2023 Lexus RZ 450e Luxury

The RZ signifies the brand’s initial venture into the American electric vehicle market. Positioned on the same platform as the bZ4X, this compact crossover joins a competitive arena against the C40, GV60, Lyriq, and the world’s best-seller in both the first and second quarters of 2023—the Model Y—vying for its position in the segment.

DESIGN

The 2023 Lexus RZ 450e displays the brand’s sleek exterior design and streamlines the interior by simplifying the usual clutter of buttons and switches. Sporting an exclusive silver-blue shade named Ether, the RZ exudes a sporty vibe, enhanced by 20-inch alloy wheels and distinct body lines leading to twin wings on the floating rear roof.

The design makes a daring statement with a slanted rear windshield and a spoiler over the Lexus letters. Upfront, the illuminated checkmark daytime running lights draw attention to the spindle grille, with an option to add an illuminated Lexus badge for an extra $200. In contrast to the bZ4X, the instrument cluster sits closer to the steering wheel, seamlessly merging with a 14.0-inch center touchscreen that prioritizes the driver’s experience.

Inside, the new Lexus model features ultrasuede interior trim and contrasting synthetic leather, deviating from the current lineup with its clean and uncluttered design. Positioned around the touchscreen, the climate controls and vents depart from the brand’s previous design approach, offering a refreshing arrangement for a more user-friendly experience.

PERFORMANCE

The RZ features a standard all-wheel drive, combining a 150-kilowatt front motor with an 80-kilowatt rear motor, synchronized with a 71.4-kilowatt-hour Panasonic cell-powered battery pack. Its versatility is evident through five drive modes that dictate speed and power distribution between wheels, favoring 60% power at the front and 40% at the rear under normal conditions.

Power dynamically shifts between the front and rear during turns, improving maneuverability and post-turn stability, while the RZ’s low profile and evenly distributed weight maintain stability despite its slight lean. Enhancing both comfort and composure, the RZ features a multilink rear suspension with reactive dampers.

Driving modes – Normal, Eco, Sport, and customizable options – alter steering response and touchscreen-acceleration levels. Simplifying mode selection beyond the current three-step process on the screen would enhance user convenience.

A mode named Range mode prioritizes efficiency, adapting speed and disabling the AC while predominantly utilizing the smaller rear motor, sacrificing some responsiveness. Beyond 62 mph, it automatically shifts to Eco mode, extending city driving by 5% to 10%.

Four regenerative braking options aim to prolong driving range. Instead of a standard B setting, the RZ 450e integrates paddles on the steering wheel for varied regenerative levels. Even the strongest setting won’t bring the car to a complete halt; Lexus advises using the brake pedal for the final stop to ensure a smooth, non-jolting experience.

RANGE

Though the RZ doesn’t cover as much ground as its competitors, it impressively makes good use of its battery power.

But, the version we tested had big 20-inch wheels, and that really hurt how far it could go on a charge. It only managed 196 miles at 95 MPGe when using both electric and gas power, which is about 2.8 miles for every kilowatt-hour of electricity.

In comparison, when it’s equipped with standard 18-inch wheels, it can go for 220 miles while using energy at a rate of 107 MPGe, which means it can cover about 3.2 miles with every kilowatt-hour.

VERDICT

The 2023 Lexus RZ 450e Luxury, which we test-drove for over a week, has an MSRP of $64,000. When tallying up all the options mentioned in the review, the total comes out to a whopping $67,270.

Competition

The Lexus RZ, akin to the Toyota bZ4X and Subaru Solterra, stands out mainly for its distinct appearance.

Sharing platforms and systems, the Volvo C40, Polestar 2, and XC40 Recharge differ in design. The C40 and Polestar favor a hatchback style, while the XC40 leans towards a small crossover look.

In contrast, the Cadillac Lyriq’s larger size and a 102-kWh battery provide a 312-mile range, highlighting its visually appealing interior.

The GV60 stands apart in the electric vehicle market with its focus on a cozy interior, advanced tech, rapid DC charging, and impressive acceleration.

Despite price variations, the Tesla Model Y, at $60,000, consistently excels in range and efficiency.

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