The 2023 Lexus RZ adds a premium touch to Toyota’s nascent electric vehicle portfolio
The RZ is the brand’s first dedicated electric vehicle with no gas-powered counterpart. Sharing a platform with the Toyota BZ4X, the electric compact crossover has a 71.4-kwh battery pack and a targeted range of 225 miles. The Lexus RZ is new for 2023, but it shares technology with the redesigned 2022 Lexus NX and a 71.4-kwh battery pack from the BZ4X and Subaru Solterra.
The styling sets it apart from the Toyota-Subaru twins, and adheres to a more futuristic take on contemporary Lexus design elements. The solid spindle grille eschews air intakes in a busy mishmash of panels beneath the LED headlights. The spindle cinches like a corset between Lexus’ checkmark running lights, then the upper spindle rises into and becomes the hood. In profile, round wheel arches housing 18- or 20-inch wheels have noticeably and tastefully less cladding than in the BZ4X, and cladding on the rockers kicks up into the rear wheel. The charge port sits in the driver’s side front fender. The roofline resolves into an integrated rear roof spoiler and raked rear windshield feathered with a ducktail spoiler. Blacked-out rear pillars adopt the floating roof look popular today.
Inside, the RZ looks more like the Lexus NX than the BZ4X, and that’s a good thing. A 14.0-inch touchscreen dominates the dash but cants toward the driver to feel more integrated with the instrument cluster. Vents run above and away from the brain center, and the seats could be upholstered in a type of suede made partially from sustainable materials. Lexus showed images of a yoke steering wheel though U.S. models will get a traditional circular wheel at launch. Aside from that potential option, there’s nothing too daring or deviant from the Lexus lineup. That should appeal to Lexus fans considering electric but hesitant to jump into anything too far off from the layouts of current gas models.
Gas and its emissions will be far off in the RZ 450e. Lexus estimates a below-average range of 225 miles on its standard dual-motor all-wheel-drive system. A 71.4-kwh battery supplies the juice, but Lexus didn’t confirm the total output from the 150-kw motor up front and the 80-kw motor in back. The front motor is nearly double the size of the BZ4X that makes 214 hp and 248 lb-ft, so expect it to be more powerful and quicker.
Lexus says its all-wheel-drive system automatically adjusts the torque going to each axle based on several inputs, and it can shut off power to an axle when cruising to improve efficiency. At turn in, torque shifts up to a 60/40 split toward the front wheels for better steering response, and on exit the torque shifts by the same ratio to the rear wheels for better traction. Lexus didn’t disclose if its regenerative braking system will have a one-pedal braking option. MacPherson struts up front and double wishbones in back should provide familiar Lexus handling, and Lexus said acoustic glass and other noise-canceling features should eliminate much road and wind noise.
The Lexus RZ is larger than the Lexus NX in most metrics except height, suggesting better aero and perhaps a sportier ride. At 189 inches, it’s 5.5 inches longer than the NX, an inch wider, and has a wheelbase that’s 6.3 inches longer, promising a roomier cabin for up to five passengers. An available panoramic sunroof may eat into some head room, but Lexus won’t disclose exact specs such as leg room and cargo volume until later in the year when it goes on sale.
It will come loaded with standard driver-assist features, including automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and adaptive cruise control.