2023 Lexus RZ
The First Purpose-Built EV from Lexus
Motorweek is out and about in Encintas, California to get behind the wheel of this all new Lexus RZ 450e. This is the brand’s first ever globally available, purpose built Battery Electric Vehicle, and it is based on the same platform as the Toyota bZ4X. With Lexus planning on being completely carbon-neutral offering 100% BEV’s by 2035, we can expect more models to follow.
At first glance this model could be confused with the compact NX, but when you look closely you will begin to notice some differences. One feature that stands out are the two extenders that almost look like blades sticking out of the back of the vehicle at the top corners of the rear glass. These are meant to deflect the air around the car for the best aerodynamics and as efficient as possible.
“So the innovation that is going on at Lexus is really cool, in my book. I think the ‘cool’ factor has gone way up in this car. one of the main reasons being this gigantic panoramic sunroof, but it has no sunshade. so what they’ve done to replace the sunshade is add a little button right up here that when you hit it, it frosts the glass instantly. It’s an extremely functional car, it looks fantastic, and I think Lexus is really doing something to the BEV market with this vehicle that’s gonna set the bar even higher for the competition, and I’m excited to see what comes of that.”
While on the road, this BEV did not feel very far removed from their similar models that are either gas powered or one of the hybrid systems. And I mean that in a good way. Lexus has not gone full spaceship like other manufacturers have with their BEVs. The interior is still very Lexus, and if you are a loyal Lexus customer you will feel right at home once you get inside.
This RZ is powered by a 96-cell lithium-ion battery pack that is mounted under the floor giving it a great low center of gravity. The 71.4 kWh battery will give 308 horsepower and an EPA estimated range of 220 miles on the 18-inch wheels and 196 miles if you opt for the 20-inch wheels.
While not offered just yet, I did get some time to try out their new “Steer by Wire” system on a small agility course that was set up for us.
“So now I’m in the vehicle with the steer by wire system. Now this is going to be an option down the line, but it is not available right now. It is a very interesting feel let me tell you, there is something about A) not having a completely round steering wheel, you know the only people that are really used to that are like, F1 racers. And you go through these sections with very very tight steering and the steering wheel is only going over 90 degrees. And the car is doing an extremely tight turn. If you can see right here this is a very quick U-Turn, 90 degrees over with the right hand. One of the things I really can’t wait for is to get this thing on at least our slalom course or on a real racetrack because this is something that is very unique and very cool to drive. And if you ever get the chance to get behind the wheel of one of these I highly recommend it.”
When all is said and done, this all-new BEV will be $59,650 for the Premium all-wheel drive trim with the 18-inch wheels, and up to $65,150 for the Luxury package with all-wheel drive. We will have more of this 2023 Lexus RZ 450e coming to you in the not too distant future, so until then, keep it locked here on MotorWeek.