Toyota bz4x: RAV with a battery?

2024 Toyota bz4x AWD 04

What is it?

What’s in a name? Plenty if you happen to be one of the world’s largest automobile manufacturers pumping out product by the boat load.

Take Toyota, for example. Nothing goes better to describe the Land Cruiser as a prestigious go-anywhere off roader.

Then there’s the Prius, relating to its being the first mass produced hybrid petrol-electric car.

Now comes Toyota’s first wholly electric SUV, the BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) bZ4X.

The what? Surely that’s an internal maker’s code. Where’s the snappy showroom moniker?

Was the marketing department on leave? ‘Oh, what a feeling’ . . . not!

So, what have we got? To say the car is simply a plug-in RAV4 is to undersell the bZ4X.

Drawing on more than a quarter of a century of the company’s leadership in hybrid vehicle technology, this is the first Toyota in Australia to make use of the new BEV-dedicated e-TNGA platform, integrating battery and motor into the vehicle’s structure, providing extra rigidity and a low centre of gravity for stable driving dynamics.

2024 Toyota bz4x AWD 05

What’s it cost?

bZ4X is a midsize SUV that comes in two versions, front-wheel and all-wheel drive – priced from $66,000 and $74,900, respectively.

A standard Toyota five year/unlimited kilometre warranty applies, with seven years for the motor and driveline with logbook servicing.

Also offered is capped price servicing for the first five years or 75,000km, with each 12-month/15,000km service costing $189. 

An optional full-service lease, covering maintenance, mechanical repairs, replacement tyres, roadside assistance, Toyota Comprehensive insurance plus registration and third-party insurance, is on offer through one single monthly payment. 

The FWD version is equipped with LED headlights, 20-inch alloy wheels and a list of convenience and safety features, along with synthetic leather trim, heated front seats, eight-way adjustable driver seat and dual zone climate control.

AWD bZ4X (our test vehicle) takes it to the next level with a roof spoiler, panoramic sunroof, roof rails and gloss black bonnet highlight.

Designers were tasked with combining the character of a BEV with the stylish and functional look of an SUV.

bZ4X is the first model Down Under to display Toyota’s hallmark ‘hammerhead’ front, with the bonnet surface reaching out to the nose and each corner.

A spoiler above the horizontal tail-light line contributes to aerodynamics, along with diffuser surfaces below the rear bumper.

Other details that contribute to the car’s 0.279 coefficient of drag include a front grille shutter that closes when limited cooling is needed, front air curtains that promote airflow down the body sides and a fully-covered underbody.

The 20-inch double five-spoke wheels feature a contrasting black and machined finish, with grey resin accents for a three-dimensional detailed look.

One of six exterior colours, the test car was finished in Feverish Red, or as one would-be influencer put it: ‘A bit like a winter red nail polish’ — with gloss black roof and bonnet panel.

The latest Toyota multimedia technology is harnessed through a 12.3-inch touchscreen with access to DAB+ radio, wireless Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto.

Voice recognition, called up by the command ‘Hey, Toyota’, will control a range of functions such as opening windows.

This multimedia system provides access to the latest Toyota Connected Services online features, including the myToyota smartphone app, which is complimentary for a 12-month period.

BEV specific features include charge station locations and charge management. Over-the-air updates, cloud navigation and live traffic information are included. 

A 7.0-inch driver multi-information display is cleverly situated directly behind the steering wheel, almost up against the windscreen but below the bonnet line, making it almost a head-up display, and is visually sharp and easy to read.  

The 350mm steering wheel, smaller than on other Toyotas, also aids visibility.

As well as seven airbags, up-to-date Toyota Safety Sense, a combination of technologies is designed to protect passengers, the battery and other vehicles and pedestrians.  

A pre-collision system can detect vehicles, motorcycles, cyclists in daytime only, and pedestrians even at intersections.

Other features include active cruise control, emergency steering assist, lane trace assist, emergency driving stop system, road sign assist with speed signs only, and parking support brake.    

The AWD adds driver attention and blind spot monitors, safe exit assist intelligent parking assist and 360-degree panoramic view of the vehicle.

2024 Toyota bz4x AWD 07

What’s it go like?

The e-TNGA platform has allowed the wheels to be extended outward to the front and rear, making more room for occupants, and optimising the traction of all-wheel drive off road.

The AWD variant gains a nine-speaker JBL premium audio, Premium SofTex seat trim, Qi-compatible wireless charger, ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel driver’s seat memory function and power tailgate with kick sensor.

Boot capacity is 441 litres for the AWD, thanks to clever packaging of the AWD rear e-Axle and JBL sound system.

A further 10-litre storage space under the cargo floor houses the included charge cables and tool kit.

And don’t go looking for a glovebox. There isn’t one.

A large space under the floating centre console takes its place.

The FWD model incorporates a front-mounted e-Axle combining transaxle, motor and inverter into an integrated, compact unit, while the AWD variant uses front and rear 80kW e-Axles with maximum combined outputs of 160kW and 337Nm.

Storing the power is a 71.4 kWh lithium-ion battery that is extensively tested for 20 days before being fitted to the vehicle. 

The bZ4X sets off almost in silence (road noise taking its place) with just a gentle push in the back.

The 337Nm of torque was put to good use in all driving conditions, from stop-start city going to the freedom of an open-road rush.

Ride and handling quality was what we have come to expect over the years from Toyota, the small steering wheel outwearing its gimmicky introduction to come into its own, especially during tight manoeuvres.

Regenerative braking (using the electric motor to slow the car) was more ‘hands-off’ than some similar systems and needed brake pedal back-up to bring the car to a complete halt.

Energy efficiency is put by the maker at 18.1 kWh/100km, with a claimed range of 485km from a single charge.

The AWD on test averaged 18.0 kWh.

Charging was a breeze at the local public fast charge station, with the tester going from 30 to 90 per cent in 45 minutes. I could live with that.

Off road, the all-wheel drive variant is helped by 212mm ground clearance and dedicated X-Mode driving aids that optimise traction in snow/dirt or deep snow/mud and take in crawl and downhill assist. 

2024 Toyota bz4x AWD 06

What we like?

  • Charges fast
  • Hammerhead face
  • Quiet inside
  • Charge station location and charge management

2024 Toyota bz4x AWD 09

What we don’t like?

  • Silly name
  • Relatively expensive
  • Limited range
  • Synthetic leather trim

2024 Toyota bz4x AWD 11

The bottom line?

For more than 25 years Toyota led the electrification way with the Prius petrol-electric hybrid.

I wonder if the bZ4X can do the same for the BEV.

2024 Toyota bz4x AWD 12


CHECKOUT: New era for Toyota with fully-electric bZ4X

CHECKOUT: Toyota Camry Hybrid: Wait for it


Toyota bZ4X AWD, priced $74,900
  • Looks - 8/10
  • Performance - 9/10
  • Safety - 7/10
  • Thirst - 7/10
  • Practicality - 8/10
  • Comfort - 8/10
  • Tech - 8/10
  • Value - 6/10

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