While Toyota undoubtedly helped to popularize hybrid vehicles with the Prius, it’s been comparatively hesitant to pull the trigger on all-electric vehicles sold in its name. But things have a habit of changing and the automaker has officially revealed its first production EV.
The bZ4X crossover is Toyota’s first official attempt at a battery-electric production car and seems to check all the necessary boxes without straying too far from the brand’s modus operandi. For example, the 71.4 kWh battery yielding an estimated 285 to 310 miles of range isn’t groundbreaking. But it’s competitive and Toyota says it focused on delivering undertaxed power cells aided by water cooling to help prolong its lifespan.
Granted, it’s not the first automaker to come to the conclusion that it’s smart not to let the battery overheat. Plenty of manufacturers have their own ways of cooling the battery during periods of sustained use and charging. Toyota simply elected to go with what it thought was the most trouble-free, stating that it believed batteries equipped to the bZ4X would see maximum charge degrading by no more than 10 percent over 150,000 miles or 10 years of ownership — whichever comes first.
Charging times are similarly mid-pack with the model offering up to 150kW DC. This is again designed to help keep cells fresher over time, though is reportedly capable of restoring a drained vehicle to 80 percent of its maximum charge in half an hour. Additionally, an available solar array is supposed to help the bZ4X — the first in its planned bZ vehicle lineup — recoup a bit of energy whenever it’s outdoors. Toyota said this would be helpful in emergency situations where the power grid has failed by delivering an estimated 1,800 km worth of energy per year.
We’re inclined to believe those figures aren’t wholly representative of reality, more likely embodying an idealized scenario where the crossover has been left in the sunniest part of your lawn for 365 days. But even recouping a few dozen miles during an extended power outage would result in this being more than a useless gimmick designed to help Toyota sell premium features. Just don’t expect it to be saving you a bundle on electricity or being sufficient for more than the worst kind of emergencies.
That 310-mile maximum range is also in the European WLTP cycle, meaning the EPA numbers would be lower if Toyota plans on selling the bZ4X here. For now, it’s exclusive to Japan with a European debut planned for early in December.
Customers will be able to select between a single 150kW motor offering 201 bhp at the front wheels or an all-wheel-drive unit using two 80kW hubs on each axle for a combined output of 215 bhp. The AWD bZ4X has been clocked at hitting 60 mph in 7.7 seconds, whereas front-drive examples take 8.4 seconds. Both versions are electronically limited at just 100 miles per hour.
However single motor cars are the only model capable of achieving the 310-mile range. Dual motor crossovers will see their Euro WLTP estimated range shrink to 285 miles.
Expect the now ubiquitous array of oversized screens with just enough physical controls to keep you from becoming totally furious. The car also features a yoke-type steering wheel in certain configurations to help maximize driver legroom and give you a better view of the already large instrumentation. But Toyota has said a traditional wheel will be available and included photographs of both. Dial shifters will be standard, along with Apple CarPlay, voice command, over-the-air (OTA) updates, and Toyota Safety Sense.
The rest is about what you’d expect to find on any modern EV, with the manufacturer taking time to point out the amount of recycled materials it used in the construction. Toyota also spent some time praising just how much engineering went into making sure the bZ4X was lightweight, though the absolute lightest variant does still weigh a whopping 4,233 lbs.
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