The 2023 Lexus RZ is the luxury automaker’s first-ever all-electric vehicle. Toyota’s premium subsidiary aims to achieve 100% battery electric vehicle (BEV) sales worldwide by 2035, and plans to offer a full range of new and exciting electric cars in its portfolio by 2030. The RZ is the dawn of a new era for Lexus.
“We believe that Lexus, an established luxury automaker, should pursue creating exciting cars while respecting nature and the global environment to achieve a carbon-neutral society,” said Takashi Watanabe, chief engineer, Lexus. International. “We will continue to rise to the challenge of providing customers with new experiences and a driving experience unique to Lexus BEV.”
Lexus and its parent company Toyota have been at the forefront of hybrid technology. The Honda Insight was the first mass-produced hybrid vehicle sold in the United States, but the Toyota Prius opened the door to commercial acceptance of hybrid cars in 2000. Lexus sold its first hybrid car, the RX400h, in 2005. Toyota and Lexus had plenty of practice before all-electric cars became mainstream, but we still can’t figure out why they were so late in introducing a mainstream EV.
It finally gave in with the bZ4X and Subaru Solterra, both backed by Toyota’s e-TNGA platform, with the same architecture hiding under the funky styling of the Lexus RZ. Competitors like BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and even Genesis may have taken a step ahead. But according to Geoffrey Chaucer Yeoman’s Tale of 1386, “For better than never is late; never succeeding would be too long a time.
2023 Lexus RZ: BEV rocket body
We all know Lexus by its tapered grille, a design language we’ve come to love over the years. The Lexus RZ has a new face to set it apart from its non-premium Toyota and Subaru counterparts, and it’s obvious that Lexus designers have gone the extra mile to give the RZ a unique cup. Affectionately referred to as the “BEV Spindle Body” by Lexus, the RZ’s entire face resembles a prominent grille (for lack of better words), and we like it a lot.
Lexus says the front bumper design “focuses on aerodynamic efficiency and optimized proportions”, while an LED light strip and sloping hatch are the most prominent design features at the rear. Execution is cleaner than in the bZ4X but more polished than the Subaru Solterra.
DIRECT4 All-Wheel Drive
Lexus failed to mention specific powertrain details for the 2023 RZ. Still, it said something about DIRECT4 AWD and a new high-output electronic axle motor (eAxle) to precisely control the driving force between the front wheels. and rear, referring to the RZ450e with dual electric motors, AWD and around 308 horsepower.
Lexus says DIRECT4 powers between 60:40 and 40:60 fore and aft when accelerating to minimize pitch while mimicking the thrust of a rear-drive sports car. Additionally, the system transfers more power to the front wheels when cornering (between 75:25 and 50:50 front and rear, respectively) to fine-tune steering feel. But as you exit the corner, DIRECT4 switches between a 50:50 and 20:80 split to improve traction while minimizing unwanted pitch.
Steer By Wire system available
The 2023 Lexus RZ will have a Steer by Wire system available that overrides the mechanical linkages between the drawbar and the front wheels. The result is a 150-degree steering angle that reduces workload and reduces three-point turns and parking maneuvers. And if you fancy the steering wheel yoke of a Tesla, Lexus will fulfill your whims in the new RZ.
We first saw Toyota’s attempt at a half wheel in the bZ4X, and it will most likely make an appearance in the new Lexus RZ (fingers crossed). We don’t mind a yoke-style bar if the steering angle is 150 degrees, and the kid inside us is all giddy at the mere thought of a spaceship-like steering wheel in a car of production.
2023 Lexus RZ: battery, range and charging
Lexus didn’t mention the battery and charging specs of its new RZ electric crossover. The press release says the RZ will achieve about 225 miles of range with 18-inch wheels and about 200 miles with the optional 20-inch rollers. Those numbers made us frown, considering the RZ’s closest competitors, like the Ford Mustang Mach-E and Hyundai Ioniq 5, can average 300 miles on a single full charge.
The 2023 Lexus RZ will likely have the same 65.6 kWh battery as the bZ4X, but the press release says it will have a 71.4 kWh battery like the Solterra. It could also come with the same 6.6kW on-board charger, although we bet the RZ is compatible with DC fast chargers up to 150kW for faster charge times.
Luxurious interior and advanced safety features
The 2023 Lexus RZ features a low dash and dashboard with a 14-inch infotainment touchscreen. Three interior color options are available (Orage, Palomino and Dapple Grey/Black), while a panoramic roof with a dimming feature is standard fare. The door trim has “shaded lighting” which alters the shade of light hitting the inside of the doors when opening or closing. It may seem like a gimmick, but we can’t wait to see how it all works.
Meanwhile, the newest RZ comes standard with the Lexus Safety System+ 3.0, an advanced driver assistance package that includes dynamic radar cruise control, pre-collision system, vehicle exit alert lane and an emergency driving stop system, to name a few.
The 2023 Lexus RZ leaves the factory with a four-year/50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, six-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty, eight-year/100 000 miles and one-year/10,000 miles free maintenance. An extended warranty could prove beneficial if you drive more miles than average. This comprehensive guide will help you determine if a Lexus extended warranty is worth considering.
2023 Lexus RZ: Pricing and Availability
The 2023 Lexus RZ will arrive in dealerships late in 2022. Pricing and other related information is yet to come, but we estimate base prices will start above $55,000. Our free and easy search tools* show you which Lexus dealerships have the best deals in your area. These search tools will also help you get the invoice price to negotiate the best possible price on the market for a Lexus RZ.
Alvin Reyes is a columnist on Automoblog and an expert in sports and performance cars. He studied civil aviation, aeronautics and accounting in his youth and is still very fond of his old Lancer GSR and Galant SS. He also likes fried chicken, music and herbal medicine.
Photos & Source: Lexus.
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