Toyota finally released its first mass-market electric vehicle (EV). It’s a strange concept, considering the automaker’s significant contributions to the clean automotive industry with its long-standing Prius lineup. Yet, the new electric crossover, the Toyota bZ4X, marks the first time the brand has released an EV that will be available everywhere.
The bZ4X was developed in tandem with Subaru and will share the same design with the Subaru Soltera and the Lexus RZ 450e. Toyota designed the crossover on top of the company’s new e-TNGA modular electric platform, which it says it will use to develop six new electric models.
Toyota’s new EV features some exciting design characteristics that set it apart from its usual internal combustion and hybrid lineup. It takes the shape of a compact SUV but distinguishes itself with the help of more aggressive lines, robotic-looking headlights, and a black panel that comes standard on both the front and rear fenders.
The car’s base model comes with a 201 horsepower front-wheel drive (FWD) powertrain with the option of a slightly more powerful, 215 horsepower all-wheel drive (AWD) powertrain. The bZ4X also cruises to 60 mph in about seven seconds. While these specs aren’t the typical speed and power found in most electric vehicles, the crossover is fine getting from place to place. In addition, its battery range clocks in at 252 miles under its extended range FWD model and 228 for the AWD model. The EV also has a series of regenerative braking options that can help stretch the range slightly longer but stop short of full one-pedal braking. Toyota says that when using a 150kW fast charger, the battery should power to 80% in under an hour. Buyers also receive a complimentary year of charging from EVGo, thanks to a partnership with the brand.
The EV is not a performance car, but one best suited for leisure and city driving. However, the automaker has teased a possible makeover from its performance division, Gazoo Racing.
The update would make it the brand’s first EV and crossover to get the treatment.
The car’s interior is modest, outfitted very similarly to previous Toyota models. The airy interior is covered with faux leather upholstery and enjoys a panoramic roof. The dashboard includes buttons and knobs, a distinct departure from the industry’s standard electric vehicle layout. The bZ4X has a decent amount of space, with 28 cubic feet in the rear cargo hold. It also enjoys a handful of safety and driver assistance features, including adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping technology, blind-spot monitoring, and safe exit assist.
The Toyota bZ4X crossover is priced at $43,315; however, the model is eligible for the $7,500 tax credit the federal government offers.
The bZ4X crossover announcement comes on the heels of the news about Toyota doubling down on investment in the U.S. In addition to expanding EV production at two U.S. plants, Toyota is also building a $1.2 billion automotive battery manufacturing plant in Greensboro-Randolph, North Carolina.
Toyota seems poised to build off of this initial electric offering. The brand’s new platform, the possibility of a performance version of the car, and a new partnership with battery recycling startup Redwood Materials, points to Toyota’s electric initiative’s longevity. Although this initial offering is not as robust as most brands, it will be interesting to see how America’s top-selling brand responds.