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2023 Toyota bZ4X: Is 250 miles of range enough?

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Toyota first showed the bZ4X back in July as a concept. People hoped the name was also just a concept. But alas, it is not. And there are six more bZ vehicles coming.

While we don’t know too much about this first mass-produced U.S. electric vehicle from Toyota just yet, we do have some details. So, here’s what we know so far.

250 miles of range

At first blush, 250 miles of range is a solid number. But as I quickly found out on TikTok, people don’t think it’s nearly enough for an SUV. Several people even commented that it has the same range as the compact Chevrolet Bolt EV, which is a car.

But I will point out this is enough range to drive from Chicago to Indianapolis and still have 70 miles of range left. So, with home charging at either end – even with some inclement weather thrown in – there shouldn’t be a problem with short road trips.

Available AWD

The standard drivetrain is going to be front-wheel drive, with all-wheel drive being available. Obviously, weights and capacities will be different depending on the drivetrain, and while we don’t have a lot of specs just yet. We do know that only the FWD model is rated at 250 miles of range – which means the AWD model will be something less than that.

We also know that the maximum power output for FWD and AWD models will also be slightly different, ringing in at 150 kW and 160 kW, respectively. Total power will also be slightly different at 71.4 kWh and 72.8 kWh, respectively.

How does it compare to the RAV4?

I’ve heard a lot of people compare the bZ4X to the RAV4 – and it’s easy to do since it has a similar profile. But I’ve also heard people say it looks smaller than the RAV4 – more along the size of the recently launched compact Corolla Cross.

Well, it isn’t.

The bZ4X is larger than the RAV4 in every measurement except height. The wheelbase is about 6 inches longer, and bZ4X is about 3 inches longer than RAV4.

Plus, bZ4X is about 1,000 pounds heavier due to the added weight of the battery pack.

It gets cool tech

Though the exterior may look a little like the RAV4, the interior is distinctly modern, and it will be the second Toyota-badged vehicle to get the new infotainment system. We’ve previously seen it in the Tundra and the new Lexus NX, and it’s leaps and bounds better than the current-gen system.

Other modern touches include a hoodless digital gauge cluster, puck-like gear shifter, USB-C charge ports, automatic heated steering wheel and dual climate controls.

Another interesting thing Toyota does with the bZ4X is maximize energy-saving features, specifically designed for colder climates. That includes a heat pump for the HVAC, heated seats and steering wheels and front-seat radiant foot-and-leg heater.

The meaning of bZ4X

We aren’t a fan of alpha-numeric nomenclature on vehicles – especially when they don’t make sense or have any meaning. Thankfully, even though the name is weird, bZ4X does stand for something.

  • bZ: beyond zero. This is a new sub-brand from Toyota for some of its all-electric vehicles.
  • 4: vehicle class. Toyota was unclear about whether this meant the number of doors or vehicle size, but they did indicate there could be (not will be) a something like a 5X or a 3X in the future, where the the 5 would be bigger and the 3 would be smaller.
  • X: vehicle type. For Toyota X equals SUV or crossover. So, if there were a car, for example, we might see something like a bZ4C – though Toyota did not confirm that “C” would be the car designation.

Toyota plans on bringing 15 all-electric vehicles to market globally by 2025, and not all of them will carry the “bZ” branding. Furthermore, there will only be seven bZ vehicles globally – and it is unlikely that all seven will make it to the U.S. Thus, though Toyota will have 15 EVs, the U.S. won’t get all those either.

When can you get it?

The bZ4X will be available as 2023 model, but it will start hitting dealers next year. In typical vague fashion for an all-new vehicle, Toyota simply says it will go on sale in mid 2022. So, that could be anywhere from April to September.

One big thing to note: the bZ4X will go on sale throughout the U.S., whereas the previous RAV4 EVs were only intended to be sold and used in California.

The bottom line on the Toyota bZ4X

I’m intrigued by the bZ4X. The design pushes the envelope just enough to show it’s special but not enough to look weird. It bears a Toyota family resemblance and, presumably, will be backed by Toyota’s indefatigable reliability.

Though 250 miles of range might seem like it’s not enough, it seems like plenty to me – assuming you have a home charger and don’t need to depend on public chargers.

What do you think? Does the Toyota bZ4X hit the spot? Or did Toyota not take this first mass-produced EV far enough?

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Jill Ciminillo

Jill Ciminillo is a syndicated automotive writer. Jill also manages the “Drive, She Said” blog for ChicagoNow and posts reviews to DriveChicago. She is the president emeritus of the Midwest Automotive Media Association and has the distinction of being the first female president for that organization. She also serves as a judge for the Automotive Heritage Foundation Journalism Awards. Previously, Jill has been the automotive editor for the Sinclair Broadcast Group, the Chicago Sun-Times News Group and Pioneer Press Newspapers.

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