What is a Lexus RZ 450e?
Lexus was lagging behind in the electric space. Since Lexus and its parent company, Toyota, sell hundreds of thousands of hybrids annually, you’d think those automakers would be all over electric cars, but that hasn’t been the case until now. Toyota’s bZ4X broke the lid late last year, and now it’s that more luxurious car’s turn to bow out. Meet the 2023 Lexus RZ 450e, the brand’s first globally available electric vehicle.
Running on the same e-TNGA platform that powers the Toyota bZ4X and Subaru Solterra, but in true Lexus fashion, the RZ 450e aims to elevate the comfort and luxury that these two offer. Unlike Toyota and Subaru, which have distinct exteriors and cabins from other cars in their automakers’ lineups, the RZ looks like a typical Lexus SUV — which happens to be electric. It features an hourglass grille, narrow headlights and proportions very similar to those on the recently restyled NX, but it’s a bit taller, lower and wider overall.
Lexus is clearly competing with the Tesla Model Y with its new premium EV crossover. But it will also have to take on the Ford Mustang Mach-E, Audi Q4 e-tron, Volvo XC40 Recharge and the upcoming electric Porsche Macan in a battle for the small supremacy of luxury electric vehicles.
What is the RZ range?
The RZ 450e features two electric motors, one on each axle, that are powered by a 71.4 kWh battery pack. Lexus says the RZ’s front engine will make 201 hp and the rear engine will produce 107 hp. This is a huge step forward from the bZ4X and Solterra, which use twin 107-horsepower engines in all-wheel drive configurations.
As for range, Lexus says the RZ will go 225 miles on a single charge, as long as you choose the smaller 18-inch wheels. Bigger twenties will likely drain more range and bring this number a twist. If 225 miles on a single charge seems like an average number in 2022, you’re right. There are half a dozen other electric crossovers from the likes of Ford, Kia, Hyundai, Chevrolet, Tesla, Volkswagen and Audi that will cover more space than this Lexus. However, since real-world EV range tests have been proven time and time again, EVs often go further than the EPA estimates, so perhaps the RZ 450e is the best. We’ll find out when the electrified Lexus will go on sale at the end of the year.
How is the interior design of the RZ?
While the RX 450e has a passing resemblance to the NX on the outside, you might be shocked by the déjà vu on the inside. The cabin of the RZ is almost a carbon copy of the NX, and it features the same instrument cluster and 14-inch infotainment screen. The biggest difference between the crossover will come at an unspecified date later this year, which is the new optional steering wheel for RZ.
Like the Tesla Model S and Model X, the RZ will be available with a yoke — a steering wheel without a top section — but Lexus says its approach is different from Tesla’s. This handlebar will have a much higher steering speed, thanks to the steering system by wire. Essentially, smaller inputs will result in bigger motions from the front tires, and hopefully will do away with the manual squeezing we’ve seen on the new Model S. However, this is literally the second time an automaker has attempted to reinvent the wheel, and we can only hope it will. Executing the Lexus solution better than the Tesla solution in real life.
It’s time for Lexus to get into the EV game, but we’re not sure if the RZ 450e will be more attractive than the Model Y or any of the other EVs already on sale from other vintage automakers. Stay tuned for our full drive impressions and whether the RZ 450e is worthy of dominating its competition.