Toyota and Subaru products have some of the best resale values of any mass-market cars. In the luxury world, Lexus vehicles hold onto their values better than products from Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, and others. But while that holds for internal-combustion cars, the depreciation curve is different for the brands’ early electric efforts. The Toyota bZ4X, Subaru Solterra, and Lexus RZ all lie within that category.

The Toyota and Subaru start in the mid-$40,000 range, around the same price as many competitors such as the Kia EV6, Ford Mustang Mach-E, and Tesla Model Y. Despite their solid brand reputations, used examples seem to depreciate rapidly. Secondhand car shoppers can easily find used bZ4X and Solterras in the low $30,000 range. More fascinatingly, many of these examples have a few thousand, if not hundreds of miles on their odometers. Savvy buyers might just find themselves in a lightly used example for thousands off sticker. 

There are plenty of heavily depreciated examples floating around on TrueCar. One 2023 bZ4X Limited went for $50,130 when it was new. Now, with 5,000 miles on the odometer, it's listed for $32,673. That's 34.8 percent depreciation despite being put into service eight months ago. Things are no better for its luxurious stablemate. The 2023 Lexus RZ450e Luxury started at $65,150 when new. Today, low demand in the used market means this example with 5,000 miles has been sitting on the lot for 90 days. The sleek EV now features a $43,995 tag along with a comprehensive CPO warranty.  That’s 32.5 percent less than what it was when new. 

But why? 

Toyota And EVs: The History

Tesla Confirms 2014 Death of Toyota RAV4 EV

There is no question of whether Toyota can make great electrified (i.e. hybrid) vehicles. Toyota pioneered the hybrid powertrain in the late 1990s with the Prius. (Honda was first to the U.S. market, but its Insight never caught on the way the Prius did.) Toyota currently offers 12 hybrids and two plug-in hybrids in the United States market. Lexus offers seven hybrids and three plug-in hybrids—that's 24 different hybrids to choose from. Toyota and Lexus buyers have plenty of choices when buying a hybrid, from sports coupes to minivans. But what about EVs?

Toyota first sold an EV in the U.S. back in 1997. The RAV4 EV was an electric version of the RAV4 sold to appease the California Air Resource Board. After selling and leasing 1,484 RAV4 EVs in the state, Toyota ended the program in 2003. Toyota revived the RAV4 EV as a 2012 model year through a joint venture with Tesla. Like its predecessor, it was short-lived, ending production in 2014. That wasn't the end of Toyota's EV journey, though. 

The Toyota bZ4X And Friends

2023 Toyota bZ4X Limited FWD in Elemental Silver Metallic paint front three-quarter view driving

Toyota revealed the bZ4X, its first dedicated EV, in 2021, and deliveries began the subsequent year. Toyota shared the bZ4X's underpinnings (referred to as the e-TNGA platform) with the similarly priced but AWD-only Subaru Solterra and the more upstream Lexus RZ. The bZ4X starts at $44,420 and comes with front-wheel-drive as standard. It features a 71.4- or 72.8-kilowatt-hour battery pack with a 201-horsepower single-motor setup or a dual-motor one pushing 215 horses. It offers between 222 and 252 miles of EPA range and up to 150 kilowatts of DC power. 

2024 Toyota bZ4X: Starting at $44,420

  • 201 horsepower
  • 222 to 252-mile range
  • 150kW charging

2024 Subaru Solterra: Starting at $46,340

  • 215 horsepower
  • 222 to 228-mile range
  • 150kW charging

2024 Lexus RZ300e: Starting at $55,150

  • 201 to 308 horsepower
  • 196 to 266-mile range
  • 150kW charging

These specs aren't worth writing home about. Moreover, last year's Solterra and bZ4X only came with 100kW DC fast charging capabilities. In a real-world charging test done by our friends at Out Of Spec Studios, the 2023 bZ4X AWD fell completely flat. It reached a maximum charge rate of 88 kilowatts and required over four hours to reach a 99 percent state-of-charge. The bZ4X shouldn't be your first choice when looking for an electric road tripper.  

Regarding the Lexus RZ450e's 196-mile range, an independent 70-mile-per-hour showed a real-world range of just 172 miles. Other EVs, especially some Tesla models, miss the mark in terms of real-world range. In our 2020 Tesla Model Y range test, we saw 276 miles against an EPA range of 316. A real range of 276 miles is a noticeable decrease, but the Model Y is still highly usable for road trips. A car with 172 miles of range, meanwhile, won’t cut it for some buyers. In other words, the e-TNGA EVs offer subpar range and charging at price points that look bonkers compared to other electric crossovers. 

2024 Tesla Model Y: Starting at $44,630 ($37,130 with tax credit)

  • 258 to 456 horsepower
  • 260 to 310-mile range
  • 170 to 250kW charging

2024 Kia EV6 Long Range: Starting at $47,325 ($42,325 with Kia incentive)

  • 225 to 576 horsepower
  • 218 to 310-mile range
  • 235kW charging

2024 Cadillac Lyriq: Starting at $58,590 ($51,090 with Cadillac incentive)

  • 340 to 500 horsepower
  • 307 to 314-mile range
  • 190kW charging

The Ultimate Depreciation Machine

2024 Lexus RZ

Let's look at the Toyota RAV4 Prime, a plug-in hybrid version of the ubiquitious Toyota RAV4. It debuted as a 2021 model year with a $39,220 price tag (now $45,040). They've proven to hold onto their values exceptionally well. The cheapest sub-50,000-mile example in the country is a 2021 listed for $32,273 with 44,000 miles. It dropped 17.7% of its value in two years of being on the road. The bZ4X we referenced saw a 34.8 percent depreciation in eight months. 

The Lexus NX450h+ plug-in hybrid has similarly low depreciation. The least expensive 2023 model is priced at $55,988 with 16,000 miles. Against an original price tag of $62,075, the PHEV Lexus dropped around 9.8 percent in value in 11 months. The RZ450e with 11,000 fewer miles saw 32.5 depreciation in 7 months. While it's difficult to find models that are precisely the same in mileage and age, it's clear that these EVs aren't holding their values well. 

"This may certainly seem alarming, given that in general Lexus products typically hold their value very well once in the used market. Consumer confidence in and sentiment of a ‘used EV’ likely isn't as strong as that of a proven ICE or hybrid product," wrote Robby DeGraff of the automotive consulting firm AutoPacific. "While the RZ is no doubt an attractive, upscale product for the brand and serves as Lexus's gateway to an EV future, compared to other similar posh EVs, it really lags behind the competition when it comes to range and value."

DeGraff's point touched upon two things: buyer sentiment towards EVs and the e-TNGA vehicles' arguably lousy value propositions. Most buyers contemplating purchasing an electric car are likely going to consider the big names—Tesla, Hyundai, and Kia—not Toyota, Lexus, and Subaru. 

"Perhaps (consumers are) not as up to speed and aware of the brand's EV efforts, which at this point in time, is still very much in its infancy. Toyota is so synonymous with ‘hybrids’ for many consumers, and that's likely to be the case going forward," DeGraff wrote to InsideEVs. "In our latest 2023 Future Attribute Demand Study in which we poll new vehicle intenders, 41% of future Toyota buyers intend to buy a regular ICE and roughly 32% a hybrid or PHEV. Intention for EVs among future Toyota buyers is only 21%." 

Moreover, in the used car market, there are more hybrids and plug-in hybrids floating around than EVs. More options and more consumer confidence with hybrids are keeping their values higher. "It's important to keep in mind that consumers are warming up to EVs but not at the rapid-fire pace that automakers had been keeping their fingers crossed for. While EV market share and sales continue to rise year-over-year, month-over-month, quarter-over-quarter… the majority of consumers, new and used, are still ICE intenders and purchasers," said DeGraff. "We're not quite at a point yet where there's massive demand for both new and especially used EVs, therefore pricing on used ones isn't going to be as competitive."

While EVs depreciate more, something must be said about the e-TNGA EVs. Slow charging times, mediocre range, and subpar performance really distance these vehicles from their electric crossover counterparts. "Especially because this technology is moving so quickly, their value will be in just the fact that they are like… a car," said Cars & Bids founder Doug DeMuro. "I guarantee you that within 48 months, maybe 60 months, Solterras will be 12 grand because they're trash."

Verdict: Time To Buy A Used One?

2023 Subaru Solterra

While these crossovers are Toyota and Subaru's foray into the EV space, they miss the mark all around. Consequently, used ones are depreciating rapidly, an outlier among their respective brands' vehicles. Electric cars tend to depreciate more in general, so it's no surprise that uncompetitive models lose value quickly. Before you hop on one as a bargain used car, remember that we still don’t know how low they’ll go. You don’t want to be the one holding the bag at the bottom.

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