Nearly a yr after Toyota launched its first long-range EV, the bZ4X, the automaker’s luxurious model is stepping into the sport with the battery-electric Lexus RZ 450e.
While the 2 all-electric fashions share the identical underpinnings, the Lexus package deal delivers improved efficiency, distinctive design particulars and quite a lot of upscale options not provided on the mainstream Toyota mannequin. Among different issues, the RZ 450e might be provided with a brand new steer-by-wire system that, officers declare, will give the all-electric SUV a sportier, extra responsive really feel.
Like various key rivals, Lexus has laid out plans to go solely electrical. To take a look at what the posh model has delivered with its first EV, TheDetroitBureau.com headed to San Diego to drive a number of variations of the 2023 RZ, together with an early prototype geared up with the yoke-controlled steer-by-wire system.
“This is a pivotal year for us,” Greg Kitzens, the Lexus basic supervisor, declared previous to the primary drive of the model’s first long-range battery-electric car.
Lexus was one of many pioneers in the case of electrification and now provides quite a lot of hybrid and plug-in hybrid fashions. It’s late to the market with a full EV, nevertheless. With plans for the model to go solely EV throughout the coming decade, Lexus hopes to make up for misplaced time with the launch of the 2023 RZ 450e.
The electrical crossover shares various key elements with the Toyota bZ4X launched a yr in the past. That begins with the underlying e-TNGA platform. But the RZ isn’t only a gussied-up model of Toyota’s mainstream EV. It delivers various pluses, beginning with improved efficiency and a extra compelling design. There are, as you’d count on, some welcome new luxurious options, as properly.
One of the extra intriguing choices gained’t be accessible at launch, nevertheless: a brand new, yoke-controlled steer-by-wire system more likely to by added someday in 2024.
If there’s one shortfall, nevertheless, it’s vary. At a most 220 miles, primarily based on EPA estimates, the RZ 450e falls wanting most — although actually not all — of its luxurious EV rivals.
At first look, you would possibly confuse the 2023 Lexus RZ 450e with the standard, gas-powered Lexus NX crossover. They share the identical wheelbase, although the EV measures 7 inches longer total. The RZ 450e additionally has about 2 inches extra headroom than each the NX and greater RX.
As we’ve come to count on with fashionable battery-electric autos, Lexus designers put a premium on aerodynamics, one thing important to maximizing vary. The RZ has a drag coefficient of 0.29, making it the sleekest mannequin within the Lexus line-up.
Instead of a rear wing, a particular characteristic of the RZ is using dart-like “vortex generators” which, the automaker claims, is equally efficient at dishonest the wind whereas producing much less carry at freeway speeds.
To obtain the low drag quantity, the RZ encompasses a low, sloping hood and a nostril adopting a very sealed model of the acquainted Lexus “spindle grille.” With no engine beneath the hood, there are lower-mounted air intakes to chill each motors and the battery pack. A lit Lexus brand alerts you to the truth that that is an EV.
With shorter entrance and rear overhangs, and its battery pack and motor drive system moved beneath the load ground, the Lexus RZ 450e boasts a considerably bigger inside than the in any other case equally sized Lexus RX crossover.
Unlike some key rivals, such because the Tesla Model Y, the RZ doesn’t supply a front-trunk, or frunk, for added storage. Surprisingly, Lexus opted to delete a glovebox, as properly — although there’s loads of inside cupboard space, together with a big heart console.
In line with the “green” theme of the RZ — and echoing what various rivals have achieved with their EVs — Lexus all however eliminates some conventional luxurious design options, similar to leather-based and wooden. Instead, it opts for synthetics similar to Ultrasuede produced from recycled supplies.
Even the “base” Premium mannequin is fairly well-equipped, with a full digital instrument panel, together with an LED gauge cluster and 14-inch infotainment display. There are a handful of conventional controls, although most features are operated by the infotainment system.
I used to be significantly impressed by the inside lighting system Lexus got here up with. It initiatives diamond-like patterns on the door inserts. The draw back is that that is solely seen at night time.
One large distinction between the RZ and the bZ4X is that the Lexus package deal is obtainable solely with two-motor all-wheel drive. The Toyota EV is available in each front- and all-wheel drive. That stated, a driver can swap to “Range” mode. It all however fully shuts off the entrance motors except an additional burst of energy is required, or when extra traction is required.
The 2023 Lexus RZ 450e musters up an affordable stable — however removed from benchmark — peak 308 horsepower, the entrance motor delivering as much as 150 kilowatts of power, the rear one other 80 kW.
Where the Toyota bZ borrows its all-wheel-drive system Subaru, which collectively developed its personal Solterra EV, Lexus has developed its personal AWD system. Dubbed Direct4, it’s fairly efficient at transferring power forwards and backwards between the motors.
At 220 miles most for the RZ 450e with 18-inch tires, the Lexus EV is just not significantly spectacular on the vary entrance. And the upgraded Luxury mannequin, with its 20 inchers, minimize that to an anemic 196 miles. Lexus officers downplay the numbers, noting their analysis suggests RZ consumers will not often drain their batteries.
As for charging, all variations of the 2023 Lexus RZ 450e are geared up with a 71.4 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery. If plugged right into a 150-kilowatt public charger it requires as little as round half-hour to go from a ten% to 80% state-of-charge. With its built-in 7kW 240-volt charger, going from 10%-100% takes 13 hours.
Safety and Technology
Where the RZ 450e would possibly lag by way of vary and efficiency, Lexus aimed to step out in entrance with an array of superior tech options. That consists of an Amazon Alexa-style voice assistant. Just say, “Hey, Lexus,” and it’ll function quite a lot of car features utilizing plain English instructions.
It’s unclear why the RZ delivers such mediocre vary when in comparison with some key rivals utilizing a equally sized battery pack. And to get even that most 220 miles, Lexus engineers made launched some intriguing applied sciences. That features a radiant heating system that every one however instantly blasts out loads of heat whereas utilizing much less power than even probably the most environment friendly warmth pumps present in different merchandise, such because the Tesla Model Y, Lexus claims. It additionally has a reservoir to seize warmth from the battery pack to additional scale back the quantity of power wanted to heat the cabin.
There’s the requisite array of superior driver help techniques, together with Traffic Assist, as a part of the Lexus Safety Sense+ 3.0 package deal. The RZ 450e Luxury trim provides niceties similar to a head-up show and the audiophile Mark Levinson sound system. Also accessible: a particularly efficient auto-park system that may put you head or tail-first into even tight spots.
Add the brand new steer-by-wire system Lexus plans to start rolling out in a yr or so. The know-how eliminates the conventional, mechanical hyperlink between the steering wheel and the entrance wheels, a lot as a lot of right this moment’s autos have simply an digital hyperlink between the throttle and their engine or motors.
It’s not the time this know-how has been provided. Infiniti was the primary to carry the idea to market a couple of years in the past. But the Infiniti system had a failsafe mechanical linkage that might activate if the by-wire system failed. Not so with the Lexus know-how. Instead, its steer-by-wire system will get redundant microprocessors and energy provides.
The typical Lexus driver ought to discover it simple to plug into the brand new RZ 450e. That was truly a key objective of the EV’s product growth crew: making the swap all however fully clear. That stated, this method has some drawbacks.
There’s no 1-Pedal mode, for instance. In many competing fashions, that will increase the quantity of power “regenerated” when coasting or braking, permitting you to sluggish quickly just by modulating the throttle. You can’t come to a whole cease with the RZ, even when switched to its most aggressive regen mode.
While Lexus hasn’t launched last efficiency specs, count on the RZ to outperform the Toyota bZ4X which is rated at 6.5 seconds 0-60. It’s fairly fast and responsive — however my very own expertise discovered it clearly slower than the 4.7 seconds required to launch a equally geared up model of the Tesla Model Y.
Lexus engineered the RZ with extra physique helps and that turns into apparent whenever you’re flogging it round corners. It’s no sports activities automotive however most drivers ought to be impressed by its dealing with and minimal physique roll — although the steering is a bit numb and there’s extra wind and highway noise than you’d count on from a product carrying the Lexus badge.
Lexus had me spend a little bit of time flogging a prototype geared up with the steer-by-wire know-how round a slow-speed circuit specified by a closed car parking zone. It was a smart transfer, because it took a little bit of time to get snug with utilizing the yoke-controlled know-how. For one factor, you solely have to show the yoke 170 levels to succeed in steering lock. Steering inputs can range of their impact, because the system reads car pace and different components, as properly. The system can also isolate the form of jarring bumps a standard steering wheel delivers whenever you hit, say, a pace bump or pothole.
It took much less time than I anticipated to get snug with the upcoming choice, finally taking it out on public roads alongside the San Diego coast. I’m hoping to log extra time later driving it up by the twisty mountain roads main as much as Julian, one in all my favourite take a look at routes.
The steer-by-wire system that Lexus has coming ought to ship an actual shock to potential consumers. If something, it appears the form of know-how you’d count on to debut on one of many model’s sportier fashions, the LC, maybe, or an F Sport package deal. I’ll be curious to see what number of potential RZ consumers truly go for the characteristic.
The 2023 Lexus RZ 450e is a fairly good product, one which present Lexus homeowners will discover each acquainted and comfy to function.
That stated, it does fall quick in a couple of areas, notably vary. And, at a base $59,650, plus $1,150 in supply charges, it carries a steep entry worth. Under the revised guidelines of the Inflation Reduction Act, in the meantime, it now not qualifies for federal tax credit.
It could be telling to think about that Lexus has laid out surprisingly modest aspirations for the RZ 450e. Even although it plans to supply the EV in all 50 states, the automaker expects to promote simply 4,900 through the first yr. And it expects demand to develop reasonably within the years to comply with.
That actually components within the competitors Lexus will face, together with key merchandise just like the Tesla Model Y, in addition to the Audi e-tron, the Jaguar I-Pace and the Volvo XC40. But, as model boss Kitzens harassed, the RZ might be a “pivotal” product.
Lexus plans to fully migrate to electrified autos by 2030 — one thing that features hybridized merchandise, in addition to EVs. But it has an assortment of all-electric fashions within the pipeline and we must always see a number of extra by mid-decade, in response to what insiders have instructed us on background.
2023 Lexus RZ 450e — Frequently Asked Questions
What is the vary of the 2023 Lexus RZ 450e?
The 71.4 kilowatt-hour battery within the Lexus RZ 450e can ship an EPA-estimated vary of 220 miles with variations geared up with 18-inch wheels and tires. The 20-inch package deal drops to simply 196 miles per cost, making it one of many lower-range choices in its phase.
How a lot does the 2023 Lexus RZ 450e price?
The base Lexus RZ 450e Premium package deal begins at $59,650. The RZ 450e Luxury trim jumps to $65,150. Add supply charges of $1,150.
How lengthy does it take to cost the Lexus RZ 450e?
All variations of the 2023 Lexus RZ 450e are geared up with a 71.4 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery. If plugged right into a 150-kilowatt public charger it requires as little as round half-hour to go from a ten to 80% state-of-charge. With its built-in 7kW 240-volt charger, going from 10-100% takes 13 hours.