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2023 Toyota bZ4X Electric Only - Review by Larry Nutson

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2023 Toyota bZ4X Review

By Larry Nutson
Executive Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau

What’s in a name? Beyond Zero gives us the “bZ” in the model name of Toyota’s first fully-electric vehicle. And of course, zero emission new vehicles are what the world needs going forward to be carbon neutral.

Toyota “bZ” is a new vehicle series; a sub-brand that will encompass a range of seven new vehicles. The first is bZ4X. A compact 5-passenger crossover utility vehicle that is built on a new e-TNGA vehicle architecture uniquely designed for battery-electric vehicles.

With a 112.2 inch wheelbase and an overall length of 184.6 inches, the bZ4X is well suited for the urban landscape…not too big and not too small. For reference, it is 3.7 inches longer than the RAV4. The battery pack is part of the floor structure located between the front and rear axles. Both front-wheel and all-wheel drive models are available.

Front-drive models use a 150-kW (201-hp) electric motor mounted between the front wheels with a 71.4 kWh battery pack under the floor. All-wheel drive models have two 80-kW motors, one up front and one in the rear, for a total of 160-kW (214-hp). A 72.8 kWh battery pack provides the power. By the way, the battery is covered by an 8-year/100,000 miles warranty.

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Two trim levels are available, XLE and Limited. EPA classifies the bZ4X as a small SUV. EPA estimated driving range is 252 miles for the XLE FWD, 228 miles for the XLE AWD, 242 miles for the Limited FWD, and 222 miles for the Limited AWD. Drive system and tire size affect range. DC charging maximum input is 150 kW (FWD) and 100 kW (AWD). This is an important fact since it dictates how quickly the battery pack can be charged using a direct current fast charger.

Toyota has updated its Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 and the bZ4X is equipped with a long list of collision warning, collision intervention, and driving control assistance features. There’s 8.1 inches of ground clearance for that occasional overlanding camping excursion. All your gear has a place in the 27.7 cu.ft. cargo area behind the rear seat.

According to the Automotive Towing Guide, the bZ4X can tow up to 1,500 pounds, when properly equipped. The bZ4X has a towing capacity that is on par with other all-wheel drive electric SUVs such as the Tesla Model X, Audi e-tron, and Jaguar I-Pace. The bZ4X’s towing capacity will be able to handle a small trailer.

Keep in mind when you add weight to a vehicle, such as a full load of passengers, lots of cargo, or towing a trailer, the driving range goes down and “fuel” consumption goes up, be it gasoline or electric.

Battery power has given vehicle designers a bit of freedom since there is no combustion engine that needs air flow and cooling. The bZ4X is sleek and aerodynamic. It’s a bit of head-turner with no front grille and a lower roofline.

For my recent drive experience with the bZ4X I drove a beautiful Supersonic Red XLE model with front-wheel drive with a base price of $42,000.

Interestingly, the standard XLE color is black. But for $425 additional you can choose from Wind Chill Pearl, Supersonic Red, Elemental Silver Metallic, or Heavy Metal. The same color choices hold for the Limited model that also gets a black two-tone roof. Brings to mind the Ford Model-T that was offered in any color you want as long as it’s black.

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Seats on the XLE are covered in a cloth and leatherette combination. The Limited’s seats are all leatherette. The cabin is quite wide for the vehicle size and provides a good amount of room. The top-mount Multi-Information Display, the gauge cluster that is, sits on top of the dashboard. I had to get comfortable with its placement due to my seat and steering wheel position. I like to sit low and the steering wheel upper rim blocked the lower portion of the gauge cluster. I quickly adapted.

There’s no glove compartment (glove?) for things like the owner’s manual and vehicle registration papers. There’s an the open-sided storage area underneath the center console that fills the bill. There’s lots of piano-black parts throughout the vehicle. They look good when kept clean!

Dynamically the bZ4X is refined and comfortable. Battery electric vehicles are heavy. Toyota did a nice job on ride comfort and overall handling. Electric motors develop instantaneous torque providing quick acceleration. Toyota estimates 0-60 acceleration time of 7.1 seconds for FWD and 6.5 seconds for AWD. This is plenty quick for the average driver.

Regenerative braking uses the inertia of the vehicle while coasting to put charge back in the battery. It reduces the frequency the brake pedal must be depressed, helping to reduce the driving task. I use regen braking all the time while driving the stop-and-go streets around my home in Chicago.

Battery vehicles require a focus on features that help optimize energy-saving and cruising range for year-round driving. In addition to aerodynamic design choices and body weight reduction efforts, systems and equipment are needed to reduce energy consumption, especially power used for heating in cold climates. The bZ4X has a heat pump system for both heating and air-conditioning, available seat and steering wheel heaters and available front-seat radiant foot-and-leg heater.

The basic idea is to dress for the weather conditions and heat your body and not the entire interior cabin. For example, with a 34 degF ambient temperature, when I switched the heater on the driving range displayed on the instrument cluster dropped from 257 miles to 188 miles---that’s a 27% drop.

The bZ4X driving range is decent. However your needs for your typical driving pattern must be considered in determining if a BEV is right for you. Charging is all important. Personally, I recommend the installation of a Level 2 charger at your residence. It’s key to a good ownership experience. If you live in a cold climate it is best to be able to garage a BEV.

New bZ4X owners can include a ChargePoint home charging system into the cost of their new vehicle purchase or lease, as they will have the option to purchase a ChargePoint Home Flex Level 2 charger from participating Toyota dealerships or directly from ChargePoint online.

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I mentioned the XLW FWD priced at $42,000. XLE AWD is $46,700, Limited FWD is $44,080 and Limited AWD is $48,780. Shipping charge is an additional $1,215.

More information on the bZ4X can be found at It joins an extensive lineup of Toyota electrified vehicles that, in total, accounted for about a quarter of Toyota’s total sales volume in the U.S. last year. These include hydrogen fuel cell electrics, hybrids, plug-in hybrids and now battery electric vehicles.

The future is electric. Happy motoring!

© 2023 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy