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Toyota, one of the largest automotive manufacturers in the world, has created some innovative products that push the limits of what is possible when it comes to gasoline alternatives.

The company has been late to the all-electric game and only just released the bZ4X.

When compared with other BEVs like the Volkswagen ID 4 and the Chevrolet Bolt EUV, the electric SUV is disappointing. The nearly $50,000 price tag for the Toyota bZ4X makes us conclude that it isn't really worth it. We haven't talked about the recall yet.

The lower fascia looks like the RAV4 minus the open grille.

Range that’s good enough

Last year, Toyota showed off a solar roof, electric powertrain, and a yoke-style steering wheel for the bZ4X. The ute would have a range of 300 miles. The front-wheel drive version of the bZ4X only got about 250 miles of EPA range. The all-wheel drive version doesn't get as much range as the one that uses a different battery pack. It is in the middle of the pack and nowhere near the promised longer range.

During our seven days with the bZ4X, my partner and I decided to call it the "Bizzy Forks" because of the unfortunate name. The bZ moniker stands for "Beyond Zero." The company will invest more than $13.6 billion in battery technology in the next decade and will release 30 battery and hybrid vehicles across both their Toyota and Lexus brands. The Lexus line will transition to all-electric by the year 2035. The company confirmed that there will be other vehicles with the same naming convention coming soon. We will probably see a bZ5X or bZ6X sometime in the future.

The bZ4X is not the first all-electric car from Toyota. There was an all-electric RAV4 that was sold in California. The bZ4X will be released nationwide, but only 7,000 of them will be sold.

The bZ4X is about the same size as the RAV4, and technically it’s not the first all-electric vehicle from Toyota

Toyota intends for the bZ4X to meet zero and low emissions government requirements so they can continue to sell more gasoline-engined vehicles. The oil and gas industry has a lot to do with Toyota's opposition to battery-electric vehicles. It makes sense that Toyota isn't all in on battery electrics. The company sold more than 300,000 Camrys last year, and there is no way that the technology can keep up with that pace. There aren't enough stores in the world for the substance.

The gauge cluster is difficult to see from the driver’s seat.
The interior space is quite ample thanks to the flat floor.
The back seats are firm, flat, and not that comfortable, but there is plenty of legroom.
The voice system was both unreliable and frustratingly useless.

Slow charging on DC Fast

When trying to charge the bZ4X at public charging stations in Los Angeles, it became clear that the company intended to simply comply with worldwide emission requirements. I don't have a home charging station where I live in LA. There are a lot of charging stations in my area. Toyota said that the bZ4X should be able to charge from low to 80 percent in an hour.

I had a bZ4X limited all-wheel drive and ran the battery down to 33 percent before I decided to charge it up. I went to a fast charging station. It is a charging location that I use frequently to charge up the EV that I test drive. The bZ4X only takes a maximum of 100 kilowatts, so I chose the 100 kilowatt DC fast charge. A maximum of 150 kilowatts can be achieved by the front-wheel drive version.

I was appalled to see that the onboard charging data showed a whopping six hours and 45 minutes to a full charge

I plugged the bZ4X in at 1:09PM after checking EVgo to make sure I was getting the maximum charge possible. The battery was preconditioned, meaning it was at an optimum temperature to take a charge, and the weather was nice. When I got the EVgo system to recognize my account, I was horrified to see that it took six hours and 45 minutes to fully charge my car.

I was disappointed by how slow it was. I only gained 101 miles of range due to the 55 minutes of charging. That was enough to get me to dinner with friends that evening and back, but that is not a good charging rate for a long road trip.

The reason for the slow charge rate is because Toyota wants owners to plug in their vehicles at home every night. You might be out of luck if you don't have home charging.

The bZ4X gets a 400volt architecture, which is common in most affordable EV, but the way the company programmed the charge curve is geared to be very conservative so that the battery lasts longer. It makes sense since Toyota cares about longevity and safety more than anything. Waiting for hours on public charging stations to get a full charge is not good for a user.

The bZ4X is programmed to charge slowly for a longer-lasting battery.
Unfortunately, that can lead to slow charge times and a frustrating ownership experience.

Design, technology, and drive that’s just meh

The goal of the bZ4X was to make the transition to electric vehicles seamless for buyers, according to Toyota. It means making everything from the way the bZ4X drives to the way it looks very much like your typical RAV4.

There is a lot of plastic on the top of the bZ4X. The lower part of the bZ4X is black plastic, which is similar to the look of the Solterra.

The voice system was both unreliable and frustratingly useless

The cockpit is in good shape. A large 12.3-inch screen is housed in piano black plastic and has a suite of features on the limited trim, including navigation and a voice-activated system that is initiated by saying "Hey Toyota." The voice system was unreliable and frustrating.

We talked about Toyota and some of their other products as we drove to lunch. The laggy voice system woke up when one of us said the company's name. When I wanted to find a new location or find the nearest charging station, the voice system would give up and say, "Sorry, the network is currently busy." Try again later. The voice system could be used to change the temperature in the car. I had the same experience as you can switch off the voice assistant after some digging through the settings menu.

After our test, the bZ4X was recalled for a potentially catastrophic issue with the wheels.

There is an instrument cluster behind the steering wheel. There is a plastic housing in front of the steering wheel that holds the screen. It's difficult to find a driver's position where you can see the full screen, and it shows surprisingly little information. There is a battery display when you charge it.

The steering wheel has a number of buttons that can be used to control everything from adaptive cruise control to radio and voice control. The cruise controls and buttons are not on the other side of the building. The cruise control and lane-keeping assistance are on the right side of the vehicle, while the voice and volume controls are on the left. I didn't increase my cruise control speed more than once because I turned the volume up.

Toyota also decided to not offer true one-pedal driving in the bZ4X

The bZ4X is nothing special and you can shift into gear using a dial on the center console. It drives like a heavy vehicle. True one-pedal driving was not offered in the bZ4X. If you switch the system into a regenerative braking mode, the brakes will return power to the battery for a slightly more efficient driving.

Unlike the one-pedal mode in other vehicles, Toyota designed the system so that you have to use the brake to stop the bZ4X. Toyota says that it was designed to provide a more familiar experience for consumers making the shift from an ICE vehicle to an EV; however, for someone familiar with EV, it's a frustrating feature.

Thanks to the flat floor, the interior space is ample, and Toyota has added some thoughtful features, like a wireless charging pad that sits under a windowed compartment on the center stack, and a couple ofUSB charging ports in a cubby between the passenger and driver. The cubby is great for smaller items, but if you put a taller bag there, it will spill all over the inside. There is plenty of space in the back seats but they are not very comfortable.

Not that affordable

The bZ4X is disappointing due to its less than stellar charging times, range, and design. The value proposition gets worse when you price.

The base version starts at $42,000. It is on par with most of the competitors. The top-of-the-line all-wheel drive version cost $48,995. It is also fine. The average transaction price for a new vehicle has been hovering around $47,000. The problem is that Toyota is almost out of federal tax incentives, meaning that buyers won't be able to get a tax credit for a long time. All of the company's available incentives have been eaten up by its popular and long- running hybrid car.

Toyota issued a global recall for the bZ4X due to loose hub bolts that could cause the wheel to detach while in motion. There are 260 vehicles that have been sold in the US. Toyota is telling owners not to drive their cars until the problem is fixed.

The bZ4X is an EV that can meet basic transportation needs and Toyota loyalists. The Toyota bZ4X fell short in the EV market. There are a lot of longer-range electric vehicles on the market. The bZ4X isn't among them.