2023 Toyota bZ4X FWD Limited first test review: the last compatible car?

It’s fair to say that Toyota has focused its efforts on hybrids, and the company’s argument makes a lot of sense: In a world with limited battery resources, perhaps more global carbon dioxide could be saved by making millions of small hybrid batteries rather than by making thousands of large ones. Electric vehicle batteries. But this argument has not caught on with regulators, so Homer Hybrid CEO Akio Toyoda has now been replaced and Toyota has announced big plans for “beyond zero (bZ)” electric vehicles. Its first major electric vehicle is the 2023 Toyota bZ4X small crossover, developed in collaboration with Subaru (which sells the same thing as Solterra).

We’ve tried the dual-motor bZ4X AWD, and now we’ve strapped our gear to — and connected 11 editors of varying sizes and shapes — to the primary front-driver.

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Half the engines, 94 percent of the power

The dual-motor Toyota bZ4X AWD model we tested produces 214 hp and 248 lb-ft, but with half the number of engines, this engine still produces 201 hp and 196 lb-ft. This is a bit unusual among mainstream electric vehicles that offer single and dual-motor options from the same trim line. For example, the single-motor VW ID4 Pro S delivers exactly 68 percent of the power and torque of its dual-motor counterpart; Kia’s EV6 GT-Line’s single-motor engine is rated at 70 percent of the power and 58 percent of the torque of the twin-motor. These examples find a single motor at the rear, but even the front-driver Nissan Ariya makes just 61 percent of the power and 50 percent of the torque of its e4orce AWD sibling.

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Smaller speed deficit

Perhaps not surprisingly, with a smaller power/torque deficit, the front-driver bZ4X runs hotter on the heels of its AWD sibling, hitting 60 mph in 6.7 seconds and covering the quarter mile in 15.4 seconds at 89.9 mph, i.e. 15 and 6 percent of four-wheel drive. pace, or less than half the difference between the ID4, EV6, and Ariya versions. Of these single-engine competitors, only the Kia is quicker than the bZ4X at 6.5 and 15.0 seconds at 95 mph.

Essentially, this Toyota is in competition with the front-drive-only Chevrolet Bolt EV and EUV and the Kia Niro EV, and is noticeably quicker than the ID4 and Ariya. Most who drove it described it as lively, with linear, strong pull from a stop across the quarter-mile.

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Dealing with statistics

Here again, front-wheel braking, cornering and playback figure-eight track deployment results are almost identical to the all-wheel results, while competitors generally put more daylight between the results for the two-wheel and all-wheel variants. However, most editors complained about the lack of any heavy or single-pedal driving mode, and after beating the bZ4X with the stick down a winding road, many criticized the car’s light steering, excessive body roll, tire squeal, and tendency to understeer in tight turns. .

But of course, Toyota is not promoting this car as an autocross warrior, but rather as an accessible crossover that performs as much as possible like any “normal” trade-in vehicle. This makes the strange interior design very difficult to explain.

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Speed ​​cannot be read

Instead of displaying the instrument cluster through a regular steering wheel, Toyota offers a smaller-diameter wheel filled with controls on its oversized center and places the instruments higher up the road next to the windshield, where they’re supposed to be displayed over the top of the car. wheel. A few of us praised the “sci-fi spaceship rudder design,” noting the interesting cloth trim, but several editors of varying stature reported being completely unable to find a comfortable seat and steering wheel position. Employees ranging in height from 5-foot-3 to 6-foot-10 reported the steering wheel rim blocking part or all of the instrument cluster. Others complained that the awkward little wheel felt like it was sitting in their lap and needed more tilt-up adjustment. It’s shocking that a modern car has completed an entire product development cycle with such a glaring problem.

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Home person

In many ways, the Toyota bZ4X looks like a first-ever electric car from a new electric car maker – and it is – but we were hoping the Toyota Megalithic would jump the learning curve a bit. Its slippery stance helps the front-wheel-drive bZ4X get good fuel efficiency ratings per mpg—at 125-131/103-107/114-119 city/highway/combined, it’s ahead of the ID4 and Ariya, even with the Bolts. And the Niro and below the Tesla Model Ys and EV6. Our Limited model had a range of 242 miles (lower-spec cars on 18-inch wagons got up to 10 miles), but exacerbating the modest range is the car’s slow DC fast charging speed. Due to the bZ4X’s 355-volt electrical architecture and the inherent differences between the front driver’s 71.4 kWh battery and the all-wheel drive model’s 72.8 kWh battery, our test car had a charging rate of 150 kW while the all-wheel drive models were limited to 100 kilowatt. This doesn’t matter at all for at-home recharging, but it seriously lengthens recharging downtime if you travel or don’t have access to daily Level 2 recharging.

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Room for improvement

Our editors were disappointed by the level of wind noise that broke into normal highway speeds and by the body vibrations that rattled the mirrors on banked highways and on gravel roads. We’ve come to expect that all-new dedicated EVs that retain the body proportions of the old two-box combustion car should offer a front trunk (although we’re very much in favor of rethinking the overall proportions). All of this is similar to previous “EV-compatible cars,” suboptimal gas-electrified models that were reluctantly designed to meet CARB requirements.

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Should you buy a front-wheel drive bZ4X?

If you’re a lifelong Toyota fan who’s ready to make your family’s second car an electric one, and your body type allows you to see the gadgets, then by all means do it. Everyone would likely be better served by any of the more improved electric vehicles offered by Tesla, Hyundai, Kia, and others. Under the company’s new leadership, we expect 10 new all-electric vehicles that Toyota has promised to launch by 2026 with entirely new architecture to correct these various shortcomings. At the very least, we all expect to be able to reach the wheel and see the tools.

Toyota bZ4X 2023 Limited specifications
Base price $48,050
Price as tested $49,874
Car layout Front engine, 4 wheel drive, 5 pass, 4 doors
Engine type Permanent magnet electric
Energy (SAE network) 201 hp
Torque (net SAE) 196 lbs.ft
moving in 1-Automatic speed
Curb weight (front/rear distance) 4,307 lbs (56/44%)
Wheelbase 112.2 inches
Length x width x height 184.6 x 73.2 x 65.0 inches
0-60 mph 6.7 seconds
A quarter mile 15.4 seconds at 89.9 mph
Braking, 0-60 mph 125 feet
Lateral acceleration 0.79 grams (average)
Figure eight 27.4 seconds at 0.62g (average)
EPA City/Highway/Fuel Economy Comp 125/103/114 mpg-e
EPA scope, comb 242 miles
For sale now

(Tags for translation) Toyota

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