Lexus was one of the early pioneers in the world of green technology and made a massive profit on its early gamble of embracing hybrid technology for many of its models. However, progress is always marching forward, and Lexus is hoping to catch lightning in a bottle twice and has formally unveiled the 2023 Lexus RZ 450e crossover.
The Third Piece In Toyota’s Triple Play
The RZ joins the already unveiled Toyota BZ4x and the Subaru Solterra in the ranks, and while the UX300e is technically the first all-electric Lexus offering, the RZ 450e is the first EV that was designed for global markets from the very beginning. There will be no gasoline or hybrid equipped version with Lexus going all-in on EV power only for the RZ.
The exterior styling pitches the controversial spindle grille and will instead embrace an all-new piece that Lexus calls “the Spindle Body.” The rest of the look is typical CUV but thankfully goes in a more elegant direction than the odd-looking styling that defines its Toyota badged sibling. Lexus claims that the Spindle Body will also be a prominent part of the design for future Lexus EVs moving forward. The RZ is shorter than the Lexus RX but it also manages to be 10-inches longer than that model which plays a role in the RZ’s ability to coddle passengers.
Minimalist RZ Interior Still Comes Packed With Luxury
Lexus claims that Japanese culture and minimalist virtues played a role in the interior design of the RZ. The center stack is occupied by a massive 14-inch touchscreen infotainment system that’s lifted from the NX and LX models. The screen incorporates a heavy touch-operated control layout, but the RZ still has a few hard switches mainly on the steering wheel that allow drivers to control the screen and also adjust the heads-up display when out on the move.
A massive panoramic glass panel provides an enviable view of the sky while the rest of the interior features environmentally sustainable materials and seats that are covered in a non-animal sourced substitute. The extra 10-inches in length that we mentioned earlier allows rear passengers to have plenty of room to stretch out and relax on long journies and when viewed as a whole, the RZ is a noticeable step up over its Toyota and Subaru cousins which helps create a distinct feature and design ladder between the three models when they are cross-shopped together.
Lexus RZ Brings Dual Electric Motors To EV Dance
The 2023 Lexus RZ 450e is built on the eTNGA platform but unlike its mainstream cousins, the RZ will stand out by being the most performance-focused member of the family thanks to a pair of electric motors that are paired with a 71.4 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The front motor produces 201 hp while the smaller rear motor makes 107 hp and also gives the RZ standard all-wheel drive too.
While we have to wait to hear formal performance figures, Lexus did reveal that the RZ will come with a novel feature called DIRECT4 which uses a suite of sensors to analyze and monitor things like the speed of each wheel, the output going to each motor, and even the steering angle to try and improve range, acceleration, and handling. The nearly even power split allows the RZ to seamlessly transition between the front and rear electric motors depending on the situation.
The RZ will also bring a number of novel options to consumers including steer by wire technology which will debut later in the RZ’s production run. Lexus has not shared too much about the inner workings of the system but did confirm that models equipped with the feature will have the traditional steering wheel replaced with a “compact” variant which could e the Tesla-inspired yoke wheel that we saw in earlier teaser images. Other optional goodies include specially designed radiant heaters that are supposed to warm up the interior but without drawing too much power from the battery pack.
When Can I Buy One?
The 2023 Lexus RZ 450e will begin making its way to dealerships towards the end of the year. It’s not known what kind of pricing ladder the RZ 450e will have, but look for it to be a noticeable step up over the bZ4X in this regard which is largely due to the bZ4X not coming to the dance with as much luxury equipment standard. The Toyota will however come with the steer-by-wire technology too though consumers will still have to wait a bit for the technology to appear in that particular model.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.