2023 Kia Niro EV vs. 2023 Subaru Solterra vs. 2023 Toyota bZ4X: A 3-Way Showdown of New Electric SUVs

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We’ve heard some of the big-named automakers pledge to switch to all-electric by the end of 2030. This year quite a few EVs are due to come off production lines in time for 2023. So, it looks like some companies will make good on those EV promises. Later in 2022, two new EVs are due to arrive: the Toyota bZ4X and the Subaru Solterra. Along with them is a redesigned Kia Niro EV. What will they offer and which one is the best to buy?

2023 Toyota BZ4X | Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

What you can expect with the 2023 Kia Niro EV

While we don’t know much about the EV version of the Kia Niro, there are a few bits we can speculate about it. We don’t know exactly what trims will be offered, but there’s a good chance Kia will continue with the previous models, which came with EX and EX Premium levels.

According to Car and Driver, you can expect to see a stylish two-spoke steering wheel, new controls, and seats made from recycled materials, especially pieces of eucalyptus leaves and other natural fibers.

Interior storage for smaller items will likely be impressive, with more oversized door pockets and cubbies in the center console perfect for phones, keys, and more.

As for cargo space, it won’t disappoint with the reported 18.5 cubic feet of area to store your groceries or other shopping items. We can only guess what amount of horsepower it will offer, but we’re expecting approximately 201 hp with a single motor feeding the front wheels. Paired with it will be a 1-speed automatic transmission.

The price is also not known yet. Based on the 2022 models, it could run you around $42,000 for the base EX model. The EX Premium could run a little over $46,000, but we’ll need to wait for the official word from Kia.

How impressive will the 2023 Subaru Solterra EV be?

2023 @Subaru_usa Solterra EV arrives in the US with standard AWD and 220 miles of range https://t.co/4W1WolwLYm pic.twitter.com/ONgHt4wtHu — Roadshow (@roadshow) November 17, 2021

Subaru will roll out its first EV, the Solterra soon, and it sounds pretty exciting so far. The automaker paired up with Toyota to design it, which alone piques the interest of critics alike. Because it’s a Subaru model it will come standard with an all-wheel drivetrain.

It will also come with a two-electric motor setup producing 215 hp combined. Subaru offers four different drive modes, including Eco, Normal, Power, and X-Mode. The X-mode works perfectly in slippery driving conditions.

Subaru reports the Solterra will be compatible with AC and DC fast chargers, which will get approximately 80 percent charged in under an hour. Once filled with an electrical charge, the battery should get a 220 or more of driving range in normal driving conditions.

The interior reportedly will get a high-mounted digital display for your standard gauges, an elevated center console, and up to 30 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats. The infotainment system has a 12.3-inch display screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard.

Safety features include forward-collision warning, automated emergency braking, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping assist, lane-departure warning, and blind-spot monitoring. The price is still unknown, but it’s expected to run about $37,000.

What will the 2023 Toyota bZ4X offer?

Out of the three models, the Toyota bZ4X is the one we know the most about. This EV will come in either front-wheel-drive or all-wheel drivetrain.

Powering it will be a 150 kW motor for the front-wheel-drive system, producing 201 hp. The AWD will have two 80 kW motor and generate 215 hp. According to Car and Driver, we could see the two-motor system going from 0 to 60 mph in 7.7 seconds. The 64 kW battery will reportedly get up to 250 miles of driving range.

Two trim levels will roll out for 2023: the XLE and the Limited. We could see a lower-priced model, the LE, join the lineup down the road.

Toyota reports you’ll get a digital gauge display and a wide center console that sits between the two front seats for the interior. The bZ4X include lane-keeping assist, automated emergency braking, and pedestrian and cyclist detection systems.

Prices for this model aren’t released yet, but Car and Driver speculate it could go from $37,000 to approximately $42,000.

If you compare the three EVs, you’ll notice the Kia Niro will probably be the most expensive of the bunch. However, it comes with a Hybrid powertrain and a PHEV model, which are cheaper.

In the end, the Niro has been around for a bit, while the Solterra and bZ4X are rolling out the first-generation model. If you want reliability, you might stick with the Niro for now and wait to see how well the other two fare.

RELATED: 2022 VW ID.4 vs. 2022 Toyota bZ4X: Crossover EV Showdown

Toyota bZ4X review: All-new electric SUV is reliable with a solid interior

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DID you know Ricky Gervais was 40 when he made The Office?

Before that no one had ever heard of him. Now he’s one of the richest entertainers on the planet.

4 Toyota is finally giving us its first electric car - the bZ4X

The guy who invented the thesaurus did it when he was 73 years old.

The chairman of Sony came up with the Walkman only a few years away from official retirement age . . . and I was in my thirties when I tried Marmite for the first time.

All great achievements, and all proof that it’s never too late to try something – a notion Toyota agrees with.

Because more than a decade after cars like the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S were launched, Toyota is finally giving us its first electric car.

But this isn’t a case of being fashionably late to the party.

The reason Toyota hasn’t had to jump on the EV bandwagon as early as most is because it’s been making hybrid cars for donkeys.

With far lower average CO2 emissions from its fleet than most rivals, there’s been no pressure to go all-in on electric.

Inevitably, Toyota’s first stab is an SUV.

That’s the market that sells.

More confusing is the name – bZ4X.

While it sounds like a parts number for a Zanussi washing machine, bZ is the name of Toyota’s new electric range. It stands for beyond Zero.

What’s it like?

It’s like a Toyota, only it doesn’t make a noise.

I say that in praise because Toyota excels at making solid, reliable, practical and easy to drive cars.

Toyota was keen to point out the bZ4X’s off-roading capabilities on the launch and, while it can handle some rough stuff, I struggle to see who will care.

It’s like making a tin opener that can also play God Save the Queen.

Key facts: Toyota bZ4X Price: £48,350 Battery: 71kWh Power: 214hp, 310Nm 0-62mph: 7.7secs Top speed: 100mph Range: 255 miles CO2: 0g/km Out: June

Perhaps I’m being harsh, because the all-wheel-drive bZ4X will offer customers living in the Yorkshire Dales peace of mind thanks to things like snow and mud driving modes.

But EVs are still best suited to urban or semi-urban owners, most of whom will probably prefer to save two or three grand by buying the front-wheel-drive version.

The numbers that matter: More than 280 miles of range in the FWD version, around 255 miles for AWD, 80 per cent top-up in half an hour on a 150kW charger.

The interior feels solid and there’s a 12in infotainment screen taking centre stage.

It’s not the sharpest or quickest compared to something from Volvo or BMW, but it’s more than up to the job.

There’s plenty of room for a family of four inside.

In fact, rear leg-room is at the top of the class, and the 425-litre boot is bigger than a Ford Mustang Mach-E’s.

My only real gripe with the cabin is the fact there’s no glovebox. In a family SUV. Made by Toyota. Really?

To make its customers’ switch to electric driving as easy as possible, Toyota is offering three years of free servicing, an installed wallbox charger from British Gas and six months free access to the Toyota Public Charging Network, all for £611 a month.

About what Ricky Gervais earns per hour these days.

4 Toyota excels at making solid, reliable, practical and easy to drive cars

4 The interior feels solid and there’s a 12in infotainment screen taking centre stage

Toyota bZ4X Could Come With a Safer, Longer-Lasting Battery as Compared to Other EVs

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Toyota Motor Corp, a late-comer to the battery electric vehicle (BEV) market, is weaving in all efforts to make sure its first mass-market model is safer and lasts longer than rivals’ products when it goes on sale later this year. BEVs have grown in popularity globally, but some consumers have been put off by EV battery-related fire risks and rapid degradation. General Motors and Hyundai Motor were forced last year to recall EVs, carrying batteries manufactured by LG Energy Solution, after reports of fires.

“We focused on balancing three factors: cruising range, battery degradation and charging speed," Masaya Yamamoto, a project manager at Toyota, said at a test-drive event for the bZ4X sport utility vehicle (SUV) prototype last week. BEVs typically take hours to charge and using quick-charging methods often cause the battery’s cells to heat up, leading to degradation. That, in turn, reduces cruising range over time, hurting a vehicle’s resale value.

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Toyota said its batteries, developed with Panasonic Corp, contain a special coolant that does not conduct electricity easily. Battery packs are also structured to keep the cells and coolant separated in case of a leak. This and other innovations mean the new BEV series’ batteries would retain more than 90% of their capacity after a decade, Toyota said.

For consumers in Japan, where EVs have been slow to take off, Toyota is considering offering the EVs only through “subscription" – a bid to address worries over battery life and resale value. The subscription fee would cover the cost of maintenance and battery replacement among other features. Toyota has said it would start selling the SUV model in Japan and other major markets in mid-2022.

Also Read:

Toyota has set a goal of selling 3.5 million BEVs annually by 2030 through an 8 trillion yen ($70 billion) investment to electrify its vehicles.

Read all the Latest News, Breaking News and Assembly Elections Live Updates here.

Cyberattack Halts All Toyota Production In Japan

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It’s a curiously timed shutdown of all domestic production for Japan’s top automaker just after Japan backed Ukraine. All that and more in The Morning Shift for February 28, 2022.

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1st Gear: Toyota Shuts It Down

Of all of Japan’s car companies, it is Toyota that’s the standard-bearer for the country, maybe best seen by the close ties it has to the government’s hydrogen initiatives. Anyway, Japan just backed Ukraine, and now Toyota has shut down all of its domestic production over what it claims to be a cyberattack. From Reuters:

Toyota said it will suspend all domestic factory operations on Tuesday losing around 13,000 cars after a company supplying plastic parts and electronic components was hit by a suspected cyberattack. No information was immediately available about who was behind the attack or the motive. The attack comes just after Japan joined Western allies in clamping down on Russia due to its invasion of Ukraine, although it was not clear if the attack was at all related.

It’ll be interesting to see how this affects production of some of Toyota’s more prestigious models, as well as those that help it comply with tighter emissions regulations. The bZ4X EV is made in Japan, for instance.

2nd Gear: VW Shuts It Down

Volkswagen more directly shut down some of its production over Russia invading Ukraine, idling “two German plants as supplies from Ukraine run dry,” as the Financial Times reports:

Volkswagen has been forced to idle two of its German plants after failing to obtain parts from Ukraine, in the clearest sign yet that Russia’s invasion of its neighbour is disrupting the European car industry’s supply chains. The carmaker’s Zwickau plant in east Germany will be idle for four days from next week, and the nearby Dresden plant will be closed for three days, a spokesman confirmed, adding it was impossible to say how long the shutdowns would last. VW has been unable to secure electrical wires from manufacturers in Ukraine, according to people familiar with the matter, and realised late on Thursday that it would have to cut back production. VW declined to name the supplier.

Much like Toyota, VW’s top EVs are made in its home country. The Zwickau plant makes ID models, so this will be interesting to see how things shake out for VW’s regulatory compliance.

3rd Gear: Toyota Has Low Expectations For Its Worst-Named Car

We might not need to worry all that much about Toyota’s bZ4X production, as Toyota itself doesn’t expect to sell all that many of these things, per Automotive News:

At an early test drive event outside Tokyo last week, Toyota dodged questions about how many it expects to build and sell after the bZ4X goes on sale in mid-2022. Daisuke Ido, general manager of ZEV Factory where Toyota is developing a fleet of new EVs, would only say that volumes are expected to grow with wider EV adoption. But Japan’s Nikkei newspaper, citing suppliers familiar with Toyota’s planning, reported that the automaker has targeted just 60,000 vehicles worldwide in the bZ4X’s first year, and then a decline to about 50,000 the next. By comparison, Toyota sold 407,000 of the comparable RAV4 crossovers last year in the U.S. alone.

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These numbers are a little controversial, as Toyota will be making bz4Xs in China, and they aren’t factored in here.

Still I have to wonder if Toyota is actively trying to tank the sales on this thing. How do you even say bZ4X? Is it not “busy forks?” “Buzz-axe?” I am perplexed.

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4th Gear: Rivian Promises That It Could, At Some Point, Potentially, In The Future, Sell A Lot Of Cars

Rivian forums might not be exactly busting with people saying that they have actually received any Rivians, but Rivian the company is happy to say that, at some point, maybe not now, but certainly in the future, eventually, at a time, lots of people will be buying and receiving Rivians, as Reuters reports:

Scaringe, responding to a question about how big Rivian could become by 2030, said the company had the brand position “to build out a portfolio … to allow us to really work toward building a position of 10% market share within the EV space.” He called the global semiconductor chip shortage the “most painful” constraint in the push to build production. The California-based startup produced 1,015 vehicles last year, coming up short of its target of 1,200 due to supply-chain constraints. Scaringe said Rivian had replaced some chipsets in certain parts with other chipsets that are easier to get. He said the global shortage would be a factor through the rest of the year.

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5th Gear: Here’s A Good Podcast On Teamster Organizing Truckers At Ports

The country’s major trucking crisis could probably have been averted if trucking companies simply paid their workers better and offered better working conditions. You know who helps with both of those things? Unions! Anyway, here’s a nice podcast from Bloomberg on the Teamsters working to unionize truckers working ports. Here’s B’bergs blurb:

Some truckers make good money and have a high degree of control of their schedule. Others work for low pay under exceptionally difficult conditions. Port truckers, in particular, have dealt with poor pay, high debts, wage theft, and other difficult conditions. But an effort is being made to organize for a better situation. On this episode, we speak with Ron Herrera, Director of the Teamsters Port Division, on the union’s efforts, as well as how it fits into broader supply chain stress.

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Reverse: U.S. Launches Discoverer 1, A Secret Spy Satellite That Fails To Reach Orbit

On February 28, 1959, we shot Discoverer 1 off the coast of California for a polar orbit, declared that it had reached orbit, and then it was never seen, heard, or tracked again. Here is a fun story about this small American lie from 2009, coming after the program’s full nature was declassified in 1995, per NASA.

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Neutral: How Is Your Union Representation?

My buddy just joined the Teamsters (working in manufacturing in California) and seems to be enjoying it so far. I’m just happy he has healthcare now that he bought a mountain bike.

Toyota U.S. sales chief says win over GM ‘not sustainable,’ but expects bet on EVs to pay off

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Toyota is making big bets on hybrids and electric vehicles after dethroning General Motors as America’s top automaker.

“What we are still seeing today is that many consumers that are in the full battery electric market still need a second car to fit family needs. So the demand for hybrid has been strong and we expect it to continue to grow as the entire industry transitions over to electrification later this decade,” Toyota North American sales chief Bob Carter told CNBC on Tuesday.

Carter expects Toyota’s hybrids to make up over 30% of vehicle volumes compared to around 26% last year — provided that supply chain disruptions clear up in the second quarter of this year.

His comments on “Squawk Box” come after Toyota beat GM last year as the best-selling automaker in the United States for the first time in a century. GM has held the position since 1931. Carter said that while he is unsure the Japanese automaker will defend its title, he expects Toyota to continue its trajectory.

Long term, Carter said, staying No. 1 in the U.S. may be not sustainable. “The results were the results, but much of that has to do with the supply chain stability. But I’m very, very optimistic that we’re going to have another great year in 2022.”

Carter said Toyota is forecasting a 16.5 million unit U.S. auto industry in the second quarter when it expects the supply chain to become stable across the sector.

The semiconductor chip shortage continues to affect vehicle manufacturing plants across the industry. For example, chip shortages forced Ford Motor to cut down production of some of its vehicles including the Ford Bronco and Ford F-150 next week.

Toyota has two EVs coming out this year. The Toyota bZ4X is expected to arrive in the spring and the Lexus RZ45e is expected to release late in the year. Toyota is also extending its hybrid strategy, adding to its Tundra pickup offerings a new model called i-Force Max this spring, according to Autoweek.

Carter said that while he expects a “slow ramp up as we enter this new manufacturing world of battery electrics,” Toyota will continue adding EVs to its fleet as a core part of its future growth.

“That’s the first of many battery electrics that are coming. So we think right now the infrastructure as well as consumer demand is at the tipping point that we’re going to start entering and bringing more and more of these models to the market,” he said.

Toyota Considers EV With Simulated Manual Transmission

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How it would work

Toyota’s stick-shift EV would feature a pair of driving modes, one with a “traditional” shiftless EV driving experience and another utilizing a physical clutch pedal and shifter. The patents describe tactile feedback in each element, down to vibrations in the clutch pedal when it’s “slipping” as the clutch pedal is released. Toyota’s team noted that in the “manual” driving mode, the power output would be modulated to mimic an internal-combustion engine. The documents describe this as an effort to address the concerns of drivers who want the “driving feel” a manual transmission offers.

We imagine the effort stems at least partly from Toyota’s learnings with CVTs (continuously variable automatic transmissions) when they were first introduced on a large scale. Though drivers of EVs and hybrids were more accepting of an unfamiliar driving experience, many others missed the sensation of running through the gears, so Toyota and other automakers added software-created “steps” to their CVT units. The spread of this ruse across the CVT universe speaks to its success with car shoppers.

But would this really convince stick-shift fans to buy more EVs?

This is the question we’ve been considering, and we can see both sides. Even if they get the execution just right, which is itself a tall order, the feature may fall flat for a lot of consumers, just like simulating an exhaust note through the audio system’s speakers. Additionally, limiting power output and adding in a human element is sure to be slower and could negatively impact driving range.

On the other hand, why not try it? Imagine tackling your commute with the smooth shiftless power of a traditional EV, then switching into manual mode for more spirited driving on a windy road. Though it’s not “real,” maybe it would still be fun all the same — especially if Toyota channels all that electric torque to let you chirp the tires into second or even third.

Edmunds says

If Toyota gets this to feel right (that’s a big if) and it puts a smile on people’s faces, then the faux-manual EV might make a case for itself.