It is no secret that the U.S. customer base loves the Toyota and Lexus brands. Consumer Reports got to look at the new 2023 Lexus RZ 450e, the first in the Lexus Electrified lineup. Lexus says the electric SUV “offers drivers a refined, human-centered driving experience.” Building on the 2023 Toyota bZ4X, what did Lexus change to bring a more luxury EV experience to the market?
The 2023 Lexus RZ 450e will be the first luxury electric SUV for the brand
Consumer Reports reviewed the brand-new 2023 Lexus RZ 450e and had a lot of positive things to report. Lexus plans to bring the RZ 450e to market right after the 2023 Toyota bZ4X. Like how Toyota and Lexus share platforms, the bZ4X and RZ 450e will share the new TNGA platform, battery, motor, and wheelbase. Both brands got a slow start to the transition but plan to be 100% electric by the end of the decade. Toyota has vowed to introduce 15 battery electric vehicles in the next few years.
“The RZ has a balance of traditional features and innovations. Ultimately it may be the brand name and reputation that are its greatest attractions.”Consumer Reports
The Lexus RZ 450e is similar to the Toyota Venza gasoline-powered SUV. This electric SUV will have two motors and come with all-wheel drive. In the official press release from Lexus, the automaker says it will use a new all-wheel drive system called DIRECT4. This will bring a refined and “human-centered” driving experience to drivers.
Lexus opted for a yoke steering wheel in some of the original press photos. The general public (read: not Tesla fans) are not interested in the yoke, but Lexus says it won’t be available for a while.
Will the 225-mile range of the Lexus RZ 450e be enough?
The popularity of the Lexus RX SUV makes sense as one of the first forays into electric vehicles. The Lexus RZ 450e took the best qualities of its gasoline counterpart and incorporated it into the RZ. It will offer two rows at first, while a third row is possible in the future. The 225-mile range isn’t as extensive as some of the RZ’s competition, but it might make due for those without a long commute. Toyota told Consumer Reports that this 225-mile range is more than most people need.
The RZ EV has clean lines on the exterior and nothing surprising on the interior (save for the yoke). A large screen sits between the passenger and driver, flanked by luxurious materials. Consumer Reports says it looks “distinctively Toyota,” though it doesn’t indicate if that is good or bad. The electric SUV looks clean and high-tech.
Lexus says the yoke will offer a more high-end and luxury experience, noting that all tasks necessary with the wheel can be done within 150 degrees of motion. That is very different from Tesla’s take on it, which turns all the way. Consumer Reports testers still didn’t love the yoke, noting that it was confusing and distracting, especially in parking lots.
The launch of the 2023 Toyota bZ4X is an important first step
The all-wheel drive platform will be the only option with a 150 kW motor in the front and an 80 kW motor on the rear wheels. It might get 300 hp, which is still more than the Toyota bZ4X offers. The battery capacity is only 71.4 kWh, which seems small for the electric SUV.
As expected, Lexus delivered with the safety and driver assistance systems. Lexus Safety Sense+ 3.0 offers automatic emergency braking (AEB), adaptive cruise control (ACC), blind-spot warning (BSW) more. It also has an innovative rear seat reminder that prompts the driver to check the back seat. An automatic parking assist is also an option. The 2023 Lexus RZ 450e has some big shoes to fill, but it sounds like this electric Lexus can handle the pressure.