Lexus RZ 450e review
The Lexus RZ 450e is a plush and practical electric SUV, although we wish it offered a bit more range
- Well-finished cabin
- Lexus' customer satisfaction
- Unengaging drive
- Feels derivative
- Rivals offer more range
|Car type||Range||Wallbox charge time||Rapid charge time|
|Electric||246-271 miles||10hrs (0-100%, 7.4kW)||30mins (10-80%, 150kW)|
Lexus RZ 450e verdict
The Lexus RZ 450e is a crucial new model for the Japanese manufacturer and while it’ll undoubtedly sell in significant numbers, we feel it almost seldom brings anything new or interesting to an already-competitive segment. The RZ’s cabin feels well built, if not luxurious, and a supremely comfortable ride makes it perfect for pottering around town or doing the school run. However, it’s difficult to escape the fact the mechanically-similar Toyota bZ4X starts from almost £20,000 less, despite offering a longer range than its premium sibling. We only hope the promise of a more engaging drive brought about by Lexus’ new yoke-controlled steering system will soon inject some personality into the otherwise derivative-feeling RZ 450e.
Range details, specs and alternatives
Lexus has long been a purveyor of electrification; since the original RX 400h debuted in 2005 as the brand’s first hybrid car, almost every new Lexus model has been offered with some kind of electrified powertrain. With this in mind, you may be surprised that it’s taken this long for the Japanese luxury manufacturer to come out with its first ground-up electric car: the Lexus RZ 450e.
The Lexus RZ shares its e-TNGA platform underpinnings with the more mainstream Toyota bZ4X, as well as the more rugged Subaru Solterra. Like those cars, the RZ 450e is a practical family SUV (what new car these days isn’t?) that’s intended to rival other premium offerings on the market such as the BMW iX3, Mercedes EQC and Audi Q4 e-tron. Lexus will also hope the RZ will be able to tempt buyers away from the likes of the Tesla Model Y, Nissan Ariya and Volkswagen ID.4.
There’s only one powertrain available at launch, badged 450e. This comprises two electric motors – one on each axle – to provide a combined output of 308bhp; plant your foot on the accelerator pedal and the RZ 450e will sprint from 0-62mph in 5.6 seconds. One of the headline features of the RZ 450e was set to be its unique optional ‘ONE MOTION GRIP’ steer-by-wire system, but this won’t be available until at least 2025, however, and we’ll get into what that means later.
In the meantime, the Lexus RZ is powered by a 64kWh (net) battery and provides a range of up to 271 miles, depending on specification. As standard, the RZ 450e comes equipped with 150kW ultra-rapid DC charging capability which, according to Lexus, will be able to top-up the car’s battery from 10-80% in under half an hour if you’re connected to a sufficiently powerful public charger.
Buyers can choose from one of three trim levels: Premium, Premium Plus and Takumi. As you’d expect from a Lexus, the RZ 450e comes with plenty of standard equipment, with all cars getting LED exterior lighting, 18-inch alloy wheels, full leather upholstery, a 14-inch touchscreen, heated seats and a heated steering wheel, a panoramic sunroof and Lexus’ Safety System+ suite of driver aids.
Stepping up to the mid-spec Premium Plus adds larger 20-inch alloys, more-efficient ‘radiant’ cabin heaters, a head up display and upgraded steering wheel controls. Finally, the range-topping Takumi boasts unique fabric upholstery, a Mark Levinson stereo, 64-colour ambient lighting and an electronically dimmable sunroof.
Range, battery size & charging
|Range||Wallbox charge time||Rapid charge time|
|246-273 miles||10hrs (0-100%, 7.4kW)||25mins (10-80%, 150kW)|
As mentioned, the Lexus RZ 450e is powered by a 71.4kWh battery (64kWh usable) to achieve a range of up to 273 miles on the WLTP combined cycle. We say ‘up to’ as not only does this depend on things like weather conditions and driving style, but also the exact specification of the car you opt for. The larger wheels and extra technology fitted to the range-topping Takumi model means that it can manage only 246 miles on a charge – only entry-level Premium cars can do the aforementioned longer range due to their smaller 18-inch wheels.
Regardless of which trim level you pick, the RZ 450e still offers less range than the likes of the Tesla Model Y Long Range, which is claimed to do up to 331 miles on a single charge. Thankfully, the Lexus gets 150kW ultra-rapid DC charging as standard, meaning you’ll be back on the road in as little as 25 minutes if you manage to find a public charger compatible with these speeds. Plugging into a 7.4kW wallbox will take substantially longer – a full charge will be completed in around 10 hours. Using a standard three-pin plug will take over a day, although this is likely to be a last resort for most owners.
Running costs & insurance
Starting at over £60,000, the Lexus RZ 450e is not only expensive to buy, it’ll be pretty pricey to insure, too. Exact figures are yet to be announced, but you can expect the Lexus to cost around the same to cover as a BMW iX3, which occupies insurance groups 44 and 45.
Other running costs should be much easier to swallow. Charging the RZ 450e at home overnight can be much cheaper than filling up the equivalent petrol or diesel luxury SUV – especially if you’re subscribed to a specific EV electricity tariff. Making frequent use of public rapid chargers can be just as expensive – or even more so – than a trip to the petrol station, though.
Like all electric cars, the Lexus RZ 450e sits in the low 2% Benefit in-Kind (BiK) tax bracket for company car drivers and is exempt from road tax (VED) until 2025. Buyers will also escape having to pay out for the London Congestion Charge as well as the city’s Ultra-Low Emission Zones (ULEZ) for the foreseeable future, too.
Performance, motor & drive
|0-62mph||Top speed||Driven Wheels||Power|
No matter which version of the Lexus RZ 450e you choose, for the time being all come fitted with a dual-electric motor setup, providing all-wheel-drive grip and 308bhp. As you’d expect from an EV, power delivery is as smooth as it is instantaneous, with the RZ getting from 0-62mph in 5.6 seconds. While this is behind what’s possible in a Ford Mustang Mach-E AWD Extended Range, the Lexus feels faster than the numbers may suggest and should be more than sufficient for the majority of RZ buyers.
All of this power is managed by Lexus’ Direct4 system, which analyses your current g-forces, wheel speed etc. and subsequently juggles the car’s power between the front and rear axles in order to maintain maximum traction. As a result, the RZ generally feels stable on a twisty road, despite its 2.1-tonne weight. But it ultimately fails to offer a more dynamic drive than its less-expensive siblings, the Toyota bZ4X and Subaru Solterra.
This lack of outright fun could, in theory, be at least partly rectified in the future by the arrival of the Japanese brand’s new steer-by-wire system, dubbed ‘ONE MOTION GRIP’. Controlled via a jet-fighter style ‘yoke’ steering wheel – cars without this system get a traditional circular wheel – ONE MOTION GRIP aims to offer sharper, more direct steering at lower speeds, and more precise inputs when going fast. We don’t expect this to arrive as an option before the beginning of 2025, though.
Truth be told, most SUV buyers aren’t after a sporty drive and primarily want comfort – something the Lexus RZ 450e offers in spades. When on the move, it’s incredibly refined – especially when fitted with the same adaptive damping setup as our test car – and manages to soak up the majority of bumps well. There’s very little wind noise, too, although we suspect the tyre roar was a result of our test car’s huge 22-inch alloy wheels.
Interior, dashboard & infotainment
We were impressed with the Toyota bZ4X’s interior when the car first debuted, as it marked a vast improvement over the cheap-feeling Toyota cabins of old. Given the Lexus RZ 450e shares many of that car’s parts and costs around £20,000 more, we expected big things from the supposed ‘luxury’ variant.
So, were we equally wowed by the Lexus? Yes and no. If you’re familiar with other recent Lexus models, you’ll immediately feel at home in the RZ 450e. The overall design of the cabin is classy yet understated, and while there is no glove box on top-spec models to make way for the energy-efficient ‘radiant heaters’, everything is otherwise laid out in a thoughtful manner.
It’s worth noting, though, that even our top-spec Takumi test car – which has a starting price of over £70,000 – felt well-built rather than truly luxurious; a Genesis Electrified GV70 will ultimately provide more of a sense of occasion, despite being based on a petrol SUV.
Lexus has long lagged behind rivals when it comes to cutting-edge infotainment technology, until recently fitting its cars with a clunky touchpad-based media system. Thankfully, this is nowhere to be seen in the RZ, with all versions getting a glossy 14-inch touchscreen with integrated physical climate control dials. Identical to the system fitted to the new hybrid-powered Lexus RX, this slick and easy-to-use unit comes as standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, and is bolstered by a small digital instrument cluster behind the steering wheel.
Boot space, seating & practicality
|Length||Width||Height||Boot volume (seats up/down)|
Despite its sloping roofline, the Lexus RZ 450e should offer more than enough space for most families. Two adults can stretch out in the rear with sufficient head and legroom, while a third occupant can also sit in relative comfort, thanks to a flat cabin floor.
Although there’s no ‘frunk’ under the bonnet, the majority of buyers should be adequately served by the RZ’s 522-litre boot, too. It’s larger than what’s offered by the Lexus’ main rivals, the BMW iX3 and Mercedes EQC, and can be expanded to a cavernous 1,451 litres by folding the rear seats down.
Reliability & safety rating
At this stage, it’s difficult to determine whether or not the Lexus RZ 450e will be reliable. What we can say, however, is that Lexus finished a decent 12th out of 29 manufacturers in our 2022 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey. While buyers mainly complained about the brand’s old touchpad infotainment system, many were pleased with the reliability of their cars – only 14% of Lexus models were reported to have developed an issue within the first year of ownership, making them much more reliable than the equivalent BMW or Mercedes.
The RZ 450e is yet to undergo safety testing by Euro NCAP, but its mechanical sibling, the Toyota bZ4X, recently received a full five-star rating. This is also likely to be the case for the RZ 450e, which comes as standard with Lexus’ full Safety System+ suite of driver aids that includes autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and automatic high beams.