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Reviews2023 Lexus RZ450e Review: Too Little For Too Much $$

2023 Lexus RZ450e Review: Too Little For Too Much $$

The Lexus RZ450e is a fine premium SUV but off the mark as an EV


2023 Lexus RZ450e Pros

– The output boost over the bZ4X is noticeable.

– Its cabin is extremely luxurious.

 


2023 Lexus RZ450e Cons

– Range is lackluster.

– Styling is awkward from the front.

 


An ongoing conversation piece in the auto journo world is Toyota and its, according to some, timid electrification path. Only earlier in 2023, most would have continued to argue that the giant Japanese automaker wasn’t doing enough however, a few months later, it’s become painfully obvious that most EVs are not ready for mainstream and, more importantly, nor are potential buyers or even dealers for that matter.

2023 Lexus RZ450e | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

Far more than a Toyota bZ4X

 

In fact, for the last two years or so, Toyota and Lexus’ hybrid vehicles have become near absolute unobtanium where demand outstrips availability by a considerable margin. The reason is simple: Efficiency and (typically) reliability. I’ve been a fan of these hybrids for some time and was reticent about reviewing the RZ if mostly because the Toyota bZ4X left me thinking that Toyota should have put off its introduction and revised a number of elements. But hey, a job’s a job…

 

I recently had the opportunity to test drive the Lexus RZ450e, Toyota’s luxury arm Lexus’ foray into the electric vehicle (EV) market. In partnership with Subaru, Toyota has developed a platform to create a trio of EVs across their brands, but the big question is: does the Lexus version justify its existence beyond its siblings?

2023 Lexus RZ450e | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

Let me dive right into my experience with the RZ450e. Firstly, the vehicle is essentially a more luxurious version of the Solterra and bZ4X. However, Lexus had a significant challenge ahead of them – to elevate the RZ450e beyond just a badge-engineered product and deliver something that exceeds expectations.

 

During my week-long test drive, I found the Lexus RZ to be a competent SUV. It ticks most of the boxes you’d expect from a vehicle in its class, especially in terms of comfort and luxury. The interior, featuring ultra-suede upholstery and a high level of craftsmanship, is a true highlight. It’s spacious, with plenty of room even with two child seats installed, and comes with features like a digital latch, a 14-inch touchscreen, and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

 


With more power but less range

2023 Lexus RZ450e | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

However, the RZ falls short as an EV. The main issue is the range. The RZ’s range is disappointingly low for its category and price point. Despite having a 71.4 kWh battery, the range tops out at 354 kilometers for the base model, dropping to around 315 kilometers for the higher trims. This reduction in range is a significant compromise, considering the price you pay. As well, using typical accessories such as A/C or heating significantly impacts range. Charging speed is a decent 150 kW meaning that an 80% state of charge is achieved in under 30 minutes.

 

The driving experience itself is a mix. On one hand, the RZ450e offers a total system output of 308 horsepower, providing a spirited drive and good off-the-line performance. It will cover the 0-100km/h sprint in 5.3 seconds but all that will do is murder the indicated and potentially get you a speeding ticket.

 


Lovely drive

2023 Lexus RZ450e | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

One of the notable upsides of the Lexus RZ450e is its exceptional ride quality. The vehicle offers a driving experience that is quintessentially Lexus: comfortable, serene, and refined. Despite the presence of 20-inch wheels, the ride remains exceptionally smooth, making one yearn to keep driving endlessly, albeit with the frequent need to stop for recharging.

 

The braking system is robust, and the steering feels connected and responsive. However, a notable drawback is the regenerative braking system. The RZ450e features four regen modes controlled by paddles, but it lacks a one-pedal drive option. From my experience, once you get used to one-pedal driving, it’s a feature you don’t want to do without. Even in the most aggressive regen mode, the effect isn’t very pronounced, and you can disengage all regen modes for significant coasting ability. Personally, I prefer the one-pedal driving experience, but the Lexus requires you to physically brake to come to a complete stop, which feels like a missed opportunity in an otherwise impressive package.

 


Handsome with awkward front end

2023 Lexus RZ450e | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

From a design perspective, the RZ450e is distinctively Lexus with its latest spindle grille design (sans actual grille) and clean lines. The two-tone color scheme of this model adds to its appeal, though it comes at an additional cost. The headlights look too close together and create an awkward stare. Otherwise, it’s a handsome premium SUV.

 

Pricing is another area where the Lexus RZ450e raises eyebrows. The tested Executive trim with options flirted with $85,000. While it’s not exorbitantly priced for a luxury SUV, it’s a considerable investment, especially considering the limitations in its electric capabilities and the competition from Tesla and Genesis.

2023 Lexus RZ450e | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The Lexus RZ450e is a fine SUV but a middling EV. It’s comfortable, luxurious, and has the Lexus hallmark of quality. However, as an electric vehicle, it doesn’t set any new standards or offer the range and efficiency one might expect in this rapidly evolving market. It’s a good option if you’re looking to transition from a traditional Lexus SUV to an EV without much fuss, but if you’re looking for an advanced, efficient EV experience, you might want to explore other options.

2023 Lexus RZ450e | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Lexus RZ450e | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Lexus RZ450e | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Lexus RZ450e | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Lexus RZ450e | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Lexus RZ450e | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Lexus RZ450e | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Lexus RZ450e | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Lexus RZ450e | Photo: Matt St-Pierre
2023 Lexus RZ450e | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

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Matt St-Pierre
Matt St-Pierre
Trained as an Automotive Technician, Matt has two decades of automotive journalism under his belt. He’s done TV, radio, print and this thing called the internet. He’s an avid collector of many 4-wheeled things, all of them under 1,500 kg, holds a recently expired racing license and is a father of two. Life is beautiful. Send Matt an emai

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