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Electric SUVs are rapidly taking over the automotive industry. Just a few years ago, EVs weren’t nearly as popular as they are today. Many drivers still have range anxiety and other reservations about electric vehicles. Still, battery electric vehicles are on the verge of becoming ubiquitous as charging infrastructure improves, and automakers roll out competitive new models. These three underwhelming electric SUVs can’t keep up with the most popular EV on the market, the Tesla Model Y.

Toyota’s electric SUV can’t stack up against the Tesla Model Y

Toyota bZ4X EV in studio shot, it's fallen short of the class-leading model.
2023 Toyota bZ4X EV | Toyota

Toyota fans eagerly awaited the arrival of a Toyota electric SUV. The Japanese automaker is a pioneer in hybrid technology. Naturally, consumers assumed that the brand would also have an understanding of what drivers want from an EV because of its experience with electrification. Unfortunately, the Toyota bZ4X small electric SUV isn’t quite what drivers expected.

Many Toyota lovers expected an electric RAV4 when the company hinted at the arrival of the bZ4X. When it finally hit the streets, critics and reviewers quickly noticed that it lacked the ‘wow factor’ that was so apparent in many of its rivals. It could be an electric RAV4 in terms of long-term reliability and practicality, but it certainly isn’t a RAV4 from a popularity lens.

The reason why so many drivers choose the Toyota RAV4 is because it’s affordable and well-rounded. Toyota’s bZ4X model is significantly more expensive than its gas-powered ancestor, automatically signaling a red flag for many consumers that are hesitant about switching from gas to electric vehicles.

Toyota’s 2023 bZ4X starts at $42,000. It makes 201 horsepower and 196 lb-ft of torque. BZ4X models can travel for an estimated 222 miles on a full charge. The Toyota bZ4X is praised for its roomy interior and decent acceleration, but it’s noticeably less exciting to drive than rivals like the Tesla Model Y.

The Subaru Solterra fell short

Built on the same platform as the Toyota bZ4X, the Solterra is also being overlooked by many consumers. Subaru’s first battery electric SUV has an off-road aesthetic and decent performance specs. It’s a solid first attempt at an EV from Subaru that embodies the brand’s spirit.

If you’re a Subaru SUV fan that wants an electric vehicle, the Solterra delivers. If you’re looking for the best small electric SUV for the money, the Tesla Model Y and Hyundai Ioniq 5 arguably offer more value and a better ownership experience.

Subaru Solterra base models start at $44,995. It makes 215 horsepower and 249 lb-ft of torque, making it slightly more powerful than the more affordable bZ4X. Furthermore, the Solterra can travel for around 220 miles on a full charge. Subaru’s small electric SUV is more exciting than the bZ4X from a performance perspective, but it’s still underwhelming compared to some of its rivals.

Lexus RZ models slightly miss the mark

Lexus is Toyota’s luxury division. Lexus models tend to be more affordable and reliable than rivals. The RZ may have brought Lexus into the electric future, but can it go toe-to-toe with the best in its segment?

The 2023 Lexus RZ small luxury electric SUV starts at $58,500 and makes 308 horsepower and 321 lb-ft of torque. Lexus’ small electric SUV can travel an estimated 196 miles on a full charge. The RZ is more powerful and luxurious than its cousins from Toyota and Subaru, but its range is a real concern for many drivers with range anxiety. It’s an underwhelming electric SUV because many rivals offer even more power and range at lower prices.

Tesla is dominating the small electric SUV segment

A red 2023 Tesla Model Y small electric SUV with mountains in background.
2023 Tesla Model Y | Tesla

Tesla’s small electric SUV is currently the most popular vehicle in the world, even outselling the Toyota RAV4 because it’s an unparalleled deal. Entry-level Model Ys are once again available in the United States, and the electric SUV is also eligible for the federal electric vehicle tax incentive following the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.

The 2023 Tesla Model Y starts at $47,740. Its starting price is closer to $40,240 after applying the tax credit. Base configuration Model Ys go from 0-60 miles per hour in just 5.0 seconds. The small electric SUV gets an estimated 279 miles of driving range.

Between its quick acceleration and practical driving range, the Model Y is simply the best small electric SUV on the market for the money. Its upper trim levels are even more impressive. Can any automaker topple Tesla from its throne?


3 Small Differences Between the 2023 Toyota bZ4X and Subaru Solterra