Toyota bZ4X for the U.S. misses out on steering ‘joystick’ [Update]

  • Toyota's first bespoke EV for the masses priced from USD 42,000
  • Competes with the Nissan Ariya, VW ID.4, Hyundai Ioniq 5 & Kia EV6
  • Early manufacturing defect has been fixed and production has resumed in Japan
  • New cars could start reaching U.S. dealers by the end of 2022

Update: ‘Toyota bZ4X recall’ and ‘Price & Release Date’ sections updated and ‘TopElectricSUV says’ section added.

The U.S.-spec Toyota bZ4X has some changes compared to the Japanese version revealed in October 2021. Here’s an in-depth look at Toyota’s first dedicated electric vehicle for the American market.

Toyota bZ4X at a glance

Here are the highlights of the Toyota electric car that is now available in the U.S. market:

  • The size and proportions of the bZ4X EV are reminiscent of the Toyota RAV4. However, the bZ4X looks sharper and more aerodynamic. It was designed from the outset as an EV, and it’s not a conversion of the RAV4. The lower height and coupe-styled tail section give it a sporting character.
  • Thanks to a dedicated EV platform, the bZ4X has short overhangs and a long wheelbase. The interior space is comparable to that of a D-segment sedan (Toyota Camry).
  • The low position of the dashboard and the location of the fully digital instrument cluster enhances the sense of space inside the cabin while also improving road visibility.
  • The bZ4X has a new all-wheel drive system co-developed with Subaru.
  • Solar roof, which charges the battery pack when the vehicle is stationary, also omitted in the U.S.-spec model.

Specifications

Dimensions

Measuring 184.6 inches in length, 73.2 inches in width, and 65.0 inches in height, the Toyota bZ4X is roughly the size of the RAV4. However, as Toyota designed the bZ4X as an EV from the ground up, it managed to achieve a significantly longer wheelbase of 112.2 inches.

DimensionValue
Length184.6 in.
Width73.2 in. (w/o mirrors)
Height65.0 in. (with antenna)
Wheelbase112.2 in.
Ground Clearance8.1 in.
Headroom38.6 in. (front)/37.1 in. (rear)
Legroom42.1 in. (front)/35.3 in. (rear)
Shoulder Room57.8 in. (front)/56.0 in. (rear)
Hip Room54.4 in. (front)/44.8 in. (rear)
Cargo Volume Behind Rear Seats27.7 cu. ft. (standard)/25.8 cu. ft. (with JBL sound system)
Cargo Volume With Rear Seats Folded94.4 cu. ft. (Toyota est.)
Toyota bZ4X dimensions

Motor

While most bespoke compact EVs have an RWD drivetrain layout by default, the Toyota bZ4X is an FWD model. The base variant has a single motor propelling the front wheels which generates 150 kW (201 hp) and 196 lb.-ft. of torque. The top-end variant features two motors, placed at the front and rear, each producing 80 kW (107 hp) and 124 lb.-ft. of torque. The combined power output of these is 214 hp. The driver can select the gear using a dial-type shifter, a first for Toyota.

AspectSpecification
Drivetrain LayoutFWD/AWD
No. of Motor(s)One/Two
Front Motor Power201 hp (FWD)/107 hp (AWD)
Rear Motor Power107 hp (AWD)
Combined Power214 hp (AWD)
Front Motor Torque196 lb.-ft. (FWD & AWD)
Rear Motor Torque124 lb.-ft. (AWD)
Battery Pack TypeLithium-ion
Total Battery Pack Capacity71.4 kWh (FWD)/72.8 kWh (AWD)
Battery Pack Voltage355 V (FWD & AWD)
AC Charging Input6.6 kW (FWD & AWD)
DC Charging Input150 kW (FWD)/100 kW (AWD)
EPA-est. Range252 miles (XLE FWD)/228 miles (XLE AWD)/242 miles (Limited FWD)/222 miles (Limited AWD)
Toyota bZ4X technical specifications

Battery & charging

The Toyota bZ4X FWD has a 71.4 kWh lithium-ion battery, while the Toyota bZ4X AWD uses a slightly bigger, 72.8 kWh lithium-ion pack. However, both batteries have the same operating voltage – 355 V. Two trims are available, namely XLE and Limited, both in FWD and AWD. The EPA-est. range, depending on the configuration, is up to 252 miles.

The maximum charging power on alternating current is 6.6 kW. Fully charging with a Level 2 charger takes about 9 hours. The maximum charging power on direct current is not class-leading. The single-motor variant supports charging at 150 kW, while the dual-motor variant’s peak DC charging power is just 100 kW.

Heat pump & AWD

Toyota has fitted a heat pump for both heating and air-conditioning in the 2023 bZ4X. A heat pump-type climate control system reuses the battery pack’s waste heat to warm the cabin when required, reducing the impact on the range.

The U.S.-spec bZ4X features a new AWD system, co-developed with Subaru, along with X-Mode and Grip-Control. X-Mode is a Toyota-first feature and engaging Snow/Dirt mode with it improves vehicle stability and traction on slippery, dirt surfaces. There’s also a Snow/Mud mode, for unpaved and bumpy roads, which applies the brakes on spinning wheels to replicate the effect of a limited-slip differential. Grip-Control is an additional function of X-Mode, and it allows determining road surface characteristics and locking to a speed to prevent slipping on rough roads.

One year of free DC fast charging for bZ4X owners

Toyota announced on February 24, 2022, that American bZ4X customers would get one year of complimentary DC fast charging access through EVgo’s network. EVgo’s fast chargers are located at prime locations like grocery stores, shopping centers, and city centers. The facility would enable customers to charge their EVs when busy with their routine errands. The process is simple. Owners have to use the Toyota smartphone application to sign up for the free service. EVgo has 800 DC fast chargers in the U.S. and thousands of Level 2 chargers across 68 metropolitan areas in 35 states. The EVgo chargers derive energy from 100% green sources.

90 percent range even after 10 years of use

Toyota has put efforts to ensure that the bZ4X is durable. It wants to ensure that the battery pack will deliver up to 90% of its range even after ten years of use. Masahiko Maeda, the company’s Chief Technology Officer, has said that this is one of the highest endurance performance targets in the world.

Preventing the formation of degraded materials on anode surfaces is key to extending battery life. Toyota is taking measures in various aspects such as pack structure, material selection, and control system to prevent the development of these degraded materials. Keiji Kaita, the President of Toyota’s CN Advanced Engineering Development Center, had said that the battery cost will reduce by 40% compared to the C-HR/Izoa/UX EV when it launches the bZ4X. So, cheaper battery replacements could be another advantage of the bZ4X.

The Toyota engineer in charge of the bZ4X’s development, Daisuke Ido, had told Bloomberg that the SUV’s battery would offer exceptional durability. The report states that Toyota experimented with battery materials and temperature management for 20 years, enabling the brand to extract extraordinary long-term battery life. The approach bodes well with Toyota’s historical focus on reliability—Toyota’s ICE powertrains are known to outlast their owners, and fetch a good price in the used car market. It makes sense for the Japanese brand to use its expertise in durability for EVs as well.

Features

The U.S.-spec Toyota bZ4X comes with features like 20-inch alloy wheels, a 12.3-inch Toyota Audio Multimedia system with dual Bluetooth phone connectivity and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a shareable Digital Key, Toyota-first front-seat radiant foot-and-leg heater, etc.

AVN

The 2023 Toyota bZ4X is available in Softex/Fabric-trimmed in Black in the XLE grade and Softex-trimmed in Black or Light Gray in the Limited grade. A JBL Premium Audio system with 9 speakers, including an 8-channel HiD-watt amplifier and 9-inch subwoofer is available. Also available are a plethora of additional standard Connected Services. A 3-year trial is included for the Remote Connect service, which allows Toyota App users to control the bZ4X’s headlights, seat heaters/ventilators, defroster, steering wheel heater, climate control system, rear hatch, and more. Remote Charging is also possible with Remote Connect, and it enables checking charging status, starting/stopping charging, and editing charging schedules.

Toyota Safety Sense 3.0

The bZ4X is the brand’s first model in America to feature Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 (TSS 3.0) safety package. TSS 3.0 includes a millimeter-wave radar and a monocular camera with an expanded detection range. Toyota has improved the performance of each function of Toyota Safety Sense for v3.0. Moreover, it has added new functions to assist in normal driving conditions. For example, the Pre-Collision System offers Daytime Motorcyclist Detection, Low-Light Cyclist Detection, and Guardrail Detection. Another example is Lane Recognition, which provides improved Lane Tracing Assist mode functionality.

No solar roof and steer-by-wire in the U.S.

A steer-by-wire system will be available internationally but not in the U.S. market. The steering wheel and tires have no mechanical connection, so unwanted vibrations from the maneuvers don’t make it to the driver’s palms. In this setup, Toyota has set the lock-to-lock at around 150 degrees, making U-turns and parking simpler, as there is no need to change grips.

Price & Release Date

The Toyota bZ4X started arriving at U.S. dealerships in May 2022, posts from multiple BZForums.com users revealed. Many customers had taken delivery of the car. Prices of the bZ4X start at USD 42,000 (excl. delivery, processing, and handing fee of USD 1,335). The bZ4X competes with the VW ID.4, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Nissan Ariya, and the Kia EV6.

ConfigurationToyota bZ4X Price
XLE FWDUSD 42,000
XLE AWDUSD 44,080
Limited FWDUSD 46,700
Limited AWDUSD 48,780
Toyota bZ4X prices (excl. USD 1,335 DPH fee)

Toyota bZ4X colors

  • Heavy Metal
  • Elemental Silver Metallic
  • Wind Chill Pearl
  • Supersonic Red
  • Black
  • Wind Chill Pearl with Black roof
  • Elemental Silver Metallic with Black roof
  • Heavy Metal with Black roof
  • Supersonic Red with Black roof

Every option except for Black costs extra

Toyota bZ4X recall

On June 23, 2022, Toyota announced a recall for the 2023 bZ4X in the U.S. The company has imported approximately 260 units that have defective hub bolts that can cause the wheel to detach from the vehicle. The company said it will offer owners of defective units a loaner vehicle free of charge until it comes up with a fix.

According to a report from Electrek, Toyota has informed owners that it will reimburse their fueling costs and also provide them a total credit of USD 5,000 toward loan/lease payments or purchase price (whichever is applicable), additional time for complimentary charging at EVgo charging stations (till December 31, 2024), and extended warranty. Additionally, the company is providing a buyback option for owners who simply no longer find the bZ4X reliable.

On October 6, 2022, Toyota announced that it wants to start offering a fix for affected customer units of the U.S.-spec bZ4X by November 2022. It will replace the hub bolts with newly designed hub bolts with washers and the wheels with improved ones. Automotive News reported the same day that the company has restarted production of the bZ4X, but it didn’t reveal whether output included the units intended for U.S. sales.

Toyota bZ4X GR Sport Concept

Toyota bZ4X GR Sport Concept front three quarter
The Toyota bZ4X GR Sport Concept has a lower ground clearance, special wheels, and a sportier look. Image Source: Toyota

At the 2022 Tokyo Auto Salon, Toyota Gazoo Racing (TGR) unveiled the Toyota bZ4X GR Sport Concept. The modified bZ4X features an exclusive matt gray paint, large gloss black alloy wheels, GR badging, and GR-branded black sports seats. A lower height amplifies its sportier character, but we wish TGR had equipped it with an aggressive body kit to improve its presence. Toyota hasn’t revealed the specifications of the concept.

Toyota is examining the business case for a bZ4X GR Sport, the car’s chief engineer Daisuke Ido told Move Electric. Ido said that the bZ4X could see the addition of a performance variant tuned by GR Sport. He cleared that “it’s still not a concrete idea yet,” though. The biggest challenge facing the bZ4X variant isn’t increasing its power or torque, but rather giving customers the superior handling and performance they demand from GR Sport models, Ido stated. There is no set release date as of yet, but if everything goes according to plan, the bZ4X GR Sport could launch as early as the second half of 2023.

Toyota to launch 6 additional bZ EVs following the bZ4X

Toyota has half a dozen BZ EVs in the pipeline by 2025, following the Toyota BZ4X. bZ at Toyota is the condensed form of ‘Beyond Zero’ branding dedicated to its electric car series. Toyota may apply the alphanumeric branding with an ‘X’ for crossovers, while the hatch, sedan, or MPV names could end with the number connoting their place in the ladder. Toyota filed more than ten trademark applications at EUIPO in 2020, and it would use a few of them in the upcoming bZ models:

A total of seven Toyota EVs are planned for global deployment by 2025, and a few of them are of the SUV/crossover body style. The plan includes a large SUV, a medium crossover, and a medium SUV.

Toyota bZ line-up
We have received the first look at four of the six remaining Toyota bZ models from the TMC presentation made in December 2021. Image Source: Toyota Motor Corporation

All models would be based on the e-TNGA, given their appeal and the necessary compliance to American and European standards. The medium crossover and SUV would be 5-seat Toyota electric cars, and the large SUV could be a 7-seat model.

Eventually, the Toyota bZ range will start with the Toyota bZ Small Crossover, a potential zero-emission alternative to the Aygo X city crossover. However, the immediate launch will be a Corolla-like sedan, known as Toyota bZ3. Around 2024, the Toyota bZ Large SUV should follow, as well as a smaller crossover, the Toyota bZ3X. TMC has confirmed that the former is a three-row model, and the design suggests that it’s a derivative of the bZ4X. The latter, a coupe-style compact SUV presently referred to as Toyota bZ Compact SUV, could serve as a zero-emission alternative to the Toyota C-HR around the same time.

Toyota electrification efforts in the U.S.

Toyota hasn’t announced EV manufacturing in the U.S. but is preparing the building blocks for it in the not-too-distant future. The company plans to invest approximately USD 3.4 billion by 2030 to develop and locally produce batteries, including those for fully battery-powered EVs or BEVs.

2023 Toyota bZ4X front three quarters
Customer deliveries of the Toyota bZ4X in the U.S. should begin by the end of 2022. The bZ4X is imported from the Toyota Motomachi Plant (Japan). Image Source: Toyota

A new company and a new battery plant built together with Toyota Tsusho in the U.S. will support Toyota Motor North America’s ZEV transformation. Toyota aims to begin manufacturing batteries in the U.S. by 2025. The company will invest approximately USD 1.29 billion in this project until 2031. The company’s initial focus will be making HEV batteries, not BEV batteries. By 2030, Toyota expects to sell 1.5-1.8 million electrified vehicles in the U.S. and increase their share in its sales to nearly 70%.

TopElectricSUV says

The Toyota bZ4X features a futuristic and funky design and offers plenty of space, and a welcoming interior. However, the limited range and lackluster performance make it unappealing compared to the other options in the electric SUV sector. Also, while reliability is the biggest USP of Toyotas, the bZ4X has faced an embarrassing recall right off the bat. It also remains to be seen how Toyota copes with the ineligibility for federal tax credits.

Toyota bZ4X FAQs

What is the Toyota bZ4X release date?

Toyota will likely start delivering the bZ4X to customers in the U.S. by the end of 2022.

What will be the Toyota bZ4X price in the U.S.?

The base Toyota bZ4X costs USD 42,000 (excl. USD 1,335 DPH fee)

Which EVs will be the Toyota bZ4X rivals?

The bZ4X will compete with the VW ID.4, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6, Nissan Ariya, and the Ford Mustang Mach-E in the United States.

Featured Image Source: Toyota