• Mon. May 29th, 2023

Lexus RZ450e review: price, specs, driving impressions

ByGurinderbir Singh

May 25, 2023

Lexus is stepping up its transition to a zero-emission future with the arrival of its first SUV built on a dedicated electric vehicle platform.

The mid-sized RZ450e will compete with the Audi e-Tron, BMW iX3 and Mercedes-Benz EQC, as well as more expensive versions of the popular Tesla Model Y.

Lexus first dipped its toe into the EV market in 2021 when it shoehorned an electric motor and battery into the existing petrol-powered UX compact SUV.

The RZ450e is a more convincing effort.

It has been designed and built from the ground up as an electric vehicle on a platform shared with the upcoming Toyota bZ4X and Subaru Solterra.

There’s a clear family resemblance in the styling, but the Lexus sets itself apart with a distinctive grille and sleek sloping roofline.

Priced from about $133,000 drive-away, the five-seat RZ450e Luxury kicks off the two-model range with 18-inch wheels, imitation leather, a 360-degree parking camera, heated front seats, dual-zone ventilation, wireless phone charging and a 14-inch infotainment screen with Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay.

It also comes with two charging cables: one for slow charging from a regular power point and another for public Type 2 chargers that require drivers to bring their own cable.

Lexus will install a 7kW wallbox charger at your house and pay for three years of charging on the Chargefox network.

Owners are also given short-term access to a fleet of petrol and diesel-powered vehicles for driving holidays.

The circa-$145,500 Sports Luxury has features many would expect on the base car, given the lofty pricing. The front seats will store settings for different drivers and there’s a head-up display.

There are also 20-inch alloys, double-glazed side windows, suede-look trim, adjustable ambient lighting, a sunroof, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and a 13-speaker Mark Levinson sound system.

Strangely, there’s no glovebox.

Two-tone paint is available for another $4200 and by late 2024 Lexus hopes to be offering a aircraft-style yoke steering wheel.

Inside, the RZ’s spacious cabin has great knee and head room, although a high-ish floor in the rear means those with longer legs sit a little knees-up. There’s a sizeable storage space beneath the centre console for small bags.

The Luxury has basic finishes that don’t match its price tag, but the Sports Luxury is more convincing, with classier surfaces and seat materials.

Each RZ model shares the same dual-motor set-up. Unusually, the front motor is more powerful, with outputs of 150kW and 266Nm. The rear motor makes just 80kW/169Nm, for a combined 230kW/435Nm.

There’s decent thrust off the mark and impressive traction thanks to the all-wheel-drive set up. The RZ never feels undernourished, with plenty in reserve at higher speeds. Four levels of regenerative braking can be adjusted via paddles on the wheel.

Various drive modes tweak the steering and throttle, but it’s hard to pick the c

hanges. They’re also not easily accessible, buried in menus within the touchscreen.

In any mode, the steering is dull and uninspiring. It’s fine for suburban duties but lacks the feel to deliver an engaging driving experience.

That said, the RZ is sure-footed in corners and the ride is comfortable. Some road surfaces lead to noticeable tyre noise – more prominent in the Luxury – although on the whole it’s respectably hushed. We could do without the beeping in reverse, though.

When recharging the RZ450e can accept up to 11kW of AC electricity and up to 150kW of DC, allowing for a 10-80 per cent top-up in as little as 30 minutes.

A 71.4kWh battery provides a claimed 400km range, although expect less than that in the real world. Those numbers are acceptable but nothing special.

You could say the same of the RZ as a whole.

There are flashes of quality – and the aftersales extras are impressive – but they’re offset by a hefty price tag.


Three stars

Competent rather than compelling, the RZ has excellent owner benefits but a steep price tag.

Lexus RZ450e Luxury

PRICE From about $133,000 plus on-roads

WARRANTY/SERVICE Five years/unlimited km, $1975 for five years and 75,000km

SAFETY 10 airbags, auto emergency braking, lane-keep assist, driver monitor, front and rear cross-traffic alert, intersection turn assist, speed-sign recognition, safe-exist assist, blind-spot monitoring

POWER Dual electric motors, 230kW and 345Nm

RANGE 400km

SPARE Repair kit

LUGGAGE 522 litres

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