Lexus, the luxury brand of Toyota, releases several cars based on models of its parent company but with extra features to satisfy the high tier customers. That trend is continuing today with the unveiling of the electric Lexus RZ 450e which is based on the Toyota bZ4X.
The RZ 450e borrows from the same e-TNGA platform found in the 2023 Toyota BZ4X and its 2023 Subaru Solterra twin. In the case of the Lexus, the exterior has been redesigned to make it distinguishable from the other two SUV. The headlights have a different shape, the back still retains the same two roof spoilers but below them next to the Lexus lettering , there’s a new LED light bar spanning the width and joining each of the taillights. Customers will have five exterior colors to choose from, as well as a new two-tone option where the hood and roof are painted black.
Just like the Subaru Solterra, the RZ is only available in all-wheel-drive (AWD) setup, the system is labeled “Direct4.” However, the RZ packs more horsepower, the front-mounted electric motor produces 150 kW and a rear one has 80 kW. Combined, the two push out 230 kW or 308 horsepower. It effectively beats the other two SUV’s by 93 hp. Both the Subaru and the AWD version of the Toyota bZ4X have an output of 215 hp. The RZ outdoes the other two in torque as well, it has 321 pound-feet while the other have 249 pound-feet. The RZ is capable of controlling drive torque between axles if needed, for instance, when entering a corner, the torque is biased to the front wheels to improve response and steering feel.
All three SUV’s share the same 71.4-kWh battery pack, with the RZ estimated to have a range of 225 miles (362 kilometers). A neat feature of the Lexus let’s it turn off power in one of the dual motors to increase battery efficiency.
Inside the Lexus, on the dash is a 14-inch touchscreen, but if the driver hands are occupied, voice commands can be used to control various functions.
Interestingly, the RZ will be offered with a yoke steering wheel in some markets. To enable comfortable steering with it, Lexus has incorporated a steer-by-wire system. Essentially, the system replaces the traditional mechanical connection between the steering wheel and tires and instead uses electric systems which make the full turning angle to be 150 degrees. The short turning angle will make it easy to steer even while using one hand.
The 2023 Lexus RZ 450e is scheduled to go on sale in North America towards the end of this year. Pricing details were not disclosed, however, expect the Lexus to start above the $44,080 of the all wheel drive version of the Toyota bZ4X XLE.