2023 Lexus RZ 450e
Lexus Joins the EV Party
Up to this point, when we’ve talked about an electrified Lexus, it’s always been about one of the many pioneering hybrids they’ve had on the road since 2005. Well, now Toyota’s luxury marque has finally gone fully-electric with this RZ 450e utility. So, let’s see if this posh Lexus contender is ready to shakeup today’s EV-world.
The 2023 Lexus RZ 450e is the brand’s first global fully battery electric vehicle, and it’s more of a “toe in the water” than a “plunge in” approach.
We say that as there’s nothing radical here, no major breakthroughs in EV technology, just another competent, great looking 5-passenger Lexus utility vehicle that happens to run on batteries instead of petrol.
It doesn’t look much different from other small Lexus crossovers either, just with more aero treatments like the pointy roof spoilers, smooth black fender flares over the 20-inch alloy wheels, and subtle bodyside sculpting. Lexus even maintained their spindle grille shape here, even though there’s now very little actual grillwork.
Like most Lexus vehicles, you can easily trace its roots back to a Toyota, in this case the bZ4X, but both the driving experience and its Ultrasuede covered interior are decidedly Lexus.
That makes the RZ 450 e very familiar to the faithful. But, the layout inside is much different, with a thin dash and simplistic console that give a minimalist and much more luxurious presence to the environment. The housing for the multimedia screen appears to come directly off the well-hooded driver display area which features full digital instrumentation.
There are physical control dials for temperature and volume control, but adjusting anything else requires the 14-inch touchscreen. Front seats are comfortable, finely stitched, and both heated and ventilated. Rear seats, not quite as comfortable, but the area is still very spacious.
Cargo capacity is a good 23.7 cubic-ft., with a max of 55.6 with seats folded.
The steer-by-wire yoke system that was the subject of both many a press release and internet fodder is not quite available yet; but just as cool and way more practical, is this Dynamic Sky Panorama Glass Roof that frosts over at the touch of a button.
Direct4 all-wheel-drive is standard with a 150-kW motor up front and a smaller 80-kW unit for the rear axle, delivering a combined 308-horsepower and 320 lb-ft. of torque, much more than the bZ4X’s max of 214-horsepower. Just one battery size available, 71.4-kWh, which delivers a max of 220-miles of range, though Luxury trim is rated for just 196-miles.
When fully charged, the display on our Luxury tester read 217-miles being available; but as soon as we unplugged, drove away from the charger and flipped on the A/C on an 88-degree day, range immediately dropped to 160-miles, though we then proceeded to drive 20-miles using just 8 miles of indicated range. All told, our driving loop took it down to 10-miles remaining, and by then we had driven 191-miles, so we’d say just over 200-miles is a reasonable expectation. Charging capability maxes out at 150-kW which will get you to 80% in about 30-minutes.
With about 100 more horsepower than the bZ4X, we were looking forward to getting to our Mason Dixon Dragway testing grounds.
And the RZ did not disappoint, gripping hard off the line, planting us firmly in the seat, and bolting to 60 in just 4.8-seconds, more than a second quicker than the Toyota. Smooth and stable down the track, but power seemed to plateau and then taper off quite a bit before we reached the end of the ¼-mile. Still we logged 13.7-seconds at 98 miles-per-hour.
Through our handling course, the RZ did exhibit noticeable body roll and some understeer; but steering weight was quite good, with the car responding immediately to even the smallest of inputs.
Pricing starts with Premium trim at $59,650, top Luxury starts at $65,150.
It’s easy to be disappointed by Lexus’ more of a baby step into the EV world, rather than leaping forward; but it’s certainly not a misstep as we really do love driving it, even more than it’s Toyota kin, plus it’s one of the best-looking EVs yet. Most importantly, the 2023 RZ 450e gets Lexus into the battery-electric game, and it’ll only get better and more enticing from here.
- Motor Setup: Dual Motor AWD
- Horsepower: 308
- 0-60 mph: 4.8 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 120 ft (avg)
- MW Test Loop: ~ 201 miles
- Battery: 71.4-kWh
- Torque: 320 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 13.7-seconds at 98 mph
- EV Range: up to 220 miles