Lexus introduced its first entry into the luxury battery electric vehicle (BEV) market in 2023 with the arrival of the all-new, all-electric Lexus RZ 450e luxury compact SUV.
Already a solid player in the hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) and plug-in electric vehicle (PHEV) markets, Lexus has purpose-built the RZ 450e to deliver a new Lexus luxury and dynamic driving experience to the consumer.
We recently got behind the wheel of a 2023 Lexus RZ 450e to see for ourselves.
Our test 2023 Lexus RZ 450e Luxury AWD came in a somewhat bland “Ether” (pale blue silver) premium color with – what they called – “Thunderstorm” two-color interior.
The Luxury is their top-of-line trim level with 20-inch Dark Premium Metallic wheels standard plus 13-Speaker Mark Levinson Premium Audio, multi-color interior ambient lighting and new radiant (ceramic) front knee heating.
The MSRP for our RZ 450e was $64,000. Adding the Sky Panorama Glass Roof, Illuminated Front Badge, Rear Puddle Lamp plus a few other items and delivery – the ‘in our garage’ price for this beauty was $67,170.
Since this is the first full BEV (battery electric) offering from Lexus, let’s take a closer look focused on the powertrain, battery and charging
POWERTRAIN / BATTERY / PERFORMANCE
The 2023 Lexus RZ 450e is equipped with a 72.4 kWh lithium-ion battery that Is water cooled and insulated for performance efficiency. The 96-cell battery pack is mounted beneath the floor of the vehicle in the new e-TNGA lightweight steel frame of the RZ 450e. The design and placement of the battery pack allows a very low center of gravity to deliver enhanced vehicle stability.
RZ 450e utilizes DIRECT4 – an all-wheel drive system – that features two high torque eAxle units that each drive a wheel set. Front is rated 150k-W with the rear at 80-kW. The DIRECT4 system works to optimize posture control, drive force and traction in response to driving conditions by adjusting front to rear torque distribution by a range of 100:0 to 0:100 as needed.
Suspension is MacPherson strut front and Rear Trailing Arm Multi-Link that is positioned and tuned to enhance handling balance and roll posture. In addition, Frequency Reactive Dampers are integrated with the RZ’s suspension to provide stability and ride comfort.
Braking and steering design and application engineering are all new to support the handling and ride comfort of RZ 450e on the new platform.
Rated at 308 horsepower, this AWD powertrain delivers 0-60 acceleration in just over 6-seconds. EPA estimated MPGe is 102/87/95 with an estimated range of 196 miles.
Driving around Austin and a bit out in the Hill Country around Lake Travis, we found the 2023 RZ 450e Luxury AWD to be very responsive with good handling and ride characteristics delivering a very comfortable ride.
CHARGERS / CHARGING / RANGE
The expansion of EV ownership around the country has raised a number of questions and/or concerns about batteries and charging.
The Lexus RZ 450e comes with a Level 1 (120 V or household current) charge cord. Level 1 charging may take upwards of 50 hours to bring a depleted battery back to 100 percent.
We recommend EV owners install a Level 2 (240V) charger at their home. Charging time for Level 2 is between nine and ten hours (overnight). To that end, participating Lexus dealers offer an option to purchase and install a Level 2 charger at their home through ChargePoint (Home Flex charger) andQmerit (installation)
Nationally, the availability and reliability of remote charging presents challenges for EV owners. Partnering with ChargePoint, Lexus owners will be able to access their national network of Level 2 and Level 3 (DC fast) chargers. A Lexus app enables owners to quickly find, use and pay for vehicle charging when away from home.
The Lexus RZ 450e Luxury AWD has a rated range of 196 miles. That isconsidered by some to be a bit “light” when compared to other manufacturer similar vehicles featuring ranges well over 200 and even up to 300 miles.
We disagree. Having driven a fair number of PHEV vehicles previously, we would challenge that most driving is well under that many miles in a week making charging only a challenge when considering long mile round trips (ie Austin to Dallas or Houston). DC (Direct Charge) fast chargers can bring a battery back to 80% (about 157 miles) in about 30 minutes. A carefully planned trip using ChargePoint recharging stations make would such a trip pretty much a ‘no brainer’.
Travel Hint: Buc-ee’s has installed (or is installing) Direct Charge EV stations at their locations throughout Texas. By the time you finish inside a Buc-ee’s – your vehicle would be charged up.
NOTE: The recent extreme weather (at or below freezing) in Texas recently revealed that an EV battery’s ability to accept a charge can be reduced such that charging time may be as much as doubled. EV owners should note and plan accordingly when traveling away from home in winter.
Clearly Lexus in its styling, the Lexus RZ 450e Luxury AWD replaces the Lexus spindle grille with a solid Lexus Spindel Body featuring an illuminated “L” logo in the center. With no radiator, the hood is lowered for improved aerodynamics and driver visibility.
Key functional features include Bi-LED Headlamps and LED Taillamps, Rain-Sensing Wipers, “Lexus” Door Puddle Lamps, Power Rear Hatch w/Kick Sensor and LED Rear Puddle Lamp.
Of note are the 20-inch Dark Metallic alloy wheels giving it an understated powerful stance.
The interior of the RZ 450e is minimalistic in design – simple, clean and functional. No fancy doo-dads or in-your-face bling. Simply, yet elegantly, all a driver needs and nothing more.
Features include a Lexus Interface 14-inch color touchscreen display with certain key driver control tools on a series of pages that are swipe accessible. Other control buttons and switches are few, intuitively well placed and easy to reach.
Seating is nicely appointed and comfortable front and rear. Front seating is heated and ventilated with rear seats heated.
The Ultrasuede interior trim is notable for its simple richness amplifying its simple luxury.
Distinctive interior features include the new Radiant (ceramic) Heater System, Multicolor Ambient Lighting and Dynamic Sky Panorama Glass Roof. Elegantly, its glass can be adjusted from clear to clouded as desired to control light glare and heat transfer.
Caution: There is limited ‘cubby’ or other storage in the front cabin due to placement of the front ceramic heaters at the knee levels.
MULTIMEDIA & CONNECTED SERVICES
Suffice it to note that the Lexus RZ 450e Luxury AWD is well featured with Lexus Interface Drive Connect w/Cloud Navigation, Safety Connect, Remote Connect, Wi-Fi Connect, AT&T Hotspot w/Integrated Streaming and Wireless Phone Charging along with Mark Levinson Premium Sound, Sirius XM, Wireless Apple Caray and Android Auto capability.
Rated an IIHS Top Safety Pick + for collision passenger safety, the 2023 Lexus RZ 450e is also Plequipped with a full complement of vehicle safety and driver convenience features in the Lexus LSS+ 3.0 Safety System.
Standard features include Proactive Driver Assist, Panoramic View Monitor, 10-inch Color Head Up Display, Lane Tracing and Road Sign Assist, Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, All Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control w/Curve Speed Management, Lane Departure Alert w/Steering Assist, Lane Change Assist, Front Cross Traffic Alert, Blind Spot and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Intuitive Parking Assist (Parallel) w/Auto Braking, Driver Monitor System and Smart Key w/Advanced Park.
Of note were the Emergency Driving Stop System (EDSS) and Smart Card Key w/Advanced Park.
When Lane Trace Assist (LTA) is activated, if the Driver Monitor System determines that the driver becomes unable to continue driving the vehicle, the EDSS system will decelerate the vehicle and stop within the current lane to help avoid a collision or reduce the impact of a collision. To do this, the system first warns the surroundings by flashing the hazard lamps while gently decelerating the vehicle until the vehicle comes to a full stop.
The Smart Key w/Advanced Park expands support for parallel parking using a remote device. In addition to conventional back-up parking, forward-facing parking is now supported, enabling forward-facing/back-up exit.
Lexus RZ 450e coverage includes:
- Basic: 4 yrs./50,000 miles
- Powertrain: 6 yrs./ 70,000 miles
- Battery: 10 yrs./150,000 miles
In addition, it includes Free Maintenance first year and 4 years Roadside Assistance
Though there is no Free Fast Charging available, Lexus does offer a Lexus Reserve Program for those times when a Lexus 450e owner has concerns about range and availability of charging stations in their travels. It provides 30 days use of a gas-powered Lexus as an alternate vehicle over the first three years.
The 2023 Lexus RZ 450e is available in two trim levels – Premium and the Luxury. Both utilize the same Direct4 AWD powertrain.
Premium, available with 18-inch (MSRP $59,650) or 20-inch tires (MSRP $60,890), has a few less features and options than the Luxury (MSRP $65,150).
Note: MSRP prices above include delivery, processing and handling.
For 2024, Lexus has expanded the RZ line-up to include a RZ 300e trim level in both Premium and Luxury. Learn more about the full RZ line-up HERE: https://www.lexus.com/models/RZ.
NOTE: The 2023 Lexus RZ 450e series do not qualify for the Federal Clean Vehicle Tax Credit.
KEY DATA: 2023 Lexus RZ 450e Luxury AWD
- Model: RZ 450e
- Trim: Luxury
- Class: EV Luxury Compact SUV
- Seating: Five
- MSRP: $64,000
- As Tested: $67,170
- Powertrain (F) eAxle 150 kW Electric Motor 150 lb.-ft. torque
- Powertrain (R) eAxle 80 kW Electric Motor 80 lb.-ft. torque
- Horsepower: 308 hp Combined
- Torque: 320 lb.-ft. Combined
- Battery Pack: 71.4 kWh Lithium Ion
- Onboard Charger: 6.6 kW
- Chrg Time LV 1-120V: ~ 50 hours to 100%
- Chrg Time LV 2- 240V: ~ 9.5 Hours to 100%
- 150 kW Direct Charge: ~ 30 minutes to 80%
- Transmission: Direct4 Drive (F/R)
- Drive System: AWD
- Drive Modes: SPORT/NORMAL/ECO/CUSTOM
- Acceleration: 0-60 mpg 6.6 Seconds
- Top Speed: 99 mph (Limited)
- Suspension: MacPherson Strut (F) / Multilink (R)
- Brakes: Vented Disc 12.9-inch /12.5-inch (F/R)
- Wheels: 20-inch Alloy
- Tires: Dunlop SP Sport Maxx 060
- Tire Size: 235/50R-20 (F) / 255/45R-20 (R)
- Fuel Economy: 102/87/95 MPGe (City/Highway/Combined
- Range: 196 miles
Source: Media Test Drive and Press Release Materials