Toyota BZ4X FWD electric car Australian road test review on Kangaroo Island

The following electric car review is written by Stan Gorton, a South Australian EV enthusiast who lives on Kangaroo Island with his dog Twiggy and a MY24 Polestar 2 long-range single motor.

A week with a media loan Toyota BZ4X (single motor front wheel drive) on Kangaroo Island has made me think what some people might want is simple cars, with buttons, a traditional layout and not much fancy software.

A car that’s not much that different from their RAV4, that is reliable and comfortable with a familiar badge.

BZ4X Impressed my Taxi Driver

Typical of this was my cab driver who delivered me to the Motorsport Safety & Rescue depot in Adelaide to pick up my first-ever press car.

Coming from a Camry mild hybrid, he was impressed with the look and the feel of the BZ4X, including the hatchback and extra space.

Even he knew about “frunks” or front storage space under the hood, and was disappointed to see only what he described as an engine under the bonnet.

“Are you sure it’s electric?” he queried.

Some would say Toyota missed an opportunity to make the BZ4X more electric car-like, but perhaps that was their motive all along.

I did joke that while the cabbie’s hybrid Camry got 5 litres per 100km, the BZ4X did 0 litres per 100km after you charge it overnight for as little as $10.

Speaking of dollars $71,161 driveaway price in SA for this FWD model might seem expensive compared to an equivalent ICE car, but other than all the benefits of ditching fossil fuel, EVs are so much cheaper to run and service.

The BZ4X requires a service every 15,000 km or 12 months, which is more frequent than many electric cars, which can be double that 2 years/30,000 km.

The servicing can be done at your local dealer, so for instance on Kangaroo Island you would take your BZ to Fleurieu Motor Group in Victor Harbor.

And according to the sales consultant, they do have a demo model you can take for a drive with cars available for purchase.

If EV adoption is to make it to the next level, makers just need to offer them at comparable prices to equivalent ICE versions.

The good news is that battery electric vehicle sales in South Australia for 2023 was 4332, a 14 per cent increase on the previous year.

Driving around Kangaroo Island

I really enjoyed the cockpit layout with its unique floating driver’s display, which seemed to work just like a heads-up-display, only a real physical one.

The steering wheel was fully adjustable, so you should find a good position.

The media loan Toyota BZ4X was driven on typical KI back roads.

It was quite capable tacking our plentiful corrugations and potholes, albeit with some front-wheel-drive understeer.

The BZ4X has a clearance of 18cm, which puts it ahead of most of its sedan-like crossovers, although its exact twin under the skin, the all-wheel-drive Subaru Solterra does come with an even higher clearance of 21cm.

The BZ4X does have one pedal driving, meaning every time you take your foot off the accelerator pedal, the electric motor works to slow the car, regenerating power to the battery.

But it needs to be turned on each time you power up, using, you guessed it, a big button on the centre console, and then unlike some other EVs, it only slows you down to a creep and not a complete stop.

While the car is sadly lacking charging and range information in its infotainment, again it does display instant energy consumption and regenerative braking, as well as battery percentage and range left in km.

So just the bare minimum needed for an EV.

Making up for the lack of data on display, the BZ4X does come with wireless Apple CarPlay, which is great for mapping, music and all other benefits.


While the cab driver was impressed with the overall size and shape of the BZ4X, it was surprising to see certain space saving features omitted.

For instance, it lacks a glovebox, something one of my passengers remarked on, while the centre storage box was not that big.

This is compounded by the lack of the frunk up the front and even the under-boot storage area is not that big and filled with the bags for a charging cables, tyre repair and first aid kits.

Not having a spare tyre at all is something new EV drivers might find confronting, but most electric cars these days come with the repair kit and often include roadside assistance.

Even a supplied space saver tyre is rare these days, one exception being the new Hyundai Kona, which would be a good comparison and competitor for the BZ4X.

While being a similar shape and also front-wheel-drive, it offers much more tech from its more accomplished and forward thinking parent company.

Both cars are ground-up EV with no transmission tunnel taking up space between the back seats.

Charging the BZ4X

A highlight of my week with the BZ4X on KI was being the first vehicle to charge at the new RAA 150kw rapid charger at Penneshaw, the island’s first fast charger.

The Toyota does have a respectable maximum charge rate of 150kw, but like all cars this rate does drop off as the car approaches 100 per cent.

Arriving at a 22 per cent state of charge, I received a maximum of 112kw on the fast charger before it dropped back down.

Normally you would only charge from 20 per cent to 80 per cent, unless on a road trip, and that in the BZ4X takes about 30 minutes.

I also charged overnight on the RAA’s new 7kw overnight or destination chargers on the Kingscote Esplanade.

The car’s range predictor consistently said about 400 km of range and my efficiency over the weekend ranged 18.6 to 19.3 kWh/100km, doing highway driving around the island.

A 400km real-world highway range I think is the minimum these days for comfortably road tripping across Australia’s vast distances.

The whole hybrid mania is frustrating as I know from firsthand experience how much better battery electric vehicles are for both the daily commute and needs, but also road tripping.

RAA Charge will have 140 EV charging sites across SA, with 75 per cent in regional areas, most less than 200 km apart.

RAA has used excellent Kempower equipment, and I’ve never had an issue charging or even having to wait in line.

The Toyota BZ4X test was a bit of a conundrum for me. I quite like the car and could easily see how many would benefit from owning one.

I warmed to the car despite Toyota’s recent and ongoing antics opposing the recent fuel efficiency standards and the transition to electrification in general.

Toyota needs to increase its range of their EV offerings, as well as the range and performance of its pure battery electric vehicles.

EDITOR: compared to other electric cars of a similar price in Australia, the base model BZ4X is more expensive and front wheel drive. This compares unfavourably to more technologically advanced rear wheel drive options like the base model Tesla Model Y and BYD Seal Premium which cost $10,000 less.


  • Toyota quality build/access to service
  • Traditional feel with lots of buttons
  • Capable ride handling on dirt


  • Lack of charging and range detail
  • Limited storage – no glove box or front storage
  • Excess use of external plastic


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