Toyota has just taken the covers off its first mass-produced EV that it developed in collaboration with Subaru. As such, it promises excellent off-roading ability, but is this a hit or a miss? The styling won't please everyone, but the bZ4X was always meant to be striking. Like the GR86 and BRZ, this new Toyota looks very similar to its Subaru sibling, the Solterra. However, the cars are not identical. The Subaru version only offers 220 miles of range while the Toyota is said to give us up to 250 miles. The reason for this is that the Solterra is only available with AWD, while the Toyota is offered with front-drive power as standard and AWD as an option. This could be the right call, but we'll only know when we have some real driving time with it. For now, let's see what the quirkily-named bZ4X is promising.
The styling of the bZ4X is certainly striking, but it looks almost exactly the same as the Solterra. As such, it gets a smoothed front end with a narrow chrome strip connecting slim LED headlights with integrated brows. A small lower grille also boasts chrome while little intakes on the front feed air to the brakes. Those arches are rounded but painted to look squared at their peak, while black rocker panel accents further imply off-road ability.
A floating roof boasts more chrome and a pair of roof rails while the rear gets a pair of mini roof spoilers, a subtle tailgate spoiler, a faux diffuser, and another full-width LED lighting fixture. Diamond-faced wheels tie in with the chrome once more while a panoramic roof allows more natural light in.
One of the most notable changes to the production version over the concept we first saw is, thankfully, the adoption of a traditional, round steering wheel instead of the yoke-style item previewed on the concept. However, the driver display maintains its fighter-jet-style binnacle, while a large 12.3-inch MID screen handles infotainment. Below this, climate controls for the cabin and seating are housed. Further down, there are some prominent buttons, but there's a load of storage space with two bins, one of which has a sliding cover. Ample storage space is offered too, while both Type A and Type C USB ports are fitted to keep everyone happy. Speaking of which, there's "abundant legroom" and "copious" side-to-side space in the rear, says Toyota, akin to that of a Corolla or a Honda Accord.
Toyota says that it has worked hard with many lightweight components to improve efficiency, while a heat pump handles the climate control, seat and steering heaters, and front-seat radiant foot-and-leg heaters aim to do the same. The lightweight components also promise a low center of gravity - Toyota wants you to enjoy driving this thing.
Front-wheel-drive models get one AC synchronous electric motor developing 201 horsepower while AWD versions get two motors for a total of 214 hp. The former's battery is rated at 71.4 kWh while the latter is a 72.8-kWh unit. The AWD model is likely to be fantastic off-road since this is where Subaru had the most input, while those who like long drives will want to opt for the XLE FWD model as it can go up to 250 miles on a single charge. When power runs out, a high-output charger can get you back to 80% in under an hour.
Toyota has yet to give us the full rundown on the trims and pricing of the new bZ4X, but we do know that only XLE and Limited models will be available at launch. As for pricing, we can only guess that the base model will aim to undercut the likes of the Ford Mustang Mach-E and Volkswagen ID.4. The former offers more range while the latter is a little more premium, so expect a base price of well below $40,000. There are also other EV crossovers like the Hyundai Kona Electric that want a slice of the lifted electric lifestyle vehicle market, so we expect Toyota to be conservative in what it asks for at the showroom. We'll know more before the US launch in mid-2022.
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