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  • Writer's pictureMitchell Weitzman

2023 Lexus RZ 450e review: Luxuriously weak EV range

The RZ 450e is a luxurious Lexus, but it's weak range simply doesn't work as an everyday vehicle

lexus rz 450e review | The road Beat

2023 Lexus RZ 450e review with The Road Beat

Words and pictures by Mitchell Weitzman

Lexus has entered the increasingly crowded market for electric propulsion, with this luxurious crossover dubbed the RZ 450e. It's based around Toyota's bZ4X, but with far better looks and furnishings on this Luxury-badged trim level. Being an EV, and having the word luxury in its actual name, it's priced all too appropriately, ringing the register at a premium $67,270 as-tested with all the bells and whistles ordered. Competition is fiercer with each coming month, and the RZ 450e mostly works as an electric Lexus, but offers little reason to choose over more accomplished luxury EVs.

Most troubling with the RZ 450e is a lack of driving range. With a battery measuring only 63.4 kWh in capacity, I can just about guarantee that you will never see more than 200 miles of range on a full charge (even the notoriously over-optimistic EPA estimate is 196). Fully juiced, the onboard computer declared an available 188 miles, but the moment I turned on the air, that number dropped below 150 instantly. Therefore, the only way to get even close to cracking 200 miles is to drive with the climate fully disabled, as just having it vent outside air (with A/C off) drops your expected distance considerably according to the onboard computer. Maybe the Lexus' estimate is plainly wrong, because I can't imagine why simply venting air would cost 20% of your range, but that also gives zero confidence to the driver in what's supposed to be a smart and futuristic car. I'm sorry, but spending this much to only be able to go that far is a severe compromise as alternative EVs offer increased range with higher efficiency.

2023 Lexus RZ 450e review

Another knock is when it comes to charging, as the RZ 450e can only do a claimed 150 KW level 3 fast charging, a figure way less than what rivals can do. The onboard charger is also only a paltry 6.6 KW unit, meaning not only does the RZ 450e have weak driving range, but it also takes longer to charge, too. Many other new EVs are able to take advantage of considerably more powerful 350 KW chargers, so the RZ debuting late to the game, and with older charging standards is a real disappointment and already outdates the car.

Dual motors make for a perky powertrain amid a combined 309 horsepower rating, and I found the RZ 450e is able to dispatch 0-60 MPH in a breezy 4.7 seconds. That seems impressive until you realize that a Genesis GV70 Electrified has an additional 174 ponies on tap. Look, it's quick enough, but it's just not setting any records is what you need to know. Unfortunately, we do live in a world where consumers mostly do care about bragging rights and top trumps when it comes to the spec sheet. Luckily, the powertrain is wondrously smooth and easy to operate, as I've found basically all other EVs to share this trait, and there are also steering wheel-mounted paddles to adjust your level regenerative braking as you so please.

lexus rz 450e luxury interior

Not featured on this tester is the yoke steering wheel and steer-by-wire tech that will soon become available. With a traditional (and superior) wheel, the steering here is too light in effort for my liking, and there's an uncertainty to movements slightly off-center. The light weight makes for easy motoring and cruising, but it also takes out any eagerness. And that's a shame, because if you do chuck the RZ 450e hard into a corner, the balance is pretty good when combined with its AWD traction that can really slingshot you in and out turns quite surprisingly. There's sadly zero joy in doing so, making for what is a very boring vehicle to drive and operate despite decent speed and ability.

More in line with a Lexus, though, is the high level of comfort and quality on display. The seats are supportive and comfortable, swathed in a delightful microsuede, while the ride quality is luxuriously cushy and with little road noise intruding even on the highway. Lexus has made a thoroughly accommodating and hospitable car here, earning its credentials as a convincing Lexus and luxury vehicle. The back seat and cargo space is also quite usable and spacious for passengers and errands.

2023 lexus rz 450e interior

Yet, there are some quirks to the RZ 450e that must be mentioned. The door handles on the outside and inside are electronic and take time to get used to - I still prefer traditional items. Further, the buttons on the steering wheel are controlled/seen via the heads-up display, which are clunky to use and also can't be easily seen with polarized sunglasses. And I can't understand why the gauge for the battery does not include an exact percentage number at all times.

Unfortunately, despite the areas where the RZ 450e does succeed, it ultimately doesn't make sense to consider one when shopping for an electric car. The lacking range and slowish charging limit usability compared to rivals, and when range is still the main obstacle for some even considering an electric car, it just doesn't allow the RZ 450e to be competitive in this space. For only a couple thousand dollars more, I'd much rather recommend the Genesis GV70 Electrified, with its increased range, gobs of performance and driving enthusiasm, style, and it's even more luxurious to boot, not to mention an exquisite shape and design. With some updated tech and a bigger, more efficient battery and electric motor, Lexus could have something compelling here, but it's just not there yet. Consider this a beta test of firmware, but for this price and this point in time, beta-spec is not good enough.

2023 Lexus RZ 450e Luxury AWD

As-tested price: $67,270

Pros: Luxurious interior

Cons: Crippling poor range


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