2023 Lexus RZ Review

2023 Lexus RZ - Impressive RZ touts comfort, technology, safety and refinement, but lacks range.


Lexus first all-electric vehicle is the RZ. It's a compact crossover that's sized between the Lexus NX and RX and shares powertrain and chassis with the Toyota bZ4X and Subaru Solterra. The 5-passenger, 4-door wagon comes standard with through-the-road all-wheel drive. Competitors include the Audi E-Tron, BMW iX, Genesis GV70, Jaguar I-Pace, Mercedes-Benz EQB, and Volvo XC40 Recharge.

The RZ comes in Premium and Luxury trim. Both get a dual motor setup with a combined 308 horsepower. The motors are powered by a 71.4 kWh battery pack that is EPA rated at 220 miles with 18-inch wheel 196 miles with 20-inch wheels. Maximum DC fast charging rate is 150 kW.

Standard safety equipment includes forward-collision warning with brake intervention, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors, surround-view camera, and automatic high beams. Premium models list for $60,000 and include hands-free liftgate, panoramic sunroof, dual-zone climate control, synthetic leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, 14-inch touchscreen infotainment system with wireless integration of Android Auto and Apple Car Play, wireless charging pad, and 5 USB ports. The $65,000 Luxury adds 20-inch wheels, additional sound insulation, head-up display, front cross-traffic warning, semi-automated parking, multicolor interior lighting, synthetic suede upholstery, radiant front knee heating, heated outboard rear seats, and 13-speaker Mark Levinson audio system.

Despite being down a few horsepower to some competitors, the RZ is reasonably quick for an EV and downright fast compared to combustion-powered competitors. The dual-motor setup can produce a 0 to 60 MPH time of about 4.8 seconds. Power delivery is quite linear and highway passing response is good. The RZ does not have a true one-pedal mode, instead sticking with a system that simply provides slightly more regeneration and drag than normal when lifting off the accelerator.

The through-the-road all-wheel drive system relies on sensors and electronic wizardry to route power to the wheels with the most grip. For most people and in most driving situations, that's more than acceptable. Just don't consider the RZ and off-road capable rock crawler.

With an EPA estimate of 220 miles on Premium models and an even more distressing 196 model range on Luxury models, the RZ has one of the lowest overall range ratings in the segment. That's unfortunate and likely to hold back some EV adopters. In addition, the 150-kW charge rate can't keep up with the most competitors that can charge at 350-kW plus.

Dynamically, RZ mimics many Lexus products with a ride that favors comfort and isolation over athletic prowess. The one catch is the low-mounted battery pack gives the RZ impressive steady-state cornering abilities. This give a planted feeling, despite the somewhat soft suspension settings.

The electric-assist steering feels somewhat numb but is actually reasonably quick at all speeds. Brakes have good stopping power and seamlessly transition from regen to friction braking. Overall the RZ feels competent and comfortable and, most of all, rides like a Lexus with plenty of bump absorption and isolation. Interior noise levels are quite low, even for an EV.

Departing from Lexus tradition, the RZ's interior is clean, modern, and uncluttered. Materials are top notch and all of the main functions are easy to find and operate. There are real knobs for the volume and the HVAC controls, though most of the climate controls are integrated into the touchscreen. The gear selector seems to be overly complicated for little benefit.

The front seats are soft, supportive, and impressively skinned. Head and leg room are quite good. IN addition to heated and ventilated front seats, Lexus also offers an industry-first radiant heating for front-seat passengers on Luxury models. The back seat is quite comfortable as well and offers good head and leg room. In addition, the completely flat floor provides good foot space. Entry exit is a snap and outward visibility is quite good.

From a technological standpoint, the RZ has it all. Effective and unobtrusive safety features, a large and easy-to-reach touch-based infotainment system, and all of the comfort features expected in the class. Kudos to Lexus for adding just enough programmability without overcomplicating matters.

RZ isn't quite a midsize, but it's larger than a compact. That bodes well for cargo capacity. Behind the rear seats it offers 24 cubic feet. Seats down it offers 48 cubic feet. Both numbers are good for compact but trail midsize competitors. Interior storage is a mixed bag. The radiant heaters on the luxury mean no passenger-side glove box and the center console bin is tiny. On the plus side map pockets are generous and there's a storage area under the console.

Bottom Line -- RZ is a great example of how electrification can make a vehicle better. Lexus infused all of its luxury DNA and added a smooth and powerful electric powertrain to create a compelling and competitive offering. RZ's biggest drawback is its lackluster range. Unfortunately, that's not something that can easily be fixed with software. If you spend most of your time driving around town, the RZ makes a great choice, however.

Mark Bilek

Mark Bilek is the Senior Director of Communications and Technology for the Chicago Auto Trade Association and the General Manager for DriveChicago.com. He is also responsible for developing and maintaining the Chicago Auto Show Web site.

Mark has been reviewing vehicles for more than two decades. Previously, he was associate publisher at Consumer Guide, where he oversaw publication of Consumer Guide Car & Truck Test, Consumer Guide's Used Car Book, and ConsumerGuide.com. He was also responsible for publication of "Collectible Automobile" and various hardcover automotive titles. In 2001 and 2002 he served as president of a Midwest Automotive Media Association. Mark has appeared on NBC TV, ABC TV, Fox News, WGN and MotorTrend TV as an automotive consultant. He hosts the Drive Chicago radio show on WLS 890 AM and was a regular guest on WGN Radio's Steve & Johnnie show. Mark lives in the northwest suburbs with his wife and three sons.