2023 Lexus RZ: Automaker’s First Battey EV Features AWD, Steer by Wire System, New Body Design & More

The 2023 Lexus RZ is the luxury automaker’s first-ever pure electric vehicle. Toyota’s premium subsidiary wants to attain 100 percent battery electric vehicle (BEV) sales globally by 2035, and it plans to offer a full lineup of new and exciting electric cars across its portfolio by 2030. The RZ is the dawn of a new age for Lexus.

“We believe that Lexus, an established luxury automaker, should continue pursuing the creation of 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 take on the challenge of providing customers with new experiences and a uniquely Lexus BEV driving experience.”

Setting The Stage

Lexus and parent company Toyota have been at the forefront of hybrid technology. The Honda Insight is the first mass-produced hybrid vehicle sold in the USA, but the Toyota Prius kick-opened the door for commercial acceptance of hybrid cars back in 2000. Lexus sold its first hybrid car, the RX400h, in 2005. Toyota and Lexus had a lot of practice before fully-electric cars became mainstream, but we still can’t get over why they were so late to introduce a mass-market EV.

It finally caved in with the bZ4X and Subaru Solterra, both underpinned by Toyota’s e-TNGA platform, the same architecture hiding beneath the Lexus RZ’s funky styling. Competitors like BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and even Genesis may have gotten a head start. But according to Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Yeoman’s Tale of 1386, “For better than never is late; never to succeed would be too long a period.”

2023 Lexus RZ: BEV Spindle Body

We all know Lexus by its spindle grille, a design idiom we grew to love over the years. The Lexus RZ has a new face to differentiate it from its non-premium Toyota and Subaru peers, and it’s evident Lexus designers went the extra mile to give the RZ a unique mug. Affectionately called “BEV Spindle Body” by Lexus, the entire RZ’s face is like a prominent spindle grille (for lack of better words), and we like it a lot.

Lexus claims the front bumper design “focuses on aerodynamic efficiencies and optimized proportions,” while an LED light strip and sloping hatch are the most prominent design features in the rear. The execution is cleaner than in the bZ4X yet more polished than the Subaru Solterra.

2023 Lexus RZ
2023 Lexus RZ. Photo: Lexus.

DIRECT4 All-Wheel Drive

Lexus failed to mention the specific powertrain details of the 2023 RZ. Still, it did say something about DIRECT4 AWD and a new high-output electronic axle (eAxle) motor to precisely control the driving force between the front and rear wheels, referring to the RZ450e with dual-electric motors, AWD, and about 308 horsepower.

Lexus claims DIRECT4 feeds between 60:40 and 40:60 front and rear when accelerating to minimize pitch while mimicking the shove of a sporty rear-wheel drive car. In addition, the system shifts more power to the front wheels when turning (between 75:25 and 50:50 front and rear, respectively) to sharpen the steering feel. But as you exit the corner, DIRECT4 shifts between a 50:50 and 20:80 split to improve traction while minimizing unwanted pitch.

Available Steer By Wire System

The 2023 Lexus RZ will have an available Steer by Wire system that negates the mechanical linkages between the tiller and front wheels. The result is a 150-degree steering angle that reduces workload and makes mincemeat of three-point turns and parking maneuvers. And if you envy the yoke steering wheel in 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-styled tiller 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 production car.

2023 Lexus RZ: Battery, Range & Charging

Lexus did not mention the battery and charging specs of its newest RZ electric crossover. The press release said the RZ will achieve an estimated 225 miles of driving range with 18-inch wheels and about 200 miles with the optional 20-inch rollers. Those figures raised our eyebrows to the sky, considering the RZ’s closest competitors like the Ford Mustang Mach-E and Hyundai Ioniq 5 can go an average of 300 miles on a single full charge.

The 2023 Lexus RZ will likely have the same 65.6 kWh battery pack as the bZ4X, but the press release states it will have a 71.4 kWh battery like the Solterra. It could also come with the same 6.6 kW onboard charger, although we’re betting the RZ is compatible with up to 150 kW DC fast-chargers for quicker charging times.

2023 Lexus RZ interior layout
2023 Lexus RZ interior layout. Photo: Lexus.

Luxurious Interior & Advanced Safety Features

The 2023 Lexus RZ has a low-positioned instrument panel and dashboard with a 14-inch infotainment touchscreen. Three interior color options are available (Orage, Palomino, and Dapple Gray/Black), while a panoramic roof with a dimming function is standard fare. The door trim has “shadowy illumination” that changes the shade of light hitting the inside of the doors when opening or closing. It may sound like a gimmick, but we can’t wait to see how the whole thing works.

Meanwhile, the newest RZ comes standard with the Lexus Safety System+ 3.0, an advanced driving assist package that includes dynamic radar cruise control, a pre-collision system, lane departure alert, and an emergency driving stop system, to name a few.

Lexus Warranty

The 2023 Lexus RZ leaves the factory with a four-year/50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, a six-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty, an eight-year/100,000-mile hybrid-electric warranty, and one-year/10,000-miles worth of complimentary maintenance. An extended warranty could prove beneficial if you drive more miles than the average person. This comprehensive guide will help you discern whether a Lexus extended warranty is worth considering.

2023 Lexus RZ: Pricing & Availability

The 2023 Lexus RZ will arrive at dealerships near the end of 2022. Pricing and other related information remain forthcoming, but we reckon base prices to start above $55,000. Our free and easy search tools* show which Lexus dealerships have the best deals in your area. Those search tools will also help you obtain the invoice price to negotiate the best possible out-the-door pricing on a Lexus RZ.

Alvin Reyes is an Automoblog feature columnist and an expert in sports and performance cars. He studied civil aviation, aeronautics, and accountancy in his younger years and is still very much smitten to his former Lancer GSR and Galant SS. He also likes fried chicken, music, and herbal medicine.

Photos & Source: Lexus.

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