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2023 Toyota BZ4X arrives in US with funky looks, 250-mile estimated range

Toyota's new EV will offer about 250 miles of range on a charge and should deliver good overall performance.

This isn't Toyota's first all-electric vehicle, but it is the brand's first truly mainstream EV.

Toyota

Toyota pretty much invented the modern hybrid drivetrain, but this gigantic Japanese automaker has been way behind the curve when it comes to pure EVs. That changes next year, however, when the 2023 BZ4X all-electric crossover goes on sale.

This curiously named vehicle (mentally, we can't help but call it the "buzz forks") was unveiled to the public in US production trim at the Los Angeles Auto Show on Wednesday. We first saw the five-seat BZ4X as a concept back in June, and for better or worse the model that will be heading to dealerships next year looks almost exactly the same.

A carnival of creases and cladding, the BZ4X is like a 1980s vision of what cars would look like in the 21st century. There's a whole lot going on with this design, and you'll probably either love it or hate it, but you won't be able to ignore it. Dimensionally, the BZ4X is 184.6 inches long, a few more than a RAV4, and its wheelbase is 112.2 inches, which is identical to a Highlander's.

The BZ4X's interior is spacious and made of attractive materials. That 12.3-inch touchscreen is standard equipment. 

Toyota

Inside, the cabin is nowhere near as expressive, though it's plenty spacious. The backseat has loads of legroom and a nearly flat floor, which is great news for passengers. The BZ4X's interior also features a standard 12.3-inch touchscreen that's home to a super-responsive infotainment system. What's missing, though, is the yoke-style steering wheel we saw on the concept. We won't be getting that in the US.

This is the first Toyota in a global series of vehicles that will be sold under the BZ umbrella, which is shorthand for "beyond zero." Globally, the automaker is aiming to offer 70 different electrified models by 2025 -- this includes hybrids, plug-in hybrids, pure EVs and even hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicles. Of those 70, 15 will be pure EVs and seven of those will carry some sort of BZ name.

The BZ4X is built on a new dedicated electric-vehicle architecture. The e-TNGA platform was developed in partnership with Subaru and is made partially of high-tensile steel for extra strength. As you can probably tell based on its familiar proportions and overall design, this structure also underpins the Solterra SUV. As expected, these vehicles' battery packs are mounted under the floor for a low center of gravity.

Front-drive models feature a single 150-kilowatt electric motor. Examples fitted with all-wheel drive have a pair of 80-kW dynamos. 

Craig Cole/Roadshow

The 2023 BZ4X will be offered with front-wheel drive, though, not surprisingly, models with four driven wheels will be available, too. The former configuration features a single 150-kilowatt electric motor (201 horsepower), but the latter has a pair of 80-kW dynamos providing a total of 160-kW (215 hp) of oomph. Front-drive BZ4Xs feature a 71.4-kilowatt-hour battery pack, but curiously, all-wheel-drive examples have a pack that's slightly larger, clocking in at 72.8-kWh. The reason for this disparity is that the batteries are assembled by two different companies; one is made by Panasonic, the other by CATL. Additionally, they're each tuned to work best with either the front- or all-wheel-drive powertrain.

As for range, an XLE trim, front-drive BZ4X is expected to offer around 250 miles on a charge. Range for the all-wheel-drive version has not been shared, but Subaru released estimated figures for its Solterra, and doing a little back-of-the-napkin math, we can take a wild guess at what the Toyota might offer. On the Japanese test cycle, that Subaru is expected to offer 330 miles of range with front-drive and 285 when fitted with all-wheel drive. Crunching the numbers, an all-wheel-drive BZ4X might offer around 216 miles of range, but again, this is just an educated guess.

Look for the 2023 Toyota BZ4X at dealerships next spring.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

Providing owners with added peace of mind, this SUV's liquid-cooled battery should maintain up to 90% of its capacity after 10 years of ownership. Specifics haven't really been shared, but when hooked to a high-output charger, the BZ4X can be juiced to 80% in just one hour.

The vehicle's HVAC system works via a heat pump, which is more efficient, for instance, than a resistive heater, which is like a hairdryer. Toyota also offers heated front seats and a heated steering wheel in this SUV, as well as radiant foot and leg warming for folks in the front. These small additions help reduce energy consumption in cold weather without impacting passenger comfort.

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Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 is a headline feature of this EV. It includes a millimeter-wave radar sensor and a monocular camera. Thanks to this advanced hardware, the BZ4X can detect cyclists in low-light conditions as well as motorcyclists in the daytime. It also has enhanced lane recognition and guardrail detection. The BZ4X's cloud-connected navigation system can track parking-space availability in real time. The vehicle also supports over-the-air software updates and digital keys you can access via a smartphone.

The 2023 Toyota BZ4X is slated to arrive at dealerships in all 50 states sometime next spring. Pricing has not been released yet, but it should be competitive with other rival EVs like the Ford Mustang Mach-E and Tesla Model Y.