Toyota bZ4X Vision 160kW AWD — The Green Lane

By Jeremy Taylor

1 year ago

A funky-looking SUV with an awkward name...

The Prius? No – Toyota’s first pure electric car is a funky-looking SUV with an awkward name… Jeremy Taylor and Jessica Saunders trial the Toyota bZ4X Vision 160kW AWD.

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The Green Lane: Toyota bZ4X Vision 160kW AWD – Review

Side view of Toyota bZ4X Vision 160kW AWD in front of a house

JS – Okay, so let’s get that moniker out of the way first. What the rubbery ginger is the meaning of bZ4X?

JT – Apart from being very difficult to type (mainly thanks to a lower case ‘b’ and some further random letters and numbers), Toyota’s roomy family-mover is actually a pretty decent car.

Yes, but what does the name mean? I assume the ‘4’ is four-wheel drive, but I haven’t a clue what the rest of it means.

Right, bare with me. The bZ stands for ‘beyond zero’, the ‘4’ is actually Toyota’s size classification as a compact SUV, while the ‘X’ means it’s a crossover vehicle – ie, a car that crosses the practicality of a hatchback with SUV styling.

Crickey, glad I asked! Whatever happened to proper car names like Clio and Mulsanne? bZ4X sounds like a disease, or something for clearing a blocked drain. Never mind – we like the Toyota, don’t we?

We do – and, just to clarify, although our test car is a four-wheel drive, there are two-wheel drive models as well. What’s good to know is Toyota is going full-speed to an electrified future, with more than a dozen new electric cars in the next three years.

Great. But, although it does everything pretty well, the bZ4X is fairly unassuming. It’s not much of a statement car, considering our Vision 160kW model costs over £54,000.

That’s true – the Ford Mustang Mach E and Kia EV6 are direct rivals and have a lot more panache about them. It also falls behind a little on range. Officially, our all-wheel drive Vision can manage 259 miles, but 215 is more likely.

At least the interior is a little more eye-catching. A high centre console runs down the middle of the car, with a covered, wireless charging box to power up a mobile phone and two cup holders.

It certainly has an air of quality about the trim, but I find the Drive, Reverse and Neutral gear selector unnecessarily awkward. It is a two-stage process. Press the outside of the dial down, then twist. Makes no sense at all.

The car's console

It also has the angriest warning sound if you forget to put a safety belt on! That aside, there’s a decent-sized boot, enough room for two adults in the back seat and, with all-wheel drive, it also skipped across our slippery field with ease.

So, a good first effort from Toyota – weird it took them so long to get onboard with the EV revolution. I would describe the bZ4X as competent, but not a game-changer. 

Let’s hope the other dozen electric cars offer a bit more pizzazz – and aren’t burdened with a chemical formula for a name either. 

Jessica Saunders is Director of Programmes at London College of Fashion, studying for a PhD in sustainable e-textile design.