The most expensive of the Lexus/Toyota/Subaru triplets has been finally launched in the US making it the first global Lexus ever. The RZ 450e is available in every market where Lexus vehicles are sold. It joins the lineup of 7 electrified Lexus models but is the first dedicated battery-powered EV from the brand.
The RZ 450e is a sibling of the Toyota bZ4X and the Subaru Solterra. While the Solterra is the bargain of the trio, Lexus sits right at the top of the range with its starting price of $59,650. The premium does buy some extras though.
Starting with the performance, the RZ 450e is only available with the 313 hp dual-motor AWD system which makes its siblings from Toyota and Subaru look lame. Acceleration from 0 to 60 mph (96 km/h) takes only 5 seconds but all that performance comes at a price - EPA certified range is only 354 km or 220 miles. Opting for the 20” rim and tire combo drops that down to 196 miles.
Lexus is trying really hard to portray the RZ 450e as performance oriented and minimalistic. Performance - sure, but the minimalistic part simply refers to its plain and uninspiring gray interior lifted from Toyota. Thankfully Lexus dressed up the RZ 450e in better quality fabrics but there is no getting away from the fact that this is just a dress-up party.
What separates Lexus from its cheap siblings, is the technology. The car comes fully kitted out with all possible driver aids, there’s a remote access and vehicle sharing available via Lexus app, built-in Intelligent Assistant is available as a subscription service.
Premium sound system from Mark Levinson pumps music through a 13-speaker setup, 12 ultrasonic sensors together with 4 cameras ensure easy parking in tightest spots. The 14-inch infotainment screen offers better experience than its siblings can dream of but the Cloud Navigation which integrates Google’s POI is part of the Drive Connect subscription service.
With the RZ 450e Lexus is bringing something else to the table. To alleviate some of the range anxiety that the 200-miles can rightly induce, the company offers each RZ 450e owner access to the Lexus Reserve program. Each owner gets a complimentary rental of a larger Lexus vehicle (non EV) whenever they plan for a longer journey. The rental is free of charge for 30 days over the first 3 years of ownership.
That’s not all though. The Lexus RZ 450e comes with a party trick - it has the first drive-by-wire steering system coupled with a yoke-style steering wheel. It offers variable steering ratio meaning the wheels turn as much as required depending on the speed of the car. That’s something Tesla engineers should have thought about to avoid the miserable Model S user experience. The solution offered by Lexus performs as it should and after a short while that it takes to get used to, it makes life easier.
Top of the range RZ 450e in the Luxury trim retails for $65,150, the Premium version with 20” rims goes for $60,890 and the 18” rims drop the price down to $59,650. With all the technology crammed into it and the posh badge stuck to the bonnet, is the $65k Toyota worth it?