The Lexus RZ 450e Review: Clean Design, Modern Interior in an All-Electric Package

Thoughtful touches, practical space and modern clean lines inside and out, the Lexus RZ 450e electric SUV's understated charm defines the first electric Lexus.

The Lexus Rz 450E
The Lexus RZ 450e

The understated charm of the Lexus RZ 450e, revealed.

In San Diego, the weather is almost always temperate, but June is nicknamed June Gloom in San Diego. Knowing this, I’d completely understand if you mistook the roof of the Lexus RZ 450e as simple glass. From the inside, it looks as though you’re looking up at a cloudy sky, but with the touch of a button, the electrochromic roof activates and turns transparent, revealing a cloudy but still blue sky.

I thought this trick might get old, but it doesn’t. It’s only one of the many luxurious features of this intriguing, electric RZIt didn’t take long for me to get pretty dang comfy with the electric RZ’s smart tech and cushy comfort either. Sleek and stylish, it still manages to feel approachable and straight-forward. The controls are unintimidating, the drive is smooth and pretty responsive (though a bit top heavy), and the response of the pedals feels familiar and like that of a gas-fueled car. With the handy head up display helping you navigate and implement drivers assistance, it definitely feels like the kind of car that is perfect for zipping around town.

Related: The 2023 Lexus RZ Electric Car

The Electrochromic Roof Is So Subtle That It Almost Looks Like A Cloudy Day. Photo: Liv Leigh

The electrochromic roof is so subtle in the Lexus RZ 450e that it almost looks like a cloudy day. Photo: Liv Leigh

The Animal-free Interior Makes No Compromises

When you hop in, it doesn’t necessarily scream luxury; everything is quite understated, like the softly frosted glass. The animal-free interior feels plush and up-scale with vegan microsuede lining the doors, faux leather encasing the dash and trims, and a cushy leather-like steering wheel that feels almost like it’s coated in neoprene. Even the beautiful dark ash wood inlay in the center console is not actually real wood but a delicately etched sustainable alternative. As daylight dims, patterned ambient lighting shines across the interior front doors, adding a really cool texture to the microsuede.

Related: The 2023 Lexus RX Hybrid SUV Sparks Inspiration

The Patterned Ambient Lighting Is Really Unique. Photo: Liv Leigh

The patterned ambient lighting is really unique. Photo: Liv Leigh

Tech at Your Fingertips in the Lexus RZ 450e

Though simple and refined, the cabin isn’t lacking when it comes to handy tech. An expansive 14-inch multimedia touchscreen angles toward the driver, and a highly customizable head-up display illuminates within the driver’s sightline. You’ll love how you can pivot through a preview of each feature before selecting it with just the swivel of your thumb over a dial on the steering wheel.

Related: There’s a new Lexus RX Hybrid SUV (or Gas, or Performance) for 2023

For A Right-Leg Amputee Like Me, The Driver'S Footwell Makes It A Bit Too Cramped To Drive Comfortably. Photo: Liv Leigh

For a right-leg amputee like me, the driver’s footwell makes it a bit too cramped to drive comfortably. Photo: Liv Leigh

Trading  a Glove Box for Radiant Heat

If you’re feeling chilly, radiant heat emanates above your legs and warms you up directly instead of only blowing hot air. Be aware that this smart feature means that the Lexus RZ lacks a glove box. Fortunately, the front cabin sports extra handy compartments, like the cushy center armrest with expansive storage that opens up bi-directionally. Or the ample space under the console that has an extra high lip on the driver’s side so you don’t have to worry about stuff falling in the footwell. 

Related: More Luxury EVs On The Horizon: Aston Martin And Audi Enter The Fray

You Will Love The Bi-Directional Center Storage. Photo: Liv Leigh

You will LOVE the bi-directional center storage. Photo: Patrick Anderson

The RZ is No Wallflower, but its Elegance is Understated 

With equal elegance, the exterior shows off an understated but luxurious aesthetic with modern lines and angular adornments capped off with a glowing, illuminated Lexus badge on the grille-less front. Though it’s not overtly flashy, everyone commented on the looks of the RZ. “Oh this is nice!” exclaimed my mom, before hopping into the back seat. She’s completely disinterested in cars but proclaimed this one good-looking, comfortable, and quite bouncy.

Related: Audi Q8 First Drive: This Flagship e-tron Electric SUV Refines the Definition of Luxury

The Doors Open With A Simple Press Which Is So Helpful If You Have Dexterity Issues. Photo: Liv Leigh

The doors open with a simple press which is so helpful if you have dexterity issues. Photo: Liv Leigh

Thoughtful Touches for Those with Limited Dexterity

You’ll find the door handles to be really helpful & well-designed.

I happened to have the Lexus RZ at the same time as my nephew’s graduation, so I got to experience many a family member coming along for the ride. The approval was consistent, but one funny little thing stuck out. If you’re a door slammer, you will close the Lexus door first try. If you close the door gently, though, you’re likely going to have to do it again.

95% of the time, we all didn’t close our doors properly, but over the week of this loan, we learned to be more forceful, almost to a fault. I watched as my mom got a ride from my sister in her car and loudly slammed the door as she sat down. “Oh my god!” I heard my sister shout in surprise as my mom yelped, “Sorry!”

Opening the doors, however, is super easy and ergonomic, with a responsive button right where your thumb naturally rests when you grab the door. This is a helpful and well-designed feature for those concerned with limited dexterity.

Related: All The Luxury and Performance, and, it’s an Electric SUV: Genesis Electrified GV70

The Trunk Had More Than Enough Room For My Wheelchair. Photo: Liv Leigh

The trunk in the Lexus RZ 450e had more than enough room for my wheelchair. Photo: Liv Leigh

Quiet Rides and Comfortable Seats

Once you’re comfortably ensconced in the driver’s seat, you can expect a surprisingly quiet ride. Even at highway speeds, the road noise is noticeably toned down. Couple that with the cushy seating, and it can feel delightfully separate from the hustle and bustle. With 196 miles of range, it can easily handle city driving and even some short weekend getaways. Longer road trips may take more planning.

The smooth suspension feels really comfortable and almost floaty in the driver’s seat but perhaps contributed to the occasional “bouncy” comment from rear passengers. Speaking of which, the back seats have more than enough room for 3 average-sized adults to sit comfortably.

Related: 2023 Toyota Crown: When Luxury Means Electric, Performance and … a Crossover?

The 360 Camera And Parking Features Are So Useful. Photo: Liv Leigh

The 360 camera and parking features are SO useful. Photo: Liv Leigh

What you need to know:

  • Pricing starts at $59,650
  • It generates 308 HP, has all-wheel drive, and 196 to 220 miles of range, depending on the model
  • Unlike many EV’s, it does not have a one-pedal driving mode, just paddles on either side of the steering wheel to adjust the regenerative braking.
  • It has no glove box but instead has a radiant heater built into the passenger side dashboard for faster heating

Related: Charging an Electric Car is as Easy as 1, 2, 3

According To Lexus The Rz Charges From 0 To 80 Percent In Around 30 Minutes. Photo: Patrick Anderson

According to Lexus the RZ charges from 0 to 80 percent in around 30 minutes. Photo: Patrick Anderson

What We Loved:

  • The fancy electrochromic roof. It’s such a useful feature, and it’s so fun to show it off to each new passenger
  • The plush, soft-touch, animal-free textiles
  • The easy-to-open doors
  • The patterned ambient lighting
  • How driving it feels comfortingly familiar and like a gas vehicle. Some EVs can be shockingly responsive in torque, acceleration, and brakes, but the RZ is smooth and easy
  • The dual-opening center console storage is really awesome. Seriously

All in all, the Lexus RZ 450e is a capable, comfortable electric SUV that is well-suited to city driving. It’s been criticized for its low electric range, which is as much as 100 miles fewer to a full charge than its competitors, but its thoughtful, innovative and easy to use features and easy luxury set it apart. And define its understated charm.  

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An enthusiastic supporter of everything she’s passionate about, Liv got her first Electric Car and immediately made a YouTube... More about Liv Leigh