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The Lexus RZ Excels in Many Ways, But Has One Major Flaw

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Photo by Will Sabel Courtney

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The Lexus RZ Has a Serious Achilles’ Heel

It’s an impressive car in many ways … it just can’t go far at all.


In many ways, the Lexus RZ 450e looks and feels like exactly what you’d expect from a car of the future.

The brand’s L-Finesse design language has rarely looked more appropriate, giving this electric crossover a vibe that would look right at home in Minority Report or I, Robot. Dual electric motors give it a delightful punch; it’ll zip from 0 to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds, making it nearly as quick as a Porsche 911 Turbo from 25 years back. It rides smoothly even over rough roads, and turns in quickly and precisely. Inside, it’s equal parts elegant and comfortable, especially in the blue-and-buttermilk colorway that pairs exceptionally well with the pale blue Either paint of my tester. In most ways, it’s noticeably superior to its Subaru Solterra and Toyota bZ4x siblings.

Unfortunately, in spite of all of that … you shouldn’t buy it.

You see, as impressive and pleasant as Lexus’s first electric vehicle is, it has one critical flaw that renders a poor fit for the vast majority of EV- curious buyers who’ve been looking to replace their existing gas-powered luxury crossovers with something a bit more low-emission…

It can’t drive far at all.

The RZ’s range is simply unacceptable — especially in cold weather

The e-TNGA platform, as Subaru and Toyota call it, is hardly known for offering exceptional range. The EPA claims those manufacturer’s mainstream models can go around 222–252 miles on a charge, depending on spec, and the Internet is full of stories of others who’ve seen worse results.

In Lexus form, it also has to deal with electric motors that draw more power and an extra 100 pounds of weight in the name of luxury frippery and sound deadening. Unsurprisingly, that does it no favors; Car and Driver‘s testing found that the RZ can only travel around 120 miles at 75 mph and takes 86 minutes to go from 10-90 percent on a fast charger. Those figures might be acceptable in an electric car six years ago, but they’re certainly not today — especially in a luxury electric vehicle.

Those tendencies are exacerbated when the mercury drops. Batteries don’t like the cold; efficiency drops along with the temp, bringing range down with it. Low temperatures also prompt passengers to fire up the heater, which is a far bigger power drain in an EV than it is in an internal-combustion car; vehicles powered by countless tiny explosions have, effectively, an endless supply of heat for the cabin, whereas electric cars have to run what amounts to a space heater.

Of course, that’s all fine and dandy to know in theory. It’s a whole ‘nuther thing to experience it in practice, as I did when climbing into my 2024 Lexus RZ 450e Luxury test car for the first time. Hopping into the driver’s seat, the battery gauge sat at 95 percent and the distance to empty calculator at 181 miles.

Or at least, it did until I realized the climate control was off and toggled it back on. At which point the range to empty dropped … to 145 miles. Extrapolating out from that, my RZ 450e could only go a maximum of 154 miles on a full charge — or 108 miles between charges on a road trip, assuming one were to start charging at 10 percent and stop at 80 as is customary for EV drivers using fast chargers on long journeys.

You can’t say the Lexus RZ doesn’t look futuristic.Photo by Will Sabel Courtney

Perhaps most problematic: it hasn’t been all that cold. Here in New York City where I live, it was unseasonably warm for the week I drove the RZ; temperatures were mostly in the 40s, even occasionally veering towards 50º Fahrenheit. Yet even in these temps, the Lexus barely had enough range to make it from Manhattan to Albany. In a typical Northeast winter, those range figures would likely be even lower, making the RZ even less useful. I can’t help but picture the “December to Remember” recipients who climb into their new bow-dazzled RZ only to have their face fall when they notice how short the range is after sitting in their snow-covered driveway overnight.

(And no, the irony of global warming creating a climate that’s more condusive to electric vehicles is not lost on me.)

95 percent charge, 148 miles of range. Photo by Will Sabel Courtney

68 percent charge, 96 miles of range.Photo by Will Sabel Courtney

I’m sure some EV enthusiasts right now are readying their pens to scribble comments about how 100-ish miles of range is more than enough for many. Yes, for the average person, the RZ might be acceptable on paper most of the time. It may have diminutive range, but the typical U.S. commuter logs 40 miles of driving every work day, the median American adult lives just 18 miles from their mother, eight in 10 young adults in the States live within 100 miles of where they grew up. 66 percent of Americans own their own homes, which means they should be able to charge up for a pittance overnight.

But when you’re spending upwards of $50,000 on a vehicle, it should be capable of handling 99.9 percent of use cases, not 80 percent or 90 percent — because those edge cases, all too often, are the ones that matter most. Maybe your mom lives 20 miles away … but she falls and breaks her hip on vacation 300 miles from home. Maybe your kid gets a full ride to their dream college … but it’s a full day’s drive away. Maybe you get a life-changing career opportunity … but the new job requires driving 70 miles a day.

To that end, the RZ only makes sense as a luxury purchase for well-to-do buyers for whom its $60,000-plus price is an afterthought. Given its design and eco-friendly credentials, I’m sure there’s a place for it in the realms of Beverly Hills and Miami Beach and Scottsdale and Southampton, and quite possibly in a supporting role on their respective Real Housewives series. But as an electric replacement for the RX or any of the other popular gas-powered SUVs in the Lexus line that upper-middle-class buyers depend on as their primary family rides … it has a long way to go.

Counterpoint: Yeah … the RZ’s range is truly a deal-breaker in cold weather

If you’d asked me what Lexus’s first EV should be a few years ago, I would have given a no-brainer response: an electric RX. That’s what Lexus built with the RZ, and the brand succeeded in many ways.

Lexus paid particular attention to making the RZ feel like a Lexus. It’s quick, nimble, smooth and quiet in normal driving. Everything flows organically for the driver coming over from internal combustion, without the abruptness of many EV competitors. And it feels like a Lexus, with a plush, well-designed interior and ample legroom.

Lexus does make a nice interior, we’ll give them that.Photo by Will Sabel Courtney

But, yeah, the range is an issue. Probably a deal-breaker.

I first drove the RZ at the launch event in the south of France. I suspected range was an issue then, when Lexus shuttled the cars off to chargers between particularly long coffee and lunch breaks. (Not that I don’t enjoy a good French pastry, charcuterie and coffee spread.) And my home loan in Michigan in December confirmed my suspicions.

I filled the RZ up to 100 percent charge on my home charger. With the mercury reading 35 degrees outside (cold, but hardly extreme), the RZ informed me I had 125 miles of usable range. On paper, I didn’t have 125 miles to drive that day, so the range was technically adequate. But in practice, I was anxious about the range from the moment I turned it on. It spoils an otherwise commendable first effort from Lexus. — Tyler Duffy


Lexus RZ

The Lexus RZ is the brand’s first mainstream electric vehicle. A two-row midsize crossover, it’s a sibling to the Toyota bZ4x and Subaru Solterra.



73-kWh battery; front-axle motor / front-axle & rear-axle motors; front- or all-wheel-drive


201 / 308


196.4 lb-ft / 320.7 lb-ft

EPA Range

Let’s just say not great




Cool, futuristic design

Zippy to drive

Comfortable ride


Very little range

Small for the price

Just … such a short range