Toyota Returns To EVs. While the 2023 Toyota bZ4X may not seem like an important electric car, it marks a return to all-electric cars for Toyota. In the past few years, Toyota has stuck with hybrids and plug-in hybrids, claiming that neither the tech nor the demand exists for electric cars. Thanks to a new partnership with Subaru, that changes with the introduction of the bZ4X SUV.

The last time Toyota had an all-electric vehicle in its lineup was in 2014 when it stopped producing the RAV4 EV. With the all-new bZ4X, which shares a lot of components with the Subaru Solterra, Toyota finally has a serious competitor in the all-electric segment. While the bZ4X may not lead the segment in range, technology, or performance, showing up with a serious EV is half the battle.

Average Range. Toyota offers the bZ4X with two different powertrains. The front-wheel-drive version has a single electric motor on the front wheels and a 63.4-kWh battery pack and the available all-wheel-drive model has a second electric motor on the rear wheels and a 65.5-kWh battery. With FWD, range is rated at up to 252 miles. Going with AWD brings lower figures of 228 miles.

Against rivals, these figures are disappointing. Most of the bZ4X’s rivals are hovering around 250 miles of range, but there are a few standout options that can travel more than 300 miles on a single charge. The Tesla Model Y leads the class with 330 miles of range, the sporty Ford Mustang Mach-E can travel up to 305 miles, and the retro Hyundai IONIQ 5 has a range of up to 303 miles. Most consumers will find that 252 miles of range will be plenty for daily use, but it would’ve been nice to see the bZ4X get close to the 300-mile mark.

Where the bZ4X manages to outdo its rivals is in the fuel economy department. The bZ4X doesn’t have official fuel economy figures from the EPA, but Toyota expects the electric SUV to be rated at up to 119 MPGe for FWD models. The AWD model is expected to be able to get up to 104 MPGe.

Relaxed, Comfortable Ride. Unlike other electric vehicles that are available in high-performance trims or have a certain configuration that brings impressive acceleration, that isn’t the case with the bZ4X. The FWD bZ4X has 201 hp and the AWD model is rated at 215 hp. These figures are well behind competitors like the Volkswagen ID.4, IONIQ 5, and Mach-E which have more than 295 hp.

With that kind of power, the standard bZ4X can get to 60 mph from a standstill in 7.1 seconds. The AWD model only shaves 0.6 seconds off that time. By EV standards, these figures are well off the pace as some electric SUVs can get to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds. The bZ4X isn’t slow, it offers peppy acceleration because of its electric powertrain, but it will lose every drag race against the majority of other EVs.

On the road, the bZ4X feels smooth and compliant over bumps. The steering has a decent amount of heft to it and once the SUV’s initial body roll around corners evens out, the SUV has a good amount of poise. In FWD models, the bZ4X’s tires are quick to lose grip and understeer, with AWD models offering more grip.

Conventionally Cozy Interior. With the bZ4X, Toyota doesn’t follow in the same footsteps as rivals on the inside. Instead of going with a futuristic look and some futuristic design elements, the cabin looks like a fresh take on a compact SUV, which will appeal to a wide range of consumers.

The asymmetrical dashboard houses a few physical controls and offers some roomy storage compartments, while the 7-inch digital instrument cluster is integrated in a way that requires drivers to look over the steering wheel to be able to see information on the screen. Drivers that prefer a high seating position may find that the steering wheel blocks the digital instrument display.

The bZ4X features Toyota’s latest Audio Multimedia system that’s controlled via a 12.3-inch touchscreen. The infotainment system is the same one found that’s found on the new Tundra and represents a dramatic improvement over the old Entune system. While the system has crisp graphics, wireless smartphone compatibility, and a “Hey, Toyota” voice recognition function, it’s controlled through unintuitive touch-capacitive buttons.

Final Thoughts. On paper, the 2023 Toyota bZ4X doesn’t line up all that well with competitors. It doesn’t have the same amount of power, the latest high-tech features, the same performance, or the same futuristic interior design as other EVs on the market. What the bZ4X does really well is being a great compact SUV with an average electric powertrain. It’s comfortable, easy to drive, spacious, and filled with tech that you can actually use.

For a more enjoyable ride, there’s the Ford Mustang Mach-E. It has up to 305 miles of range, offers sporty handling, has a GT Performance trim with impressive performance, is offered with a hands-free driver-assist system, and has an aggressive design.

Underneath the Hyundai IONIQ 5’s retro-inspired design, the SUV offers 303 miles of range, peppy straight-line acceleration, a comfortable ride, super-quick charge times, high-tech features, and a roomy interior.

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