(Los Angeles) Long against the general trend, Toyota finally created its first mass-produced electric vehicle, the bZ4X.
To the wall
Jostled by a quicker-than-expected electric transition, Toyota could not do otherwise. Either the Japanese manufacturer clings to the locomotive, or he watches the train pass. The release of the bZ4X confirms the decision taken.
“Be warned, this Toyota is not for everyone. How to interpret this warning issued by Stephen Beatty, vice-president and general secretary of Toyota Canada, at the time of the media presentation of the bZ4X?
Why, then ?
Some will decipher that the Japanese manufacturer still maintains a certain mistrust regarding the speed at which the automotive sector switches to battery-powered vehicles. The world number 1 which already partially electrifies (hybrid technology) its range, while pursuing the development of the hydrogen fuel cell, did he only envisage that battery-powered vehicles would be like a compulsory passage?
Big as a RAV4
Designed on a modular architecture called e-TNGA, the bZ4X occupies roughly the same space as a RAV4 on the street. It is longer (+ 90 mm) and wider (+ 5 mm), but its roof takes up less altitude (- 60 mm). Just like its ground clearance (- 5 mm). These numbers on the fly, however, hide the essential: the wheelbase. This one, compared to a RAV4 always, progresses by 160 mm. The occupants of the rear seat are the main beneficiaries. Clearance is not lacking. A comment that unfortunately does not apply to the trunk, which appears rather narrow compared to those of other electric vehicles in the category. To this remark, it should be added here that the bZ4X refuses to tow the slightest load.
Installed at the controls, we do not feel the thrill of technological innovation. The interior layout is nothing like that of a spaceship.
Nothing scary either. With the exception, no doubt, of the driving position which gives the feeling of being seated above the cockpit with a steering column located in the “basement” of the dashboard. The latter, partially lined with fabric and having no glove compartment, nests a block of instrumentation difficult to consult and which only provides the bare necessities. For more details and features, you have to dig into the central screen (infotainment). Good luck.
Why make it simple?
Toyota’s bZ4X can receive a single engine, placed at the front, or two (one on each axle, to make it integral) and its maximum autonomy varies, depending on the declination, from 367 to 406 km. It therefore breaks no record in terms of autonomy. At least, not on the occasion of its commercial launch scheduled for next month, but no doubt that Toyota will – like its competitors – carry out software updates to improve its efficiency.
Before going any further, it is relevant here to note the diversity of electrical units (see the “Technical sheet” tab) and accumulators that Toyota obtains from separate suppliers. The most powerful (by little) is found on the four-wheel drive liveries, but has the particularity of offering an optimal recharging capacity lower (100 kW) than that supplying the towed versions (150 kW). That said, one of the reasons given by the manufacturer to explain this disparity concerns longevity. The argument is perplexing. Toyota points out that the faster the recharges, the more they lead to battery deterioration over time. This is true, but if this is the case, why not have limited the charging power of the two accumulators offered?
On the other hand, driving an electric vehicle remains an exercise that escapes banality. We appreciate the quietness of operation and the reassuring stability of this Toyota, despite the weight of some two tons.
Everything encourages you to ride smoothly by taking advantage of the extreme elasticity of its power unit.
In practice, the brakes are hardly applied – the engine’s inertia is sufficient – provided you anticipate the vagaries of traffic. The bZ4X does not allow it to be driven using a pedal. Toyota designers believe that motorists have a responsibility to remain alert and in control of their vehicle in all circumstances. Above all, do not count on me to contradict them on this point.
And then, from time to time, it is not forbidden to have a little fun. By accelerating frankly when the light turns green, you leave everyone on the spot… With its instantaneous, lively and constant torque, the electric motor makes the bZ4X jump, but not for very long. In truth, this Toyota doesn’t spark as much as many of its competitors. On the other hand, we are surprised by the quality of the chassis. Rigid, well suspended, it is tied to a finely dosed power steering which not only contributes to driving pleasure, but also gives confidence to the steering wheel.
Travel expenses related to this story were paid for by Toyota Canada.
From $44,990 to $62,750
Eligible for government rebates
Yes (provincial and federal)
Visible in dealerships
Now, but you have to place an order
Pleasant and unsurprising drive
Rear Seat Clearance
We love less
Inability to tow anything
Full version cooldown speed (and time)
Disconcerting driving position
A Toyota first. Then an electric.
- Traction: 1 electric motor, combined power: 201 hp, maximum torque: 214 lb-ft
- All-wheel drive: 2 electric motors, combined power: 214 hp, maximum torque: 248 lb-ft
- Weight: 1935 kg (traction), 1965 kg (all-wheel drive)
- Acceleration 0-100 km/h: 7.5 s (all-wheel drive), 8.6 s (traction)
- Towing capacity: none
- Standard: automatic
- Optional: none
- Drive modes: traction or all-wheel drive
- 235/60R18 (XLE)
- 235/50R20 (Limited)
Battery capacity/assumed range
- Li-ion battery
- Traction: 71.4 kWh (useful: no data)/406 km range
- All-wheel drive: 72.8 kWh (useful: no data)/367 km range
- 19.2 kWh/100 km (all-wheel drive)
Maximum charging power
- Traction: 150kW
- All-wheel drive: 100 kW
- Wheelbase: 2850mm
- Length: 4689mm
- Height: 1651 mm (antenna included)
- Width: 1859 mm (exterior mirrors excluded)
A bZ4X sewn with gold thread? In some ways, no doubt, but the Lexus RZ 450e promises more than just being a stand-in. To do this, the Lexus will only be offered with all-wheel drive. And this will notably include a torque vector called Direct4 which will allow the power to be navigated between the axles. Also, Toyota’s luxury brand is pairing two dissimilar units. While the bZ4X has two motors of 80 kW each, Lexus keeps this one for the rear axle, but adopts the 150 kW one (identical to that of the bZ4X traction) at the front.
Do not adjust your device
A clone of a clone, the Subaru Solterra is also a living Toyota bZ4X under an assumed name. Why ? Because this collaboration allows Subaru to save time and not have to start from a blank page; at the same time, it authorizes Toyota to improve its operating account. Much like the Lexus RZ 450e, the Subaru seeks to distance itself from the founding model and, unsurprisingly, adopts de facto four-wheel drive mode. Two motors, therefore, which are powered by the smallest battery (71.4 kWh) offered to accelerate recharging.
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The Press will soon publish the test of the following vehicles: Acura Integra, BMW 2 Series, Genesis GV60, Honda HR-V, Kia Sportage, Nissan Z, Subaru WRX, Volkswagen Jetta (GLi) and Volvo C40 Recharge. If you own one of these vehicles or are waiting for delivery, we would love to hear from you.