From MotorTrend’s 2023 Toyota bZ4X first drive, we generally like the futuristic feel and driving dynamic of Toyota’s first major small electric SUV. However, its EPA-rated range and DC fast capability are not up to our expectations. In a recent Toyota press release which highlights five things to know about the bZ4X, there’s some hidden disappointing information about DC fast charging limitations.

First, we’d point out that many manufacturers fast charging time/rate claim is based under ideal conditions. Understandably, there are many real world variables that can affect fast charging. So according to Toyota, “as temperatures decrease below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, charging time will increase significantly… and DC charging more than twice per day also can negatively affect charging time.”

And on the AWD variant of bZ4X, which has a different battery pack than FWD model, Toyota straight up says DC charging may not work when below 32 degrees Fahrenheit (freezing point). We appreciate Toyota’s honesty on this matter because buyers from colder climate regions can simply scratch off the bZ4X AWD from their list if they also need to regularly rely on DC charging. Although it’s a head scratcher for us why Toyota would build an AWD EV that cannot DC fast charge in snowy weather. That’s the drivetrain people would buy for cold winter, right?

the 2023 toyota bz4x's charging speed plummets when the temperature drops

We also went hands on and tested the fast charging capability of the bZ4X AWD, in Los Angeles Spring weather. During a night with ambient temperature at 64 degrees Fahrenheit, we plugged in the small electric SUV to an Electrify America 150kW DC charger after driving it for about 45 minutes to make sure the battery pack wasn’t dead cold. While charging, we never saw the spec sheet’s claimed 100kW max charging rate.

It started off at 62kW, quickly ramped up to 65kW and sustained until around 33 percent and started to plummet. In 20 minutes time, the EV got from 5 percent to 40 percent (~80 miles EPA range), and it took 64 minutes to charge to 80 percent. Remember, the bZ4X AWD has an EPA range of 228 miles, so 80 percent of that is only 182 miles. And at this point, I hope you won’t need extra energy to reach your destination, because charging from 80 percent to 90 percent takes an additional 36 minutes. And forget about charging beyond 90 percent to full—since the charging rate drops to 1kW, and it will take 7 hours.

It looks like Toyota really doesn’t want the battery pack to be charged to full through DC charging. We later plugged in the EV to a 240V AC outlet at about 85 percent and strangely found out charging on AC was actually quicker from 90 percent to full, where charging power didn’t plummet down to 1kW until the last moments.

The bZ4X is the first mainstream pure BEV from Toyota. While its interior and driving dynamics come out well as expected from a Toyota product, it unfortunately does not meet our expectations in 2022 for an EV, mainly due to its DC charging limitation. Will the FWD variant be any better? We will report back when we find out.

the 2023 toyota bz4x's charging speed plummets when the temperature drops
the 2023 toyota bz4x's charging speed plummets when the temperature drops

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