Toyota’s Lexus is the latest luxury brand this week to unveil its first-ever battery-electric vehicle, a surprisingly low-range SUV called the RZ that is supposed to set the direction for its future. And that future looks a lot like the Toyota bZ4X that recently launched.
The 2023 RZ 450e is the first nameplate to launch under the automaker’s “Lexus Electrified” vision for its upcoming all-electric models. Lexus has set a goal to offer EVs in each vehicle segment by the end of the decade and become a fully battery-electric brand by 2035.
Lexus faces stiff competition in an increasingly crowded EV landscape, with numerous luxury brands launching their own electric sedans, SUVs and crossovers. The RZ, a five-passenger SUV that will travel a maximum of 225 miles on a fully charged battery when outfitted with smaller, 18-inch tires, will go up against the likes of Audi, BMW and Cadillac, to name a few.
The RZ’s battery setup will deliver even fewer miles when the crossover is equipped with a larger set of tires. That’s less range than many of the luxury EVs to debut this year, which could put the RZ at a disadvantage. General Motors, for example, says its new Cadillac Lyriq crossover can travel more than 300 miles on a single battery charge.
Lexus could give the RZ a competitive boost by keeping the base price below other luxury EV SUVs, including the Audi e-tron and BMW iX. Lexus has not yet released pricing for the vehicle. If it is below $60,000, the RZ will face competition from the Volvo XC40, which has a 257-mile range, and the 225-mile-range Volvo C40.
It also may compete with the Toyota bZ4X crossover, which can travel up to 252 miles on a full battery charge. Both are built on Toyota’s e-TNGA dedicated EV platform.
That means power, performance and interior touches will matter if RZ hopes to stand out. And many of those details, including performance, price or production dates has not yet been released. But from what has been released the 2023 RZ does have some fancier details than the bZ4X, including a larger infotainment system. The 2023 RZ will use the same Lexus Interface multimedia system and 14-inch touch screen found in the latest versions of the brand’s NX compact crossover and flagship LX utility vehicle.
The RZ will also sport the brand’s new DIRECT4 all-wheel drive system and a choice of five exterior colors, including a shade called Ether that “evokes the nimble driving performance of BEVs,” according to Lexus.