2023 Toyota bZ4X

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2023 Toyota bZ4X Test Drive Review: Time To Trade Your Prius

It's been eight years since Toyota last offered a battery electric vehicle here in the United States, and it only existed to satisfy California's strict zero-emissions mandate. After dragging its feet since then, the Japanese automaker is finally ready to offer an electric car that does more than meet government regulations. Enter the 2023 Toyota bZ4X, the first in a new series of 'Beyond Zero' EVs accounting for 30 models by 2030 - hence the bZ moniker. The '4X' portion of the name refers to the size and body style, roughly translating to a RAV4-sized crossover.

With the mainstream EV segment still relatively new, the bZ4X will enter the fray against a wide variety of competitors. There's the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6 from Asia, the Ford Mustang Mach-E from the USA, the Volkswagen ID.4 from Germany, and the Subaru Solterra, a rebadged version of the bZ4X. And that's just what's available now; more are coming. Toyota is hoping that 201 horsepower in FWD trim and 214 hp in AWD dual-motor form are enough to stave off the threat from rivals, but with only 252 miles worth of range in its most efficient FWD configuration, the bZ4X will have to put up a strong showing in other areas.

Read in this review:

  • Exterior Design 8 /10
  • Performance 7 /10
  • Fuel Economy 7 /10
  • Interior & Cargo 8 /10
  • Infotainment & Features 10 /10
  • Reliability 10 /10
  • Safety 9 /10
  • Value For Money 7 /10
8.2
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2023 Toyota bZ4X Changes: ๐Ÿš™Whatโ€™s the difference vs 2022 bZ4X?

As Toyota's first mass-produced EV, the all-new 2023 Toyota bZ4X is a fresh arrival and a vitally important model for the Japanese giant. It's based on the e-TNGA platform, a scalable electric architecture that will underpin a vast array of future EVs from the brand.

The compact crossover arrives in two trim levels - XLE and Limited - and produces up to 214 hp in the case of the all-wheel-drive variant, but a slightly less powerful front-wheel-drive version is available too. According to Toyota, the range is as much as 252 miles for the XLE FWD model. Inside, there's a standard 12.3-inch widescreen multimedia system and over-the-air updates are possible.

Pros and Cons

  • Edgy, distinctive styling
  • Decent blend of range and performance
  • Available AWD system
  • Practical interior
  • Excellent safety specification
  • Toyota peace of mind
  • Higher base price than Volkswagen ID.4
  • Unnecessary black exterior cladding
  • Lower range than Ford Mustang Mach-E
  • Charge times are slower than rivals

2023 Toyota bZ4X Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
XLE
Electric
Single Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$42,000
XLE AWD
Electric
Single Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
$44,080
Limited
Electric
Single Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$46,700
Limited AWD
Electric
Single Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
$48,780
See All 2023 Toyota bZ4X Trims and Specs

Handling and Driving Impressions

We spent limited time driving new the bZ4X in San Diego, but we could immediately tell Toyota wanted to make it familiar to customers trading in a hybrid vehicle like a Prius or RAV4. Everything you love (or hate) about Toyota is on display here: a comfortable ride that isn't too jarring, somewhat annoying road noise at highway speeds, and an overall feeling of solidarity from behind the wheel. Imagine a RAV4, but slightly better in every way. The steering is tighter and more accurate, body roll is less pronounced thanks to the low center of gravity, and overtaking maneuvers are no longer accompanied by a groaning four-cylinder engine and continuously variable transmission. It's quite serene.

It feels like Toyota took a different path than its rivals, going to great lengths to keep the bZ4X's driving characteristics close to an ICE vehicle. There is a brake regeneration mode, but it's far from a one-pedal driving experience as Toyota didn't think its customers would be receptive to such a different style of driving. This is a no-fuss, no-thrills EV, and that's just fine. Anyone who's enjoyed their Toyota hybrid ownership experience and is ready to take the next step without abandoning their brand loyalty won't be disappointed by the bZ4X.

Verdict: ๐ŸIs the 2023 Toyota bZ4X a good SUV?

The 2023 bZ4X feels like a solid electric car, but in typical Toyota fashion, doesn't make any major leaps. We can't imagine any Tesla owners will trade in their Model Y Performance for one, but a Prius owner ready to go all-electric would certainly consider it. None of the bZ4X's numbers jump off the spec sheet in a formidable way, so it's hard to pinpoint one major selling point to recommend it over aforementioned rivals like the Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6, Ford Mustang Mach-E, or Volkswagen ID.4. That being said, lacking class-leading performance has never slowed Toyota down in the past.

We know there are owners out there who are ready to buy their first EV, but want the "T" on the front to stand for Toyota's legendary reliability. This is that car: an EV for loyalists who walk into the Toyota dealership at their lease end and simply choose their color. In that regard, the bZ4X succeeds in every measure. It retains that familiar Toyota feel without going overboard with flashy gimmicks or confusing drive modes. For better or worse, the bZ4X is exactly what we expected from Toyota's first mass-market EV.

Check out other Toyota bZ Styles

2023 Toyota bZ4X Comparisons

Subaru Solterra CarBuzz
Kia EV6 KIA

2023 Toyota bZ4X vs Subaru Solterra

These two electric crossovers are very closely related. They share the same e-TNGA platform (Subaru calls it e-SGP), nearly identical interior designs, and the same dual-motor powertrain with AWD. However, the bZ4X also comes in single-motor FWD configuration, which should be a cheaper base option - and it has better range than the Solterra. It's nearly impossible to separate the AWD bZX4 from the Solterra, though. As expected, the Subaru brings a little more capability to the table with 8.3 inches of ground clearance, 0.2 inches more than the Toyota. With 30 cubic feet of trunk space, the Solterra also has a marginally bigger trunk. Features are similar, but the Solterra has an available Harman Kardon sound system in place of the Toyota's JBL unit. Based purely on the Toyota's better range and the availability of an FWD model, we'd side with the bZ4X.

See Subaru Solterra Review

2023 Toyota bZ4X vs Kia EV6

The stunning Kia EV6 is another hugely appealing electric crossover - although it doesn't look even slightly interested in going off-road. Inside and out, it's the more premium-looking product, despite the fact that the EV6 begins at a cheaper $40,900. The base EV6 only has 167 hp and a range of 232 miles, whereas the entry-level bZ4X has 201 hp and a 252-mile range. The EV6 counters with a better warranty and more standard features like heated front seats and dual 12.3-inch displays. The bZ4X has more cargo space but less rear legroom. For just over $50,000, you can drive off in a rapid 320-hp version of the EV6. This is an interesting battle at base level as the Toyota is faster and can go further on a charge, whereas the EV6 has better tech and a more premium look and feel. It's the Kia that we most want to park in the garage, though.

See Kia EV6 Review

2023 Toyota bZ4X Popular Comparisons

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2023 Toyota bZ4X Video Reviews

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