2024 Toyota bZ4X AWD Review

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Overview

 

TOYOTA Australia says its first all-electric (BEV) is one of the most important vehicles the brand has ever launched… even if it took three years to get here.

 

It’s a massive statement, and one that indicates the significance of the shift taking place within the automotive industry. A shift that even the most hardened of petrolhead is now beginning to take seriously.

 

The bZ4X, while perhaps not a car for petrolheads, is one that has the potential to change the hearts and minds of customers who had perhaps not considered an electric vehicle before –not only because it wears a ‘Big T’ badge and the cachet that comes with it, but because it’s a bloody good thing to drive and does everything a car should do with aplomb.

 

Priced from $66,000 plus on-road costs in single-motor format or $74,900 + ORC in dual-motor guise (as tested), the five-seat Toyota bZ4X is roughly comparable in size and price to Tesla’s Model Y, or a well-equipped RAV4 (the RAV4 Edge AWD is priced from $58,360 + ORC), if you choose to look at it that way.

 

The related Subaru Solterra has also just launched in Australia, with a higher starting price of $69,990 + ORCs because that model is AWD across the line up.

 

Toyota offers the bZ4X for outright purchase or as part of a Full Service Lease program that includes the use of the car for three years and covers insurance, registration, roadside assistance, maintenance, and even tyres – which may prove a useful way to entice those still ‘on the fence’ about the switch to electric.

 

Both bZ4X models feature a liquid-cooled 71.4kWh lithium-ion battery pack with the single-motor/front-wheel drive version employing a single-speed transaxle that combines the transmission, motor, and inverter into an integrated unit.

 

Maximum output values for the model are listed at 150kW and 266Nm with the 0-100km/h dash at 7.5 seconds. The claimed driving range is 436km on the WLTP cycle (16.9kWh/100km average).

 

The dual-motor / all-wheel drive bZ4X tested here gets lower-output 80kW transaxles front and rear, offering a combined output of 160kW and 337Nm. The claimed 0-100km/h time drops to 6.9 seconds and the claimed driving range to 411km, again on the WLTP cycle (18.1kWh/100km average).

 

Toyota utilises 400-volt architecture in the bZ4X aligned with a type-2 CCS charging plug and an 11kW AC onboard charger that can replenish spent electrons in approximately seven hours. Use a 150kW DC fast charger and the staple 10-80 per cent charge drops to an impressive 30 minutes.

 

Standard equipment for the FWD model includes LED headlights with auto high-beam, LED daytime running lights and tail-lights, auto wipers, 20-inch wheels (but no spare wheel), privacy rear and side glass, and keyless entry and start.

 

Inside the FWD model has cloth and SofTex trim, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, 7.0-inch digital driver information display, and a 12.3-inch touchscreen media system that incorporates DAB+ digital radio, Toyota Connected Services, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a six-speaker sound system.

 

There are four USB-C ports and one USB-A port.

 

Buyers who spend the extra $8900 for the AWD model gain extra power and torque plus better traction for unsealed surfaces, not to mention an X-Mode all-wheel drive system with multiple driving modes and a Grip Control hill descent system for more treacherous off-tarmac driving.

 

But AWD buyers also get more gear including full SofTex trim, a heated steering wheel, cooled front seats, JBL nine-speaker stereo, wireless phone charger, a kick sensor for the power tailgate, and safety additions such as a surround-view camera and intelligent parking assist.

 

The Toyota bZ4X has a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating based on tests conducted by Euro NCAP in 2022.

 

All versions come with autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian, cyclist and junction detection, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance, seven airbags (dual front, front centre, front side and full-length curtain coverage), as well as a reversing camera and front and rear parking sensors.

 

Buyers who choose the AWD model also get the surround-view camera, as well as blind-spot monitoring and safe exit assist (to stop occupants from opening their door into oncoming traffic).

 

Toyota Australia continues to offer its five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty plan for the bZ4X, with powertrain coverage for up to seven years if the car has logbook service history, and battery warranty up to 10 years with regular check-ups at Toyota.

 

The company claims the battery back is guaranteed to maintain 70 per cent state of charge by the time it reaches eight years of age.

 

Servicing is pegged at every 12 months/15,000km with pricing set at $180 per visit for the first five years/75,000km.

 

Driving Impressions

 

It is terrific to be able to jump into an electric car and it feel familiar to operate. The Toyota bZ4X might not present as familiar – with large screens, a high-rise console, rotary-style gear selector and futuristic contours over almost every surface – but it is no more difficult to operate than a Corolla Cross or RAV4, and for us that is something of a bonus.

 

Interacting with the instrument and infotainment screens is straight forward. Menu tabs are logically placed meaning there is little ‘hunting’ for the right list when adjusting settings or accessing infrequently used features.

 

Commonly accessed features are found simply with most being accessed without the need to peruse through multiple screens. We like this a lot and believe it’s a pity so many OEMs seem to actively defy the natural ease-of-use vehicles like the bZ4X possess.

 

It was also pleasing to drive a car whose ADAS systems were a pleasure to use and that did not interfere with the owner’s intentions. Again, logic is the word of the day here, and it’s something the bZ4X seems to possess in spades. It’s rare for us to drive a car for a week without turning off or minimising its electronic assistants, so kudos to Toyota on a job well done.

 

In an accommodation sense, we found the cabin to be comfortable and exceptionally quiet, with most controls falling readily to hand. Shorter drivers may find rearward visibility tricky, but the 360-degree camera system and complimentary parking aids make short work of close-quarter manoeuvring.

 

In the rear seat we found plenty of leg and hip room, but less so overhead. The sweeping roofline of the bZ4X does cut into rear occupant headroom, which may be a consideration for buyers with taller children or adult passengers frequenting the second row.

 

All rear seating positions are afforded top-tether child seat anchors with the outboard positions adding ISOFIX preparation.

 

Cargo space for the bZ4X is listed at 452 litres in base form and 441 litres for the all-wheel drive. Unlike some in the segment, there is also no front storage compartment or ‘frunk’. The combination places the bZ4X significantly short of the same-segment RAV4 with 580 litres – which also offers a spare wheel.

 

On the road, the Toyota bZ4X remains a pleasure to drive. Being straightforward and simple might sound dull, but it makes for a very relaxed sensation – one we feel allows you to enjoy each drive, even if it’s just down to the local shops.

 

Response to throttle input is prompt but linear, the bZ4X accelerating quickly but without attempting to rip the asphalt from the road. It doesn’t tug at the ‘wheel like some EVs do and accelerates quietly with little motor whine to speak of.

 

On test, the bZ4X all-wheel drive used an average of 18.2kWh per 100km, slightly worse than the manufacturer’s claim. We managed just shy of 400km from a charge in mixed conditions, which we feel is acceptable, but not class leading. Stacked against the best-selling Tesla Model Y (up to 533km), we think the Toyota could do better.

 

Ride quality is a standout, especially considering (like most EVs) the kerb weight of the bZ4X. At 2055kg it is around 300kg heavier than a comparable RAV4 yet rides just as comfortably with excellent absorption of potholes and expansion gaps, even on the standard 20-inch wheels.

 

Steering response is excellent with quick response to inputs. The body follows the driver’s commands exceptionally well, giving the bZ4X a smaller-car-feeling than may seem obvious. We found the vehicle quite enjoyable to pilot, the chassis keeping in check over undulations and off-camber corners. It’s yet another box-tick for a vehicle that should feel far heavier.

 

Using a mixture of regenerative and service braking provided smooth yet purposeful stops that suit the bZ4X’s application.

 

As a vehicle that will no doubt spend most of its time ferrying the fam’, it is terrific to find a metered regenerative system that operates smoothly across all speeds. There’s no sudden ‘jerk’ as you lift off the throttle, and no ‘stepped’ sensation through the pedal. Just a natural braking action that we feel mimics that of an ICE car very well.

 

And we guess that’s kind of the point of an EV. It should be a compromise, and it shouldn’t be complicated to live with or drive. If anything, it should be more straightforward. With so many OEMs clambering to make their mark in the EV space it’s nice to occasionally find a vehicle that you could actually see owning.

 

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