The 2023 Lexus RZ 450e will be the automaker’s first electric vehicle sold in the United States

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What is the Lexus RZ 450e?

Lexus has fallen behind in the electric space. Given that Lexus and its parent company, Toyota, sell hundreds of thousands of hybrids a year, you’d think these automakers would be all over electric vehicles, but that hasn’t been the case so far. Toyota’s bZ4X burst onto the scene late last year, and now it’s the turn of that car’s fancier sibling to bow. Discover the 2023 Lexus RZ 450e, the brand’s first electric vehicle available worldwide.

The RZ 450e rides on the same e-TNGA platform that underpins the Toyota bZ4X and Subaru Solterra, but in true Lexus fashion, it aims to elevate the level of comfort and luxury offered by these two. Unlike the Toyota and Subaru, which have distinct exterior and cabin designs from other vehicles in their respective automakers’ lineups, the RZ looks like a typical Lexus SUV – it just happens to be electric. It has an hourglass-shaped grille, dodgy headlights and proportions quite similar to the recently redesigned NX, but it’s slightly longer, lower and wider overall.

Lexus is clearly taking on the Tesla Model Y with its new premium EV crossover. But it will also have to take on the Ford Mustang Mach-E, Audi Q4 e-tron, Volvo XC40 Recharge and the upcoming electric Porsche Macan in the battle for small luxury electric vehicle supremacy.

What is the range of the RZ?

The RZ 450e has two electric motors, one on each axle, powered by a 71.4 kWh battery. Lexus claims the RZ’s front engine will produce 201 horsepower and the rear engine will produce 107 horsepower. It’s a major step up from the bZ4X and Solterra, which use twin 107hp engines in their all-wheel-drive configurations.

As for range, Lexus claims the RZ will go 225 miles on a single charge, as long as you opt for the smaller 18-inch wheels. The larger 20s will likely sap more range and reduce that number a bit. If 225 miles on a single charge seems like an average number in 2022, you’d be right. There are half a dozen other EV crossovers from the likes of Ford, Kia, Hyundai, Chevrolet, Tesla, Volkswagen, and Audi that will cover more ground than this Lexus. However, as our real-world EV range tests have proven time and time again, EVs often go further than their EPA estimates suggest, so perhaps the RZ 450e will be a overperforming. We’ll find out when the electrified Lexus goes on sale later this year.

How is the interior of the RZ?

While the RX 450e bears a passing resemblance to the NX on the outside, you might be struck by deja vu on the inside. The RZ’s cabin is almost a carbon copy of the NX’s, with the same instrument cluster and 14-inch infotainment screen. The biggest difference between the two crossovers will come at an unspecified date later this year, and that’s the RZ’s new optional steering wheel.

Like the Tesla Model S and Model X, the RZ will be available with a yoke – a steering wheel without a top section – but Lexus says its approach is different from Tesla’s. This yoke will have much higher steering speed, made possible by a steer-by-wire system. Essentially, smaller inlets will result in greater front tire movement, hopefully eliminating the hand-over-hand flapping we experienced in the new Model S. However, this is the second time an automaker has attempted literally reinventing the wheel, and we can only hope that Lexus’ solution is better executed than Tesla’s in real life.

Edmunds says

It’s time for Lexus to get into the EV game, but we don’t know if the RZ 450e will be any more appealing than a Model Y or one of the other EVs already on sale from other automakers. Stay tuned for our full driving impressions and whether the RZ 450e is worth taking on its competitors.

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