Toyota bz4X SUV is the marque’s first pure electric vehicle

The Toyota bz4X is our first chance to explore how the long-standing masters of mass automobile production make an EV

Toyota bz4X in rugged terrain with moody sky
(Image credit: Toyota)

All eyes are on the Toyota bz4X – the marque’s first all-new electric vehicle (there is no hybrid or ICE alternative) – to see how this most innovative of brands has tackled the issues around electrification. The short answer is that it hasn’t really done anything different to its rivals. Unlike with hybrid powertrains, a category Toyota created and ruled for decades, it’s late to the EV game. The Japanese manufacturer’s vast portfolio is subtly chopped and changed depending on local market conditions (much like McDonald’s), and although it seems a bit lumbering at times, once it’s got the basics right it swiftly moves to create a category killer.

Toyota bz4X outside modern house

(Image credit: Toyota)

That’s not to say the bz4X is bad or even sub-standard. By any metric, it’s as good a mid-sized electric SUV as you can get these days – a sector that’s oversubscribed and aesthetically unambitious. Under the skin it’s closely related to the Subaru Solterra and Lexus RZ – the economies of scale must work hard to keep EV costs down. 

Toyota bz4X electric SUV: a solid first step

Toyota bz4X on rugged terrain

(Image credit: Toyota)

The Toyota also shares the Subaru’s chunky plastic wheelarches, a visual element that’s also common with the two smaller Toyota models it has the most affinity with, the new C-HR and the Aygo X (a hybrid and combustion-powered car respectively). This trio represents a perfect expression of the modern small to medium-sized SUV, practical family cars with no airs and graces, good levels of kit and durable, dependable engineering. 

Toyota bz4X on slope

(Image credit: Toyota)

As the largest of the three, the bz4X also has the best claim to off-roading ability. It’s available with two- or four-wheel drive, but the latter sacrifices a bit of range (up to 318 miles versus 286 miles). As ranges go, it’s decent but not outstanding, and you’ll spend most time in ‘Eco’ mode, trying to eke out the maximum. The electric platform is Toyota’s new eTNGA modular architecture, which we’ll see crop up more and more as moves to full electrification gather pace.

Toyota bz4X interior, view through windscreen

(Image credit: Toyota)

The other thing that sets the bz4X apart is its long anteater-like nose, sculpted sides and animalistic rear haunches. Whilst it’s never been renowned for the visual elegance of its vehicles, Toyota is often capable of being wilfully different, and this is one of those times. Inside, the bz4X is very similar to the Solterra, right down to the driver’s instrument binnacle and the steering wheel, whilst the Lexus is a little bit more premium (and can be had with a yoke, not a wheel). 

Toyota bz4X dashboard view

(Image credit: Toyota)

It's also a very easy car to live with, practically sized, ergonomically unthreatening and very well put together. Toyota’s quality control is still legendary, and it has pitched itself headfirst into the debate about EV longevity by offering a guarantee that the battery will hold at least 70 per cent of its capacity after ten years or a million kilometres.

Toyota bz4X open boot

(Image credit: Toyota)

The Toyota bz4X is effectively a blank slate in terms of image. If you want a Toyota with character, go for something like a Land Cruiser, a new version of which was previewed at the 2023 Japan Mobility Show. On the other hand, many people are more than happy to trade self-conscious quirks for no-nonsense reliability. 

Toyota bz4X on charge outside house

(Image credit: Toyota)

Perhaps what Toyota really needs to make is the EV equivalent of the Prius, a model that has sold over six million examples across five generations. Toyota has set 2035 as its target year for a 100 per cent Zero Emission fleet. We think the bz4X is a solid first step on a long journey.

Toyota bz4X in front of modern house

(Image credit: Toyota)

Toyota bz4X, from £42,860,, @ToyotaUK

Jonathan Bell has written for Wallpaper* magazine since 1999, covering everything from architecture and transport design to books, tech and graphic design. He is now the magazine’s Transport and Technology Editor. Jonathan has written and edited 15 books, including Concept Car Design, 21st Century House, and The New Modern House. He is also the host of Wallpaper’s first podcast.