Lexus RZ450e 2023: A Strong Performer as a Traditional Car, Moderately Impressive as an EV

Lexus finally debuts its first electric vehicle (EV) in the US market with the RZ450e, and some reviews have been underwhelmed by the automaker’s first foray into battery propulsion. While Lexus has been a longtime leader in electrification with its RX hybrid launched in 2005, the move to all-electric vehicles was not a top priority for the Toyota-owned luxury brand. Based on the e-TNGA platform used by the Toyota bZ4X, the RZ450e shares the same wheelbase but comes in a few inches shorter in length and lower than the RX, the flagship crossover model. In terms of its size, the Lexus is around the same as the Tesla Model Y and a bit smaller than the Cadillac Lyriq.

In terms of its design, some of Lexus’ signature styling features like the Grille are absent in the RZ450e, replaced by a smaller air inlet under the front bumper. The cabin presents a comfortable space for five, with rear seats boasting adequate kneeroom and a flat floor. Upholstery options include either the brand’s synthetic leather or Ultrasuede, and a dual-pane panoramic sunroof comes standard on all models. As per the EV stats, the RZ450e will be initially released in all-wheel-drive and dual-motor form, making a total output of 308 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque. The stats put it far behind EVs like the Ford Mustang Mach-E or the Tesla Model Y, especially considering its modest-sized battery pack with an estimated usable capacity of 63.4 kWh, resulting in EPA-estimated ranges of 196 miles for the Luxury trim and 220 miles for the entry-level Premium version.

In terms of its driving experience, reviewers noted the smooth ride and plush cruising of the RZ450e, with a relatively svelte curb weight that enables speeding up quickly while taking off from a stop, passing on two-lanes, or merging onto the freeway. Although there’s brake-based torque vectoring to help with cornering, the RZ450e only managed a skidpad rating of 0.83 g of lateral grip, perhaps not enough to sell it based on its handling prowess. Nevertheless, the RZ450e’s plush overall experience makes it another high-end contender from Lexus, which should appeal to its loyal fan base.

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