We go into every comparison test with an open mind, but in this electric SUV matchup between Hyundai’s Ioniq 5 and Toyota’s newer bZ4X, the Hyundai was the heavy favorite. After all, it already won a comparison test against its corporate cousin, the slick Kia EV6, and is currently our top pick among electric SUVs in our Ultimate Car Rankings. Turns out we were both right and wrong: Right about which EV would win but wrong about the reasons why. What we found were two exceptionally useful electric cars with their own distinct strengths.
Meet The Players: Hyundai Ioniq 5 And Toyota BZ4X
The Ioniq 5 is a talented and stylish EV, and it’s the first vehicle from Hyundai’s all-electric Ioniq subbrand. Although the bZ4X is Toyota’s first modern-day battery electric vehicle, Toyota introduced an electric RAV4 back in 1997 and has been selling the Mirai FCEV (an electric car powered by a hydrogen fuel cell instead of a battery) since 2016. Given that experience, we thought it was fair to match the bZ4X against the best in the field.
For this comparison, we went with top-of-the-line all-wheel-drive models. Our Hyundai Ioniq 5 Limited AWD came with a set of accessory floormats that raised its price to $55,920. The bZ4X’s top trim level is also called Limited, and our test AWD EV came with a cold-weather package, premium stereo, spoiler, and extra-cost paint that raised the sticker price to $52,050.
Are These Electric SUVs Or Electric Hatchbacks?
Although both vehicles are pitched as compact sport-utilities, they blur the line between SUV and hatchback car. Both are just an inch or two shorter in length than Toyota’s ubiquitous RAV4 and about the same width as it. But the BZ4X’s roofline is some 2 inches closer to the ground than the RAV4’s, and the Hyundai checks in 2 inches lower still. Consider that both carry their batteries under their bellies, which raises their floor height, and you can understand why they feel more like cars than SUVs from behind the wheel.
The Hyundai Ioniq 5 is the head-turner of this duo. Its nifty ’80s-hatchback styling was inspired by Hyundai’s first mass-produced vehicle, a dreadfully unreliable rustbucket called the Pony; despite those questionable roots, it drew universal acclaim: Throughout our test drive we could see the points and smiles directed at the Ioniq 5, and thanks to the Toyota’s inferior sound insulation, we could sometimes hear the compliments, as well.
The bZ4X is pretty enough in its own way, with its bold, grilleless styling and rakish roofline reminiscent of Toyota’s own Venza. The black fender surrounds are questionable but do set the bZ4X apart—or at least they would if the Toyota didn’t look so much like its fraternal twin, the Subaru Solterra.
Inside The Ioniq 5 And The BZ4X
Inside, the Hyundai has the edge: We love the EV rethink of the cabin. With no need for a center tunnel to house driveshafts or exhaust pipes, Hyundai has given the Ioniq 5 a completely flat floor, so there’s no center pedestal where front passengers can smack their knees.
It’s a smart layout that reminds us of minivans and bench-seat sedans of yore. The control layout is fairly straightforward, and the cabin has plenty of storage space, but the instrument panel takes time to interpret, and there’s a definite learning curve to the infotainment system. The Ioniq 5 is not a car for those who never RTFM.
The Toyota, in contrast, is refreshingly simple. Despite an all-digital dash, the controls and displays look like they could have been pulled from any Toyota model, and that simplicity is the bZ4X’s hallmark, or at least it is once you get used to the driving position. The bZ4X’s instrument panel is placed close to the windshield and meant to be viewed over the steering wheel rim rather than through it, blurring the line between a traditional gauge panel and a head-up display. It takes some getting used to, but once we adapted, we rather liked it.
Both cars have adequate room in the back seat, but the Toyota has a short cushion that sits too close to the floor. The Hyundai’s back seat is positioned higher and is more comfortable by an order of magnitude, with no shortage of headroom despite its lower roofline, and the full-length sunroof lets in more daylight than the twin-pane job on the BZ4X.
The two cars run neck and neck on cargo space, with about 27 cubic feet behind the rear seats; only the Ioniq 5 has a sliding rear seat to adjust between passenger and luggage space, however. Neither car has a proper frunk, as both cars concentrate their electrical control gear under the hood. Hyundai does have a vestigial storage locker up front, but it’s too small to be of much use.
Driving: Surprises And Disappointments
Out on the open road, the Toyota took us by surprise: Although it’s not as quick as the Hyundai (we timed the bZ4X to 60 in 5.8 seconds versus 4.4 for the Ioniq 5), it feels very zippy and responsive, with a strong midrange punch that always made us smile. The Hyundai’s accelerator is set up so that, outside of Sport mode, one must dip more deeply into its travel to access its best acceleration. Nothing wrong with that, but we preferred the Toyota’s always-eager feel.
The Toyota had the better ride, too; it’s comfortable and steady, whereas the Hyundai is busier and more jittery, even while being appreciably quieter. On the curviest section of our test route, the Hyundai exhibited better grip, but the suspension felt underdamped. The Ioniq 5 leans more in the turns than the bZ4X, and midcorner bumps set it bounding, often to the detriment of traction.
Speaking of which, if you turn off traction control and punch the throttle coming out of the turns, the Ioniq 5 is happy to get a little sideways. (Stability control will keep it from going too far out of line.) It’s good fun if a bit ragged. The Toyota wasn’t as up for this sort of silly fun, but it showed more serious skills: Its better damping kept all four wheels in good contact with the pavement, allowing it to rocket out of turns that left the Hyundai scrabbling for grip.
Both of our cars had cruise control and lane centering, and both systems worked well. We like that the Hyundai’s lane centering can be switched on independent of cruise control. The Hyundai has automated lane changing, but we couldn’t figure out how to get it to work—that’s our fault and not the car’s, as we never did, um, RTFM. But it underscores a point we made earlier: The Ioniq 5 has a steeper learning curve, while the Toyota is simplicity defined.
At this point in our test, the cars were running relatively neck and neck: The Hyundai Ioniq 5 led on style and interior comfort, but we appreciated the Toyota bZ4X’s ease of use and—much to our surprise—judged its road manners superior. But once we factored in range and charging speed, the Hyundai pulled ahead by several EV lengths.
Range And Charging: Hyundai Pulls Ahead Of Toyota
The AWD version of the Ioniq 5 has an EPA-rated range of 256 miles, while the BZ4X Limited AWD is rated at 222 miles (which you can increase to 228 by opting for the cheaper XLE model). A 34-mile delta isn’t much, but the difference in charge times is significant, particularly at DC fast chargers of the type you’d most likely use on a road trip.
The Hyundai has an 800-volt charging system that can take advantage of high-speed 350-kW chargers. Hyundai says the Ioniq 5 can charge from 10 to 80 percent capacity in 18 minutes, and our experience bears that out. The all-wheel-drive bZ4X can’t charge at more than 100 kW, which means that same charge can take the better part of an hour. During our test, we stopped for lunch at a supermarket with the batteries similarly depleted, plugged both cars into 150 kW chargers, and went upstairs to wait in line at the busy deli counter.
The Hyundai hit 80 percent as we were paying for our sandwiches; the Toyota didn’t get there until well after we had finished eating.
Does charging speed really matter? Maybe not, if you install a 240-volt home charger—and you’ll want to, as the convenience of having one beats the stuffing out of relying on the public charging network—and mainly use the EV for commuting while also owning another car for long-distance trips.
Remember, home charging means leaving every morning with a full “tank,” and few Americans routinely drive more than 200 miles in a day. (That said, even on the slower Level 2 household plugs, the Hyundai’s 10.9-kW charging gear takes power faster than the Toyota’s 6.6-kW unit.) But if you’re an inveterate road-tripper and/or a single-car household, the Hyundai’s high-speed charging abilities will make a significant difference.
Let’s Consider The Coin
We were ready to name Hyundai as the winner, but we hadn’t yet considered the price difference: The Hyundai we were driving cost $4,390 more than the Toyota. The higher charge speeds might justify that extra cost, but what if we were homebodies to whom charging speed wasn’t important? Is the Toyota the better value?
We debated this point and decided it wasn’t. The Ioniq 5 has better accommodations and looks, and opting for the midrange SEL version will run $50,995. That means living without the big sunroof, the nifty head-up display, and a few other goodies, but we think that’s a worthwhile sacrifice for the better overall car and experience.
Hyundai Ioniq 5 Wins—But Don’t Count Out The Toyota BZ4X
Although the Toyota emerged as our second-place finisher, we can make a good use case for it. The bZ4X’s simplicity and approachability should not be undervalued: For someone who isn’t a tech geek, who doesn’t want to have to read the manual or watch a bunch of YouTube videos, who just wants to get in the damn car and drive it, the Toyota bZ4X is the way to go.
With every automaker seeming to want to emulate Tesla and turn their EVs into high-tech showcases, the Toyota is refreshingly easy to use. It’s the flip phone of electric cars, and we mean that as a compliment. We also can’t ignore that the Toyota is the better-riding and better-driving of these two EVs.
Still, after extensive back-to-back evaluation, the 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 emerged as the winner. It’s a marvelous electric SUV that is both practical and futuristic, and its employment of better electrical hardware makes it a long-legged, fast-charging adventurer.
Nonetheless, the margin of victory over the Toyota was narrower than we expected. The 2022 bZ4X is a competent electric car with many of the attributes that have made Toyota one of the world’s most popular car brands. It exits this competition with its head held high—or at least it will once it finishes charging.
2nd Place: 2022 Toyota BZ4X
Pros: Zippy acceleration, sure-footed handling, easy to operate.
Cons: Low back seat, moderate range, slow charging performance.
Verdict: An easy-to-approach EV for the layperson but not a great traveling companion.
1st Place: 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5
Pros: Handsome and stylish looks, roomy interior, superfast charging.
Cons: Underdamped suspension, steeper learning curve, a little pricier.
Verdict: One of the best overall electric SUVs on the market right now.
|POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS||2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 HTRAC Specifications||2023 Toyota bZ4x Limited AWD Specifications|
|DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT||Front- and rear-motor, AWD||Front- and rear-motor, AWD|
|MOTOR TYPE||Permanent-magnet electric||Permanent-magnet electric|
|POWER (SAE NET)||99 hp (fr), 221 hp (rr), 320 hp (comb)||107 hp (fr), 107 hp (rr), 214 hp (comb)|
|TORQUE (SAE NET)||105 lb-ft (fr), 321 lb-ft (rr), 446 lb-ft (comb)||124 lb-ft (fr), 124 lb-ft (rr), 248 lb-ft (comb)|
|WEIGHT TO POWER||14.6 lb/hp||20.6 lb/hp|
|TRANSMISSIONS||1-speed automatic||1-speed automatic|
|SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR||Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar||Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar|
|BRAKES, F; R||12.8-in vented disc; 12.8-in disc||12.9-in vented disc; 12.5-in vented disc|
|WHEELS||8.0 x 20-in cast aluminum||8.0 x 20-in cast aluminum|
|TIRES||255/45R20 105V Michelin Primacy Tour A/S (M+S)||235/50R20 100V Bridgestone Turanza EL450 (M+S)|
|WHEELBASE||118.1 in||112.2 in|
|TRACK, F/R||64.2/64.6 in||63.0/63.4 in|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||182.5 x 74.4 x 63.0 in||184.6 x 73.2 x 65.0 in|
|TURNING CIRCLE||39.3 ft||40.0 ft|
|CURB WEIGHT (DIST F/R)||4,684 lb (51/49%)||4,402 lb (54/46%)|
|HEADROOM, F/R||39.1/37.5 in||38.6/37.1 in|
|LEGROOM, F/R||41.7/39.4 in||42.1/35.3 in|
|SHOULDER ROOM, F/R||57.7/57.7 in||57.8/56.0 in|
|CARGO VOLUME, BEH F/R||59.3/27.2 cu ft||50.7/25.8 cu ft|
|ACCELERATION TO MPH|
|0-30||1.6 sec||2.1 sec|
|PASSING, 45-65 MPH||2.3||3.1|
|QUARTER MILE||13.2 sec @ 102.7 mph||14.5 sec @ 95.9 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||123 ft||125 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.88 g (avg)||0.77 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||25.7 sec @ 0.71 g (avg)||27.4 sec @ 0.62 g (avg)|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$56,440||$52,050|
|AIRBAGS||6: Dual front, front side, f/r curtain||8: Dual front, front side, f/r curtain, front knee|
|BASIC WARRANTY||5 years/60,000 miles||3 years/36,000 miles|
|POWERTRAIN WARRANTY||10 years/100,000 miles (including battery)||5 years/60,000 miles (8 years/100,000 miles battery)|
|ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE||5 years/Unlimited miles||2 years/25,000 miles|
|BATTERY CAPACITY||77.4 kWh Li-Ion||72.8 kWh Li-Ion|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON||110/87/98 mpg-e||112/92/102 mpg-e (mfr est)|
|EPA RANGE, COMB||256 miles||222 miles (mfr est)|
|RECOMMENDED FUEL||240-volt electricity, 480-volt electricity||240-volt electricity, 480-volt electricity|