The automotive industry is currently embarking on a reflective journey where the ultimate goals are carbon neutrality and consumer electric vehicle (EV) education. Every manufacturer is now perpetuating this theme, from Rolls-Royce to Toyota, which launched its first electric RAV4 back in 1997. Therefore, with 22 years of experience in the category and a whopping 41% market share (including Lexus), the Japanese powerhouse is ahead of the curve from every perspective. Furthermore, with a $1.3 billion investment in new battery plants that will generate 1,700 jobs and 1.2 million EVs, Toyota is releasing another EV built in conjunction with Subaru, dubbed the bZ4X. No, that’s not an internal code, but the actual name of the vehicle.
If you're wondering, bZ equates to "beyond zero," as in zero emissions and represents an Earth-conscious ideology where carbon-free mobility and sustainable materials eventually become the norm. The compact SUV is slightly wider and longer than the RAV4 and stylistically differentiates itself with black fender paint no matter which of the five colors you choose. My Elemental Silver Metallic seemed to be the most fitting hue for the contrasting scheme. Toyota said the graphics also enhance the corners for a more dynamic appeal along with the EV's angular lines, good-looking alloys wheels, a tailgate spoiler, and black outlining. A fixed panoramic glass roof is refreshing, and SofTex fabric seats enlighten the cabin and thoughtfully replace the reliance upon leather.
The 2023 bZ4X is available in both AWD and FWD with a range of 252 miles for the FWD XLE and 228 miles for an AWD XLE. A "Limited" is your other bZ4X trim choice. Toyota has a goal to sell 7,000 units in 2022 and will increase the output with each subsequent year. Research says 80% of EV owners charge at home, so a plan is in place to allow customers to bundle the $699 ChargePoint Home Flex Level 2 charger into the financing plan. Located under the floor, the battery packs come with an 8-year / 100,000-mile warranty. The FWD bZ4X receives a 71.4 kWh lithium-ion battery and a 201-horsepower single motor, and the AWD bZ4X is given the 72.8 kWh lithium-ion battery and 214-horsepower dual motors (107 horses per). Publicly, both ChargePoint and EVgo will be at your disposal for Level 2 and DC Fast Charging. But the good news is that new bZ4X owners will receive one year of free unlimited charging at all EVgo charging stations nationwide.
“The arrival of our all-electric bZ4X marks an important step in our commitment towards electrifying 70% of our fleet by 2030. We want our bZ4X customers to enjoy a high-quality ownership experience that is as seamless and worry-free as possible,” said Christopher Yang, vice president, EV Charging Solutions, Toyota Motor North America. “Collaborating with EVgo, the nation's largest public fast-charging network, will help provide bZ4X owners with access to a fast, reliable charge where and when they need it."
On the road, the bZ is quick like most EVs and ready for action with X-Mode to handle all driving conditions. The vehicle can be switched into Snow/Dirt, Deep Snow/Mud, or Grip-Control mode. The interior is well thought out and features the in-house built 12.3" multimedia system with Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Apple Music, Amazon Music streaming, and Amazon Alexa compatibility. When I needed to be routed somewhere, I used the voice option and the bZ got me there with ease through detailed mapping. The Toyota app seamlessly integrates with the vehicle to provide charging locations, climate scheduling, remote operation, keyless operation, etc.
Of course, all Toyotas are punctuated by safety amenities to keep you as secure as humanly possible and the bZ is no different. If I were to enumerate all the protection attributes of the updated packages and Toyota Safety Sense 3.0, the list would be bountiful. A few include Front and Rear Parking Assist, Blind Spot Monitor, Bird's Eye View, and a Backup camera. Expect to pay $42,000 for an XLE FWD, $44,080 for an XLE AWD, $46,700 for a Limited FWD, and $48,780 for the Limited AWD.
Toyota says the bZ4X is easy whether it's driving, charging, parking, or allowing you to live on the go freely. I agree, as it may just be the simplest EV I've driven yet. However, I'm not sure about paying almost 50 Gs to go green with a RAV4.