Review: 2023 Toyota bZ4X is as Confusing as Its Name

The 2023 Toyota bZ4X released to a public ready to see what the company could do with an electric vehicle.

Toyota has a reputation for treading carefully. In general, that pays off and is a big reason the company also has a reputation for dependability and value. But sometimes, wariness is the wrong approach. Sometimes, one needs to throw caution to the wind and take the risk and stretch. So it should have been with the badly-named bZ4X.

Which I refer to as the Buzzforx, since that’s easier to remember as a sort of acronym.

Normally, taking care to produce something like an all-new electric vehicle might have paid off if Toyota could have created something mind blowing in the process. But it didn’t. Instead, the careful treading that Toyota took on this car has backfired.

The Buzzforx is disappointing on several fronts. It has a short range, lackluster performance, boring interior, and has already gained a reputation for being unreliable. It was, it seems, the real world result of Akiyo Toyoda’s pessimism for EVs.

The 2023 Toyota bZ4X released to a public ready to see what the company could do with an electric vehicle. Within a month, however, the Buzzforx had a massive recall for, of all things, tires coming off. Nothing to do with its EV nature and everything to do with bad testing and quality control. Not a good start. Then real-world testing of its actual range found that the released EPA estimates for the car are extremely optimistic. Add to that the price tag, which was similar to competing models with much more range and technology, and the bZ4X was doomed to failure.

I drove the 2023 bZ4X for a week. It’s a nice city car, if you don’t need anything fancy and aren’t afraid of the fat price tag. It’s roughly the same size as the RAV4 sport utility that’s Toyota’s current best-seller, but in a more station wagon-y design.

Being inside the Buzzforx is similar to being in a moderately-priced economy vehicle. With the exception of the electric powertrain and crisp touchscreen, the bZ4X feels similar to almost every low-cost vehicle on the market. But because of that EV powertrain, it costs a lot more than those comparables. Unlike the similarly-designed Toyota Venza, which I found a well-done entry into the segment, the bZ4X feels.. well, overpriced.

The 2023 Toyota bZ4X is powered by a 50.3 kWh battery and 201 horsepower in electric motors. The all-wheel drive model (which we drove) has an added rear axle motor boosting output to 214 hp in all. The EPA estimates range at 252 miles per charge for the front-wheel drive model and 222 for the AWD model. In the real world, our AWD bZ4X was closer to 200 miles of actual range. Far less if a heavier highway mix was included.

What the 2023 bZ4X really has going for it, though, is familiarity. The interior, switchgear, controls, and drive quality are very Toyota. If you’ve driven a non-plug-in RAV4, a Venza, or an Avalon/Crown, you will immediately feel comfortable in the bZ4X. The simple interior is comfortable and empty of obvious technology. There’s plenty of tech there, which the well-done touchscreen interface hints to, but for the most part, there are the buttons and simple design elements familiar to most Toyota owners.

On the road, the bZ4X is also very nicely controlled. It feels confident, but isn’t sporty or fast-paced in any way. Which is what most Toyota buyers are used to. It’s also well-mannered. A few missing touches, such as the lack of a rear window wiper and the oddly-placed instrument cluster (similar to the Prius), are odd men out. But the in-built technology and audio are well-done and easy to understand.

In the end, the 2023 Toyota bZ4X is a disappointment. Toyota had a chance to do something solid here and instead went too conservative. The reputation the Buzzforx gained on launch wasn’t helpful either. This won’t be Toyota’s first EV, but it will be the one that most people remember. And that’s not a good thing.

This review originally published on

Aaron Turpen
An automotive enthusiast for most of his adult life, Aaron has worked in and around the industry in many ways. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press (RMAP), the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA), the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA), and freelances as a writer and journalist around the Web and in print. You can find his portfolio at