First 100% electric model, by the way! Toyota is finally launching into all-electric, with a new dedicated “Beyond Zero” range. But is the manufacturer’s extensive HEV experience enough to make a good BEV? Our test of the Toyota bZ4X electric SUV.
Toyota and electrification is a long story. Leader in hybridization since the arrival of the Prius in 1997, the brand has known what it is doing for 25 years. Except that today, the trend is all-electric. A trend in line with the Beyond Zero project carried by the brand. Concretely, it aims to reduce the CO2 emissions of all its new vehicles by 100% by 2035. And that’s good, that’s precisely where the Toyota bZ4X SUV takes its name. Direction Copenhagen.
Toyota bZ4X on the look side: “is that a Subie!? »
Congratulations madam, they are twins! Well almost. Regular AP readers, you will have immediately identified the Subaru Solterra clone. Toyota’s first electric SUV uses 99% of the exterior plastic, except for a few small details. Plastic precisely, there is, and perhaps a little too much for our taste. Blame it on the wheel arches, to say the least, present, especially on the front fenders, which extend to the shield. Admittedly, aesthetic appreciation remains a purely subjective matter, but there is still a fear that it will age badly. The Toyota bZ4X is still distinguished by a few subtleties. Starting with the front end and its more premium, more Lexus approach. An aspect carried essentially by clean surfaces, and partial “caches” on the upper part of the lights. Something to refine the look of the SUV, and make it a little more “sporty”.
The rear is much less differentiating, if not for the absence of the off-hook lights. Here again, the light signature is more minimalist, more elegant. Unsurprisingly, the profile is however identical on the two models. Our Toyota bZ4X AWD is 20 inches (also available in 18 depending on the finish), for the aesthetic side. The “adventurer” attributes are there, and the bZ4X benefits from a neat exterior design. Beyond the somewhat unbalanced plastic appearance (again subjective), the assemblies themselves are always serious. In terms of dimensions, the SUV is 4.69 m long, 1.86 m wide and 1.65 m high. That is 9 cm longer than its elder RAV4. Finally, for those who still wonder what hides behind its tortured name: bZ4X. “bZ” for Beyond Zero, “4” for positioning (volume), “X” for the adventurer SUV identity.
Life on board: perfectible modernity
Inside, the Toyota bZ4X welcomes us to a cabin with high-tech, even somewhat futuristic ambitions. Witness the floating instrument cluster, placed far in front of us, and the central 12.3-inch touch screen of our model. In terms of functionalities, the promise is rather respected, in particular thanks to the fluid panel, although a little empty. The interface is indeed not the most cheerful and colorful, but it is a detail. The touch controls on the center console are complete, responsive, and yet you know by now, I like physical buttons. The instrument cluster, despite its promising integration, is partially hidden by the steering wheel unless you really lower it. A bit of a shame, especially since the screen itself remains modest in size despite the space available around it. A valid observation for the system infotainment also: the borders are important, to the detriment of the display surface.
A point that is all the more crucial on the combined side, since it requires a steering wheel that is loaded with buttons, to say the least. Buttons that involve too many actions to navigate between different windows and essential information. So yes, I like buttons, but don’t overdo it! The Toyota bZ4X still has some work to do in terms of perceived quality. Indeed, the interior uses far too many different types and colors of plastic. Brilliant for the console and the door panels, sometimes light, sometimes dark between the dashboard and the steering column… Not to mention the fabric covering of the dashboard, which is not very chic. So yes, you have to differentiate yourself from the premium atmosphere reserved for Lexus, but still. Icing on the cake (or not, suddenly): no glove box. And the space under the floating console, although generous, is not enough to replace a good old glove box.
Performance and handling: family SUVs
As you will have understood, the Toyota bZ4X is caught between dated materials and perfectible high-tech ambitions. Fortunately, it does what is expected of it on the road. The AWD electric SUV is based, as its name suggests, on two motors of 109 hp each. Placed at the front and rear, they develop a combined power of 218 hp and 337 Nm of torque. The speed is limited to 160 km / h (same in traction 204 hp), the 0 to 100 requires 6.8 s. The bZ4X is responsive enough in and out of town, from everyday life to taking the family on vacation. 20-inch rims oblige, the damping is a little firm, but less than what we feared. There is no doubt that the 18 rims will improve the filtration of irregularities, in addition to maximizing autonomy. The suspensions are sufficiently controlled to prevent the SUV’s 2,065 kg from hazardous behavior.
The seats provide very good reception and lateral support, in addition to being heated and ventilated at the front. In the back, occupants benefit from very generous legroom in addition to an (almost) flat floor. The tunnel, however very low, is offset by fairly thick mats creating the illusion of a flat floor. It’s comfortable, roomy, and we get heated seats in the back. The Toyota bZ4X still inevitably fishes on the trunk side, with a loading volume reaching only 442 l. A value that drops to 441 l with the JBL subwoofer of our test model! A bit unfortunate. As a reminder, for its part the RAV-4 displays up to 580 l. Overall, the SUV is still fun to drive, with informative steering and a very respectable ride.
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Consumption and autonomy: electric gluttony
The Toyota bZ4X AWD, like the two-wheel drive model, relies on a 71.4 kWh battery. All with 6.6 kW on-board charger and fast charging up to 150 kW. Enough to go respectively from 0 to 100% in 10:50, and from 0 to 80% in 30 minutes. Toyota promises 411 km of autonomy for our model, and up to 513 km in traction and 18 inches. In our case, we are therefore talking about a theoretical consumption of 17.4 kW/100 km. In real conditions, we rather measured around 20 kWh/100 km. A value that easily climbs to 23.5 kWh on the highway. That is a real autonomy of approximately 340 km. One thing is certain, more in-depth consumption and autonomy tests of the two versions are needed soon. We also regret the “raise foot” mode and its particularly timid energy recovery. Steering wheel paddles would have been welcome for better management.
To sum up, the Toyota bZ4X therefore lays the foundations of the electric vehicle for the manufacturer. Less efficient than announced, the SUV is not yet to electric what the Prius, among others, is to hybrid. Luckily, the future high-end “Prime” version should improve things. This thanks to an “Autonomy” pack allowing you to go back to 18 inches, but also to accommodate a solar roof. Equipment that would recover 1,800 km of autonomy per year on average, in sunny regions. Another special feature: our Origin Exclusive model will be replaced in November by this Prime finish. The charger will increase from 6.6 kW to 11 kW. Moreover, the bZ4X remains a good family SUV that will meet the expectations of Toyota enthusiasts. This thanks to its more than correct behavior and performance on a daily basis. On the price side, still a little patience, Toyota will confirm that very soon…
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