Toyota bZ4X review

Toyota bZ4X review

It’s fair to say that Toyota is a little late to the EV party. Despite the fact that it was a hybrid technology pioneer 25 years ago with the Prius, it’s taken until 2022 for the Japanese giant to launch its first pure electric car in Europe.

So, I guess the big question is – has it been worth the wait? Before I attempt to answer that, let’s deal with the baby elephant in the room – how did it end up with a name like the bZ4X?

Well, to put it simply, it’s the first model in Toyota’s “Beyond Zero” family of zero emission battery electric vehicles, while the ‘4’ references the size of the car (mid-sized) and ‘X’ denotes it’s a 4×4 crossover/SUV.

Toyota bZ4X review

Slightly longer, lower and wider than a RAV4, the bZ4X has been co-developed with Subaru (its version is called the Solterra) and it’s available with front or four-wheel drive.

Your choice of drive will have an impact on your car’s performance and range. The FWD version (201bhp) offers up to 317 miles of range and a 0-62mph time of 7.5 seconds, while the 4×4 option (215bhp) has a lower range of about 286 miles, but is quicker off the mark (6.9 seconds).

Priced from £41,000, Toyota’s is going big on peace of mind, also offering the bZ4X via an intriguing new, all-inclusive monthly leasing scheme that covers the vehicle, maintenance, wall box charger and access to connected services.

Toyota bZ4X review

Meanwhile, the battery is supported by an optional extended care programme for owners, guaranteeing battery capacity of 70% after 10 years or 1,000,000km (620,000 miles) driven.

The bZ4X also benefits from Toyota’s standard Relax warranty which covers your vehicle for 10 years (up to 100,000 miles), provided your car is serviced by a Toyota dealer.

Talking of the battery, the bZ4X’s 71.4kWh pack can be charged from 0-80% in around 30 minutes using a rapid 150kWh charger.

Toyota bZ4X review

Four trims are offered, including entry-level ‘Pure’, which comes with goodies such as 18-inch alloy wheels, a reversing camera and smart entry.

‘Motion’ models look sportier thanks to big 20-inch alloy wheels, tinted windows and roof spoiler, while kit includes heated seats, wireless phone charging and a panoramic glass roof.

‘Vision’ is next up with standard equipment that includes heated and cooled front seats, a digital key that means you can open and start the car with your phone and synthetic leather upholstery.

Toyota bZ4X review

We tested the top-of-the range Premier Edition model which comes with four-wheel drive as standard, plus a nine-speaker JBL sound system, and is priced from £51,550.

At first glance, the bZ4X looks like a sleeker, more futuristic RAV4. Get up closer and the design is more complex with an accent on aerodynamics in order to reduce drag and maximise range.

Inside, there’s a real feeling of space, light and visibility. Up front there’s a new driver-focused set-up with a low steering wheel and a 7.0-inch digital display which sits directly in the driver’s forward eyeline. Not quite as radical as Peugeot’s i-Cockpit, but still a change which works surprisingly well once you get used to it.

Toyota bZ4X review

Praise too for the 12.3-inch touchscreen in the centre console. Slick with crisp graphics, thankfully Toyota hasn’t completely forsaken traditional buttons, so there’s less need to take your eyes off the road while you swipe through menus to access key functions.

It’s just a shame that there were some hard plastics used high up in the cabin, while the driver’s instrument binnacle structure is a fairly flimsy affair.

On the plus side, there’s stacks of space in the back for passengers, while the boot has a useful 452-litre luggage capacity, though sadly there’s no space for a frunk in the “engine bay” to store your cables.

The first thing you notice on the road is the smooth ride and the refinement inside the cabin.

Toyota bZ4X review

Just like all EVs, there’s plenty of instant torque available. However, the acceleration is perfectly pitched if you floor it, rather than gut-wrenching like some rivals.

There’s a little body roll on more challenging corners, but then the bZ4X is more comfortable cruiser than performance SUV. No complaints about grip and traction either.

It’s easy to drive and Toyota has tried to make it as simple as possible with its automatic brake regeneration (a system that recharges the battery by harvesting power otherwise wasted during deceleration).

Toyota bZ4X review

Maybe I’m the odd one out, but I prefer the ability to adjust regen settings manually (as is more often the case). Weirdly, the Subaru Solterra includes just such a feature.

Our test car came equipped with the X-Mode four-wheel drive system which has settings for snow/mud; deep snow and mud and Grip Control for tougher off-road driving (below 6mph), so it should be able to cope on those few days of the year when extreme weather makes the headlines.

We went through various exercises to test its off-road capability and it passed with flying colours. Few bZ4X owners will ever stretch it to its limits, but there’s a hill-descent control, low-speed crawl control and it can wade through a depth of 500mm.

Toyota bZ4X review

Any more gripes? Well yes, just a couple. There’s no glovebox and far more annoyingly, no rear wiper (it’s been sacrificed on the altar of aerodynamic efficiency).

Oh, and in answer to the question I posed way back at the beginning of this article. Yes, the bZ4X has been worth the wait.

Rivals include everything from the Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6, Skoda Enyaq iV and Audi Q4 e-tron to the Volkswagen ID.4,Tesla Model Y and Ford Mustang Mach-E.

Verdict: The all-new Toyota bZ4X is a welcome addition to the long-range electric SUV scene – smooth, spacious and surprisingly capable, it’s the peace of mind choice.

Toyota UK

Jeep Compass 4xe review

Jeep Compass 4xe review

We drive the impressive new plug-in hybrid version of Jeep’s mid-sized SUV…

When I first drove the Jeep Compass soon after its launch in 2018, I really wanted to like it. It was practical and looked good, but for me it was let down by an unsophisticated diesel engine, disappointing fuel economy and an underwhelming interior.

Fast forward to 2022 and Jeep has added a new plug-in hybrid version to the revamped Compass range, which will battle it out with other PHEV SUVs including the Ford Kuga, Kia Sportage, Toyota RAV4, Vauxhall Grandland and Volkswagen Tiguan.

Using much the same plug-in hybrid system as the smaller Renegade 4xe (which is no bad thing), the new Compass 4xe has also been facelifted inside and out, and gets a technology update.

Jeep Compass 4xe review

Like all PHEVs, the Compass 4xe offers the best of both worlds, delivering some of the experience of an EV without any of the associated range anxiety.

My test car was fitted with the most powerful version of the hybrid system used in the Renegade, producing a combined total of 237bhp from the 1.3-litre turbo petrol unit. There are two electric motors and there’s assistance from a 11.4kWh battery.

On the road, the Compass works out when it’s best to operate on electric, petrol, or a combination of both, to give the ideal performance in any given situation.

Jeep Compass 4xe review

The EV mode lasts for up to 30 miles at speeds of up to 80mph, which means visits to the garage will become rare occasions for low mileage users. As with all PHEVs, it works most efficiently if you can charge the battery overnight or at work (less than two hours using a 7.4kW chargeppoint).

There are potentially huge fuel savings to be made, but even on long journeys where most of the time is spent on motorways using the petrol engine with hybrid assistance, it can return around 40mpg.

First impressions are good. The mild makeover, which includes new full LED headlights and a revamped seven-slot grille, gives the Compass a fresh new look and more road presence.

Jeep Compass 4xe review

The biggest changes are reserved for the cabin which seems to have been given a complete overhaul, with better build quality, more of an upmarket feel and bang up to date technology.

Standard features include a 10.25-inch driver’s digital instrument cluster and the latest 10.1-inch Uconnect 5 centre console infotainment system which features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.

There’s also a “Hey Jeep” voice assistant for hands-free adjustment of the air conditioning and media, or setting the TomTom sat nav. Slick and crisp, the new infotainment set-up is a huge improvement.

Jeep Compass 4xe review

The new Compass is a surprisingly refined cruiser, and you’d never know the engine is so dinky, given the overall amount torque on tap.

Obviously the engine becomes more vocal if you floor it and it’s no hot hatch on kickdown, but for the record, the petrol hybrid combo can deliver a 0-60mph time of just 7.3 seconds and a top speed of 124mph.

More importantly for many, CO2 emissions are as low as 45g/km, meaning business users can access significant tax benefits.

Jeep Compass 4xe review

There’s the occasional hesitancy when switching between electric and hybrid – and vice versa – but the system works well generally. And compared to some PHEVs fitted with CVT gearboxes, the traditional six-speed automatic transmission is a breath of fresh air.

Basic drive modes available include Hybrid, Electric and E-save, which stores up the battery energy for use at a later stage while maintaining range or can convert the engine into a generator to charge up battery.

There are also Auto, Sport, Snow, Sand, and Mud modes. And as you’d expect from a serious off-roader, there’s also 4WD low ratio, 4WD lock and hill descent.

Jeep Compass 4xe review

I tried a little green-laning and it coped admirably on road tyres. Compared to the opposition, it’s one of the most capable 4×4 off-roaders with plenty of traction and healthy ground clearance.

Even if you only use a tiny percentage of that ability, it’s good to know that it can in theory cope with rough terrain or extreme weather conditions, such a flooding.

A commanding driving position, compact exterior proportions, supportive leather seats and driving assistance tech (including a reversing camera as standard and an optional 360-degree camera), mean that progress in the Compass 4xe is comfortable and classy.

Jeep Compass 4xe review

The Compass handles well, feels composed and is easy to manoeuvre in town. For a relatively heavy car, it’s even quite entertaining to drive, especially in Sport mode, with body lean under control and decent grip.

Overall cabin space is not class leading, but there’s room for two adult-sized passengers in the rear, while luggage capacity is slightly down on a regular Compass, offering a modest 420 litres (1,239 litres with the rear seats flipped down).

The update means the Compass 4xe is now packed with the latest safety kit too, ranging from autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and Traffic Sign Recognition to Drowsy Driver Alert and LaneSense Departure Warning.

Jeep Compass 4xe review

It’s also the first Jeep vehicle in Europe to offer level 2 autonomous driving. Highway Assist combines adaptive cruise control and lane centring, enabling the car to automatically adjust its speed and trajectory.

Priced from £39,895, there are two trim levels – the ‘S’ or the more off-road orientated ‘Trailhawk’.

Verdict: With the introduction of plug-in hybrid technology, the Jeep Compass is now the car it always should have been. Comfortable, refined, well built, economical, easy to drive and packed with the latest tech, the 4xe is one of the best and most capable 4×4 PHEVs on the market.

Jeep UK

Jeep Compass 4xe review