A funny thing has happened over the past few months here in New York City, where I live. (No, they haven’t fixed the subway; hydrogen cars will happen before that does.) Everywhere I turn, I see someone driving a Toyota bZ4X

When the city lifted a longstanding ban on rideshare licenses for services like Uber and Lyft for electric cars, drivers flocked to the brand they trusted most: Toyota. After all, hybrid Toyota Camrys and RAV4s have long replaced Crown Vics as the iconic and stereotypical New York cabs and for-hire cars, in no small part because of the cars’ legendary toughness and fuel economy. It makes sense that when going electric, cabbies want Toyotas. 

2024 Toyota bZ4X Photos

Except, of course, for the fact that the bZ4X is supposed to be bad. Lackluster, as this publication has sometimes called it. A slow-charging, low-range, overpriced rolling monument to Toyota’s documented resistance to EVs and preference for you to buy one of its hybrids instead.

But after a week of driving a top-trim bZ4X Limited with all-wheel drive, I have a different take on Toyota’s current sole electric offering in the U.S. I actually like it. The bZ4X has some incredible lease deals behind it right now. We've seen deals as low as $129 per month for 36 months with $1,999 due at signing in some parts of the country. For a daily driver that never uses gasoline, it's actually an amazing bargain. 

I recognize the bZ4X's many shortcomings, but above all, I think it has immense potential to be a top-selling EV if Toyota puts in more effort.

2024 Toyota bZ4X Photos

So for this review, I decided to help the company do that. I’m going to suggest three things that can make the bZ4X into a true comeback champion. Let’s see if Toyota listens. 

(Full Disclosure: Toyota sent me a 2024 bZ4X for a week with a full tank of electrons for this test.)

2024 Toyota bZ4X EPA Range By Trim
XLE FWD 252 miles
XLE AWD 228 miles
Limited FWD 236 miles
Limited AWD (Tested Here) 222 miles

The bZ4X Gets A Lot Right

The platonic ideal of an EV in America is, essentially, an electric RAV4. 

Read that sentence again if you need to, but spend enough time contemplating it and you’ll realize I am right. People want cars that are dependable, capable of hauling their families around with zero drama, and affordable—but just don’t use gasoline at all. Doesn’t that explain the success of the Tesla Model Y, which checks many of those boxes, or how the Volkswagen ID.4 was aimed directly at the RAV4? That’s supposed to be the appeal of the bZ4X: the electric take on America’s best-selling crossover. But a few things keep it from realizing such a destiny.

2024 Toyota bZ4X Photos

The design is not one of those things. Personally, I love the bZ4X’s looks. It’s a futuristic take on the RAV4, with sharp angles that eschew the blobbiness that plagues too many modern EVs. That shark-like nose, two-tone color scheme and two-part roof spoiler all make it stand out. In my mind, it looks very 1980s-Japanese retro-future, a signal of where Toyota and Lexus are going.

2024 Toyota bZ4X Photos

Also not a problem: the interior. The bZ4X is incredibly straightforward inside. You get tons of physical buttons with clear functions. It borrows the fighter-jet cockpit found on the new Prius (which I also like) and boasts a surprisingly small steering wheel that gives it a sporty feel. There’s plenty of space in there, too.

Unfortunately, my tester’s all-black interior was dark and drab; a little charmless, to be honest. But at least the extremely comfortable front and rear seats make you care less. One other downside is that like a Rivian or a Fisker, the bZ4X annoyingly has no glove compartment. That coupe-like silhouette sacrifices some trunk room, too, so there’s less space than you get in a RAV4.

2024 Toyota bZ4X Photos

But the bZ4X is actually pretty fun to drive—far more than I would’ve expected. The AWD model’s 214 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque ratings are hardly phenomenal on paper, especially with the wild performance most EVs put down these days. But in practice, it feels much quicker than that. The instant torque provides ample passing power, the chassis and suspension are competently tuned and the turn-in is relatively quick. Let’s just say it’s far more interesting to drive than your average RAV4—or Prius, for that matter. 

The latest bZ4X reveals how much Toyota has upped its software game. I was impressed with the integration of Toyota’s smartphone app here, which allows for remote locking and unlocking, service scheduling, odometer readings, charging management, subscription feature oversight and more. Voice commands are better than expected as well—not as fast as some pure Google-powered systems out there, but superior to many others. 

2024 Toyota bZ4X Photos

The downside is that you must create an account via Toyota's app just to use the new Cloud Navigation system, which then becomes a paid subscription feature itself after three years. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto remain free. 

Finally, that 12.3-in. Toyota Audio Multimedia touchscreen display is impressive. It’s responsive, the colors look great and it’s just a giant upgrade from the messy stuff Toyota was putting out even a few years ago. I wish it had some kind of window to show multiple displays at once—music, navigation, and so on—but hopefully, that’s a software fix away. Unfortunately, Toyota is new to over-the-air updates and rarely sends them, unlike other EV manufacturers like Tesla and Rivian, so let’s hope it gets better at that. 

That’s most of what the bZ4X gets right, and again, it’s more than people think. But then we get to the areas where it could use some real improvements. 

2024 Toyota bZ4X Photos

Improvement 1: Better Navigation That Meets EV Drivers’ Needs

Even if Toyota’s getting better at software, it’s clearly still working from a gas-car paradigm and not an electric one. The bZ4X offers little in the way of help with route planning, range predicting or charging—unlike just about every other modern EV now. 

Let’s say you’re in New York City with a 50% state of charge and want to drive to Washington D.C., about 250 miles south. You can tell the navigation system you want to do that via voice commands, but it will merely pop up with a warning that you will need to charge somewhere to get there. It doesn’t tell you where or when to do this, as countless competitors from Hyundai or Tesla or Rivian or BMW or the Volkswagen Group might. You’re on your own to figure that out. (It's kind of apples to oranges since this is a high-end, ground-up-electric luxury car, but the last Lucid Air I was in tells you not only where to charge but for exactly how long on your road trip; this is all to say that Toyota could be far more sophisticated here than it is.) 

2024 Toyota bZ4X Photos

Not pictured: the 150 kW DC fast charger I was parked right next to

More maddening is the fact that the navigation system won’t even display chargers around you, as nearly every other EV does these days. You can ask your friendly voice assistant to do this and it will pull up a list for you, but it doesn’t even show their speeds. It’s not very useful.

Instead, Toyota directs you to use its smartphone app, which has a charger-finder of its own. That can send directions straight to the car, and it does tell you how fast the chargers are and what stalls are available. But why can’t the car do that? Why can’t I hit a button on the nav screen to get a list that shows all plugs near me, how fast they charge and what stalls are available? The competition does that; so far, Toyota does not. 

2024 Toyota bZ4X Photos

If I ran Toyota’s software division, I’d want that over-the-air update pushed out yesterday. That would be an instant game-changer for the bZ4X.

Improvement 2: Better, Easier DC Fast Charging 

Now, we’re getting into some bZ4X weaknesses that are going to take more than just a software update to fix. Of those—and this is by no means an original take—better fast charging would be great. 

2024 Toyota bZ4X Photos

For the 2024 model year, Toyota actually did upgrade the max DC fast-charging speeds of the AWD bZ4X, so it now matches the FWD car at 150 kW. Previously, it was just 100 kW. 

It's an improvement, but you’re still looking at slower speeds of comparable Hyundai or Kia EVs, or the Tesla Model Y. All of this means those cars can charge faster and get you on the road more quickly.

Why is this the case? Well, cabbies and rideshare drivers love Toyotas because they don't break. To preserve the famous Toyota reliability, the car is designed to throttle its fast charging to reduce wear on the battery pack and increase its longevity. However, Tesla and others have proven that you can do 250 kW fast charging reliably and still have batteries that will outlast the car, so Toyota just feels off the mark here.

2024 Toyota bZ4X Photos

I had some weird issues with lengthy times for my bZ4X to connect to two different types of DC fast chargers as well. (Apparently, I’m not the only reviewer who’s had this problem.) In one instance, it didn’t want to work at a generally reliable Shell Recharge station; I got a “The car did something unexpected” error on the station, while the Toyota shut off and wouldn’t restart until it was unplugged.

It also wouldn’t work at all with a Tesla Magic Dock station, and I’ve never had problems with those before. Bu after leaving the car in accessory mode and just being patient, I eventually got it to connect to the 150 kW Shell Recharge station.

At 15% battery with just 32 miles of range left, the charger jumped to 98 kW pretty quickly. It dropped to 77 kW by 57% battery, and and then 66 kW at 65% where I ultimately called it. That got me to 140 miles of range after 22 minutes. If the max speed of the AWD bZ4X is really now 150 kW, I never got close to that.

2024 Toyota bZ4X Photos

Honestly, when you think of DC fast charging as a way to get what juice you need to home or just back on the road for a bit—which I did—then the experience was largely fine. The overwhelming majority of EV drivers charge at home, and I have no reason to believe that’s any different for the bZ4X. But look at all those rideshare drivers out there. They could surely use something that could juice up faster; according to tests we’ve seen and done, a Model Y will do 0% to 80% in 32 minutes on a V3 Supercharger with a 250 kW peak output—speeds the bZ4X can’t even handle. Even Toyota admits the AWD bZ4X will take about an hour to go from a “low battery” warning to 80%. 

Toyota needs to first fix these strange connectivity issues, and then it needs to work on getting charging speeds up. 

2024 Toyota bZ4X Photos

Improvement 3: Yeah, Just More Range

In truth, as a pure everyday driver, the bZ4X’s electric range isn’t bad at all. But anyone looking to Toyota for a do-everything EV—including what may be their first-ever EV purchase—will be disappointed in its road-trip potential and ability to go longer distances without charging. Maybe this problem would be less troublesome if it could charge faster, but it cannot. 

2024 Toyota bZ4X Photos

My AWD Limited tester was EPA-rated at a max of 222 miles. The most range you can get on a bZ4X is 252 miles with the FWD XLE model. I’d regularly see the 80% range dip into 180 miles or less on moderate-weather days. It was more than enough to get me where I was going; most of my driving involves leaving New York City and bumming around in the rural areas outside the city. I had zero problems with the bZ4X in that regard, although I wonder how I’d feel in colder weather.

To be competitive in a modern sense, the bZ4X really should offer a bigger battery pack, and one good for at least 260 miles in AWD form. If Toyota got this thing anywhere close to 300 miles of range, no one would be saying a damn thing against it. As it is, it gets creamed by all of its competitors, even the oft-forgotten Nissan Ariya.

I think we need EVs of all shapes, sizes and price points. Not everything has to be a 500-mile spaceship. But if this is aimed at the kind of people who bought, and still buy, the RAV4, the bZ4X is going to have to do a little better—even if it’s just to give those customers some peace of mind with what’s probably their first-ever EV purchase.

2024 Toyota bZ4X Photos

Coincidentally, I took a bZ4X Uber to the airport while I was writing this review. I asked my driver if he liked the car; he said he did, but groaned about charging almost immediately. “Too slow,” he said. He added that he charges with public stations because he has no Level 2 charger at home. That doesn’t surprise me. The same is true of most other rideshare drivers, both in New York and in other cities. Lots of them are apartment dwellers. They don’t have easy access to overnight chargers.

Yet here they are, flocking to Toyota because they trust Toyota. I know the world’s biggest automaker can’t just build cars with Uber and Lyft drivers in mind, but those are Toyota customers too; I hope the company does right by them.

2024 Toyota bZ4X Photos

And the same goes for families who would love a gas-free road trip in one of its cars. The bZ4X has the chance to be a class-leading success in the EV world. Toyota may be doing great on hybrid and gas-car sales, but the only thing better than money is more money, right?

And the bigger problem is that as loyal as Toyota buyers are, any of those drivers can go buy a Hyundai right now that has none of the issues above. They’ll figure that out sooner or later, and sales data indicates they already have. Time will tell if Toyota finds that situation acceptable or not. 

Gallery: 2024 Toyota bZ4X AWD Review Photo Gallery


What charging options are included with the Toyota bZ4X?

Every bZ4X comes with a portable charging cable and both 120V (Level 1) and 240V (Level 2) adapters. Additionally, customers who purchase or lease a new 2024 Toyota bZ4X will get one year of unlimited complimentary DC fast charging at all EVgo-owned and operated public charging stations nationwide. 

Does the Toyota bZ4X qualify for any tax incentives?

Because it is made in Japan, a new bZ4X only qualifies for the $7,500 tax credit if it is leased. If a used bZ4X is purchased from a dealer for $25,000 or less, it may be eligible for a clean vehicle tax credit of up to $4,000.

How long will it take to charge a bZ4X?

Toyota says a bZ4X with a low battery will take about 9.5 hours with a Level 2 charger at 240V to fully charge, ideally at home and overnight. On 2023 models, the FWD model went from a low battery to 80% with DC fast charging will take about 30 minutes, while the AWD models will do the same in about an hour. Toyota has since upgraded the charging speeds for the 2024 AWD models, but does not provide a quoted time for those.

Contact the author: patrick.george@insideevs.com

Clarification: This story has been updated to include upgraded DC fast charging speeds for the 2024 bZ4X AWD model. 

2024 Toyota bZ4X AWD Limited

Base Price Starting MSRP $43,070; AWD Limited $50,610
As-Tested Price $53,970
Battery 72.8 kWh
EV Range 222 miles EPA-rated (AWD Limited)
Transmission One-speed automatic direct drive
Output 214 horsepower, 248 lb-ft of torque
Charge Time 9.5 hours on Level 2; Low to 80% in one hour (DCFC) estimated
Charge Type Up to 150 kW DC fast-charging (AWD and FWD for 2024)
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