our complete TEST of the first 100% electric SUV

First 100% electric model, by the way! Toyota is finally going all-electric, with a new dedicated “Beyond Zero” range. But is the manufacturer’s extensive experience in HEV enough to make a good BEV? Our review of the Toyota bZ4X electric SUV.

Toyota and electrification is a long story. A leader in hybridization since the Prius arrived in 1997, the brand has known its stuff for 25 years. But today, the trend is entirely electric. A trend aligned with the brand’s Beyond Zero project. Concretely, it aims to reduce the CO2 emissions of all its new vehicles by 100% by 2035. And that’s a good thing, that’s precisely where the Toyota bZ4X SUV takes its name. Copenhagen direction.

Toyota bZ4X on the visual side: “Is that a Subie!? »

Congratulations lady, they are twins! Well, almost. Regular AP readers, you will immediately identify the Subaru Solterra clone. Toyota’s first electric SUV uses 99% of the exterior plastic, save for a few small details. Plastic precisely, there is, and maybe a little too much for our taste. The fault lies with the wheel arches, to say the least, present, especially in the front fenders, which extend to the shield. It is true that aesthetic appreciation remains a purely subjective matter, but there is still the fear that it will age badly. The Toyota bZ4X is still distinguished by some subtleties. Starting with the front end and its more premium and more Lexus approach. An aspect carried essentially by clean surfaces, and partial “caches” on top of the lights. Something to refine the look of the SUV, and make it a little more “sporty”.

The rear is a lot less differentiating if it weren’t for the absence of off-hook lights. Here again, the light signature is more minimalist, more elegant. Unsurprisingly, the profile is, however, identical on both models. Our Toyota bZ4X AWD is 20 inches (also available in 18 depending on the finish), on the aesthetic side. The “adventurous” attributes are there, and the bZ4X benefits from a sleek exterior design. In addition to the somewhat unbalanced (again subjective) plastic appearance, the montages 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’s 9cm longer than your older RAV4. Finally, for those still wondering what lurks behind its tortured name: bZ4X. “bZ” for Beyond Zero, “4” for positioning (volume), “X” for adventurous SUV identity.

Life on board: perfectible modernity

Inside, the Toyota bZ4X welcomes us to a cabin with high-tech, if somewhat futuristic, ambitions. Witness the floating instrument panel, placed right in front of us, and our model’s central 12.3-inch touchscreen. In terms of features, the promise is quite respected, in particular thanks to the fluid panel, albeit a little empty. The interface is not the most cheerful and colorful, but it is a detail. The touch controls on the center console are full-featured, responsive, and yet you already know I like physical buttons. The instrument panel, despite its promising integration, is partially hidden by the steering wheel unless you actually lower it. Such a shame, especially as the display itself remains modest in size despite the available space around it. A valid note for the system infotainment also: borders are important, at the expense of the display surface.

A point that is even more crucial on the combined side, as it requires a steering wheel loaded with buttons, to say the least. Buttons that involve a lot of actions to navigate between different windows and essential information. So yes, I like buttons, but don’t go overboard! The Toyota bZ4X still has some work to do in terms of perceived quality. In fact, the interior uses many different types and colors of plastic. Glossy for the console and the door panels, sometimes light, sometimes dark between the dashboard and the steering column… Not to mention the fabric upholstery on the dashboard, which isn’t very fancy. So yes, you need to set yourself apart from the premium atmosphere reserved for Lexus, but still. The icing on the cake (or not, suddenly): no glove compartment. And the space under the floating console, while generous, isn’t enough to replace a good old-fashioned glove box.

Performance and handling: Family SUVs

As you may have understood, the Toyota bZ4X is caught between dated materials and perfectible high-tech ambitions. Fortunately, he does what’s expected of him on the road. The AWD electric SUV is based, as its name suggests, on two engines of 109 hp each. Placed at the front and rear, they develop a combined power of 218 hp and 337 Nm of torque. Speed ​​is limited to 160 km/h (the same for the 204 hp drive), 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 we feared. There is no doubt that the 18 rims will improve the filtering of irregularities, in addition to maximizing autonomy. The suspensions are sufficiently controlled to prevent dangerous behavior from the SUV’s 2,065 kg.

The seats provide very good reception and lateral support, as well as being heated and ventilated at the front. In the rear, occupants benefit from generous legroom and an (almost) flat floor. The tunnel, although very low, is offset by very thick rugs, creating the illusion of a flat floor. It’s comfortable, spacious and we have heated seats in the back. The Toyota bZ4X still inevitably fishes on the side of the trunk, with a cargo volume reaching just 442 l. A figure that drops to 441 l with the JBL subwoofer of our test model! A little unhappy. As a reminder, 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, has 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, therefore, we are talking about a theoretical consumption of 17.4 kW/100 km. In real conditions, we measured about 20 kWh/100 km. A figure that easily rises to 23.5 kWh on the road. That is, a real range of approximately 340 km. One thing is for sure, more in-depth tests of consumption and autonomy of the two versions are needed soon. We also regret the “lift your foot” mode and your particularly timid energy recovery. The steering wheel blades would have been welcome for better management.

In short, the Toyota bZ4X lays the foundations of the electric vehicle for the manufacturer. Less efficient than advertised, the SUV is still not as electric as the Prius, among others, it is hybrid. Fortunately, the future high-end “Prime” version should improve things. That’s thanks to an “Autonomy” package that lets you go back to 18 inches, but also accommodates a sunroof. 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 with this Prime finish. The charger will increase from 6.6 kW to 11 kW. Furthermore, the bZ4X remains a good family SUV that will meet the expectations of Toyota enthusiasts. This is thanks to its more than correct behavior and performance on a daily basis. On the price side, still with a little patience, Toyota will confirm this very soon…

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