This week I bring you Lexus' first dedicated electric vehicle the 2023 RZ 450e. My review vehicle is a pre-production prototype. Lexus keeps it simple with just two grades to choose from at launch: this one, the Premium AWD, or the top of the line Luxury AWD. Standard lineup features include a14-inch touchscreen and DIRECT4 AWD.
The RZ takes on traits of the recently redesigned RX and then of course adds some unique to the RZ elements. The shape is sleek and designed to be aerodynamic. That includes a grille shutter to help improve aerodynamic efficiency. Up front you also have bi-LED headlights and daytime running lights.
A cool, optional, illuminated front “L” LED emblem indicates charging status. This Premium rides on standard 18-inch five-spoke alloy wheels with Dark Gray Metallic and Machined finish. 20-inch wheels are standard on the Luxury. The tail end features a blade strip tail light and spelled-out LEXUS logo.
In terms of size, the RZ is smaller than the RX. Check out this comparison shot which shows the UX, RZ and RX in that order:
The RZ is powered by a lithium ion 71.4 kWh battery and two motors, one in the front and one in the rear. According to my prototype vehicle info, the system delivers 313-horsepower. The Lexus website cites 308 hp.
Torque is of course a big plus of electric vehicles -the RZ no exception. You'll get 196.4 pound-feet of torque up front, 123.4 lb.-ft in the rear. The RZ is also equipped with standard DIRECT4, which was first introduced in the redesigned 2023 RX.
Note: For those worried about battery longevity, Lexus says its high-density lithium-ion battery is expected to retain more than 90% of its capacity over 10 years.
The RZ cabin is roomy and driver-focused. The Premium grade features Dapple Gray NuLuxe-trimmed seats and interior door trim. While well-crafted, it's more minimalist without mix of many textures or much stitching. It's more about smooth surfaces. The lineup also seems to be void of wood-trimmed steering wheels - please pass the tissues please, because those are one of my favorite Lexus features.
From the comfortable heated and ventilated 8-way power-adjustable driver's seat you'll find the push-button start up a bit to the right - a bit of a reach for me. A heated steering wheel is equipped with paddle shifters that control regenerative braking
I'm a fan of Lexus' new electronic interior digital latch door handles. The door panels do have a neat, cool new to Lexus feature - shadow illumination. It projects a unique lighting pattern on to the door trim.
Note, there's no glove box (available radiant heaters take its place), so you'll need to use the center console which opens from both sides, a feature I've always like in Lexus vehicles.
The center stack is tech-focused and therefore you find capacitive touch climate controls. You can also operate climate settings in the multimedia system. The center console houses the gear shift, cupholders and controls for Auto Brake Hold and the electronic parking brake.
A terrific panoramic sunroof allows a lot of natural light into the cabin and really lightens up the black interior.
The back seat is very roomy as well - and in a change from other models I've reviewed lately - it's not stadium-style seating. That means you not only have nice leg-room, but head-room as well. The seats are comfortable and the floorboard is fairly flat in the middle also nice for a middle seat passenger. Back seat passengers get A/C vents and a drop-down center console with cupholders. Again, there is great natural light in here thanks to the panoramic sunroof.
There's a nice cargo cover in the back and a power rear door with kick sensor is standard across the lineup.
The RZ is equipped with Lexus wonderful new multi-media system and standard 14-inch touchscreen. It's fantastic. The graphics and maps are great as is the system response time. You'll control many of the Lexus features within this system. It's also compatible with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. One of my favorite features, 'Hey Lexus", is available with a Lexus Drive Connect subscription.
The Premium comes with a 10-speaker Lexus sound system. The Luxury model is treated to a 13-speaker Mark Levinson premium sound system.
There are also 5 USB-C ports in the RZ, three up front and two for the second row, and also a great optional 10-inch head-up display. A wireless charger is standard across the lineup.
Also here's a look at Lexus' self-driving Intuitive Assist parking feature as demo'd in a parking lot:
Ride and Drive
Wow, does the RZ deliver terrific power and off-the-line acceleration. It is effortless. And such a smooth ride and drive, too. The 96-cell battery pack under the vehicle floor creates a low center of gravity that really adds to the driving dynamics, or as Lexus says "stability and ride comfort." I like the dial-type shift knob used to select from Sport, Normal, Eco, Range and Custom drive modes. It's easy to operate. I also must remark on the RZ's weight. It feels just right, not too heavy or too light. All in all it's a smooth, confident and quiet ride with nice steering input and excellent braking.
Range-wise, the RZ delivers up to 220 miles on a charge when equipped with 18-inch wheels. Bump up to the 20-inch wheels and it drops to 196. Both numbers are a little short when you consider many automakers are aiming for the 300 range and higher.
Like with all EVs you lose some range when running the A/C and you'll see the range change reflected in data in the driver's digital display.
The RZ has a 6.6. kWh onboard charger. Here's a look at the charging data:
- Level 1: 110V – 120V - Approx. 50 hours
- Level 2: 240V - Approx. 9.5 hours
- DC Fast Charging (400V) -Approx. 30 minutes
In one of my home 120V outlet tests, the time to full charge was 37 hours and 20 minutes. In another, it was 20 hours and 30 minutes. (Lexus sells a Level 2 at-home charging station starting from $749.) I do wish Lexus provided more charging info in the driver display, like the battery percentage and kWh speed. Also note, you can use the climate system and power outlet while charging.
Here's something I've not heard of before. Lexus offers what is calls Clean Assist program, where RZ owners can offset their vehicle charging with 100% renewable energy.
The RZ is equipped with Lexus' latest Lexus Safety System+ 3.0 which is really terrific. It features Pre-Collision System (PCS) with Pedestrian Detection, All-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC), Lane Tracing Assist (LTA), Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/ SA), Road Sign Assist (RSA), Proactive Driving Assist (PDA) and Intelligent High Beams,,
Additionally the Premium is equipped with Digital Latch with Safe Exit Assist, Panoramic View Monitor, Blindspot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, and Intuitive Parking Assist with Auto Braking.
Options on this particular Pre-Production Prototype model include: a Cold Area Package ($200). Digital Rearview Mirror ($200), Illuminated Front Badge ($200), Premium Paint ($500).
The RZ is a terrific SUV from Lexus in terms of wow-worthy acceleration, an excellent suspension and an overall outstanding driving experience. As far as the electrified part goes, the lineup doesn't offer as much range as other all-electric SUVs like the Nissan Ariya or the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS 580, both reviewed by Jerry Reynolds The Car Pro. It also doesn't offer quite as quick DC fast-charging as some other models on the market today. Two things I expect will improve with the next model year.
- What I Liked Most: Driving dynamics, effortless acceleration, multimedia system, panoramic sunroof
- What I would change: Add side grab handles. Add more range.
- MSRP: Pre-Production Prototype. Base: $58,500. As equipped: $60,750 including dealer processing and handling fees.
- Fuel Economy: 115 city MPGe /98 highway MPGe /107 combined MPGe.
- Odometer reading when tested: 988 miles.
- Curb Weight: 4,564 pounds. (Premium w/18in wheels.)
- Spare Tire: Repair kit.
- Length-Width-Height: 189.2” long/74.2” wide/64.4” tall.
- Fuel Tank Capacity: N/A. Charging port on the front driver's side.
- Official Color: Iridium ($500)
- Towing Capacity: N/A.
- 2023 Lexus RZ 450e in a few words: A really enjoyable SUV with amazing acceleration that I just can't get enough of. Just give me more range.
- Warranty: 4 yr/50,000 mi basic, 6 yr/70,000 mi powertrain, 6-year/unlimited-mileage Corrosion Perforation Warranty.
- Final Assembly Location: Toyota Aichi Japan
- Manufacturer's website: Lexus