Toyota bZ4X EV Review

The 2023 Toyota bZ4X is the best family-budget battery-electric choice today, and much more is on the way

The 2023 Toyota bZ4X is sold in two trim levels with starting retail prices of headed to dealerships now, but vehicles will be in limited supply.ty of the Toyota bZ4X will

The 2023 Toyota bZ4X is sold in front- or all-wheel drive with starting prices ranging from about $43,000-$50,000. Vehicles are headed to dealerships now, but vehicles will be in limited supply. (Photos courtesy of Toyota)

Table of Contents

Development of bZ4X
Powertrain
Charging Times
5 Cool Things
bXZ4X Pricing
Incentives and Rebates
Safety Systems
Styling
Ride and Handling
Why Buy the bZ4X?
2023 bZ4X Specifications

 

BY MARK MAYNARD

The 2023 Toyota bZ4X is the company’s first dedicated lightning strike in the mainstream EV segment. Launched under the global “Toyota bZ” brand umbrella, the bZ4X is the first model in the series. “BZ” stands for “beyond Zero;” the number 4 is its class-size designation, and X is for SUV.

Toyota’s electrified lineup of vehicles, in total, accounts for more than 40 percent of all alternative powertrain vehicles sold in the U.S. Toyota sells almost a dozen electrified models, including the hydrogen fuel-cell Mirai sedan, hybrids (including the 2022 Tundra full-size pickup), plug-in hybrids and now the bZ4X. In addition, Lexus, the luxury division of Toyota, currently markets six hybrid models. And the brand will get a version of the bZ4X called “RZ.”

Globally, Toyota says it will debut around 70 electrified models by 2025. The corporate plan is to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. And also by 2050, Toyota plans to introduce 15 battery-electric vehicles in North America, including seven new Toyota bZ EV models by 2025.

Through the rest of 2022, Toyota expects to sell 7,000 bZ4X models and is anticipating that 60 percent will be all-wheel-drive.

To feed the expected demand for its electrified vehicles, Toyota announced in late 2021 its plan to build a $1.3 billion automotive battery manufacturing plant in North Carolina. When it comes online in 2025, the plant will have four production lines, each capable of delivering enough lithium-ion batteries for 200,000 vehicles, Toyota said in a release. Plans include expanding production to at least six lines for a combined total of up to 1.2 million batteries a year.

Developing the bZ4X

The bZ4X is built on Toyota’s e-TNGA BEV-dedicated platform and was a joint development project with Subaru. The partnership leverages Toyota’s vehicle electrification while Subaru contributes its expertise in all-wheel-drive technologies.

The upcoming Subaru Solterra.

The upcoming Subaru Solterra.

Subaru’s version is called Solterra, Latin words for “sun” and “earth.” With minor exterior changes, the Solterra is expected to go on sale this summer.

The bZ4X is close in size and styling to the Toyota Venza hybrid but on a longer wheelbase. The 112.2-inch wheelbase provides length for the skateboard-style battery and other electrical components.

Toyota went with a standard front-wheel-drive format because the driving characteristics are more familiar to most drivers.

bZ4X Powertrain

With an AC synchronous electric generator mounted at the front axle, the front-drive powerplant has 201 horsepower. Front-drive models have a maximum output of 150 kW, and 160 kW with AWD.

The drive battery has 355 total voltage and total power of 71.4 kWh, increasing to 72.8 kWh for AWD. The liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack is stored flat under the floor, which gives the vehicle a low center of gravity. Cross-bracing of the battery-pack housing is designed to withstand a collision from any angle.

Toyota cites a driving range of up to 252 miles for front-drive models and 228 miles with AWD. The driving range is somewhat short of some competitors, Toyota admits, but the battery pack and drivetrain were engineered for reliable range and durability. Toyota has targeted battery-capacity retention of 90 percent after 10 years of ownership.

The front motor for all-wheel drive

Front-drive models have a power output of 150 kW, and 160 kW with AWD.

X-Mode All-Wheel Drive

Subaru’s most notable contribution to the bZ4X is the all-wheel-drive system with X-Mode. The system is suited for everything from daily driving to light off-roading, Toyota says. A standout feature of the AWD system is Grip-Control.

The five-stage software program works in addition to the all-wheel-drive system.

Among its capabilities is to use lower gear ratios to generate extra power at the wheels that have grip. In addition, the X-Mode system makes the traction control system extra sensitive so that it intervenes earlier during wheel slippage. And the system works with Hill Descent Control for added braking on steep slopes.

The unique instrument panel design and infotainment screen expand the cabin’s feeling of space, Toyota says.

The unique instrument panel design and infotainment screen expand the cabin’s feeling of space, Toyota says.

bZ4X Charging Times

Charging at a public high-output charger can restore an 80 percent charge in about an hour, Toyota says. (That is a longer charge time than either the Hyundai IONIQ 5 or VW ID4, which can charge to 80 percent in 35 to 40 minutes.)

A Level 2 home or public charger can add up to 25 miles of range an hour and fully charge the battery when plugged in overnight.

The charge door on the front left fender.

The charging port with sockets for Level 1 and Level 2 AC charging, and the CCS1 socket for DC Fast charging.

ChargePoint Home Flex Charger

New bZ4X owners can include a ChargePoint home charger  ($699) into the vehicle purchase or lease. And Toyota works with Qmerit, for buyers to locate a licensed electrician to install the home unit.

ChargePoint Home Flex is Energy Star certified and Wi-Fi enabled. It can be installed indoors or out and includes a 23-foot charging cable. Toyota says the Level 2 system can charge electric vehicles up to nine times faster than a standard household outlet.

The ChargePoint Home Flex Level 2 charger also can be bought at the dealership or online from ChargePoint.

5 Cool Things about bZ4X

1 year of free charging. New owners will get a year of free, unlimited charging at EVgo public charging stations nationwide. Using the Toyota App, owners can locate EVgo stations and initiate charging for the vehicle.

Front-seat radiant foot-and-leg heater. The option, a first for Toyota, along with a heat-pump system for interior warmth, heated seats, and steering wheel, helps reduce energy drain in cold weather.

Center hub console. The broad console has the functionality of a table. The setup includes storage for a smartphone, wireless charging (optional), and a transparent lid. There are a pair of USB ports (A and C), and a total of five throughout the cabin. There is a spacious open area under the center shift console.

Drive Connect. With a subscription, the bZ4X navigation system reaches into the cloud to get traffic information and parking space availability in real-time. And a digital key function allows owners to lock, unlock, and start the vehicle with a smartphone. Digital keys can also be handed over between smartphones for family and friends to borrow and lend vehicles remotely.

Over-the-air wireless software updates. Various improvements for performance, safety systems, and multimedia will be made via app.

The extended steering column and digital 7-inch multi-information display.

bXZ4X Retail Pricing

The 2023 Toyota bZ4X will be arriving in dealerships later this month, but Toyota says there will be “extremely limited to no inventory available.” Updates on the new EV can be found here.

Toyota plans to produce the Toyota bZ4X in Japan and China. Suggested retail pricing, includes the $1,215 freight charge from Aichi, Japan.

  • $43,215 XLE FWD; XLE AWD $45,295;
  • $47,915 Limited FWD; Limited AWD, $49,995

bXZ4X Incentives and Rebates

Early adopters could qualify for up to $10,250 in federal and state rebates or incentives.

The bZ4X will qualify for the full $7,500 Federal Electric Vehicle Tax Credit at launch, but it is expected to begin ramping down through next year, a Toyota spokesman said. “We are expecting to hit the 200,000 vehicle threshold soon.”

According to EVadoption.com, the federal tax credit is phased out over time beginning the second quarter after the quarter in which a manufacturer reaches a total of 200,000 BEV or PHEV vehicles sold since 2010.

Federal Electric Vehicle Tax Credit: $7,500.  IRS tax forms are here.

California Clean Fuel Reward: $750. Available toward the purchase or lease of a new electric vehicle with a battery capacity greater than 5 kWh. The vehicle must be registered in California and the customer must reside in California.

California Clean Vehicle Rebate: $2,000.  Participants are eligible based on gross annual income, as stated on their federal tax return.

Find federal and state laws or incentives here.

And in California, the bZ4X qualifies for High-Occupancy-Vehicle freeway access, with the green DMV decal.

A digital screen shows navigation routes.

With Drive Connect, the bZ4X uses map information for traffic and parking space availability.

bZ4X Safety Systems

bZ4X will be the first to feature the latest Toyota Safety Sense safety package, called TSS 3.0. This system has an expanded detection range of the millimeter-wave radar and monocular camera.

The pre-collision system now provides low-light cyclist detection, daytime motorcyclist detection, and guardrail detection. Also, lane recognition was improved while in the lane-tracing-assist mode.

Standard bZ4X safety equipment

Toyota Safety Sense: features include: a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, Lane Tracing Assist, full-speed range dynamic radar cruise control, and road sign assist

Star Safety System includes: 8 air bags, blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear parking assist with automatic braking, stability and traction control, brake-force distribution, brake assist, and Smart Stop Technology

The extended center console has a storage space below.

The extended center console has a storage space below.

bZ4X Styling — Inside and Out

Toyota calls the bZ4X design theme “hi-tech and emotional.” The exterior and interior are also statements of shock-and-oh! to help reaffirm its status as an electric vehicle.

The body has pronounced wheel flares of an SUV, a “hammerhead” front fascia (referencing the shark species), and the rear is busy with trapezoidal angles and dramatic lighting, split mini roof spoilers, a decklid spoiler, and a sculpted lower fascia to release air drag.

The door handles are a specialized shape designed to be more ergonomic, to grip.

Multi-LED projector headlights on the Limited.

Multi-LED projector headlights on the Limited.

Inside the bZ4X cabin

The interior design is more space shuttle than traditional car. Using the digital controls is Toyota 1-2-3 easy and most drivers will adapt without frustration.

Front headroom of 38.6 inches includes the standard panoramic roof. But the steep rake of the windshield could cause a duck-and-fold maneuver for some big-and-tall drivers. Legroom is long at 42.1 inches.

The tall glass of the cabin greenhouse creates a light-filled cabin. Sightlines are unobstructed at the side mirrors and over the shoulder.

The wide cabin, 59.6 inches from door to door, provides an open feel and generous shoulder room. Soundproofing glass and wind-noise-reduction features help quiet the cabin.

One of the first things new drivers will notice is the steering column. The cab-forward dashboard features an extended steering column and smallish steering wheel, which is at least a foot removed from the digital gauges of the 7-inch multi-information display. Shorter drivers, such as me, might have to decide between seeing the entire MID or being comfortable. I split the difference. In a few miles of driving it became a non-issue, but the text font in the MID is thin and somewhat challenging to see in bright sunlight.

(Note: In a product briefing last year, Toyota showed a yoke-style steering wheel, which likely would have made it easier to see the MID. However, the steering yoke will not be available for the U.S., but it has been previewed in photos of the Lexus RZ.)

Comfortably bolstered seats in the bZ4X Limited.

Comfortably bolstered seats in the bZ4X Limited.

Back Seat and Cargo Space

Back-seat space feels more compact than midsize. Headroom of 37.1 inches could be a tad short for 6-foot-tall passengers. And max legroom of 35.3 inches will be a squeeze when tall people are seated in front. Sitting on the bench seat feels perched, and it has a short seat bottom, making it better for family use than executive transport. But the 60/40 folding seatback has a few clicks of recline, which parents appreciate for sleeping youngsters.

The cargo area has a wide and low opening with a capacity of 27.7 cubic feet behind the seat (or 25.8 with the JBL audio system). The slant of the tailgate crops space for big-box items but fold the seatback for what looks like about 5 1/2 feet in length.

The bZ4X back seat.

Back-seat space feels more compact than midsize.

bZ4X Ride and Handling

One of the most distinctive elements of bZ4X engineering is its well-calibrated driving response. This car does not drive like an appliance or functional conveyance. Driving the bZ4X feels much like a “normal” car.

The electric steering actually feels organically hydraulic with no dead spots in the revolution of the wheel. Acceleration uptake is smoothly responsive and the torque gives near-immediate pull, despite a curb weight pushing 6,000 pounds with a pair of occupants.

Braking force seemed very capable without nosedive. And the stopping force engages without regeneration lag, which can be common in an EV. The four-wheel vented discs have 12.9-inch rotors front and 12.5 inches rear.

There is also a regenerative B mode to capture more energy when slowing or on downhills. To activate, the driver must press a button on the center console to engage B mode. It is not quite an “e-pedal” function., and it will not bring the vehicle to a stop, as do some e-pedal systems (which I prefer). Toyota says it is a safety intervention to keep the driver engaged.

Managing the hefty weight of an EV is an engineering challenge. Clunks and pothole jolts are somewhat common in the mainstream electric SUV with a steel-spring suspension. But the independent steel suspension of the bZ4X (front MacPherson struts and multilink rear with stabilizer bars front and rear) filters out all but the harshest road conditions.

Overall, the bZ4X is not particularly sporty to drive, but the suspension makes graceful weight transfers without falling all over itself. Its 40-foot turning circle, however, could be unwieldy in tight parking situations.

The open cargo area of the bZ4X

There is cargo space of 27.7 cubic feet behind the back seat.

Why Buy the Toyota bZ4X?

The bZ4X might have the outward appearance of a galaxian space traveler, but its drivability is traditional and reassuring. I preferred the nimbleness and responsive power of the front-drive XLE model. All-wheel-drive typically adds noticeable acceleration force, but it seemed lacking in the Limited AWD model I tested.

Critics will point to a driving range that is less than some of the competitors. Unless you are planning a road trip, a Level 2 home charger mitigates the worry of running out of juice. The discharge rate seemed to be real-world mile-to-mile, and not overly sensitive to bursts of speed. That type of steady battery reserve is important to hypermiling commuters, who will quickly learn their comfort zone and when not to panic.

The Toyota bZ4X might not have the longest driving range of its EV competition. It might not have the fastest recharging capability. It might not be the quickest to 60 mph. But it has been built with Toyota’s engineering mantra of “Do It Right The First Time.”

And build it with that Toyota badge of reliability.

A rear view of the bZ4X

The 2023 Toyota bZ4X will be arriving in dealerships later this month, but Toyota says there will be “extremely limited to no inventory available.”

 2023 Toyota bZ4X Specifications

Body style: 5-seat, 5-door midsize SUV, in front- or all-wheel drive

Motor type: AC synchronous electric generator

Battery type: lithium-ion, 355 volts

Total Battery Capacity: 71.4 kWh (FWD), 72.8 kWh (AWD)

0-60 mph acceleration: 7.1 seconds FWD, 6.5 seconds AWD

EPA Estimated Range

  • 252 miles (XLE FWD);
  • 228 miles (XLE AWD)
  • 242 miles (Limited FWD);
  • 222 miles (Limited AWD)

EPA Estimated MPGe Fuel Economy, (city/highway/combined MPGe)

  • XLE FWD 131/107/119;
  • XLE AWD 114/94/104;
  • Limited FWD 125/103/114;
  • Limited AWD 112/92/102

Maximum power output

  • Front motor: 201 hp (150 kW) 196 foot-pounds torque;
  • Dual motor AWD: 214 hp (107/107 hp) (80 kW/80 kW); max torque 124/124 lb.-ft. 124/124 lb.-ft.

Charging

SAE J1772 / CCS1 charging port compatibility

AC Level 1 (120-volt household current), AC Level 2 (240-volt) and DC Fast Charge compatibility

AC charger maximum input: 6.6 kW

DC charging maximum input: 150 kW (FWD), 100 kW (AWD

bZ4X BY THE NUMBERS

Length/wheelbase: 184.6/112.2 inches

Height/width: 65 (inc. antenna)/73.2 inches

Front head/legroom: 38.6/42.1 inches

Rear head/legroom: 37.1/35.3 inches

Cargo space: 27.7 (25.8 w/JBL audio)

Turning circle: 40 feet

Curb Weights

  • XLE FWD 4,266 pounds;
  • XLE AWD 4,332 lbs.;
  • Limited FWD 4,398 lbs.;
  • Limited AWD 4,464 lbs.

Basic limited warranty coverage

8-years/100,000-miles battery (10-years/150,000-miles in California)

3-years/36,000-miles bumper to bumper

5-years/60,000-miles powertrain

ToyotaCare: 2-years/25,000-miles free factory scheduled maintenance 24/7 roadside assistance

Where assembled: Japan

Read more

2023 Toyota bZ4X EV Overview

Midsize, battery-electric bZ4X SUV to have expected range of 250 miles and will go on sale in mid-2022

An exterior view of the Toyota bZ4X

The 2023 Toyota bZ4X is scheduled to go on sale in mid-2022 in front- or all-wheel-drive trim levels. Front-drive models have a driving range of 250 miles. (Photos courtesy of Toyota)

Table of Contents

bZ4X Architecture
bZ4X Features
Safety Systems
Intuitive Technologies
bXZ4X Pricing
The Future of EVs
EV Intention Study
bZ4X Specifications

BY MARK MAYNARD

Is the recent spike in gasoline prices an incentive or a barrier for motorists to shift to an electric vehicle? It’s complicated, says one industry expert, and the time it takes to charge has become a major issue.

Toyota was in San Diego County the week before Thanksgiving for an expansive “e-volution” electrified event for automotive media. It was a deep dive to layout Toyota’s plan for electric and electrified vehicles, fuel cells and to introduce its next EV, the bZ4X, a partnership with Subaru.

Toyota plans to introduce 15 battery-electric vehicles for North America, including seven new Toyota bZ EV models by 2025. Launched under the global “Toyota bZ” brand umbrella, the bZ4X will be the first model in the bZ series. “BZ” stands for “beyond Zero.” Globally, Toyota says it will debut around 70 electrified models by 2025. The corporate plan is to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

Toyota and Subaru jointly developed the midsize bZ4X. The partnership leverages Toyota’s strength in vehicle electrification while Subaru contributes its expertise in all-wheel-drive technologies.

The Toyota bZ4X is expected to go on sale in late spring 2022 as a 2023 model. The five-seat, five-door SUV will be sold initially in at least two front-wheel-drive trim levels with optional all-wheel drive.

Subaru has also just revealed its version of the bZ4X called the Subaru Solterra, Latin words for “sun” and “earth.” The Solterra has minor exterior changes and is also expected to go on sale in mid-2022.

Toyota’s electrified lineup of vehicles, in total, accounts for more than 40 percent of all alternative powertrain vehicles sold in the U.S. Toyota sells almost a dozen electrified models, including the hydrogen fuel-cell Mirai sedan, hybrids (including the 2022 Tundra full-size pickup), plug-in hybrids and now the bZ4X. In addition, Lexus, the luxury division of Toyota, currently markets six hybrid models.

A side view of the driver area.

Headroom might be limiting to tall drivers, but legroom is substantial.

bZ4X Architecture

The bZ4X is built on Toyota’s e-TNGA BEV-dedicated platform. The new vehicle is close in size and styling to the Toyota Venza hybrid but on a longer wheelbase. The 112.2-inch wheelbase provides length for the skateboard-style battery and electrical components.

The liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack is stored flat under the floor, which gives the vehicle a low center of gravity. Cross-bracing of the battery-pack housing is designed to withstand a collision from any angle.

With an AC synchronous electric generator mounted at the front axle, the front-drive powerplant has 201 horsepower. Front-drive models have a maximum output of 150 kW, or 160 kW with AWD.

The drive battery has 355 total voltage and total power of 71.4 kWh, increasing to 72.8 kWh for AWD.

Toyota cites a driving range of up to 250 miles for front-drive models; AWD range will be announced later. And Toyota has targeted battery-capacity retention of 90 percent after 10 years of ownership.

There were few details on charging times or any onboard charging equipment. But Toyota did say that using a public high-output charger would restore an 80 percent charge in less than an hour.

For comparison, the 2021 VW ID.4 (rear-wheel-drive only) is slightly smaller with a 201-hp motor and lithium-ion battery. The ID.4 has a driving range of 250-260 miles, but it is heavier by 327 pounds. In addition, Volkswagen says the 11 kW onboard charger allows the ID.4 to charge to full in about 7.5 hours at a home or public Level 2 charger.

bZ4X yoke-style steering wheel

The unique instrument panel design and infotainment screen expand the cabin’s feeling of space, Toyota says.

bZ4X Features

Toyota calls the bZ4X design theme “hi-tech and emotional.” The exterior is sleek and maximized for aerodynamics. The interior takes advantage of an open concept without a gas-powered vehicle’s protruding transmission base between the front seats. Instead, there is a spacious open area under the center shift console.

The steep rake of the windshield might limit entry headroom for some big-and-tall drivers, but legroom appears quite lengthy. The wide cabin, 59.6 inches, provides an open feel and generous shoulder room, Toyota says. And soundproofing glass and wind-noise reduction features create a quiet refuge.

Drivers will immediately notice the uniquely shaped, yoke-style steering wheel. The steering-by-wire system eliminates the need for a circular wheel for hand-over-hand turning, Toyota says. Instead, the “wheel” only turns 150 degrees from side to side, so the driver does not need to take a hand from the wheel. (Some reviewers have said that Toyota will offer a traditional wheel for those who aren’t ready for the change.)

Steering-by-wire has no mechanical connection to the wheels, which eliminates road vibrations.

Dimensions for back-seat space were not disclosed, but Toyota says there is “abundant legroom for front and rear seats as well as copious side-to-side space in the rear.”

Also new:

  • An optional solar recharging system for cabin functions;
  • Heat pump system for heating and air-conditioning;
  • Front-seat radiant foot-and-leg heater (a first for Toyota).
BZ4X navigation screen

The bZ4X navigation system uses map information from the cloud to obtain traffic information and parking space availability in real-time.

X-Mode All-Wheel drive

Subaru’s most notable contribution to the bZ4X is the all-wheel-drive system with X-Mode. The system is suited for everything from daily driving to light off-roading, Toyota says. A standout feature of the AWD system is Grip-Control.

The five-stage software program works in addition to the all-wheel-drive system.

Among its capabilities is to use lower gear ratios to generate extra power at the wheels that have grip. In addition, the X-Mode system makes the traction control system extra sensitive so that it intervenes earlier during wheel slippage. And the system works with Hill Descent Control for added braking on steep slopes.

The front view of the EV, showing the curved front bumper

The inward curve of the front bumper is distinctive to the bZ4X.

bZ4X Safety Systems

bZ4X will be the first to feature the latest Toyota Safety Sense safety package (TSS 3.0). This system has an expanded detection range of the millimeter-wave radar and monocular camera.

The pre-collision system now provides low-light cyclist detection, daytime motorcyclist detection, and guardrail detection. Also, lane recognition was improved while in lane-tracing-assist mode.

The rear of the bZ4X

The rear trapezoidal design theme emphasizes a powerful stance.

 bXZ4X Intuitive Technologies

With a Drive Connect trial or subscription, the bZ4X offers navigation that uses map information from the cloud to obtain traffic information and parking space availability in real-time.

A digital key function allows owners to lock, unlock, and start the vehicle with a smartphone. Digital keys can also be handed over between smartphones for family and friends to borrow and lend vehicles remotely.

Other features of the trial subscription include over-the-air (wireless) software updates. Without scheduling a dealership appointment, the updates might be for performance, the Safety Sense system, or the multimedia system, Toyota says.

A view of the front passenger area

The extended center console has storage space below.

bXZ4X Pricing

Toyota plans to produce the Toyota bZ4X in Japan and China. The bZ4X is scheduled to go on sale in the U.S. in late spring 2022. Pricing will be announced closer to the on-sale date but expect the starting MSRPs to range from around $37,000 to $45,000.

To stay up to date on bZ4X, visit the bZ4X upcoming vehicle page. www.toyota.com/upcoming-vehicles/bZ4X.

The EV's back seat area

Back-seat-space dimensions were not disclosed, but Toyota says there is “copious side-to-side space.”

The Future of EVs

The federal government is aiming for EVs to represent half of U.S. new-vehicle sales by 2030, according to a recent report in Automotive News. That compares with 1.9 percent last year, according to Edmunds.

And automakers have laid out their own goals. For example, Volvo plans to fully electrify its lineup by 2030. General Motors is working toward a zero-emission light-vehicle lineup by 2035. And Volkswagen has said nearly all of its vehicles will be emission-free by 2040.

Among the mainstream family-size EV choices will be the upcoming Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV9 (in addition to the current Kia EV6), Mustang Mach-e, Tesla Model Y, and VW ID.4.

The bZ4X cargo area

Wide and square cargo space is expandable with the 60/40 folding back seat.

$5 Gasoline

Automakers can provide a functional electric vehicle, but will consumers pay the price?

On my I-5 interstate drive north to the Toyota media event in Encinitas, Calif., I passed a Chevron station at the La Costa Avenue exit. It advertised premium fuel (“supreme”) for $5.15 a gallon, regular unleaded was $4.85, and midgrade fuel was $4.99.

Granted, this Chevron is just off Interstate 5, so prices, of course, are higher than what a motorist can find in a neighborhood station. And there were news reports $6 and higher per-gallon prices in Los Angeles and Orange County, just up the coast.

Noting the heavy flow of midday, midweek traffic on the I-5, it does not appear that drivers are throttling back on speed or the amount of driving to conserve fuel and money.

bZ4X charging door

When using a public high-output charger, the battery can be restored to an 80 percent charge in less than an hour.

EV Intention Study

During past fuel-price spikes, industry pundits speculated that it would take $5-a-gallon gas for motorists to consider buying an electric vehicle. But the cost of everything has increased substantially since the 2012 spike, which set the all-time average high of $4.72 per gallon in the San Diego area.

Fuel prices now are probably not the highest motivator to move motorists to EVs, said George Peterson, president of AutoPacific, an automotive research firm in Tustin, Calif.

AutoPacific has just completed a comprehensive EV study that looks at EV owners and their satisfaction with their EVs. The study also focused on EV considerers and what they want in their future EV.

“We have been studying EV intention since 2005. From 2005 through 2019, consideration fluctuated between 2 percent and 5 percent,” Peterson said in an email. “In 2020, intention bumped up to 6 percent, and 2021 intention has risen again, now to 9 percent. This bodes well for the future of EVs, but not to the extent that the market will support the 130-plus new EV entries we will see through 2026.

“Remember, the median price of a new vehicle in the U.S. is around $37,000 now, so the EV premium is something that may be a minor issue with buyers. However, we still see time to charge as a major issue,” Peterson said.

“When we started looking at EVs, it appeared that a minimum range of 225 miles was required,” Peterson said. “Now, most new EVs are exceeding 225 miles, and many are overachieving by a substantial amount. So, time to charge might be the biggest hurdle.

“Very few American drivers have actually driven an EV yet,” Peterson said. “They don’t know the thrill of instant torque or how fun an EV can be to drive. The enthusiasts who pine for a throaty exhaust note will get over it in time.”

The rear view of the bZ4X

A lightweight body structure is partially made of high-tensile steel and reinforced frame components around the battery pack.

 Toyota bZ4X Specifications

Body style: 5-seat, 5-door midsize SUV, with front- or all-wheel drive

Motor type: AC synchronous electric generator

Battery type: Lithium-ion

Total power: 201 hp, 71.4 kWh VWD; 72.8 kWh AWD

Driving range: Up to 250 miles with FWD; AWD TBD

Maximum output (front motor): 150 kW 80 kW

0-62 mph acceleration: 8.4 seconds, FWD; 7.7 seconds, AWD

BY THE NUMBERS

Length/wheelbase: 184.6/112.2 in.

Height/width: 64.9 in. (inc. antenna)/ 73.2 in.

Curb weights: 4,232 FWD, 4,420 AWD lbs.

Turning circle: 37.6 ft.

Where assembled: Japan

Read more

Toyota RAV4 25th Anniversary Overview

Toyota Celebrates 25 Years of the RAV4 in North America; introduces New SE Hybrid model for 2022

Table of Contents

RAV4 History
RAV4 By Generations
The Current Generation RAV4
What’s New for 2022?
Specifications

A 2022 Toyota RAV4 SE Hybrid

For 2022, Toyota has freshened the RAV4 lineup with some exterior and interior updates and a new, less-expensive SE Hybrid model. (Photos courtesy of Toyota)

BY MARK MAYNARD

The 25th anniversary of the Toyota RAV4 is a coming-of-age story in North America. The small SUV crossover debuted in 1996 when midsize and large SUVs were the dominant herd on American highways.

Small vehicles were suspect, particularly in the U.S., for their safety structure as drivers navigated among the greater truck-based vehicles. The market segment for small SUVs had barely formed in 1996. And most of these were quirky import transplants with few changes for the preferences of North American drivers.

Among the early small SUV choices were the 1988 Daihatsu Rocky, the 1989 Geo Tracker (aka Suzuki Sidekick and Chevrolet Tracker), and the 1990 Isuzu Amigo. The offerings grew in 1996 with the diminutive two-door, two-seat 1996 Suzuki X-90 and the Kia Sportage (which brought the industry’s first knee air bag).

Today, there are around 20 small SUVs in the small SUV segment, and most manufacturers now offer one or two choices.

The driver area of a new RAV4

The RAV4 has reasonably tall front headroom of 37.7 inches, with a moonroof.

Toyota RAV4 History

The first Toyota RAV4 was available as five-door and three-door models. However, the four-door version dominated sales in the U.S. It was the only body style to return with the second-generation RAV4 in 2000.

Toyota refers to the RAV4 as the original small SUV. Now in its fifth generation, the RAV4 has become the best-selling Toyota model in the country. And in its 25-year history, it is on track for 5 million sales this fall.

RAV4 By Generations

  • The First RAV4, 1996-2000
  • Second Generation: 2000-2005
  • Third Generation: 2006-2012
  • Fourth Generation: 2013-2018
  • Fifth and Current Generation: 2019-
A view of the RAV4 front seats from the passenger side

Standard features include fabric-trimmed seats and a 7-inch touchscreen with a six-speaker audio system.

The Current Generation RAV4

The fifth-generation RAV4, introduced for 2019, offers the model’s widest selection to date. Model choices include:

  • The first RAV4 TRD Off-Road.
  • Gasoline-electric RAV4 Hybrid.
  • Flagship RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid (PHEV). The RAV4 Prime has an EPA-estimated rating of 42 miles on battery power alone.
A gauge display of the RAV4 Hybrid

The 2021 RAV4 Hybrid has mileage ratings of 41/38/40 mpg city/hwy/combined on the recommended 87 octane.

RAV4 Powertrains

In gas-engine models, the 203-horsepower Dynamic Force 2.5-liter four-cylinder is paired with an eight-speed Direct-Shift, continuously variable automatic transmission. This powertrain has an EPA-estimated 28 mpg city, 35 highway, and 30 mpg combined for the front-wheel-drive LE model — the best ever for a gas RAV4, Toyota says.

RAV4 Hybrid models have a 40-mpg combined EPA-estimated rating, which is nearly a 30-percent improvement over the previous hybrid. Likewise, the hybrid’s e-AWD improves over the previous system. Its new independent rear motor operates proactively to maintain traction even before front-tire slippage is detected.

At the top of the model line, the RAV4 Prime PHEV (plug-in hybrid) is both the performance and efficiency leader. Available in SE and XSE trim levels with standard e-AWD, the RAV4 Prime has an EPA-estimated 94 MPGe rating. And it has an all-electric driving range of 42 miles on a single charge. When driven in hybrid mode, the RAV4 Prime powertrain can generate a combined 302 hp and is capable of 0-60 mph in 5.7 seconds. That acceleration makes it the second quickest Toyota in the lineup behind Supra.

The 18-inch tire and wheel of a RAV4

The RAV4 received a few new wheel colors and designs. All RAV4 models have standard aluminum wheels and 17- or 18-inch tires.

What’s New for 2022?

For 2022, the RAV4 will be available in a new SE Hybrid grade, and all RAV4 trim levels have been given some exterior and interior updates.

The 2022 RAV4 SE Hybrid model pares back some of the features built into the topline SLE model. For example, the SE Hybrid will be offered in a monotone paint scheme, fabric-trimmed seats, a six-speaker audio system, and a 7-inch touch screen.

Available options for the SE Hybrid include the weather package, which adds a heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated front seats, and rain-sensing windshield wipers with a de-icer function.

The convenience package includes a moonroof, height-adjustable power liftgate, and Audio Plus with a 9-inch touchscreen.

Super sleek headlights on the topline RAV4

RAV4 headlights were updated for style and capability. And the XSE Hybrid gets the super sleek vertical lights that debuted on the XSE Prime in 2021.

Exterior Updates

Calvary Blue with a black roof (shown in the exterior photos) is a new paint-scheme choice for select RAV4 models, including the new SE Hybrid and TRD Off-Road.

There are a few new wheel colors and designs, and the headlights were updated for style and capability. New LED fog lamps are optional for XLE Premium, Limited, Adventure, and TRD Off-Road.

The XSE Hybrid also gets sleek vertical lights that debuted on the XSE Prime in 2021.

Interior updates are also found across the model line:

• All models now have a locking glove box and LED interior lights;

• XLE and above get illuminated interior switches;

• Limited grade gets an eight-way power passenger seat.

The RAV4 back seat

Back-seat legroom is midsize for a compact SUV at 37.8 inches.

RAV4 Pricing

The 2022 RAV4 Hybrid goes on this December. Toyota will release pricing and more details on the 2022 RAV4 in mid-December.

For comparison, the 2021 RAV4 Hybrid is sold with standard all-wheel drive in trim levels of LE, XLE, XLE Premium, XSE Premium, and Limited. Starting MSRPs range from $28,800 to $37,330, not including the $995 freight charge from Georgetown, Ky.

Pricing for the RAV4 Prime PHEV, sold in trims of SE and XSE, has starting prices of $38,250 and $41,575.

The price-step between 2021 RAV4 Hybrid models is about $2,000. If carried through for the 2022 RAV4 SE Hybrid, its starting price could be close to $26,800.

Check current Toyota-model pricing and incentives here.

A rear view of the 2022 RAV4

Calvary Blue with a black roof is a new paint-scheme choice for select RAV4 models, including the new SE Hybrid and TRD Off-Road.

2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Specifications

Body style: compact, 5-seat, 5-door small SUV with e-AWD

Engine: 176-hp, 2.5-liter direct-injected Dynamic Force 4-cylinder with 16-valves, dual overhead camshafts, intelligent variable valve timing by an electric motor on the intake and exhaust camshafts

Electric motor: Permanent magnet synchronous

Combined power: 219-hp

Battery pack: Lithium-ion with 244.8-volts and a maximum of 650V

Transmission: electronically controlled CVT with sequential shift mode and electronic on-demand AWD

Fuel economy: 41/38/40 mpg city/hwy/combined on the recommended 87 octane;

Braking: Power-assisted, 12-inch front ventilated discs; solid 11.1-inch rear discs; electronic parking brake

Max towing capacity: 1,750 lbs.

BY THE NUMBERS

Fuel tank: 14.5 gallons

Cargo space: 37.6 to 69.8 cu. ft.

Front head/leg room: 37.7*/41 in. *with moonroof

Rear head/leg room: 39.5/37.8 in.

Length/wheelbase: 180.9/105.9 in.

Curb weights: 3,690 to 3,780 lbs.

Turning circle: 36.1 ft.

Where assembled: Georgetown, Ky.

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Toyota GR Supra 2.0 Review

The turbocharged, four-cylinder 2021 Toyota GR Supra 2.0 is a genuine sports car with a German pedigree, high-quality engineering, and robust construction

The exterior view of a Nitro Yellow GR Supra

The turbocharged, four-cylinder Toyota GR Supra 2.0 is new for 2021. Pricing starts at $44,215. (Photography courtesy of Toyota)

Table of Contents

Supra History
GR Supra Sport Top
What’s New for 2021-22?
Pricing
GR Supra A91-CF Edition
GR Supra GT4 Race Car
GR Supra 2.0 Performance
Ride and Handling
Interior Function
Why Buy the Toyota GR Supra 2.0?
Specifications

BY MARK MAYNARD

The return of the fifth-generation 2020 Toyota Supra was an act of blasphemy some enthusiasts shouted. The objection was the joint venture between BMW and Toyota. It was an arranged marriage for the diverse qualities of future development and shared costs.

BMW would benefit from Toyota’s long-term work on alternative-fuel propulsion systems, including a fuel cell. Toyota would reap the rewards of the German carmaker’s expertise in lightweight technologies. And the face of the deal would be represented by the joint development of a sports “vehicle,” which became the 2020 GR Supra.

The howls of discontent were heard before most enthusiasts even sat in the reborn Japanese two-seater.

Joint ventures are becoming common in the auto industry. For example, Toyota also partners with Subaru for its BRZ and Toyota GR86. And there also is the Mazda MX-5 Miata and Fiat 124 Spider.

It is a matter of cost-sharing, but is the BMW-Toyota arrangement a collaboration or a compromise?

The front-seat view from inside the GR Supra

Eight-way manually adjusted seats save weight in the GR Supra 2.0.

Toyota Supra History

The fifth generation of the brought-back Supra nameplate dates to the lineup from 1978 to 2002. But Toyota also credits the 1967 2000GT with its double-bubble roof and inline six-cylinder engine, two hallmarks applied to the 2020 Supra.

While the first four generations of Supra shared a foundation with Toyota’s sporty Celica,

 

 

 

 

the current model shares a foundation with the BMW Z4. For now, BMW keeps the Z4 convertible and Toyota builds a hardtop version with performance engineering from its Gazoo Racing team (GR).

The Z4 is an excellent beginning for a two-seat, rear-wheel-drive sports car. Toyota’s follow-through for the hardtop design provides an ideal 50:50 weight balance. Engineering calibrations for the engine, suspension, and exhaust provide excellent road adhesion. Ride quality has steely determination without battering the occupants.

Automotive News reports that the Toyota GR Supra is due for a “freshening” in 2023.

black Alcantara and leather-trimmed upholstery

Black Alcantara and leather-trimmed upholstery

GR Supra Sport Top

Perhaps the 2023 “freshening” could bring a convertible GR Supra?

Toyota showed the GR Supra Sport Top at this year’s Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA). The roof design has two composite panels that were 3D printed. And the roof panels are contoured to the body lines and the design retains the windshield header.

To maintain structural integrity, the roof’s outer body structures were reinforced. And there is added reinforcement under the engine bay and rearward.

The SEMA  show will run from Nov. 2-5 in the Las Vegas Convention Center.

The GR Supra Sport Top concept for a convertible model

The GR Supra Sport Top concept.

What’s New for 2021-22?

A year after its world debut, Toyota has grown the GR Supra family at both ends: an entry-level turbocharged four-cylinder model and a high-performance halo model.

For the first time in the U.S., Toyota has been able to add the 255-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, formerly only available in the BMW Z4.

At the top end is the shut-up sauce for GR Supra complainers: the GR Supra A91-CF (Carbon Fiber) Edition, $64,305. This 2022 model includes a carbon fiber aerodynamics kit, 382-hp 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine, and a one-year membership to the National Auto Sport Association with high-performance driving instruction.

Limited to just 600 vehicles, the GR Supra A91-CF is well equipped with just one factory option for the Driver Assist Package, $1,195.

And in between the price range are two six-cylinder models. This year the GR Supra 3.0 and 3.0 Premium were granted horsepower to match the 382-hp in the Z4 M40i. Previously, the six-cylinder models were throttled back to 335 horsepower from 5,000-6,500 rpm with peak torque of 365 foot-pounds at 1,600 rpm. Now, peak horsepower ranges from 5,800-6,500 rpm and peak torque is 368 lb.-ft. from 1,800-5,000 rpm.

A rear angle view of the 2021 Supra

The “S” in the Supra logo was inspired by the Nürburgring “S” curve.

GR Supra Pricing

The fifth-generation 2021 GR (Gazoo Racing) Supra is offered in two turbocharged powertrains: a 255-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder or 382-hp, 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder. Both versions have an eight-speed ZF-8 automatic transmission with paddle shifters.

Current GR Supra pricing ranges from $44,215 for the entry 2.0-liter to $64,305 for the A91-CF Edition. Pricing includes the $1,025 freight charge from Graz, Austria. The Supra is built at the Magna Steyr plant, which also builds the BMW Z4 among other specialty vehicles.

Today’s GR Supra 2.0 tester was $47,845, including a carpeted cargo mat for $80, wheel locks for $65, and the Safety & Technology Package for $3,485. (Package details are in the specifications chart at the end of this review.)

BMW sells just two versions of the Z4 roadster. The Z4 sDrive30i with the 2.0 turbo four-cylinder starts at $50,895. And the Z4 M40i, with 382-hp 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder starts at $64,695. (But Toyota includes more standard equipment for the GR Supra.)

Check current Toyota GR Supra pricing and incentives here.

The double-bubble roof

The double-bubble roof design bumps headroom to 38.3 inches.

Toyota GR Supra A91-CF Edition

Limited to just 600 cars, the GR Supra A91-CF Edition is the most exclusive Mark V Supra to date, Toyota says, and it’s only for North America.

The 2022 GR Supra A91-CF features a carbon fiber front splitter and larger canards (winglet-like add-ons). In addition, carbon fiber side rockers define the lower edge along the sides. And around the back, there is more carbon fiber in the duckbill spoiler and lower canards.

This aero kit isn’t just for looks, Toyota says. The design improves downforce and stability, whether scooting through the daily commute or hot-lapping the autocross.

Other special features include matte-black textured 19-inch wheels — chosen to set off the optional new paint color of matte-gray Phantom. Absolute Zero White and Nitro Yellow are the other color choices for the GR Supra A91-CF.

GR Supra A91 A91-CF Edition has a red-and-black interior theme throughout its Alcantara-and-leather-trimmed cabin. Details include red stitching on the 14-way power-adjustable and heated sport seats, carbon-fiber interior trim, a leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel, and sport pedals.

A range of standard intelligent safety features includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection and lane departure warning with steering assist.

And every new owner is given a one-year membership to the National Auto Sport Association with high-performance driving instruction.

The Limited to just 600 cars, the GR Supra A91-CF Edition is the most exclusive Mark V Supra to date and only for North America.

Limited to just 600 cars, the GR Supra A91-CF Edition is the most exclusive Mark V Supra to date and only for North America.

The 430-hp GR Supra GT4

There also is a race-prepped GR Supra GT4 for customer teams. It is based on the six-cylinder GR Supra and is developed and produced by Toyota Motorsport GmbH.

The GR Supra GT4 is powered by a 430-hp variant of the 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine with a single twin-scroll turbocharger. A seven-speed sports automatic transmission has paddle shifters and a mechanical limited-slip differential. An Akrapovič exhaust system is standard, and Ravenol provides first-fill lubricants.

The front splitter and rear wing are made of natural fiber composite, contributing to an overall weight of 2,976 pounds, which is 424 pounds less than a stock GR Supra 3.0. As is used for the GR Supra road car, the front suspension has MacPherson struts, and the rear multilink suspension uses KW dampers at the front and rear.

An enhanced braking system uses six-piston front calipers and four-piston rear, with tires by Pirelli.

Safety features include a high-strength roll cage on the lightweight steel body and an FIA-standard racing seat with a six-point harness.

The interior has a carbon-fiber instrument panel with a display and a steering wheel designed for GT4 competition.

Pricing starts at around $200,000. Contact TRD at trdusa.gt4@toyota.com  to get more information on the GR Supra GT4.

The GR Supra GT4 race car.

The GR Supra GT4 is powered by a 430-hp, 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder engine.

GR Supra 2.0 Performance

At 3,181 pounds, the Supra 2.0 is more than 200 pounds lighter than the six-cylinder Supra 3.0. And that weight difference significantly changes the driving attitude of the car, in a positive way. The six-cylinder models are ate-up with power, which sometimes blows past the pleasure of feeling a German-engineered suspension make its graceful transitions.

With less weight over the front end, the Supra 2.0 feels nimble and quick. Throttle uptake is immediate without time lost to turbo spooling. And the engine tone and exhaust note are genuine for a performance car. There is not the high-speed drone of artificially generated engine “sound” that switches on and off.

In standard performance mode, the eight-speed automatic rolls through gears giving eager support to the driver. In Sport mode, the transmission has mind-reading precision, holding shifts for maximum enjoyment and giving heady downshifts.

Various sources cite 0-60 mph acceleration in 4.7 seconds for the GR Supra 2.0. And that compares to 4.4 seconds to reach 60 mph in the Supra 3.0 models. If valid, that 0.3 advantage for the 3.0 models comes at a cost difference of $8,350.

Fuel economy ratings are 25 mpg city, 32 highway and 28 mpg combined on the recommended premium fuel. (Those ratings compare to the six-cylinder model at 22/30/25 mpg.) My driving with liberal use of Sport mode worked up to 27.5 mpg, but I was focused more on fun than fuel economy.

Supra taillights

Rear combination lamps feature the turn, tail, and stop functions integrated into a ring shape.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ride and Handling

The GR Supra is surprisingly uncomplicated to enjoy. It is an excuse to take the long way to work or to head out for weekend exploring. But it would not be my choice for a long road trip. It has a tight cockpit and the outside noise can be wearisome. However, the sport seats would remain comfortable for the range of the 13.7-gallon fuel tank.

After a few miles behind the wheel, the driver will warm up to the balance of the GR Supra 2.0. It is a rewarding engineering asset. The articulation of the suspension is a delicious experience as it stealthily makes weight transitions. Both powertrains have the same four-wheel-independent suspension with front MacPherson struts and a five-link rear setup. Stabilizer bars are the same gauge all around: 23.5 mm front and 18 mm rear.

Brush the brake pedal when barreling into a corner and the transmission flashes a downshift. Press harder on the pedal and downshifts fire off sequentially.

It is an active and engaging experience for the driver who will quickly forgive and forget that no manual gearbox is offered.

The electric power steering is keenly calibrated for an organic feel and smooth roll of the steering wheel. It takes just a twitch of the wheel to make a lane change, which brings yet another smile.

Despite the low front end, careful steering can avoid the occasional grind (and wince) of chin scraping.

Tires and Brakes

All Supra models get Michelin Pilot Super Sport staggered-size, ultra-high-performance tires. The Supra 2.0 has 18-inch alloy wheels with 255/40 front and 275/40 rear tires. And the Supra 3.0 has 19-inch forged aluminum wheels and slightly wider tires of 255/35 front and 275/35 rear.

Braking is by a matched set of 13-inch vented discs front and rear with a single-piston aluminum floating caliper. Six-cylinder models get 13.7-inch ventilated front discs with a four-piston fixed Brembo caliper; rear ventilated discs are 13.6 or 13 inches, depending on which model.

A tire and wheel on the Supra 3.0

Braking is by 13-inch vented discs front and rear. Six-cylinder models get 13.7-inch vented front discs and a four-piston Brembo caliper.

Interior Function

For such a high-performing car, it is accommodating as a daily driver. The shrink-wrapped body with a double-bubble roof allows headroom of 38.3 inches. With 42.2 inches of legroom and the eight-way manually adjusted seats, there should be room for those 6-feet-plus, but maybe not while wearing a helmet.

The seat-belt anchors are low and can be a struggle to click into position, competing for space with the bolstered seatback. Those of large girth will grumble about the extra effort to secure the belt, but the low anchor position actually improves the safety response.

Standard safety features include eight air bags, a precollision system with pedestrian alert and lane-departure warning with steering assist. Other safety elements are in the specs chart at the end of the story.

A door panel in the Supra

Interior assembly and materials are worthy of a $50,000 sports car.

Entry and Exit

The car is low with a wide sill that creates a duck-and-drop entry exercise. And those coupe doors are about 54 inches long, which is not an asset for access in tight parking situations. Finally, because the point of the spear is about 9 feet from the driver’s seat, I wished for a front camera (as in the Corvette) — in addition to the front and rear parking tones (with braking).

Sightlines out the front are good but compact out the small rear glass. Over-the-shoulder glances are blocked and damning at night. The rearview camera is small but helpful.

Cabin design is smartly organized with several areas for small-item storage, including a lockable glove box. The shift console is somewhat unique for its knee-bolstering brace on the driver’s right, and the left side is an open sweep that creates a sense of involvement for the passenger.

A bold and uncluttered gauge array has a dominant dial for RPMs and a digital speedo.

The 10.2 cubic feet of trunk space is adequate for weekend-getaway luggage.

Why Buy the Toyota GR Supra?

When you give an enthusiast a choice of more power or less, most will choose “more.” But the GR Supra 2.0 is not a cheapened model for a more appealing advertising price point.

The GR Supra 2.0 is a genuine sports car with a German pedigree, high-quality engineering, and robust construction.

Working with BMW is a blue-chip opportunity. The Z4 is a Thoroughbred in critical areas where some brands cheap out.

Toyota took the opportunity and built a family of GR Supras. The compromise might be for BMW, which has just the two Z4 roadster models.

Sales on average for the BMW Z4 convertible run about 280 a month, or 833 for the third quarter ending in September.

Supra sales in September were 436 (but down from 489 in Sept. 2020). But year to date Supra sales were 5,825 vs. 3,798 for 2020.

Maybe BMW will see Toyota’s positive business plan and be granted a hardtop Z4.

A yellow supra cornering on a racetrack

Automotive News reports that the Toyota GR Supra is due for a “freshening” in 2023.

Toyota Supra GR 2.0 Specifications

Body style: subcompact, rear-wheel-drive, 2-seat sports car

Engine: 255-hp, twin-scroll turbocharged direct-injected 2.0-liter, inline 4-cylinder; 295 lb.-ft. from 1,550-4,400 rpm

Transmission: 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters and launch control; active rear differential

0-60 mph: 4.7 seconds, Car and Driver magazine

Fuel economy: 25/32/28 mpg city/hwy/combined; premium fuel recommended

BY THE NUMBERS

Fuel tank: 13.7 gallons

Trunk space: 10.2 cubic feet

Head/leg room: 38.3/42.2 in.

Length/wheelbase: 172.5/97.2 in.

Curb weight: 3,181 lbs.

Turning circle: 34.1 ft.

FEATURES

Standard equipment includes: Smart key entry with push-button ignition, electric parking brake, rearview camera with guidance lines, 8.8-inch full digital gauge cluster, 8-way manual seats with 4-way lumbar, black Alcantara with leather sport seats, carbon-fiber interior trim, leather-wrapped 3-spoke steering wheel with paddle shifters, lined and locking glove box, 12-volt charging socket and 1.5-amp USB port, 4 speaker audio system with an 8.8-inch display screen with Supra Command and USB/Bluetooth connectivity

Exterior: 18-inch alloy wheels with Michelin Pilot Super Sport staggered size ultra-high-performance tires (255/40 front and 275/40 rear), gloss-black auto-folding heated side mirrors, LED front turn signal indicator and daytime running lights, 6-lens auto-leveling LED headlights (3 low beam, 3 high beam), LED tail lights and brake lights, aerodynamic underbody panel, dual rear exhaust outlets with polished stainless-steel tips

Safety features include: 8 air bags, precollision system with pedestrian alert, lane-departure warning with steering assist, auto high-beam headlight dimming, hill-start assist, brake assist, stability and traction controls

PRICING

Base price: $44,215, including $1,025 freight charge; price as tested $47,845

Options on test vehicle: Carpeted cargo mat $80 and wheel locks $65;

Safety & Technology Package, $3,485, include: Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (full speed), blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, parking sensors with emergency braking function;

Technologies included in the package: 8.8-inch touchscreen navigation, 12 Speaker 500-watt JBL audio system with amplifier, touchpad rotary controller, wireless Apple CarPlay compatible (iOS only), speed limit information;

Supra Connected Services with up to 4-year trial: Included are remote services, remote maintenance, automatic emergency call, real-time traffic information, concierge, stolen vehicle recovery, map updates

Where assembled: Graz, Austria

Warranties: 3 years/36,000 miles bumper to bumper; 5 years/60,000 miles powertrain; ToyotaCare complimentary maintenance for 2 years/25,000-miles, includes all standard factory scheduled service and 24/7 roadside assistance

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2021 Toyota Venza Hybrid Crossover

The Toyota Venza Hybrid is a new urban crossover that focuses on technology, intuitive performance, and design

An exterior view of the 2021 Toyota Venza

The all-wheel-drive Toyota Venza has starting prices of $33,745 to $41,075. (Toyota)

Table of Contents

Overview
Pricing
Warranties
Safety Features
Interior
Performance
Ride and Handling
Why buy the Toyota Venza?
Specifications

BY MARK MAYNARD

On several levels, the new Toyota Venza hybrid is next-level transportation. Its advanced technologies are formidable but presented as a buffet to pick and choose, not to force-feed the user. It has user functionality for the electronically sophisticated or a first-time user.

Venza is a very targeted vehicle in the popular sweet spot of midsize, five-seat crossover SUVs. Venza is more of an urban crossover that focuses on technology, intuitive performance and sophisticated design, Toyota says. The two-row Venza is positioned between the RAV4 and Highlander, which are considered more adventurous crossovers.

The Toyota Venza has an electrochromic

The electrochromic glass roof can switch views from transparent to frosted. (Toyota)

Brought-back nameplate

The nameplate was brought back from a prior Toyota Venza that was sold in the U.S. from 2008-2015. The new 2021 Venza for North America shares a foundation with the Japanese-market Harrier crossover SUV. But the Venza is most comparable to the RAV4 Hybrid, with which it shares the majority of hybrid hardware.

Projector LED headlights on the Venza Limited.

Projector LED headlights on the Venza Limited. (Toyota)

2021 Toyota Venza Overview

For the U.S. the Venza is a hybrid-only model with standard on-demand all-wheel drive. The electronically smart system uses a separate rear-mounted electric motor to power the rear wheels when needed. The driver does nothing to engage the system, it’s all done through a multitude of sensors.

The gasoline-electric powertrain is comprised of a 2.5-liter direct-injection four-cylinder gas engine, three electric motors, and a lithium-ion battery pack.

Venza might be compared to such five-seat competition as the Ford Edge or Nissan Murano. But as an all-wheel-drive hybrid, it is in a class of its own. And with its high-quality interior materials, it is more of a premium choice than the Ford or Nissan.

Compared to the RAV4 hybrid, the Venza is 5.7 inches longer with a 1.3-inch lower roofline. And it is heavier by 133 pounds, which cuts about 1 mpg from fuel-economy ratings.

2021 Toyota Venza Pricing

Venza is sold in three all-wheel-drive trim levels. Starting prices range from $33,745 for the entry LE to $37,275 for the XLE and $41,075 for the Limited. Pricing includes the $1,175 freight charge from Aichi, Japan.

Today’s Limited tester was $43,200 with the Star Gaze panoramic roof ($1,400) and Advance Technology package ($725). The tech package includes a head-up windshield display with speed and hybrid-system indicators.

The expansive electrochromic Star Gaze roof is a unique luxury feature in this mainstream segment. The driver can switch the glass from a transparent view to frosted. Back seat passengers will appreciate the softer light and reduced glare of direct sunlight. But is a pricey courtesy that I’d like better for $400.

The Limited is well equipped with such features as smart-key locking and push-button ignition, Softex-trimmed upholstery, a rearview camera with guidance lines, and a bird’s-eye view with perimeter scan. There’s even a rear camera lens washer.

Interior features include heated and ventilated front seats and heated steering wheel, digital rearview camera mirror, nine-speaker JBL premium audio, and a 12.3-inch touch screen and touch-capacitive controls. The dynamic navigation system features an enhanced 2D landmark display that shows lane guidance and freeway exit displays.

Connectivity features include Bluetooth phone and music, Apple CarPlay (with Siri), Android Auto (with Google Assistant), and Amazon Alexa.

Find lease and purchase pricing incentives here.

The capacitive touch screen in the Venza

The capacitive-touch controls for heat-fan-temp are logically grouped,  but it takes eyes from the road to make adjustments. (Toyota)

2021 Toyota Venza Warranties

Standard warranty coverage for Venza is 3 years or 36,000 miles bumper to bumper. It includes 2 years or 25,000 miles of factory scheduled maintenance with 24-hour roadside assistance. The powertrain is covered for 5 years or 60,000 miles.

Hybrid warranty coverage includes 10 years or 150,000 miles for the battery and 8 years or 100,000 miles for the hybrid system.

2021 Toyota Venza Performance

Venza’s gasoline-electric powertrain combines a 2.5-liter direct-injected four-cylinder engine with three electric motors. Two motors are at the front wheels and one at the rear for AWD.

The gas engine has 176 horsepower, which rises to an overall total of 219-hp with the 88-kW (118-hp) permanent-magnet synchronous motors. A rear 40 kW (54 hp) motor powers the AWD. The lithium-ion battery pack totals 252 volts among 70 cells at 3.6-volts per cell for 650 volts maximum.

The continuously variable transmission (eCVT) has a sequential shift mode and selectable driving modes of normal, eco, and sport. An EV mode allows electric-only driving at low speeds for short distances. There’s also a “downshift” feature to boost regenerative braking.

The regen-braking and EV modes will be engaging to some, but I did not feel the need.

The fuel economy ratings seem achievable at 40 mpg city, 37 highway, and 39 mpg combined, on 87 octane fuel. (That compares to the RAV’s 41/38/40 mpg.)

Setting cruise control at 68 mph, I quickly worked up to 38.4 mpg combined on highway runs. My around-town mileage was consistent at 32-35 mpg in my test week of 232 miles. When finished, the computer indicated 312 miles to empty. With the 14.5-gallon tank, a long-distance commuter could expect well over 500 miles to a fill-up.

The hybrid engine system in the Venza

Total system power is 219-hp with the gas engine and electric motors. (Toyota) 

Reading the road

Among Venza’s advanced technologies is the driver-selectable Predictive Efficient Drive. It uses the navigation system to analyze driving habits and memorize road and traffic conditions to help optimize hybrid battery charging. The PED system learns repeating routes and can predict when and where the vehicle is likely to slow down or stop. Through so-called “optimum accelerator pedal release timing guidance” the system can help reduce fuel and battery consumption.

PED can also help optimize battery charging and discharge ahead of hills or traffic congestion. When approaching a downhill section, for example, the system is designed to apply more engine braking to boost the charge going to the hybrid battery.

Venza’s driver-assist systems

The standard Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 allows Level 2 semi-autonomous driving. The system integrates all-speed dynamic radar cruise control and lane change assist, front cross-traffic alert, and pedestrian alert.

Always keep both hands on the wheel while using the semi-autonomous features.

The system capably keeps the car centered in the lane, but like most systems, it will randomly shut off. That might be due to variable light and road-surface conditions. This type of safety system will be beneficial for those drivers who have daily commutes in heavy traffic. The sensors are an extra six eyes on the road to watch for less-attentive drivers.

The safety system includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane tracing assist, lane departure alert with steering assist, road sign assist, full-speed dynamic radar cruise control, and intelligent high beams.

2021 Toyota Venza Safety features

Venza’s safety designs earn top stars from two testing agencies. The National Highway Safety Administration ranked it five stars overall, with five as the top rating. In frontal collisions, the Venza earned four stars for driver-side protection and five stars for the front passenger. It aced the overall side crash category with five stars each in side barrier and pole tests, front and rear seats. And four stars for rollover risk.

The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety gave it a Top Safety Pick for the XLE and Limited models with the LED projector headlights and high-beam assist.

Contributing to its high rankings is Toyota Safety Sense (TSS 2.0) active safety systems. Other standard safety features on all trim levels are eight air bags, stability and traction controls, brake-force distribution, brake assist, blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert.

Ride and Handling

The Venza might be considered a citified version of the RAV4 Hybrid, but I found it to be very different. The exterior styling is urban-attractive with the look of an electrified vehicle.

It is very quiet rolling over most highway surfaces even with the 19-inch Bridgestone Ecopia tires. These “green” tires have a fairly hard treadwear rating of 600, but that also translates to warranty coverage of 70,000 miles.

Braking is absolute with vented 12-inch front discs and 11.1-inch solid rear. It will take time for the driver to adjust to brake-pedal pressure. Stepping on the pedal can feel like an on-off switch as it passes through the inch or so of regen-gap to the actual grip of braking.

At 3,913 pounds, the Limited can feel weighty on lumpy road surfaces as the independent suspension works to control the heaves of imbalance. The ride quality is robust and secure, yet soft and comfortable. It’s more about easy driving than getting happy on a twisty road, but I’m sure that’s OK for this buyer.

2021 Toyota Venza Interior

Because Venza is an “electrified” platform, it needs some underfloor capacity for battery storage. The result is a high-riding vehicle but without tall interior space, which feels low and wide.

Aerodynamics are maximized by its sleek exterior design and sloping roof. Front headroom for some might be a bit low at 38.1 inches with the Star Gaze roof, or 38.6 inches without. The front legroom of 40.9 inches is competitive but potentially limiting to the big-and-tall set.

The Limited’s interior is well dressed in soft-touch materials. There is neat stitching and the plastics throughout have a quality appearance top to bottom.

A door panel in the Venza shows quality materials and assembly

The Limited’s interior is well dressed. (Toyota)

All models have an eight-way power driver seat (with seat cushion tilt). The front passenger has just four-way adjustment, but it should really be six-way, with height adjustment.

The power driver’s seat smartly includes an auto slide-away function, which automatically moves to the rearmost position. It will be a valued asset to drivers of all sizes. The rake of the windshield and roofline creates the potential for a duck-and-enter sequence.

There is a command-center design to the driver area, but it’s not all that efficient for small-item storage. The shift console is largely consumed by the shifter, but a row of shift buttons would allow more space for a place to lay a phone.

There is a charging e-bin just ahead of the shifter with a pair of USBs, an audio aux-in, and a wireless charging pad. But space might be slim for those with big hands.

The capacitive-touch controls for heat-fan-temp are logically grouped on a tier just above the shifter, but it takes eyes from the road to stab at raising the temp or adjusting the fan speed. Lower-trim models have a simpler pair of large dials for temp control and a tier of hard buttons for fan speed and vent flow.

Digital mirror

The Limited also has a digital rearview mirror, which is intended to improve visibility behind the vehicle. It can be handy when passengers’ heads or stacked cargo gets in the way of rearward views. But because I wear glasses, my eyes struggle to focus quickly enough when I glance at the mirror, so I just flip it to manual mode.

Driver sightlines are generally open. There is a small corner glass at the windshield pillars for a snip of cornering view. Over-the-shoulder views are slightly crimped by the tapering rear side glass and the front seat’s broad upper shoulder bolsters also complicate peripheral views. But the wide bird’s-eye view camera system gives an around-view and a perimeter scan for fully functional parking.

The turning circle is tighter than many midsize sedans, at 37.4 feet with 19-inch tires or 36.1 ft. with 18s.

Back seats and cargo area

The rear headroom isn’t bad at 36.9 inches or 38.1 without the pano roof. But it would help rear entry if the doors were engineered to open a few degrees wider or for easier access when buckling a child into a car seat.

Legroom of 37.8 inches is more than generous, but with long-legs in front the space seems almost cramped. A lowish exhaust tunnel benefits (occasional) three-across seating. But all passengers will enjoy the big pano roof and its light-switching mode.

The lithium-ion battery pack is small enough to be installed under the rear seats, so it does not take up any cargo or passenger space.

Cargo space is tight for a midsize SUV at 28.7 cubic feet behind the back seat. The roofline is low at 28 inches from floor to ceiling and the lift-up to the floor is tall at 32 ½ inches. The entry opening is wide at 39 inches. Fold the 60/40 back seat for 6 feet of long-item length.

There is some deep basement storage (where the standard tonneau cover can be stored) and there is an actual alloy wheel for the temporary spare.

The back seat in the Toyota Venza

Back seat legroom of 38.3 inches is generous unless someone tall is seated ahead.

Why buy the Toyota Venza?

Carmakers can lead the public to fuel-saving vehicles, but the purchase rate is wildly variable. Toyota has been masterful at giving that cup of cold water rather than dumping a bucket of technology over the heads of buyers.

The Venza brings the number of 2021 Toyota hybrids to 10 – and the fuel-cell-powered Mirai makes it 11 electrified vehicles.

There is remarkable simplicity for the highly electrified Venza. Use as much or as little as you wish, while enjoying its forefront styling and upscale interior. It can be driven as “just a car” and still earn more than 35 mpg.

2021 Toyota Venza Hybrid Limited  Specifications

Body style: midsize, 5-seat crossover SUV with on-demand all-wheel drive

Engine: 189-hp, direct-injection 2.5-liter 4-cylinder; 163 lb.-ft. torque at 5,200 rpm

Electric motors: 2 88-kW 118-hp, permanent-magnet synchronous front; 40 kW rear

Hybrid battery pack: Lithium ion; 252 volts; 70 cells; 3.6-volts per cell; 650 volts maximum

Combined net power: 219-hp

Transmission: eCVT with sequential shift mode

Fuel economy: 40/37/39 mpg city/hwy/combined; 87 octane

Base price: $41,075, including $1,175 freight charge; price as tested $43,200

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2021 Toyota Sienna XSE Review

The 2021 Toyota Sienna is a complete redesign and exclusively powered as a gasoline-electric hybrid

2021 Toyota Sienna XSE exterior.

The sport-themed 2021 Toyota Sienna XSE adds dark 20-inch split five-spoke wheels, more aggressive front and rear bumpers and a black headliner. (Photography by Toyota)

 

BY MARK MAYNARD

You can fit just about anything in a minivan — except an ego. These three-row people movers are the most efficient modes of transportation, yet ownership has been traumatized ever since the damning label of “Soccer Mom Mobile” was applied. It nearly killed the segment. Mention of the word brings polarized responses, like “hell-no never” to “make way for the welcome wagon.”

To spackle over the crazed aversion, manufacturers have long tried to offer sporty variants, which were usually received with a shrug and “Meh.” Anybody who wanted a van, didn’t need it to be cladded-up and those who didn’t want a van would not be tempted by cosmetic enhancements.

A side view of the new Sienna minivan

The 17-foot-long Sienna drives “small” with a high seating position.

So those carmakers with struggling minivans sales dumped them, including Ford and GM. Today, there are just four 2021 minivan choices: the Chrysler Pacifica, Honda Odyssey, Kia Sedona (soon to be replaced by the Carnival), and today’s tester, the Toyota Sienna.

Toyota’s sculpted redesign of its 2021 Sienna makes for a more credible sporty variant in the new XSE model. Whether for minivan-hating parents or their children, the Sienna is a big toy box of possibilities, and now a greener choice.

Front seats in the Sienna minivan.

The shifter and necessary functions are all within easy reach.

2021 Toyota Sienna Pricing

The first Sienna went on sale in the United States as a 1998 model and is now in its fourth generation. It has been designed, engineered, and assembled in the U.S. since it debuted.

The 2021 Toyota Sienna is a complete redesign and exclusively powered as a gasoline-electric hybrid, with optional all-wheel drive and seating for seven or eight.

A view of the Sienna's rear end

Toyota applied a few styling tricks to tone down the traditional minivan styling.

The Sienna is sold in five trim levels of LE, XLE, XSE, Limited, and Platinum. Starting prices range from $35,635 for the eight-seat, front-drive LE to $51,710 for the seven-seat Platinum AWD. Pricing includes the $1,175 freight charge from Princeton, Ind.

Some Sienna XLE models and the XSE, Limited, and Platinum are seven-seat models and feature the super-long-slide second-row captain’s chairs, and the Limited and Platinum FWD models have ottomans.

Electronic on-demand AWD is just a $760 option.

The XSE Plus package ($1,000) adds wireless phone charging, black roof rails, 12-speaker JBL audio, 9-inch touch screen, and dynamic navigation with a 3-year trial and connected services.

Pricing incentives for APR, cash, and lease.

2021 Toyota Sienna front seat features with the under-console storage area.

The broad span of the instrument panel has a step-down shelf.

Warranty Coverage

Hybrid-related components that require repairs to correct defects in materials or workmanship are covered for 8 years or 100,000 miles from the original date of first use when sold as new. The hybrid battery is covered for 10-years/150,000-miles and is transferrable across ownership.

The new-vehicle warranty includes 3-years/36,000-miles bumper to bumper; 5-years/60,000-miles powertrain; and 2-years/25,000-miles ToyotaCare, free factory scheduled services, and 24/7 roadside assistance.

Super long slide second-row seats.

Super-long-slide second-row captain’s chairs.

Styling

Here’s how Toyota tried to take the minivan out of the styling:

•A speedy pillar at the rear cabin is dynamically angled forward;
•Thin bands of LED lighting at the taillight flow from the body to the rear to create a signature impression;
•Integrated black taillight canard looks cool but also improves aerodynamics;
•Sculpted tailgate with an integrated spoiler is made possible by a molded resin process.

The minivan's gearshift console.

The shift console is cleverly integrates storage and cup holders. 

Ride and Handling

No tachometer, no wedgie-inducing front seats, no problem.

As a father now graduated from child-rearing years, I always liked testing minivans, and not just because my two charges ran to do homework in the van.

It’s the view from the inside out that mattered — not that I might be judged a “soccer dad,” though my step-daughter was a brutally effective club soccer player.

Ride quality in the XSE is slightly sport-tuned but never harsh or pitchy. There is good driver connectivity between the steering input, braking response, and acceleration.

Second-row captain's chairs.

The storage areas are a vertical ecosystem of tiers, trays, and cubbies.

20-inch Tires and Wheels

The front-drive XSE has 20-inch Michelin Primacy all-season tires, P235/50; AWD models get 18-inch tires, P235/60. Its exterior appearance is somewhat sportified by dark 20-inch split five-spoke wheels and aggressive front and rear bumpers.

Despite the Sienna’s 17-foot-length, it drives “small” with a high seating position, low step-in height, and big windows, with privacy glass behind the front row. Driver sightlines are open across the hood and over the shoulder and the turning circle is refreshingly modest at 38.2 feet, though you’ll have to swing a little wider when steering into the parking stall.

Four-wheel disc brakes work without regen-grab common to some of Toyota’s other hybrid models. Ventilated discs front and rear are towing capable (up to 3,500 pounds) with 12.9-inch discs front, 12.5 inches rear.

The XSE has dark chrome wheels and all-season tires.

The Sienna XSE has dark 20-inch split five-spoke wheels.

Sienna Safety Features

The Toyota Safety Sense (TSS 2.0) system includes a pre-collision system with daytime and low-light vehicle and pedestrian detection, plus daytime bicyclist detection. Automatic braking is activated by PCS if the driver does not react in time in certain emergency situations. The system also can detect a vehicle ahead, a bicyclist, or a pedestrian in low light situations.

Other standard equipment on all trim levels are 10 air bags, stability, and traction controls, brake-force distribution, brake assist, blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert.

Driver-Assist Systems

The standard Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 package of technologies allows Level 2 semi-autonomous driving while keeping both hands on the wheel. Keeping the Sienna on the correct track is enhanced by all-speed dynamic radar cruise control and lane change assist, lane tracing assist, front cross-traffic alert, and pedestrian alert.

The system capably keeps the car centered in the lane, but like most systems, it will randomly shut off, sometimes due to variable light and road-surface conditions. This type of safety system will be beneficial for those drivers who have daily commutes in heavy traffic. It is an extra six eyes on the road to watch for less attentive drivers.

2021 Toyota Sienna Softex trimmed seat upholstery.

Softex-trimmed seat upholstery and heated power front seats are standard on the XSE.

Powertrain

The Sienna’s gasoline-electric hybrid system integrates a 176-horsepower, direct-injection 2.5-liter four-cylinder with two electric motors, a front-drive 134 kW (180-hp) permanent-magnet synchronous, and a 40-kW rear.

Toyota’s use of a nickel-metal hydride battery pack isn’t as technologically high-powered as a lithium-ion battery pack, but I couldn’t tell a difference, it just works. With  288-volts, the battery pack lets the Sienna roll for blocks on silent battery power at low speeds or creeping in traffic. This is the same well-tested system Toyota has used for years.

With a combined power of 245-hp, there was no lag in launch power and it will cruise comfortably at highway speeds. The electronic continuously variable transmission (eCVT) has a sequential shift mode, but I didn’t feel the need. The CVT kept the power easily controlled under my right foot.

Official fuel economy ratings are 36 mpg city, 36 highway, and 36 mpg combined for front-drive and 35/36/35 mpg AWD, using the recommended 87 octane. In a test week of 142 miles, my average fuel economy ranged from 27.5 to 29.8 mpg, and it was still building when I had to exit the freeway.

Interior Function

The entire cabin of the 2021 Toyota Sienna is well-soundproofed and quiet rolling with the Michelins.

Interior storage opportunities are a vertical ecosystem of tiers, trays, and cubbies. In all, there are seven USBs, six of them for charging, 18 cup holders, onboard Wi-Fi, and the optional Driver Easy Speak, which is essentially a built-in PA system that carries the driver’s voice through the audio system to the rear seats to the source of the disturbance.

The broad span of the instrument panel has a step-down shelf, handy for the passenger to lay a phone and the door panels have spacious bottle storage and a shallow tray. Toyota says the unique Bridge Console is key to allocating personalized space to the driver and front passenger. Positioned high between the driver and passenger, the bridge connects the instrument panel to the center armrest. Beneath the bridge is a large open area to stow out of sight larger items such as a purse or bag. But the bridge takes away the once-familiar step-through for parents to slip into the back seat for child care or discipline.

Clever Engineering

The shift console is cleverly designed to integrate storage and cup holders, of which there are four. A cutout for the two smaller cup holders nearest to the driver’s elbow is made dual purpose with a tip-back lid that leaves a 6-inch-wide by 1.24-inch slot for a phone, errand list, or note pad. One of the larger cup holders nearest the wireless charging pad and a charging USB also integrates a phone-size slot.

There is deep storage in the armrest console (12 inches to the bottom) with a pair of charging USBs. The space is handy for holding the pair of wireless headphones for the optional rear-seat entertainment system.

The Toyota Sienna's cargo area with folded third-row seats

Split & Stow third-row seats are cleverly engineered. (Mark Maynard)

Back Seats and Cargo

Kick-activated sliding doors and the back seat step-in height of 18 inches are child-reasonable. There is nearly 3 feet of NBA-class legroom provided by the super-long-slide second-row captain’s chairs, which also recline. Manual sunshades in the second row are assets as are two more charging USBs.

Power ports in the Toyota Sienna's cargo area.

The cargo area has a 1500-watt household power plug. (Mark Maynard)

And there is another pair of charging USBs in the third row, which is a Split & Stow design. It takes a hefty tug to stow or restore the seats and the flat area when the seats are stowed has no covering so dog crates or other such materials might not ride flat without bolstering.

Woodland Special Edition

Adventurers will be able to embrace their nomad lifestyle this fall with the Sienna Woodland Special Edition. Pricing has not been announced but is expected to start at around $45,000, including all-wheel drive and raised suspension.

Special features include:

•1500-watt capable power outlet (to power most household items for a day trip or an overnight camping excursion);
•Tow hitch with a 3,500-pound trailer weight;
•Roof rails with crossbars;
•Exclusive Cement paint color;
•Black sport trimmed seats with unique stitch color;
•18-inch wheels;
•Dark chrome-colored accents;
•Black badging;
•Navigation with 12-speaker JBL 1200-watt audio system.

Other standard Woodland Edition equipment includes super-long-slide second-row captain’s chairs, Split & Stow 3rd Row Seat, kick-activated sliding doors, heated front driver and passenger seats, sunshades in the second row, and seven USB ports across all three rows.

And with every sale, Toyota will make a $250 donation to the National Environmental Education Foundation. The effort will be a guaranteed minimum donation of $250,000 to support NEEF’s mission to make the environment more accessible, relatable, and connected to people’s lives.

The 2022 Toyota Sienna Woodland Edition.

The 2022 Woodland Edition features the exclusive Cement paint color.

Why Buy the 2021 Toyota Sienna?

With the substantial baggage most drivers drag along with them every day, a rational society might think that a minivan would be a top seller. But minivans are like green vegetables — we know should eat more of them, but for many, it is the sexiness of SUV fast food that wins the sale.

The Sienna is green and very inviting for an extended road trip. My average fuel economy of 28-plus-mpg was impressive, though I never transported a van full of people.

Its exterior styling is attractive and somewhat eye-catching on the road … for a minivan. But it is the inside where this minivan far exceeds any utility of an SUV or its fuel economy or ease of entry — and all that with a tow rating of 3,500 pounds.

2021 Toyota Sienna XSE FWD

Body style: Full-size 7- to 8-seat front- or AWD minivan

Engine: 176-hp, direct-injection 2.5-liter 4-cylinder; 176 lb.-ft. torque at 4,400 rpm

Electric motors: 134 kW (180 hp) permanent-magnet synchronous front; 40 kW rear

Hybrid battery pack: Nickel metal hydride; 288 volts; 40 cells, 7.2-volts per cell; 650 volts maximum

Combined net power: 245-hp

Transmission: eCVT with sequential shift mode

Fuel economy: 36/36/36 (FWD) 35/36/35 (AWD) city/hwy/combined; 87 octane

BY THE NUMBERS

Fuel tank: 18 gallons

Cargo space: 33.5-75.2 cu. ft. behind 2nd/3rd rows

Front head/leg room: 40.1/40.3 in.

2nd-row head/leg room: 39.3/39.9 in.

3rd-row head/leg room: 37.4/38.7 in.

Length/wheelbase: 204.1/120.5 in.

Curb weight: 4,675 lbs.

Turning circle: 39.2 ft. FWD (20-inch wheels); 38.3 ft. AWD (18-inch wheels)

Tow capacity: 3,500 lbs.

Coefficient of drag: 0.28

Safety features include: 10 air bags, Toyota’s Star Safety System (stability and traction controls), brake-force distribution, brake assist and smart-stop technology, blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert.

Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, includes a pre-collision system with daytime and low-light vehicle and pedestrian detection, and daytime bicyclist detection; full-speed range dynamic radar cruise control; lane departure alert with steering assist; automatic high-beam headlights; lane tracing assist; and road sign assist

PRICING

Base price: $42,000, including the $1,175 freight charge. Price as tested $46,843

Options on test vehicle: Ruby Pearl metallic paint $425; Rear seat entertainment system with 2 wireless headphones $1,415; XSE Plus package $1,000; 1,500-watt power inverter $300; Rear bumper applique $69; Floor and cargo mat package $294; wheel locks $65

Where assembled: Princeton, Ind.

Warranty: 3-years/36,000-miles basic bumper to bumper; 5-years/60,000-miles powertrain; 10-years/150,000-miles hybrid battery; 8-years/100,000-miles hybrid system; 2-years/25,000-miles ToyotaCare, free factory scheduled services and 24/7 roadside assistance

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