in introducing all-electric cars because the manufacturer has spent a lot of time on battery life and reliability. In addition, Toyota wants to maintain the familiar character of internal combustion engine cars, including the line. That’s why the standard bZ4X is equipped with a huge battery (72 kWh) for a range of 400 to 500 km.
However, it seems better than that. This large battery ensures the bZ4X is much more expensive than similar cars from other brands. These cheap cars have much smaller batteries. However, experience shows that a mileage of about 250 km is enough for a carefree drive. An electric car is not driven empty and then weighed down to the neck like a car with a fuel engine. Instead, it charges wherever the electric car goes, so the battery always stays at the correct level. At long distances, the bladder or stomach is asking for rest after 250 km. That rest is usually enough to charge the battery with a fast charger.
Not only is the battery large, the motor also has enough power to say the least. The bZ4X produces 204 hp (217 hp for the four-wheel drive version) and software ensures that it is used with gusto. Even in eco mode, the bZ4X is really smooth and even blazing fast. This applies not only at traffic lights, but also on the highway. Delivering performance effortlessly, the bZ4X delivers the superior feel typical of electric cars. There’s a point of criticism though: although the electric motor does its job silently, the tire and air noise is definitely above average.
As standard, the bZ4X recovers energy during braking and gliding. At the touch of a button, choices can be made to recover more energy, with the car holding on more firmly when the power pedal is released. However, this is not enough to ride with one pedal. This is a loss for drivers who are now used to electric drive, but again reduces the barriers for buyers who will be riding electric for the first time.
Range and charging
Despite the fact that the test driver was unable to regenerate to its full potential and was tempted by the spirited character of the engine, the test drive was more economical than stated in the brochure (promise: 18.1 kWh / 100 km, test consumption: 16.7 kWh / 100 km) . Therefore, the promised 436 km range (the version with large rims and all-wheel drive) is easily achieved.
Charging can be done at public charging points (11 kW, 3 phase) or with a fast charger (150 kW). That’s an excellent speed and that’s also necessary with such a big battery. Unfortunately, the charging connection is on the right side. When parked in parallel, there is a risk of costly damage if the loading port is hit by a cyclist or truck. When parking at right angles, this forces the driver to park forward, resulting in larger turning circles and less visibility when parking outside.
The BZ4X must not only have the character of a car that is familiar with the combustion engine, but also have to give it a “Toyota feel”. This means that the car reacts predictably under various conditions. For that familiar response, front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is optional.
During these tests, the feeling Toyota promised was recognizable. The car is sporty to drive when allowed, but can easily get rid of itself completely if so desired. The test car is also equipped with optional four-wheel drive and can even be controlled quite well on off-road terrain. Since the car scores high on all points, it may seem characterless, but in fact a proper bZ4X is good in every way.
Is the Toyota bZ4X the perfect electric car? The answer to that question is purely personal. Those looking for an interesting or innovative car will not fall for the bZ4X. Toyota does not choose revolution, but for smooth and accessible further developmentIn this way, he wanted to switch to electric drive as easily as possible.
Handling, range, handling and space are roughly the same as a car with a similar combustion engine. At the same time, buyers enjoy the quiet, superior performance and low kilometer price of an electric car. And with that, the bZ4X has achieved its goal: to make electric driving as normal as driving any other Toyota.
- Good handling
- Powerful, fast and zero emissions
- As familiar and functional as any other Toyota
- Less quiet than other electric cars
- Only very large (and expensive) batteries are available
- Inconvenient/dangerous location charging connection