Toyota has been slow to develop and sell new EVs, pushing forward instead with more hybrid and alternative fuel technologies. Its first mass-market EV landed last year with the introduction of the bZ4X, an SUV co-developed with Subaru. It’s available in single- and dual-motor configurations with a price tag that starts at around $42,000. I recently tested a dual-motor Limited trim starting at about $47,000. The SUV came to almost $52,000 with a few options and fees, making it more expensive than some rivals, including the Tesla Model Y.
The bZ4X also has a unique interior with a design and materials not often seen. But, while many people know about its range and performance, the bZ4X’s interior is a bit more of a mystery for prospective buyers. After spending a week with the vehicle, I came away with mixed feelings about its design and layout, so let’s dive deeper with a 2023 Toyota bZ4X interior review.
Toyota bZ4X Interior Quality
The bZ4X’s cabin feels open and spacious, though the darker upholstery option for the Limited trim makes the interior feel like a cave. Despite that, Toyota employed mostly nice materials throughout the cabin, and the SUV feels solidly built. There are no creaks, rattles, or weird noises inside, and the doors close with a pleasing solidity. The interior does have too many glossy piano black surfaces, however, which often leaves a streak of fingerprints after just a few minutes in the car.
Toyota used fabric on the bZ4X’s dash, which seems like a funky choice at first, but the material looks great, doesn’t show fingerprints, and likely reflects less heat into the cabin from the sun. It also helps keep interior noise levels down with an added layer of soft material that soaks up road and wind sounds.
Toyota bZ4X Interior Space
While some automakers advertise five seats but fall short on interior space, Toyota’s claim of a five-seat bZ4X is on the money. The SUV is deceptively spacious inside, and three adults can ride in the back seat without much issue. It offers 38.6 inches of front headroom and 37.1 in the back, while legroom measures 42.1 inches in the front and 35.3 in the back. The front seats bring generous space for adults of all sizes, and there’s never a time that the buckets feel cramped. While there’s not enough space to stretch out in the back seat, the bench accommodates taller adults.
While cargo space is slightly short of some competitors, the bZ4X can accommodate more gear than expected. It offers 27.7 cubic feet with the back seats upright and up to 56.9 cubic feet with the bench folded flat. The SUV’s load floor is deep and wide, making it easy to carry large items. Its friendly ride height means you don’t have to lift cargo way up to load the back, so it’s a solid SUV for people wanting an easy-to-use cargo area. Additionally, Toyota offers a hands-free powered liftgate with foot activation for those times when your hands are full.
Toyota bZ4X Interior Design
Though the bZ4X’s cabin is well put together, there are some questionable design decisions. The digital gauge cluster is just seven inches across, and the steering wheel obscures much of the information at times. The generous use of piano black across the center console means there’s always a ton of fingerprints staring back at you, and the funky rotary gear shifter is confusing to use at first. Toyota gave the bZ4X a low dash, which maximizes outward visibility, but it makes the front cabin area look funky at first glance. That’s compounded by the steering wheel, which features an old-school Citroen-esque column and unique shape.
Toyota bZ4X Interior Features
Toyota equips a generous list of standard tech and comfort features that make the bZ4X a pretty good value. A 12.3-inch touchscreen comes standard, bringing wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, SiriusXM radio, HD radio, six speakers, and more. A nine-speaker JBL stereo is available. Toyota’s infotainment software has been much improved in recent years and is finally to the point that it’s a legitimate competitor to the leading systems on the market. The menus are more intuitively laid out, the system is snappier and more responsive, and the graphics are much easier on the eyes. Smartphone connectivity is seamless, as the wireless system connects automatically on startup.
Fabric and synthetic leather come standard, and the Limited trim gets full synthetic leather. Heated front seats are available for the XLE model, and the limited adds heating and ventilation. Heated rear seats are available for the Limited trim in the $350 Limited Weather Package. A leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone climate controls, wireless charging, and more come standard. Toyota offers a panoramic sunroof.
Toyota bZ4X Safety Features
Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 comes standard, bringing lane departure alerts, lane keep assist, automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, road sign recognition, and pedestrian detection. Toyota also equips blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alerts, front and rear parking assistance, and safe exit assist, which can prevent passengers from opening the door and exiting into danger, such as traffic or an oncoming bicycle.
The 2023 Toyota bZ4X received partial crash testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety but missed a Top Safety Pick award. It earned “Good” marks in most crash categories, but the headlights in the lower XLE trim fell short.
The bZ4X’s interior is a nice place to spend time and feels like a quality space. It’s spacious, the seats are comfortable, and Toyota equips a solid list of standard features that make the SUV a good value. Outside of a few questionable design decisions, there isn’t a ton to complain about with the Toyota’s interior. Larger families will need a three-row model, which for Toyota buyers means the Highlander. It’s available as a hybrid and brings several great tech, comfort, and safety features.
Toyota bZ4X Overall Experience
As far as the overall bZ4X experience, it’s surprisingly refined on the road. The dual-motor all-wheel drive configuration makes a combined 214 horsepower, and while the SUV doesn’t deliver many thrills, there are few situations in which it feels underpowered. In-town commuting is a breeze, thanks to the EV’s instant torque and smooth power delivery. It’s more than capable of zipping in and out of traffic, and the bZ4X’s quiet interior makes driving in town much less hectic. The story is similar on the highway, where the SUV has no trouble reaching cruising speeds, and passing is a breeze once there.
The ride quality is quite good, though the Limited gets larger 20-inch wheels, creating more bumps and disruptions than necessary. The XLE trim’s 18-inch wheels are a more comfortable choice, with more rubber to cushion the ride. Though it has regenerative braking, the bZ4X does not offer a one-pedal driving mode like many other EVs, so the brakes are required to stop the vehicle. The steering feels direct, and the braking is smooth, as Toyota dialed in the regenerative braking system to avoid the jerky feel that some have.
Perhaps the largest gripe with the bZ4X is its charging speed. Toyota promises an 80 percent charge in about an hour on a 50kW charger and as little as 20 minutes on a 150 kW unit, but the bZ4X is limited to 150 kW with front-wheel drive and 100 kW with all-wheel drive, so charging speeds are significantly slower than with other models from Hyundai, Kia, and others. The range isn’t terrible, with a claimed 252 miles for the front-drive models and 228 miles for all-wheel drive variants.
At the end of the day, the bZ4X’s biggest problem isn’t that it’s a lousy EV – it’s totally fine. It’s that its competitors are so good. The Hyundai Ioniq 5 does most things better for around the same price, and the Kia EV6 is similar. At the same time, the Toyota isn’t eligible for federal tax credits due to its Japanese build location, but to be fair, Hyundai and Kia aren’t able to get credits, either. If you’re a Toyota fan and want to stick with the brand, the bZ4X is a great entry point to electrification, but if you’re an enthusiast who cares about driving, there are better options out there.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are there any open bZ4X recalls?
Yes, the NHTSA issued a stop-drive order in June of 2022 for an issue that could cause a wheel to detach from the vehicle. If you haven’t had this recall fixed, it’s vital that you have it done as soon as possible.
Is the Toyota bZ4X built by Subaru?
Toyota developed the bZ4X working with Subaru, whose equivalent EV is the Solterra. The Lexus RZ is based on the same platform and tech.
Does the bZ4X have a frunk?
No. The bZ4X does not have a frunk, limiting its cargo space. Competitors like the Tesla Model Y offer sizeable frunks.
What are the main bZ4X competitors?
The Toyota bZ4X competes against the Chevrolet Bolt EUV, Subaru Solterra, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Volkswagen ID.4, and others.