Lengthy on Luxurious, Quick on Vary: 2023 Lexus RZ 450e Evaluation


There’s quite a bit to love in regards to the RZ 450e, particularly in case you’re already a Lexus fan. It affords an array of high-tech options and can add a sporty new steer-by-wire system possibility within the subsequent yr or two. However there are some downsides, most notably the electrical crossover’s meager vary, which runs from 196 to  220 miles relying upon the bundle you go for.

With plans to completely “electrify” its line-up by 2030, Lexus has a gaping gap the place it wants a battery-electric car. The 2023 RZ 450e fills that hole and, for probably the most half, affords the type of design and options that conventional Lexus patrons ought to recognize. And it’s drawing consideration from tech followers with plans so as to add an non-obligatory steer-by-wire system.

The RZ relies on the identical platform because the Toyota bZ4X, however the Lexus crossover will get extra options and improved energy. The place it falls quick, nevertheless, is on the vary entrance. At a most of 220 miles, it delivers the bottom vary in a category that features critical EV rivals such because the Audi This fall e-tron, the Volvo XC40 Recharge, and the Cadillac Lyriq. And that’s more likely to value Lexus loads of potential patrons.

Briefly: Lexus is lastly stepping into the EV sport after specializing in hybrids and PHEVs. The 2023 Lexus RZ 450e is quiet, roomy, and loaded with the type of options you’d count on from the Japanese luxurious model. And it plans so as to add a breakthrough steer-by-wire system as properly. However its restricted vary is more likely to be a shortfall many potential patrons merely gained’t settle for.

2023 Lexus RZ 450e

  • Engine
    Twin Everlasting-Magnet Synchronous electrical motors. Entrance: 150 kW,Rrear 80 kw 
  • HP/Torque
    308/196
  • MPG
    105/89/97 Metropolis/Freeway/Mixed
  • Vary
    220 miles with 18-inch wheels and tires; 196 with 20-inch wheels and tires.
  • Cargo
    max 55.6 cu. ft.
  • Towing
    Not tow rated

  • Loads of fascinating expertise, together with Lexus voice assistant

  • Fairly peppy

  • Extra highly effective than Toyota bZ4X

  • Good inside and cargo house

  • Commonplace AWD


  • No frunk

  • Shortest vary in its section

  • Charging time is common, at finest

  • Noisier than typical Lexus

  • Cannot tow a trailer

RZ 450e: A Important Addition

“It is a pivotal yr for us,” Greg Kitzens, Normal Supervisor of Lexus Advertising, mentioned earlier this month as I joined in with a small group of automotive journalists invited to San Diego for a take a look at drive of the brand new RZ 450e.

Whereas there are many the reason why 2023 shall be a big yr for the Japanese luxurious model, maybe nothing issues greater than the launch of the all-electric crossover. 

Taking a cue from its mainstream sibling, Toyota, Lexus was early to market with standard hybrids and even affords a number of totally different plug-in packages on the latest-generation RX crossover. However the 2023 Lexus RZ 450e marks its belated entry into the rising marketplace for pure EVs.

Anemic Vary

Lexus RZ 450e Review
(Photograph: Paul Eisenstein)

In contrast to some rivals, Lexus didn’t stray removed from its acquainted design language, primarily enhancing range-extending aerodynamics. The RZ hews even nearer to dwelling relating to the requisite luxurious options and expertise. Maybe the most important shock comes with the deliberate introduction of a steer-by-wire system someday after the preliminary launch of the RZ.

All that ought to enchantment to conventional Lexus patrons considering of going electrical and the youthful, extra tech-savvy motorists Lexus needs to win over. Or it will if Lexus hadn’t fallen quick in a single crucial space: vary.

The bottom mannequin, geared up with 18-inch wheels, delivers a really mediocre 220 miles per cost, whereas upgraded variations, shod with 20-inch wheels, get a completely anemic 196 miles.

That helps clarify why the model’s gross sales aspirations are actually minimal. Kitzens forecasts demand will attain simply 4,900 through the first yr, just about a rounding error on Tesla’s books.

Lexus RZ 450e: Acquainted Design Language

Lexus RZ 450e Review
(Photograph: Paul Eisenstein)

The 2023 Lexus RZ 450e shares the identical e-TNGA “structure” because the Toyota bZ4X launched final yr. But it surely will get a lot of requisite upgrades. Amongst different issues, the platform and physique have been stiffened to yield a extra compliant and comfy experience.

And the place the bZ is almost similar in design to the Subaru Solterra that additionally shares its underpinnings, the Lexus EV will get a extra distinctive look. That begins with a modified model of the trademark Lexus “spindle grille.”

In relation to EVs, aerodynamics are crucial to enhancing each efficiency and vary. So, the grille right here is sealed shut since there’s no engine underneath the hood to chill. Small, low-mounted intakes present what airflow is critical to chill the crossover’s twin electrical motors and battery pack.

Lexus RZ 450e Review
(Photograph: Paul Eisenstein)

The RZ 450e doesn’t completely hew to present EV design fads. Slightly than a cross-grille lightbar, it opts for a backlit Lexus brand up entrance. And, as an alternative of a wing flowing off the again of the roof, it makes use of twin “vortex turbines.” It additionally will get a totally enclosed underbody.

No “Frunk” and No Glovebox

Lexus RZ 450e Review
(Photograph: Lexus)

Sadly, a technique Lexus charted a unique path is its determination to not supply a entrance trunk the place an inside combustion engine usually would reside. Not all rivals do, but it surely’s an actual plus for these, like Tesla, who’ve a “frunk.”

Daring wheel wells give the EV a way of energy. And the massive panorama roof provides to the luxurious really feel. Provided customary on the RZ 450e Luxurious bundle — and as an possibility on the Premier mannequin — the glass roof can be certainly one of a number of standout technical options.

Lexus RZ 450e Review interior front seats
(Photograph: Lexus)

Slip inside, and also you may surprise what occurred to the sunshade usually used to seal the sunroof off on an excessively sunny day. As a substitute, you contact a button within the RZ that immediately turns the glass from clear to opaque.

The inside is surprisingly roomy. Although RZ is barely barely greater than the compact Lexus NX crossover, its cabin is extra according to the midsize RX — and it affords an additional two inches of headroom in comparison with each of these gas-powered fashions.

Lexus RZ 450e Review front dash and infotainment screen
(Photograph: Lexus)

One of many odder selections was to remove a glovebox, Lexus designers going, as an alternative, with an outsized heart console with loads of cupboard space.

General, the EV’s cabin is clearly according to the upscale place of the Lexus model. However the automaker shied away from conventional, luxurious supplies, changing many of the leather-based, wooden, and metallic with synthetics comparable to Ultrasuede, comprised of recycled supplies. 

RZ 450e Crossover: A Excessive-Tech Showcase

Lexus RZ 450e Review interior lighting
(Photograph: Paul Eisenstein)

There’s loads of expertise within the cabin, with USB ports just about anyplace you look. And whereas there are a handful of conventional controls, most features are operated by the infotainment system — all RZ fashions function an LED gauge cluster and 14-inch infotainment display.

The Lexus Voice Assistant is the automaker’s reply to Amazon’s Alexa and might deal with a broad vary of car features utilizing plain English instructions.

Lexus RZ 450e Review yoke steering
(Photograph: Paul Eisenstein)

Whereas unavailable at launch, Lexus will shortly add a steer-by-wire system, which makes use of a yoke somewhat than a standard steering wheel. It eliminates any mechanical hyperlink with the entrance wheels and if something, appears the type of expertise you’d count on to debut on one of many model’s sportier fashions, the LC, maybe, or an F Sport bundle.

One other trick function is the radiant heating system mounted beneath the instrument panel. It makes use of infrared vitality to come back on virtually instantly. Within the course of, Lexus claims, it makes use of much less vitality than a traditional car heater which is a significant cause why EVs lose a lot vary in colder climate.

A Extreme Lack of Vary

Lexus RZ 450e Review charging port
(Photograph: Lexus)

With the radiant heating system and all of the work Lexus has completed to enhance aerodynamics, one may count on the brand new RZ 450e to ship strong vary numbers — removed from it. At a most of 220 miles and as little as 196, it’s the worst mannequin in a category that features merchandise such because the Audi This fall e-tron Quattro, the Genesis GV60, the Cadillac Lyriq, and the Volvo XC40 Recharge. That group musters anyplace from 223 to as a lot as 307 miles between prices.

Lexus officers make a seemingly affordable declare that the standard U.S. motorist hardly ever logs greater than 100 miles a day, and EV patrons are inclined to plug into a house charger at night time. Maybe, however People have a tendency to purchase autos primarily based on the acute usages they anticipate making, even when hardly ever.

And one ought to think about that EVs can lose as a lot as 40% of their vary in excessive chilly. Even with the electron-saving radiant heater, the RZ falls quick.

RZ 450e Powertrain

Lexus RZ 450e Review engine
(Photograph: Paul Eisenstein)

One cause why the vary is so small is its modestly sized 71.4kWh battery pack. It has to energy two separate motors, one on every axle, delivering a mixed 308 horsepower and 196 pound-feet of torque. By comparability, the single-motor model of the Toyota bZ4X manages a meager 196 hp, the twin-motor model bumping it to a still-modest 210.

Whereas removed from a section benchmark, the RZ in all fairness fast, with a 0-60 mph time estimated at 5 seconds. 

The Lexus EV is on the market solely in a two-motor configuration and makes use of a unique all-wheel-drive system than the bZ4X. The Direct4 bundle is sort of efficient at shifting torque round, as wanted, to offer the RZ a sportier really feel than its extra plebian cousin.

Curiously, the Lexus comes with a smaller, 6.6 kWh onboard charger than competing EVs. The Lyriq can ship as a lot as 19.2 kWh, and the Audi 9.6. In consequence, it can take as a lot as 13 hours to recharge the battery utilizing a 240V supply. And it lags behind some rivals when plugged right into a DC quick charger, as properly. Count on to spend about half-hour to get from 10 to 80% when utilizing a 150kW system.

RZ 450e Driving Impressions

Lexus RZ 450e Review driving
(Photograph: Paul Eisenstein)

In the event you’re the standard Lexus driver, you’ll possible discover it straightforward to plug into the model’s first battery-electric car. With the upgraded platform, the RZ 450e drives quite a bit just like the NX and RX, although the moment torque of its electrical motors provides a bit extra of a thrill whenever you stomp on the throttle. 

The crossover dealt with fairly properly, contemplating the comparatively restricted driving circumstances I used to be capable of put it via throughout my journey to San Diego. It’s not fairly as snappy as some rivals, but it surely maneuvers via corners handily, with comparatively little physique roll and a superb sense of street really feel. It’s no sports activities automobile, however the type of tourer you’d wish to tackle lengthy journeys … if it simply had sufficient vary.

A private criticism is the dearth of a 1-Pedal mode. All EVs use brake regeneration to recapture vitality usually misplaced throughout braking and coasting. In autos such because the Genesis GV60 and Cadillac Lyriq, you’ll be able to modify the quantity of regen. In additional aggressive modes, you’ll decelerate faster just by modulating the throttle. However 1-Pedal settings not solely gradual quick however allow you to come to an entire cease just by lifting utterly off the accelerator. The RZ will proceed creeping ahead like a traditional gasoline mannequin. 

Steer-by-Wire

Whereas many of the take a look at fashions Lexus offered for the drive had standard steering, it additionally introduced out three early prototypes with the steer-by-wire system. The expertise, as I famous, eliminates mechanical hyperlinks between the entrance wheels and the steering wheel. To sign the distinction, Lexus has adopted an aircraft-style yoke. At its most, you flip it 170 levels in both path to achieve steering lock.

The pc controlling the system reads not solely the motive force’s enter however different elements, comparable to car pace, and adapts accordingly. So, at first, it could really feel decidedly non-linear, which is why Lexus required me to spend a half-hour attempting out the system on a closed course. However, with every loop I took, my confidence grew, and I finally was capable of take a prototype out on public roads for one more 20 minutes. 

I’m not satisfied the steer-by-wire system is prepared for manufacturing. And neither is Lexus, which is why it gained’t be accessible at launch. The automaker isn’t saying when it can attain showrooms, however that would take one other yr or two. The query is whether or not it’s the type of function RZ patrons will recognize and pay for. No price ticket was supplied, however I don’t count on it to be low-cost.

2023 Lexus RZ 450e: Pricing and Availability

The bottom 2023 Lexus RZ 450e Premier version begins at $59,650 when you consider vacation spot charges. The model I spent most of my time in moved the needle to $67,300, together with that $1,150 vacation spot cost. The luxurious bundle takes you to a beginning worth of $67,590 earlier than choices. It affords some welcome upgrades, together with a panoramic roof and an audiophile Mark Levinson sound system.

From a worth standpoint, RZ falls roughly in the course of its section.

Manufacturing of the 2023 Lexus RZ 450e began on January 23 on the automaker’s Motomachi plant in Japan. The primary of the EVs ought to begin rolling into U.S. showrooms about now. As an import, it gained’t qualify for the lately revised federal EV tax credit.

2023 Lexus RZ 450e: Evaluation Wrap-Up

Lexus RZ 450e Review nighttime driving
(Photograph: Lexus)

There are a number of issues to love in regards to the 2023 Lexus RZ 450e, and it ought to really feel significantly acquainted and interesting to the model’s present patrons.  It’s fashionable sufficient with out the design excesses of some key rivals. It’s straightforward to get into and drive, even in case you’ve by no means been behind the wheel of an EV earlier than.

However these vary numbers are merely going to take it off the consideration checklist for a lot of potential patrons, which can clarify why Lexus has such low gross sales aspirations for its first-ever EV. The RZ will possible discover a area of interest as a second or third car for present Lexus patrons and as a commuter automobile for others. That’s too dangerous. With one other 15 to twenty% extra vary, it might have stood out as a extra viable providing, one thing we’d have hoped for from the first-ever Lexus battery-electric car.