Toyota has revealed a concept that it says is “a nod to the near future.” The Toyota bZ Compact SUV Concept shows us what its battery electric crossover future could look like. Its design is pretty neat, but it’s what’s inside that’s really cool. This concept has a pretty dazzling set of curved displays.
Toyota is rolling into the 2022 Los Angeles Auto Show with some instant hits. The new Prius is an absolute stunner, paired with some surprising performance numbers for the famed hybrid. And Toyota isn’t done yet, as it has now released a preview for what its electric car future could look like. The automaker isn’t providing much information at all about this concept, but it may be a hint at an SUV slotting in under the bZ4X. And like the Prius before it, this thing looks good.
Toyota’s Electric Future
Back in 2021, Toyota said that it aims to roll out 30 EVs by 2030. At first, seven of those EV models were said to be a part of Toyota’s Beyond Zero line, stylized as “bZ.” It has since been scaled back to five models wearing the bZ badge. We’ve seen and driven the first vehicle from this lineup, the bZ4X electric crossover. The second vehicle from the bZ range, the bZ3 sedan, was recently launched in China. Toyota is tight-lipped about the small SUV before us today, but it comes in at a smaller size than the bZ4X. Currently, there are rumors that Toyota is working on a smaller bZ crossover. If Toyota’s bZ nomenclature references size, then this could be a preview of a bZ3X crossover.
Keep in mind that Toyota stops short on calling this anything more than a concept car. And no information about battery or performance has been provided. So with that in mind, let’s check this thing out.
The bZ Compact SUV Concept
Starting with the exterior, this design may seem familiar. If so, that’s because we actually saw this design back in 2021 when Toyota made its announcement about going in on electric cars. Back then, the car was far less detailed than it is now, looking a lot like a digital render.
It’s interesting to see how Toyota has fleshed out the details. The front end, for example, looks similar to the Crown and the new Prius that we saw today. And in the back, we get sharp taillights that at least to my eyes, looks like a blade slicing into the rear of the vehicle. I also dig the third brake light on the roof and the other light strip on the rear bumper. Further, I like how this car does away with the weird black panels found on the larger bZ4X.
The press images don’t really give you a good sense of scale, so here are the numbers. According to Car and Driver, the concept is 178.6 inches bumper to bumper, making it six inches shorter than the bZ4X. Its height is also 3.6 inches shorter than the bZ4X and its 108-inch wheelbase is four inches shorter. That makes this a pretty compact ride.
Toyota says that the bZ Compact SUV Concept was designed with a clean-vital design approach. Thankfully, Toyota explains what that means:
This approach aims to express what’s special about battery electric vehicles while also offering fun to drive, exhilarating performance. It represents a vehicle with zero emissions, utilizing eco-conscious interior materials, that also brings dynamic performance, leading technology and a stylish appearance.
Toyota goes on to note how the edgy styling and wheels pushed out to the corners are supposed to give it a distinctive look and aggressive stance. Moving inside, something that caught my attention are these screens.
Sure, Toyota is certainly not the first to do curved screens in a car. But I love how these flow like water, and the information displayed on the screens curve with the displays. On the center screen, controls for equipment like HVAC appear on the final curve of the display. Also prominent in this area is a wheel that resembles a yoke.
You’ll notice a lack of buttons in this interior. Indeed, even the window “switches” are touchpads on the doors. The lack of buttons in this interior is disappointing, but at least Toyota found a neat way to do the whole screen thing.
Looking at the materials, Toyota says that its designers used plant-based and recycled materials for seats and other interior surfaces. As for technology, there’s an in-car personal agent named Yui. This Siri-like assistant apparently uses light and sound to respond to requests and commands from the vehicle’s occupants.
Overall, this concept SUV looks pretty neat, even though Toyota isn’t indicating any sort of production intent. Hopefully, we do get to see this little guy as a real production car, and its exterior won’t change too much on the way there. If you want to see this car, or the new Prius in person, you can see them at the 2022 Los Angeles Auto Show. You’ll see us, and some of the coolest cars hitting the market there!
When I saw the front I was on board but when I saw the back I threw up a little bit.
I only clicked the article to see if it had another Toyota silly name like bZ4x..
Back in my day, we had steering WHEELS. The easiest control to use on any car.
If this really has a yoke instead of a steering wheel, I am done with Toyota (and I have been a Toyota / Lexus fanboi for more than 20 years, buying 5 of their cars from new in that time.)
Yokes in concept cars have a long history.
So far I think only Elon’s been dumb enough to put one in a production model people will actually drive on the road.
Those screens are unreadable even in their press photos. I think they’re just trolling us now. This is like the Kia “all screens” concept from a few years back.
My hopes perked up at “curved screens,” thinking this would be a solid, harmonious integration into a curved dash.
Instead it’s a phone somebody forgot was in their pocket when they sat down, so now it’s permanently shaped to their ass.
I want to kick every focus group member that keep pushing these awful decisions in their respective genitals, unless they would like that.
This is just the new CH-R isn’t it?
Also, we need to take every major styling center out of LA and move them to Alaska. You’d see a lot fewer functions moved to the screen if everyone involved had to wear gloves a lot.
Ooh, it could even be a reality show. Drop a bunch of car designers off in the middle of Alaska with only the cars they designed to get back. As an added bonus, when most of them die of exposure because their cars handle real world use so poorly we’ll have fewer terrible designers in the world.
Only sort of /s. 😉
Can someone please get all these interior designers in a room and explain that bleak cyberpunk was supposed to be a warning – not a blueprint?
That couldn’t have been a better description of the screens
daz·zling – extremely bright, especially so as to blind the eyes temporarily.
I don’t want a constant source of light in my car, thanks. I already have trouble with nearsightedness while driving at night with the limited light in my car already.
Don’t forget the digital assistant, that’s going to flash interior lights and make noises every time you ask it to do something. Doesn’t sound distracting at all.
The interior is as inviting as a dental operatory. Yech.
This is hands down my biggest gripe with modern cars/EVs in particular. I don’t want to roll around in a corporate office park. There’s absolutely nothing inviting or comforting about these futuristic minimalist interiors.
Am I the only one who doesn’t care? Like, I’d rather have dazzling curved hardwood veneer or dazzling curved engine turned metal
I would rather have one large screen that curves around the corners, this looks like they are still tacked on, just bent to fit.
All due respect meant to the author, but I was similarly thinking about how discouraging it is that the headline of the article (and, quite possibly, a key focal point of Toyota’s as well) is all about SCREENS. It implies that the most exciting part of the interior is a new style of screen. I for one am screened-out in this life. Please bring back buttons and other non-digital-screen-based things, and give us FEWER distractions in our cars, not more.
And in a similar vein, in the article’s final image, I find it hilariously ironic that the entire interior is spotless and minimally distracting (which I find very appealing), EXCEPT the spot right in front of the operator’s face, where there are SCREENS.
Well at least they can’t call this one Busy Forks, that name is already taken. They might try Busy Spoons instead
Looking at this and the new Prius, I can’t help but ask…..what the *bleep* were they thinking with the design of the bz4x? These look great, that looks overwrought. If they were going to shift design language, a new electric crossover seems like it would have been a good place to start. I see some similarity, but can’t imagine there wasn’t overlap in timing between designing the new Prius vs designing the bz4x. Maybe there were just too far down the ugly path to pull it back….
After seeing a bZ4X in the wild I kind of like it, not really because I like how it looks but just because it was noticeable among blander cars.
Realizing this is just a concept, I like the look of the curved screens. All I can imagine is the amount of glare coming off them though.
I’m also a diehard button fan but I wont touch that one.
SAME! I’m fine with some functions on a screen, but I’m not sure about what’s going on lately with putting HVAC controls and a button for the glovebox on a screen. At least to me, we’re now getting to the point of complicating what were once easy tasks that you could do without taking your eyes off of the road.
The only thing worse than a large touch screen in a car, would be a curved screen that throws reflections and glare everywhere. You can even see the glare in the press photo renders. Its just a terrible design idea, and hopefully makes it nowhere beyond this concept.
My thought as well. The press photos suffer glare; in the real world…my eyes, it burns!
I thought reflective metal on old steering wheels was bad for glare, but this is a whole new level
Um, have they tested driving outside and reading the upward facing part of the screens through the sunlight glare/reflection?
Especially bad with that glass roof.
I see that Toyota has just now fully committed to the Ferrari SF90 front end design.
Ferrari might have done it first, but Toyota will make the design ubiquitous and therefore be more commonly associated with it, leaving people thinking Ferrari copied it.