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In-depth reviews

Lexus RZ SUV review

“The Lexus RZ is the first electric mid-sized SUV from the brand as it ushers in new technology and aims to take on the Tesla Model Y”

Carbuyer Rating

3.9 out of 5

Owners Rating
Be the first to review

Pros

  • Quick
  • Quiet and classy interior
  • 150kW fast charging

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Average driving range
  • Firm ride

Verdict - Is the Lexus RZ a good car?

Lexus has been highly successful at introducing hybrid technology, so can it do the same with all-electric powertrains? The Lexus RZ 450e is a good attempt at a ground-up electric car and should prove popular, sitting in the all-important mid-size SUV class. It has plenty of performance, excellent refinement, and an appealing interior. However, it’s not as exciting to drive as Lexus may have hoped, and it’s quite expensive given its mediocre 270-mile maximum driving range and the fact it costs around £10,000 more than a Tesla Model Y.

Lexus RZ models, specs and alternatives

The Lexus RZ is the Japanese manufacturer’s first-ever model that’s been designed from its inception to be powered purely by electricity. It is a medium-sized SUV that shares a lot of its hidden parts with the Toyota bZ4X and Subaru Solterra, thanks to the significant collaboration between the brands. Lexus’ range also includes the smaller Lexus UX, which is available as a hybrid and electric UX 300e, costing from just over £44,000.

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It enters a growing segment of high-riding EV models, and upmarket rivals include the BMW iX3, Audi Q4 e-tron and Tesla Model Y. The RZ also marks a significant milestone, because Lexus is aiming to be an all-electric brand in the UK by 2030, but while the RZ is smaller than the Lexus RX, it isn’t cheap – with a starting price of just over £62,000. That’s quite a bit more than its Audi rival, which starts from just under £51,000, while the BMW iX3 costs from around £64,000.

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There’s a single powertrain available from launch, with a 201bhp front motor joined by a 107bhp rear motor for a 308bhp combined output. They’re fed by a 64kWh battery pack, which is a bit lower in capacity compared to some of its rivals. Maximum range is rated at 271 miles for entry-level trims, dropping to just over 250 miles for range-topping versions with large 20-inch alloy wheels.

Charging is pretty quick, with up to 150kW possible at compatible DC public charging stations; enough for a 10 to 80% charge in half an hour. The RZ also comes with 11kW home charging as standard, although most UK households won’t be able to benefit from more than 7kW unless they have their supply upgraded to three-phase AC.

Trim levels are called Premium, Premium Plus and Takumi, with the most basic version still getting LED headlights, a powered tailgate, leather upholstery, heated front seats and a 14-inch infotainment system. For around £4,000 extra, Premium Plus adds features like a head-up display, 360-degree camera view and bigger alloy wheels. Takumi costs over £70,000 and brings an upgraded stereo, adaptive suspension and other luxuries. 
 

Trim levels

Power options

  • Premium
  • Premium Plus
  • Takumi
  • Dual motor (308bhp)

Lexus RZ alternatives

Family SUV EVs

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Premium SUV EVs

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Mid-size SUVs

Range, charging & running costs

“The RZ 450e doesn’t have a monster battery, so its 271-mile range is only average”

For now, there’s only one version of RZ being offered, and it makes do with a relatively small 64kWh battery. As a comparison, the BMW iX3 has an 80kWh (74kWh usable) pack, while the Audi Q4-etron has up to 77kWh, which pays dividends in a relatively large and heavy SUV. On a single charge, the RZ can manage up to 271 miles between charges, compared with up to 317 miles for the Audi.

At least charging is quite impressive for the Lexus, thanks to a maximum of 150kW DC at public chargers, resulting in a 10 to 80% top-up in around half an hour – the Q4 e-tron tops out at 135kW. Anyone lucky enough to have a three-phase home (or business) supply can also benefit from 11kW AC charging, thanks to the standard on-board charger. Most home wallboxes are limited to around 7kW, however, so this won’t be a major advantage for the majority of RZ buyers.

Like every EV, the RZ will benefit from free VED (road tax) until 2025, when charges are implemented by the government. Business drivers will also see big benefits from choosing the RZ over a similar hybrid, petrol or diesel SUV, thanks to its low Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) band.

Model 

Battery size

Range

Dual motor (308bhp)

64kWh

271 miles

Insurance

The Lexus RZ starts in group 44 out of 50 for the Premium trims, while Takumi increases this to group 45. That’s a pretty steep rating for a mid-sized SUV, which likely reflects its relatively high performance and the sheer amount of technology fitted inside. The Audi Q4 e-tron is slightly more affordable, sitting in groups 25 to 39.

Electric motor, drive & performance

“With two electric motors, the Lexus RZ should feel more than fast enough for most buyers”

While the Lexus RZ does share a lot of parts with the Toyota bZ4X, the more upmarket brand is hoping to set itself apart with features such as ‘Direct4’. This uses a myriad of sensors to detect how the car is behaving, and direct the flow of power and torque, not just to the front or rear wheels, but also from side to side to alter how the car drives and boosting its agility.

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It’s not always possible to feel this while on the move, however, and the suspension also feels quite firm – after all, the RZ weighs over two tonnes and the version we drove was fitted with large 20-inch alloy wheels. The adaptive suspension of the Takumi version helps here, but a few road imperfections are still felt inside the cabin.

Refinement from the electric powertrain is excellent, with very little motor whine and hardly any wind noise, even at higher speeds, so the RZ is a quiet A-road and motorway car. There’s some road noise from the tyres, but it isn’t too noticeable. 

0-62mph and top speed

As mentioned above, there’s just one dual-motor powertrain offered for now, with a combined 308bhp and all-wheel drive for maximum traction. This helps it launch from 0-62mph in an impressive 5.6 seconds, before hitting its limited top speed of 99mph pretty soon afterwards.

Model 

Power

0-62mph

Top speed

Dual motor

308bhp

5.6s

99mph

Interior & comfort

“The interior feels sturdy and Lexus’ infotainment is now vastly improved”

It hasn’t moved completely away from the edgy ‘Spindle’ design of other models in the Lexus lineup, but a closed bodywork-matching grille means the RZ is a slightly more subtle proposition. It’s still quite an edgy design, however, with a wave trailing the front wheel arches, a kick up towards the rear window pillar and pronounced side skirts.  

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It’s both good and bad news in the RZ 450e’s interior because while it’s not as opulent-feeling as the Genesis GV60’s cabin, you do get the sense that everything is impeccably well built. It’s just a shame that virtually every surface is black, grey or silver, giving the RZ a fairly sombre feel for a car costing over £60,000.

Considering its price, it should be no surprise that features like leather upholstery, a powered tailgate, heated front seats and dual-zone climate control are standard for the Premium trim. This should suit the majority of buyers, but Premium Plus and Takumi ladle on the extras, bringing 20-inch alloy wheels, along with upgraded suspension and a Mark Levinson stereo for the range-topper. Owners can also make their RZ more distinctive with bi-tone paintwork for around £1,100.

Infotainment and navigation

While Lexus has a great reputation with owners according to our recent Driver Power surveys, one area it has long lagged behind is infotainment. Happily, the old and tricky-to-use touchpad has now been consigned to history, and the central touchscreen is now far larger, sharper and has attractive graphics.

Measuring 14 inches from corner to corner, it dominates the dashboard, and even goes so far as to replace physical buttons for the climate control. It’s the same system fitted in the bigger Lexus RX, and comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for those who would still prefer to use familiar software.

Key features

Premium Plus

  • 20-inch alloy wheels
  • Leather upholstery
  • Heated seats
  • Head-up display
  • 360-degree camera

Takumi

(Premium Plus plus…)

  • Premium fabric upholstery
  • Mark Levinson stereo
  • Adaptive suspension
  • 64-colour ambient interior lighting

Practicality & boot space

“Designing the RZ as an EV from the start has created some big advantages for interior space”

A big advantage of clean-sheet designed EVs is the ability to devote more of the cabin’s length to passenger space, while also getting rid of the transmission tunnel which normally runs down the car’s spine. Electric motors are more compact than a combustion engine, and don’t require a bulky gearbox. While the battery is large and heavy, it can be made relatively thin and flat, helping designers to disguise it into the floor.

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The result is reasonable space in the back seats for two adults, and even a third person shouldn’t be too uncomfortable for shorter trips. 

Size comparison

Model 

Length

Width

Height

Lexus RZ 450e SUV

4,805mm

1,895mm

1,635mm

Tesla Model Y SUV

4,775mm

1,850mm

1,624mm

Audi Q4 e-tron SUV

4,588mm

1,865mm

1,632mm

BMW iX3 SUV

4,734mm

1,891mm

1,668mm

Boot space

For an SUV in this class, the 522-litre boot is a respectable size and usable shape. Fold the rear seats down and it expands to 1,451 litres in volume for those times you need to carry bulky items. Some prospective EV owners may, however, be slightly disappointed that Lexus hasn’t managed to find space under its bonnet for a ‘frunk’ to place bags or charging cables. The Ford Mustang Mach-E’s boot is quite a bit smaller, measuring 402 litres, but it does have a 100-litre frunk with a plug hole in case you want to load it with wet wellies or sports gear.

Boot space comparison

Model 

Boot space

Lexus RZ 450e SUV

520 litres

Mercedes EQC SUV

500 litres

Audi Q4 e-tron SUV

520 litres

BMW iX3 SUV

510 litres

Reliability & safety

“Lexus has a great reputation for reliability and hybrid battery tech, so fingers crossed it transfers to its EV models”

It’s rather early to tell if the Lexus RZ will offer the same bullet-proof reliability as other models in the manufacturer’s range, or suffer some of the software bugs and electrical gremlins that have afflicted some other newly-launched EV models like the Volkswagen ID.4.

Lexus and Toyota (the RZ has lots of shared parts with the Toyota bZ4X) are known for building solid cars that don’t often face issues, so we’ve no reason to expect otherwise in this case. There’s also the reassurance of a five-year warranty, which can be extended to 10 years/100,000 miles in duration beyond the standard cover with regular servicing at a Lexus dealership.

Safety

While the Lexus hasn’t been crash-tested yet, the bZ4X scored an impressive five-star rating at the hands of Euro NCAP, so we wouldn’t expect anything less for the Lexus. It comes with the manufacturer’s Safety System+ package of driver aids as standard, including autonomous emergency braking, lane-departure warnings, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot alerts, radar cruise control and automatic headlights.

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