Lexus is no stranger to producing cars that are motivated by electrons. They were the first to offer a luxury hybrid SUV before any of the other established luxury brands. This was the RX400h. However, it has taken Lexus a while to introduce an all-electric vehicle for the North American market. The 2023 RZ450e is the brand’s first EV for us here in Canada and the United States. It is based on the Toyota BZ4x and the Subaru Solterra but unlike its twins, the RZ450e elevates the luxury to levels that is expected of a Lexus vehicle.
The switch to an all-electric drivetrain is a big benefit to luxury vehicles. The noises and vibrations from the gasoline engine are gone. All that is left is the gentle humming of the electric motors. Double-paned windows and extra sound deadening materials line the cabin for a quiet and serene interior environment.
The cabin materials feel premium, but things are done a little bit differently. For example, instead of leather upholstery, it uses either NuLuxe or Ultrasuede for the seats which are more environmentally friendly options than real leather.
A large 14” touchscreen is the focal point of the RZ’s interior. It is powered by the latest version of the Lexus interface which is controlled exclusively through the touchscreen. There is no more finicky touchpad controller. This new system also allows for wireless Apple CarPlay & wireless Android Auto connectivity.
One feature that is new for any Lexus vehicle is the radiant front knee heater. There is a panel that replaces the glove box and one underneath the steering wheel which can radiate heat onto your knees much like a space heater in your home or office. One more really cool feature is the moon roof. It unfortunately doesn’t open but at the touch of a button you can make it see-through or opaque.
The list of features doesn’t end there. The RZ450e has heated seats for both front and rear occupants, a heated steering wheel, surround view cameras that will record the immediate area in front and behind the car to imitate a see-through vehicle as you slowly drive over that patch of road, there’s a power liftgate, and dual zone automatic climate control.
Another feature that you may have heard of and are wondering about is the yoke steering wheel. The standard steering wheel is electro-assisted which is the same as pretty much all other vehicles on sale today. The yoke steering wheel uses a steer-by-wire system. What that means is that there is no physical connection between the yoke and the wheels like in more traditional steering systems. Instead, it is all controlled by a computer and electric motors. Now before you start to think it’s unsafe, there are redundancies just like in an airplane so if one motor fails, another is there to take its place. The benefits to having this type of steering system are that it allows for a faster response, and you don’t ever have to cross your arms when maneuvering the RZ450e in a parking lot for example. The yoke steering wheel will be available at a later date.
The floor mounted 71.4 kWh battery sends its power to electric motors that drive both the front and rear wheels. This provides the 2023 RZ450e with, what Lexus calls, a Direct 4 AWD system. The total output of these electric motors is 308 hp which allow the RZ450e to accelerate from 0-100 km/h in a brisk 4.8 seconds. To put these numbers in a bit of perspective, that is more power than the Toyota BZ4X and a faster acceleration time than that of the Audi Q4 e-Tron.
However, power isn’t everything. The 2023 Lexus RZ450e Signature with the 18” wheels has an official driving range of 354 km while this Executive trim level is rated for 315 km with the 20” wheels. Recharging the car can be as quick as 30 minutes from 0% to 80% at a level 3 DC fast charger.
Keeping You Safe
The 2023 Lexus RZ450e is packed with the latest safety features. Some of these are items that have become standard in many vehicles such as automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, blind spot sensors, parking sensors and so on. But there are a lot more available safety features than that.
For a start, it has safe exit assist which will warn you if a vehicle is approaching from behind when you open the door. There is both rear and front cross traffic alert with automatic braking when you’re parking or pulling out of a parking spot. When you’re making a left turn at an intersection, the RZ can detect an oncoming vehicle, or a pedestrian, and automatically apply the brakes if it thinks the car will have an impact. On highways, it can help you change lanes by gently steering the car into a parallel lane when there’s a clear spot. Additionally, it has Traffic Jam assist which allows for temporary hands-free driving when the speed of traffic is below 40 km/h.
Getting Behind the Wheel
The 2023 RZ45e Signature starts at $65,450 (MSRP, excluding fees & taxes) and the Executive trim starts at $81,450 (MSRP, excluding fees & taxes). Here in BC, the Signature trim of the RZ450e is eligible for up to $4,000 in EV rebates at the time of this article.