Toyota bZ4X review

Toyota’s first proper all-electric vehicle lands with a sharp chassis and good performance, but it could be more practical.

This score is awarded by our team of
expert reviewers
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers
after extensive testing of the car

What's good

  • Really engaging and enjoyable to drive
  • Decent one-charge range
  • Excellent infotainment system

What's not so good

  • Boot is a bit on the small side
  • No option for a larger battery
  • Daft name

Find out more about the Toyota bZ4X

Is the Toyota bZ4X a good car?

Toyota’s new bz4X, is an all-electric family SUV that goes up against alternatives such as the Volkswagen ID.4, Skoda Enyaq, Hyundai Ioniq 5, and — when it arrives — the Nissan Ariya. As with all Toyotas it’s a sensible-pair-of-shoes kind of car, but one that’s surprisingly sporty to drive. So a sensible pair of shoes with Nike Air Max soles, then…

It has a shape that pretty deftly mixes the sleek with the chunky, and it manages to look lower and more compact than Toyota’s own RAV4, even though the two cars are actually about the same height. We especially like the ‘hammerhead’ detailing that runs through the slim LED lights at the front and around the leading edge of the bonnet. You’ll be able to choose between 18-inch and 20-inch alloy wheels. 

Inside, there’s a choice of 8-inch or 12.3-inch touchscreens, and a standard 7-inch digital instrument screen, which is mounted up high, right in your natural line of vision. The front seats are very comfortable indeed, but the back seat slightly less so — there’s plenty of legroom in the back, but headroom is a touch tight, and the seat position is awkward.

The bz4X gets a 452-litre boot, with a split-folding rear seat. That’s quite a bit smaller than you get in most alternatives, but there’s a low, flat loading lip which helps when packing in heavy items. 

For now Toyota is claiming a range of between 254 and 285 miles, depending on the version, but that may be a conservative estimate. Official figures will be out in March. There’s just the one battery size on offer — 71.4kWh — and it can be recharged at speeds of up to 150kW from a powerful DC public charging point. That’ll take you from 10-80% charge in about 30 minutes, while a 7kW home wallbox will top the battery up from 0-100% in just under 13 hours.

While the extra performance of the dual-motor version might be nice, I’d go for the single-motor bz4X as it gets that higher 285-mile range.

Mat Watson
Mat Watson
carwow expert

You’ll be able to choose from a single-motor, front-wheel drive variant, and a dual-motor all-wheel-drive variant when the car arrives later in 2022. The former develops a respectable 204hp, while the latter makes 217hp.

On motorways and main roads you’ll find it to be refined and smooth, while in town it’s quite manoeuvrable thanks to good visibility out the front (albeit with slightly less-good over-the-shoulder visibility. Where the bz4X really surprises is on a twisty country road, where it feels far more agile and sporty than you might expect. It’ll even go further off-road than you’d think.

The Toyota bz4X is really going to spook alternatives from Volkswagen, Nissan and Skoda— although it’s not quite as roomy as it could be, it’s nicer to drive than many of its competitors, and given Toyota’s reputation for reliability (and the offer of an exceptional battery warranty) it should be as fiscally tempting as it is agile through the corners. 

The bz4X is due to hit showrooms in early- to mid-2022, with prices starting from £41,950. If it sounds like the car for you, keep an eye on our Toyota deals page to see how much you can save when you buy through carwow. In the meantime, you can check out our favourite EVs that are currently on sale here.

How practical is it?

Oddly, given the usual space advantages of an electric car, the bZ4X actually has a smaller boot than many alternatives.

Boot (seats up)
Boot (seats down)

In the front seats, the bZ4X is spacious enough, but the driving position feels quite snug thanks to the high-set centre console. Legroom in the front is fine, but if you’ve specified your bZ4X with the optional panoramic glass roof then you are robbed of a bit of headroom. 

As a result, a tall driver might find that their head is uncomfortably close to the roof lining. According to Toyota, there’s more headroom if you stick with the standard steel roof, or the optional solar-panel roof.

In the back seats, thanks to the 2.8-metre wheelbase, there is copious legroom, even for those with very long legs. Headroom is again a little on the short side with that glass roof, though. There’s also a slightly odd effect in that the bZ4X’s flat cabin floor is set quite high, so although your legs have plenty of space, you do tend to sit rather bottom-down, knees-up, which may not be entirely comfortable on a long journey. The centre rear seat is possibly too narrow for a full-sized adult to get comfortable, too. There are ISOFIX anchors in the outer two rear seats. 

The bZ4X’s front door bins are slightly narrow and shallow, but they’re made up for by that chunky centre console. In that, you’ll find a large lidded storage area under a sliding armrest. Set into that is a removable plastic tray, which you can take out to clean if needed. There are also two cupholders. In front of the armrest, there’s a wireless mobile phone charging pad, which has a neat semi-transparent lid so that your phone doesn’t go sliding around the place. There’s also a USB-B socket. Beneath the console, there’s a large, open-sided storage area with two USB-C sockets (rear seat passengers get a USB-C socket each, too). 

There is, however, no glovebox at all, just a plain plastic trim beneath the housing for the passenger-side airbag. 

The bZ4X’s boot has a volume of 452 litres, and it is nicely square and free from major obstructions, but that does mean that it’s a long way from being the most practical car in the class. For instance, a similarly priced Skoda Enyaq offers 585 litres of luggage space, while the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6 both have bigger boots too. The Toyota’s rear seats do split-fold, but only in a 60:40 ratio, and not the more versatile 40:20:40 three-way split. 

Oddly, the bZ4X’s boot volume means that it’s actually slightly less practical than Toyota’s own RAV4 hybrid SUV, which has to package batteries, a fuel tank, and a petrol engine. Given that the bZ4X’s batteries are stored in a flat module under the cabin floor, you might have expected better. There’s not even a ‘froot’ storage area under the bonnet — that’s all taken up by the electric motor and cooling systems.

What's it like to drive?

The bZ4X is surprisingly agile and sporty to drive, but doesnt miss out on comfort. Its even really impressive if you need to go off-road…

The bZ4X comes with a choice of two powertrains, but just the one battery. It’s a 71.4kWh battery pack, which can be charged at speeds of up to 150kW from a sufficiently fast DC public charger, allowing you to charge it to 80 per cent capacity in around 28-minutes. For home charging, initially, there’s a 6.6kW on-board charger, but that will be upgraded for 2023 to an 11kW charger, although early bZ4X customers won’t be able to upgrade to the faster charging setup. 

Most bZ4Xs will come with front-wheel drive, which uses a single 204hp motor. That’s enough poke for an 8.4sec 0-60mph time. Fully charge the battery, and Toyota estimates that you’ll get 285-miles out of it before needing to charge again. That’s decent range, but significantly less than the 331-miles offered by the big-battery versions of the Skoda Enyaq and Volkswagen ID.4, both of which have similar prices to the £41,950 starting point of the bZ4X. 

Those figures aren’t quite finalised yet, as the bZ4X has still not been officially tested on the official WLTP test cycle.

Our four-wheel drive test car uses twin electric motors, one front and one rear, for a combined 217hp, with 336Nm of torque, and a 0-62mph time of 7.7secs. The top speed of both cars is limited to 100mph. 

That four-wheel drive system will drain the battery rather faster, though. Toyota estimates a 254-mile range.

Toyota is guaranteeing that the bZ4X’s battery will retain at minimum 70 per cent of its original performance after ten years, or 620,000-miles, whichever comes first. You do have to regularly visit a Toyota dealer for a battery health check to keep that warranty going, but it’s a remarkable claim, nonetheless. 

Around town

The bz4X majors on refinement and you’ll really notice that around town. The ride comfort — even on the optional 20-inch alloy wheels of our test car — is very good. It’s not quite as eerily smooth as that of the Volkswagen ID.4, and there’s a slight sense of firmness when you’re dealing with corrugated urban streets, but on the whole, it’s very comfortable. 

The scuttle of the windscreen, where the dashboard meets the glass, is quite low. It’s not as low as that of a Tesla Model Y, but low enough that there’s excellent visibility out the front, and Toyota says that it has slimmed down the windscreen pillars as much as possible to enhance that feeling. 

Over the shoulder visibility is hampered slightly by chunky c-pillars, but there’s a standard-fit reversing camera and parking sensors (and an optional ‘birds eye view’ 360-degree camera system) so low-speed manoeuvring is pretty easy. 

There is a ‘one-pedal’ regenerative braking system, which has two modes (basically On and Off) but it’s quite subtle, slowing the car initially, but leaving it up to you to use the actual brakes to bring the bZ4X to a stop.

On the motorway

Once on the motorway, once again, refinement is to the fore. Wind and tyre noise are well suppressed on all but the coarsest concrete surfaces, and given the bZ4X’s decent one-charge range, long journeys should prove pretty relaxing. It’s a very stable and sure-footed car, with no hint of being deflected by cross-winds or upset by passing HGVs. Then again, weighing 2.5-tonnes will do that for you.

On a twisty road

This impressive refinement might leave you feeling a wee bit surprised if you decide to point the bZ4X’s nose down a twisty country road.

Its steering may not have much actual road-feel coming back through it, but it’s fast and accurate, and the bZ4X seems to shrug off its hefty kerb weight to positively dances from one corner to the next, without even a whiff of reluctance to turn into the next bend. 

It’s perhaps not quite as exciting as the Mustang Mach-E, but it’s a remarkable performance for such a heavy car. While most owners will probably just use their bZ4X to cruise the motorway or head to the shops, be in no doubt — this electric SUV has been set up to be a bit of fun. 

Next year, Toyota will offer an optional steer-by-wire system which comes with a chopped-off steering wheel that looks a bit like an aircraft’s control yoke. The idea is that the computerised steering can vary how fast and how much the front wheels turn, so that you only need to roll your wrists to steer, never needing to cross your hands over. 

It could well prove to be neat technology, and Toyota claims it improves high-speed stability, but to be honest the bZ4X feels so well-sorted already that you might find you’re happy with the standard set-up. 

It’s even really good when you get it off-road. Again, few — if any — owners will actually venture further than the grass car park at the local car-boot sale, but the bZ4X has been designed with help from Subaru, and it really shows. 

Being able to more or less infinitely vary the power and torque going from front to rear obviously helps, but the bZ4X also gets — in four-wheel drive form — an X-Mode off-roading system, designed by Subaru. This can be adjusted to cope with snow and/or deep mud, and there’s a ‘Grip Control’ setting that acts like an off-road cruise control, keeping you going without you needing to touch the throttle. The hill descent control also cuts in automatically if the bZ4X detects that you’re heading down a steep slope.

It may not quite be a Land Rover Defender, but the bZ4X is considerably more rugged than we were expecting. It dealt easily with dry, dusty trails involving steep climbs and descents, and equally well on a course claggy with wet, viscous mud. It can wade through deep water, too — up to 500mm as standard.

What's it like inside?

Toyota’s infotainment system takes a big step forward, but the driving position is slightly odd.

Next Read full interior review