Skip to main content

A weekend adventure with Toyota’s new EV

By May 15, 2024May 20th, 2024What's new about MRBTA members?

We are truly privileged to live in the most beautiful place in the world, with dreamy beaches, sensational waves and world-class wineries right on our doorstep. Since I swapped my city live for WA’s regional paradise three years ago, every weekend has felt like a mini holiday. A reliable car has become more important than ever, but which one does life in the Margaret River Region and all its beautiful corners justice?

After a few broken tyres that weren’t coping with notorious potholes on Caves Road, a destructive screw on Bussell Highway and a range of bumpy gravel road leading to the most beautiful beaches in the country but challenging my car’s suspension, I had to accept that my little city Skoda might not have what it takes to live in the country.

It was delivered to my front door the day I went into labour with my first born, so the nostalgic streak in me has been trying to make it work for as long as possible. When Busselton Toyota asked me to test their new electric SUV, I was intrigued though. After I test-drove a hybrid Toyota Camry last year, I kept thinking about how my next car needed to be a hybrid or even a fully electric vehicle. The driving experience was a lot smoother and quieter than in a traditional fuel-powered car, and I loved how responsive it was.

Toyota EV

Sustainability and eco-friendliness always play a role in my buying decisions and even though electricity is not entirely green, I believe there is more potential to balance generating electricity with protecting our planet than burning fossil fuels. I also can’t stand the smell of petrol stations.

What made testing the new Toyota bZ4X even more interesting is the fact that it’s an All-Wheel Drive. After an unfortunate experience getting stuck in a sandy car park in Yallingup, followed by a heroic rescue mission by a friend, a powerful SUV seems like a sensible choice for my next car.

The first impression is promising: elegant, spacious but not too bulky. The interior looks surprisingly close to a traditional Toyota, and it doesn’t take me long to figure out how to drive it. I love the supersized screen and the wireless phone charger, features that would make my life just a bit easier every day, I imagine. In general, the car seems to come with all the bells and whistles that can make the drive safer, more comfortable, and more enjoyable. With features like adaptive cruise control, a 360° camera and park assist, I wonder how much longer cars will need humans on the driver seat to drive them. The vigorous beeping whenever I get too close to a leaf on the ground or I’m simply reversing does make me suspect that the car isn’t trusting my driving one bit, maybe unjustified, maybe a little justified.

Toyota Lighthouse

The plan is to swap my Skoda on a Friday afternoon to see what my typical weekend on holidays looks like in the Toyota bZ4X. Theoretically the fully charged car can easily get me to Perth, but I’m still a bit nervous that I might end up stuck kilometres away from the next power point. That’s all it takes to fill up an electric vehicle and it comes with a cable that is intuitive to use. I’m far away from being a tech expert but I there is not much more to it than parking the car in my garage, plugging it in and waiting for the green light to appear: charging.

My little weekend holiday with my husband and two kids takes us to Busselton, shopping and a nice lunch at the Foreshore are on the cards. I unplug the car just like I would unplug my phone and I’m relieved it’s back at 100 per cent. Our child seats are installed in no time using the built-in anchors in the boot, and we’re off. The kids are pleased with the Wiggles entertainment playing via CarPlay, which works smoothly even though I left my phone in the boot. We left the pram at home for this trip, but I’m confident it would have easily fit in the boot, which has become my standard measurement for boot size. It’s a joy to drive Toyota’s EV, as expected it’s quiet, powerful and easy to manoeuvre in Busselton’s car parks.

In the afternoon, we pick one of the region’s most spectacular drives, down to the Yallingup Lagoon. I’ve taken in this view of the ocean suddenly appearing behind the bend so many times now and it still takes my breath away. As per usual, the car park by the playground is crowded, so we decide to be brave and park the Toyota at the very same sand hole disguised as a car park that almost swallowed my Skoda last year. We get a coffee and watch the unbelievable talent in the waves while the kids are having a play. No, we aren’t really on a holiday, I have to remind myself, as it surely feels like it.

Toyota vines

Assured by the success of the sandy car park challenge, I follow the Toyota dealership’s advice and take the car on some more adventurous roads, it’s an SUV after all. Three Bears might be pushing it, so we opt for Windmills instead. The car handles the numerous bumps and holes of the gravel road well, at first at least, until we encounter a rather dicey bit and we need to abandon mission, we do have to return the car in perfect shape after all. The main issue is the clearance, which is too low to handle more advanced off-roading safely. For the surfers among us, I would definitely recommend a more robust vehicle with higher clearance, but for easy gravel roads, the Toyota bZ4X is perfect.

So off to Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse it is, which never gets boring to visit. While driving around the Cape, it would be a crime to skip Sugarloaf Rock, looking absolutely stunning on this sunny autumn day. The charge is still above 70 per cent in the afternoon, so even though I know there are plenty of fast EV chargers around the region, I decide to simply charge the vehicle overnight again.

On Sunday, with the charge back at 100 per cent, we decide to venture a bit further afield and head towards Margaret River. We are spoiled by views of the glowing autumn vineyards, majestic tree canopies and peacefully grazing cows. I remember we haven’t tried the moon roof yet, a glass roof that adds another dimension to the stunning views on the iconic road trip along Caves Road. It’s too early in the day for stargazing, but how wonderful would this feature be on a cold winter’s night, looking at the night sky without leaving your car!

Our little weekend holiday is over too quickly and by the time I use the Toyota bZ4X to commute to work on Monday, I’ve gotten quite used to the smooth driving experience and all the luxurious features. Overall, I think the Toyota bZ4X is a car that fits into the extraordinary down south lifestyle quite nicely. More than ever, I hope for my next car to be hybrid or fully electric, and of course an SUV. If you’re in the market for a new car, maybe give Busselton Toyota a call and ask for a test drive. Just a little warning, you might love the Toyota bZ4X more than you expected.