2024 Lexus RZ 450E Car Review: Lexus Small SUV Review

The 2024 Lexus RZ 450E Luxury. NATHAN LEACH PROFFER

In the not-so-distant past, an electric Lexus would have been my dream car. Ten years ago, it seemed that Lexus had discovered the secret sauce for the auto industry: it was relatively fun to drive, super comfortable, competitively priced and far more reliable than its American and European competitors in the mid-size segment. Fast forward ten years and we are in the era of the electric car.

Well, now the electric Lexus is here, and I drove it for a week. If this was my dream, then my dreams were pretty boring. Either my tastes have become impossibly refined, or Lexus has gradually become something completely ordinary.

The Lexus RZ 450E Luxury is a small SUV, the worst current segment of the electric market. For an electric car to be at its best, it either has to be big, like the Ford F150 Lightning, or go very fast and smooth. The RZ is in a neutral middle ground.

A look at the back of the exterior. NATHAN LEACH PROFFER

First, and most importantly, there is the reach. The RZ can travel up to 196 miles when fully charged. If you are driving on a highway, it will be difficult to increase the speed above 180. At this point in the evolution of the electric car, that’s not nearly enough. With 200 miles I won’t even get to Dallas, from where I am in Austin. It would be difficult to get from Los Angeles to San Diego. New York to Boston in less than seven hours? Considering the tough time non-Tesla owners have finding a fast charger that both works and is actually available, forget it. If competing cars in this segment have a range of 250 miles, why bother?

It’s not a particularly attractive car either, somehow both boxy at the rear and tapered at the front, so it has no recognizable personality. Lexus and Toyota have been making it clear for years that they are all in the business of developing fuel cells for cars, so they don’t really care about their electric line. This is a compliance car, hastily designed, and it shows.

The interior was not my favorite. NATHAN LEACH PROFFER

I’m sure the top-end version of the RZ has the creamy, relaxing interior I knew and loved in Lexus cars a decade ago, but the version I had was drenched in mediocre ultrasuede canvas and indifferent dashboard features. I did like the panoramic roof and the sight lines were generally good, but when it comes to a car like this, the ceiling shouldn’t be the best part.

My driving diet has been mostly electric lately, so I, like anyone else making the switch, know how fast these cars are out of the box. This does not apply to the RZ. It’s certainly faster than a non-electric one, but it doesn’t have the crazy rip that most EVs offer. Like everything else about this car, the driving dynamics are smooth and vaguely pleasant, but basically unremarkable. Even as electric cars enter their second decade, you can still feel a sort of shudder if you come from a good situation. You are shaking; really electrified. When I left the RZ, I mainly felt a slight disappointment.

The car has a nice range of safety features and good driver assistance technology; the kind of thing that is almost the industry standard these days. The Apple CarPlay worked great and integrated nicely with my phone, which again is the industry standard. But the driving dynamics and especially the electric range were far below par.

No longer the car of my dreams… NATHAN LEACH PROFFER

This is a Lexus, known as reliable value for money in the mid-range segment. They are cheaper to maintain than many European cars and generally retain their value well. But I’m not sure this one will. I haven’t driven one in ten years, so it’s hard to say, but it’s pretty easy to predict that in ten years, if you have an electric SUV that struggles to get 200 miles of range, you’ll be far will be gone. behind the peloton. The version I drove costs $67,000, with a few, but not many, add-ons. Even by today’s standards, that’s a fairly expensive vehicle, but it’s not an aspirational vehicle. I think from now on I will see other brands in my dreams.

Lexus RZ 450E Auto Review: 'A Boring Middle Ground'

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