Toyota has introduced its first mainstream fully electric vehicle, the 2023 Toyota bZ4X, a compact crossover with an estimated 400 kilometres of range and available all-wheel drive.

The Toyota bZ4X is the first new vehicle under the brand’s “bZ” or “beyond zero” lineup of electric vehicles.

While there was no real powertrain information or specs regarding battery capacity, the output from the electric motor(s), or charging times, Toyota says the bZ4X will be available with both front- and all-wheel drive and that the battery will be placed flat under the floor, which helps create a low centre of gravity. AWD versions will also be available with what Toyota is calling XMODE and Grip Control, systems that will optimize how the power is distributed to provide more confidence in light off-roading or bad weather conditions.

The Toyota bZ4X shares a platform with the new Subaru Solterra, which will also have single and dual-motor models. The single-motor front-wheel drive Solterra has 201 hp, while the AWD model gets two 107-hp motors for a total of 215 hp. It can also charge at speeds of up to 150 kW (which gets from 10 to 80 per cent charge in about half an hour), so you can expect similar outputs and charging times for Toyota’s version of the electric SUV.

With its strong shark-nose front end and no traditional grille, the bZ4X looks unique from anything else in the Japanese automaker’s lineup but the plastic body cladding that extends from the wheelwell all the way up to the headlight housing in the front is a bit odd. The placement of a front licence plate will also need to be strategic as well; there’s no real natural spot for one.

Inside, the interior is quite minimal and Toyota has experimented with some unique textures and finishes to help it feel more modern. Many of the controls on the dashboard are touch-capacitive and the SUV uses a rotary dial gear selector flanked by various analogue buttons.

A digital key will be a first for Toyota, and drivers will be able to use their phones to lock, unlock, and start the vehicle. Drivers can also share a digital key so they can loan their car remotely. The Toyota bZ4X will be capable of over-the-air updates.

The Toyota bZ4X will be the first vehicle to offer the brand’s updated suite of driver assistance and safety features that includes low-light cyclist detection, motorcyclist detection, and guardrail detection.

Toyota says it has focused on making the bZ4X energy-efficient especially for colder climates by offering a heat-pump system for climate control, which helps preserve range for driving instead of heating or cooling the interior, heated seats and steering wheel, and radiant foot and leg heater for the front passengers.

The 2023 Toyota bZ4X is slated to arrive at dealerships in mid-2022. Expect pricing and full details to be announced closer to its launch.