Lexus was surprisingly generous in building up to the RZ reveal as the teaser campaign pretty much shows it all. Nevertheless, we have been waiting for this day to come and find all the details about the more luxurious alternative to the Toyota bZ4X. As you can see, it’s more than swapping badges and calling it a day because the high-end version has its own visual identity.
Where should we start? There is less plastic body cladding compared to the bZ4X and its sister model, the Solterra Subaru. The greenhouse is different in that there is no fixed glass behind the back door. Instead, Lexus decided to install a glossy black panel to activate the “floating roof” effect. By the way, all the pillars are black, as are the side mirrors which are mounted lower on the doors than in the mechanically linked SUV.
Closer inspection reveals the headlights have a different shape and the top character line is unique to the RZ. We can say the same about the design of the wheels housed within the glossy black arches. Moving at the rear, the Lexus version has the slimmest derrière of the three and a new twist on the two-piece roof spoiler compared to the equivalent Toyota and Subaru EVs. Both have a badge on the tailgate while the luxury alternative proudly carries the letters “LEXUS” above the center of the light bar.
Stepping inside, the 2023 RZ has the familiar yoke, but the dashboard behind it is exclusive to the Lexus-only electric SUV. For example, the digital instrument cluster is positioned at a normal distance from the driver rather than being mounted further back as is the case on the bZ4X and Solterra. The 14-inch touchscreen is larger than the 12.3-inch infotainment of the other two models. There seem to be fewer quick shortcuts on the center console where the air vents are above the screen than at the bottom.
We’re pretty sure some will find the start/stop button location a bit unusual, sitting to the left of the central air vent. By the way, the side vents are arranged horizontally instead of vertically and the console “floating” between the seats has less control than you’ll find in Toyota and Subaru models. Overall, the RZ cabin looks more comfortable to sit in.
Much like Solterra, the RZ is an all-wheel-drive-only affair, and uses a setting labeled “Direct4.” However, the 450e packs more punch thanks to a front-mounted electric motor with 150 kW and a rear e-motor with 80 kW. Combined, the two push out 230 kW, which makes 308 horsepower. This represents a significant jump of 93 hp over the AWD-equipped Subaru and Toyota bZ4X with a total output of 215 hp.
While the lower-end electric SUV has 249 pound-feet (336 Newton-meters), the RZ raises that figure to 321 lb-ft (435 Nm). A 71.4-kWh battery pack is carried and Lexus estimates it should be enough for 225 miles (362 kilometers). In comparison, the AWD-equipped bZ4X can go 228 miles in the XLE trim and 222 miles if you step into the Limited. It’s the same story as the Solterra, offering 228 miles for the Premium model and 222 miles for the Limited and Touring.
The range depends on the trim level as the more expensive models have additional equipment, thus making them a bit heavier. More importantly, the top spec version uses bigger wheels. In the case of Lexus, the 225-mile estimate goes for the US-spec RZ which features 18-inch alloy wheels.
The 2023 RZ 450e is scheduled to go on sale in North America towards the end of the year. Pricing details haven’t been revealed yet, but you’ll be paying more than you paid for the $44,080 bZ4X XLE with AWD. We’ll remind you the Toyota in the better equipped Limited trim with dual motors retails for $46,700. That tells us that a fully charged RZ can hit the $50,000 mark before incentives.