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  • Writer's pictureCory Fourniquet

2023 Lexus RZ 450e Premium AWD: First Drive

What if I told you that you could buy a premium Lexus product for about the same money as the Nissan we showed you yesterday? Say hello to the 2023 Lexus RZ 450e Premium AWD, an all-electric crossover from Lexus that is truly a premium product worth considering if you are in the market for an EV.

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The RZ marks the first of many fully-electric vehicles to come from Lexus as the brand transitions its entire portfolio to electrified offerings and is designed to provide drivers with an exhilarating driving experience while also being eco-friendly.

The RZ 450e is powered by dual electric motors and a 71.4 kWh lithium-ion battery, which gives it an impressive 308 horsepower and 320 lb.-ft. of torque. The DIRECT4 all-wheel-drive system ensures that the RZ can handle any driving condition with ease while also helping it go from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.0 seconds.

The RZ also comes with five different drive modes, including Sport, Normal, ECO, Range, and Custom, allowing you to customize your driving experience based on your needs. The regenerative braking system captures driving energy when slowing and is used to charge the battery, further increasing the vehicle's range efficiency while also easing the wear on traditional brakes.

I have said it before, EVs make great luxury vehicles and that is no different here with this Lexus RZ. Its heavy battery pack down low helps this RZ ride like a larger vehicle while hiding most of the negative side effects of a taller vehicle. Keeping the weight down low reduces body roll in corners and really keeps the RZ feeling planted. The ride, thanks to the generous sidewall on our 18-inch wheels and tires, means a quiet and composed ride. Opt for the optional 20-inch wheels and I am sure you will sacrifice some ride comfort as well as a few miles of EV range.

Inside the cabin, the RZ 450e is just as impressive. The fully digital instrument cluster and Lexus-designed 14-inch Lexus Interface Infotainment system offer a futuristic look and feel. My favorite feature of this infotainment is the invisible vehicle when backing up which uses the 360º cameras to erase the vehicle in the bird’s-eye view. The 10-speaker premium sound system ensures that you'll have excellent audio quality, while the wireless Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™ compatibility means you can stay connected while on the go.

The RZ also features a 10-inch color head-up display, rearview camera mirror, Qi wireless phone charging, and 5 USB-C charging ports, so you never have to worry about your devices running out of battery. The panoramic glass roof lets in plenty of natural light but does not have a shade, so let’s hope the deep tint of the glass can keep out the hot Texas sun. LED headlights, running lights, fog lights, and turn signals provide excellent visibility on the road.

The RZ 450e also comes with heated and ventilated front seats with 3-position driver memory settings, dual-zone automatic climate control, a heated steering wheel, and a power liftgate for added convenience. The NuLuxe® seating surfaces offer a luxurious feel giving the impression of premium leather without the cheapness of vinyl.

In terms of safety features, the RZ 450e is packed with the latest technologies. The Lexus Safety System+ 3.0 includes Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection and Intersection Support, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Lane Tracing Assist, Road Sign Assist, Intelligent High Beams, Rear Cross-traffic Alert, and Digital Latch with Safe Exit Assist.

The RZ 450e has an EPA-estimated 220 miles of range, making it a viable option if you don’t plan to venture too far from home that often. However, we tend to prefer higher-range EVs here in Texas due to the vast size of the state, and wonder how well these will sell in more rural areas. Road trips would mean topping off at a DC fast charger which will slow to a trickle at 80% charge or approximately 176 miles of range which just seems too short for wide-open Texas roads.

Overall, the 2023 Lexus RZ 450e is a fantastic luxury electric SUV at a price that really does not break the bank. The starting MSRP is $59,650, and the price as tested is $60,750, making this only slightly more expensive than the Nissan Ariya we tested yesterday. With a more premium interior, more features and power, and a prestigious Lexus badge on the nose, this makes the decision for an electric SUV from a Japanese company an easy choice.

2023 Lexus RZ 450e Premium AWD Specs:

  • Dual Electric Motors

  • 71.4 kWh Lithium-Ion Battery

  • 308 Horsepower

  • 320 lb.-ft. of Torque

  • DIRECT4 All-Wheel Drive

  • 0-60mph in 5.0 Seconds

  • 5 Drive Modes:

    • Sport

    • Normal

    • ECO

    • Range

    • Custom

  • Regenerative Braking

  • Electronic Power Steering (EPS) System

  • All-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control with Curve Speed Management

  • Single-color Interior Ambient Lighting

  • Fully Digital Instrument Cluster

  • 14-inch Lexus Interface Infotainment

  • Wireless Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™ Compatibility

  • 10-speaker Premium Sound System

  • 10-inch Color Head-Up Display

  • Rearview Camera Mirror

  • Qi Wireless Phone Charging

  • 5 USB-C charging ports

  • Panoramic Glass Roof

  • LED Headlights, Running Lights, Fog Lights, and Turn Signals

  • Roof Rear Spoiler

  • Heated and Ventilated Front Seats with 3-position Driver Memory Settings

  • NuLuxe® Seating Surfaces

  • Dual-Zone Automatic Climate Control

  • Heated Steering Wheel

  • Power Liftgate

  • SmartAccess Card Key

  • Proximity Key with Push Button Start

  • Lexus Safety System+ 3.0

    • Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection and Intersection Support

    • Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist

    • Lane Tracing Assist

    • Road Sign Assist

    • Intelligent High Beams

    • Rear Cross-traffic Alert and Digital Latch with Safe Exit Assist

  • 34.9 Cubic-feet of Cargo Space

  • EPA-Estimated 220 Miles of Range

  • Starting MSRP $59,650

  • Price as tested: $60,750

***This video is sponsored by Lectron EV chargers.***

If you would like to purchase a charger like the one we used in this video through our Amazon Affiliate page, click the link below:

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