The Toyota bZ4X, similar in size to the RAV4, marks the Japanese brand’s first battery-electric vehicle (BEV) and the first of a series of bZ products launched globally. Its name references the size of the car – 4 for mid-size – and the vehicle type, in this case, X for crossover SUV. Continuing our series of interior reviews, we explore some technologies and materials for this all-electric SUV.
What’s it all about?
The bZ4X is available in front- and all-wheel drive versions. The front-wheel drive (FWD) model features a 150kW front-mounted eAxle that produces 201 brake horsepower (bhp) and 266 Newton meter (Nm) maximum torque. The all-wheel drive (AWD) model uses front and rear 80kW eAxles with a combined output of up to 215 bhp and 337 Nm of torque. Advics supplies its regenerative cooperative braking system for the bZ4X.
The lithium-ion battery unit has a 71.4kWh capacity and comprises 96 cells that are water-cooled and monitored individually for any signs of degradation. The official driving range (Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure - WLTP standard) of 317 miles for the FWD version and 286 miles for the AWD model. Our real-world test in the AWD version provided a reasonable 240-mile range during a late spring week.
As the pace of electrification accelerates, Toyota Motor Corp. expects to sell 5.5 million electrified vehicles a year worldwide by 2025, with a line-up of 70 models, including 15 zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs). In Europe, its forecast is for 90% of its Western European sales to be electrified vehicles by 2025, of which at least 10% will be ZEVs. This figure will increase to 100% electrified by the end of the decade, with at least 50% ZEVs (a greater proportion if market demand and infrastructure development permit). Additionally by 2035, the target is a full 100% reduction in new vehicle CO2 emissions — potentially earlier in some individual national markets. The launch of the bZ4X comes as demand for fully electric SUVs reaches new heights. Rival models include the Volkswagen (VW) ID.4, Kia EV6 and Ford Mustang Mach-E.
Three trim levels are available on the bZ4X: Pure, Motion and top-drawer Vision. The Premiere Edition model was also released to mark the UK launch.
The Pure grade (FWD only) interior features include a multimedia system with an eight-inch display, a seven-inch digital combimeter, reversing camera, smart entry and start and a climate control system with a remote operation function.
The Motion introduces rear privacy glass, a powered liftgate, parking sensors and an entry illumination sequence. The cabin has heated front seats — the driver’s seat with eight-way power adjustment — an ambient lighting system and a wireless charging tray provided. Options include a fixed panoramic roof and a Toyota T-Mate safety and driver assistance package.
The Vision grade features rear parking sensors with auto-brake function, remote-controlled parking assist, synthetic leather seat upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, a power back door with kick sensor and a heated steering wheel. It also comes with a digital key, allowing the vehicle owner to provide access to the vehicle to others via an app. Options include a panoramic roof.
The Premiere Edition provides all the features of the Vision grade plus a nine-speaker JBL sound system and panoramic roof.
LED cabin lighting is featured in the front footwells, center console, door panels and door handles and the load space. On higher-grade models, rear footwell lighting is provided, the driver’s seat is power-adjustable and both front seats have integrated heating and ventilation. Upholstery options are perforated leather or synthetic leather; synthetic leather with fabric; or all-fabric. Color-way choices are black-on-black or a combination of light grey and black.
The slim dashboard is cloaked in soft, woven trim textures and satin-finish detailing and low set, made possible using a new air conditioning unit that is 30 % more compact.
The center console provides 20 liters of storage space. This includes a particularly useful open (visible to those outside the car) area beneath the console, suitable for a pair of shoes or handbag, and individual spaces to store items such as a smartphone, tablet or large bottle. The smartphone cubby has a clever transparent lid so you can see at a glance if you have received an alert. There is no glovebox, however.
Instead of a conventional shift lever, the bZ4X has a dial control: the outer section is depressed and turned to the left or right to select drive or reverse. The P (park) setting is a one-touch button immediately behind the dial control.
The load space, similar to the Toyota RAV4, features an adjustable, two-level deck board and an underfloor space that can add an extra 71 mm to the load height when transporting taller items. With the rear seats in place and the deck board in the lower position, it provides 452 liters of luggage space. The rear seats can be split-folded 60:40 and have a reclining function. The space beneath the deck holds a toolbox and provides room for a warning triangle or the car’s charging cable; the folding tonneau cover can also be stowed.
Toyota Boshoku supplies seating and interior components for the bZ4X. The BEV features sport-style seats, rear-row seating with a two-stage reclining mechanism for added passenger comfort, and convenient luggage space. Toyota Boshoku has used seat covering materials for surfaces that come into contact with occupants. Other components include headliners, door trims with a large decorative panel stretching up to the instrument panel, and cabin air filters.
Infotainment and connectivity
The bZ4X has an eight-inch display or 12.3-inch touch screen. A voice-recognition control system may be used to access information and entertainment and operate several vehicle functions, such as air conditioning and windows.
The driver’s multimedia options include connected services that users can use via the Toyota MyT app, enabling access to the Toyota Public Charging Network. Other MyT functions include “find my car,” which retrieves the vehicle’s location and can provide details on a map, together with navigation directions if required. “Share to Car” allows users to plan for a journey and then send it to the car’s navigation system, while “Car to Door” gives directions for the last part of a journey after the vehicle has been parked. Driving analytics, service reminders, the level of battery charge and remote activation of the hazard lights are also available through the app. The car can be remotely locked and unlocked and the driver can check the car’s status — whether the windows or roof are open, the doors are unlocked, the lights are on or the keys are inside the vehicle.
Advanced driver assistance system
The bZ4X incorporates a suite of driver assistance technologies, including a precollision system with intersection turn assist and emergency steering assist, intelligent adaptive cruise control, lane trace assist, lane departure alert, road sign assist with speed limiter, emergency driving stop system, low-speed acceleration suppression, automatic high-beam system, and proactive driving assist.
Seats are becoming more intelligent as automakers look beyond ensuring safety and comfort for occupants; automakers are offering new seats with sensors that can assess occupants’ health and stress levels while they are in the vehicle. As soon as these sensors detect occupant stress, they trigger countermeasures to reduce tension levels and ensure a more enjoyable onboard experience. A new S&P Global Mobility report on the Intelligent seats for tomorrow’s vehicles explains how seats will play an increasingly important role to ensure the safety, comfort, health and wellness of all occupants (including drivers) in future connected, automated and electric vehicles. Seats continue to be an integral part of a vehicle’s interior; they are an essential element in ensuring a safer and more comfortable journey for drivers and other vehicle occupants.