Lexus has released pricing for its RZ 450e electric crossover, and doesn’t seem brilliant for what you get. The base Premium AWD model costs $59,650 including a $1,150 freight charge, the uplevel trim costs $65,150 including freight, and the RZ maxes out at 220 miles of range.
Spring for a model with 20-inch wheels, and that latter figure drops to an estimated 196 miles. Yeah, that’s more money than a Lexus RX crossover (those start at $48,550) for less range than you get from a cheap and cheerful Chevrolet Bolt. It also doesn’t help that while the rest of Lexus has taken pains to do its own thing in recent years, the RZ is very much just a dressed-up Toyota bZ4X/Subaru Solterra.
Range alone should leave the RZ 450e dead in the water, yet I have a feeling that it’s not hugely important if it’s competitive against other EVs. The RZ 450e seems to have its own specialized mission, one that it has a chance of doing alright with.
Do you know any Lexus owners that have owned more than one Lexus? If you can think of one or two people in your life who fit that description, there’s a very real reason for that. Over the past few years, Lexus has enjoyed incredible brand loyalty. A 2021 JD Power survey found that Lexus had the highest brand loyalty of premium car brands at an impressive 51.6 percent. While JD Power did things a little bit differently for 2022 by splitting off cars from light trucks, Lexus ranked second in premium SUV brand loyalty at 56.4 percent.
What this effectively means is that a good chunk of Lexus drivers own more than one Lexus, and why wouldn’t they? Between incredible build quality and a legendary reputation for customer service, Lexus is the go-to brand for luxury cars that actually work.
For most people, cars that work are fairly important. (Editor’s note: This feels like a personal attack? – PG, MH, DT, JT, basically everyone here)
What’s more, more than two million Lexus customers around the globe have already bought electrified models, according to a Lexus press release, which in this case means hybrid models. These customers could drive an older RX 400h or a two-year-old NX 300h, but they have a certain degree of familiarity with electrification. From puttering about suburban neighborhoods in virtual silence to enjoying savings at the pumps, these customers have dipped their toes into the pool of electrification and many have probably liked the warmth of the water.
So, let’s put all this together by envisioning a Lexus household that has two Lexus models, one newer and one older, at least one of which is a hybrid. It’s not that hard to picture because these households really do exist. Maybe they’re looking at handing down their older Lexus to their children or maybe they want modern conveniences like Apple CarPlay, but for one reason or another, they’re looking to replace their older Lexus. Where will they go? Probably to the Lexus dealership.
Once they get to the Lexus dealership, they’ll find the RZ 450e. It’s a practical crossover that can be plugged in at home and run on pennies of electricity a day. The range might not be great and it might not qualify for government rebates, but this household always has a gas-burning Lexus for longer trips and the RZ 450e is a Lexus.
Even if you’re not a car enthusiast, it’s hard to ignore that car buying isn’t rational, and we’re talking about customers who bought a car that used a mouse or trackpad to control its infotainment and then bought another one with the same interface. If that doesn’t scream loyalty in the face of faults, I don’t know what does.
The Lexus RZ 450e is a conquest vehicle, but not one that seeks to draw buyers from other brands. Its purpose is to bring Lexus loyalists into the EV fold. As long as it’s reliable, it should do just fine. From rich materials to shared family switchgear, the RZ 450e melds the next big thing with the familiar in a package designed to appeal to some of the motoring world’s most conservative patrons. Don’t be surprised if it’s successful in its own way.
(Photo credits: Lexus)
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My mother is shopping for a luxury crossover. I told her to look at Lexus, specifically the NX plug in. It does everything an EV like the RZ does, but still allows her the grace for when she forgets to charge it at night, or can’t figure out a charge station. Plus it will do the longer road trips that living out west requires. I think the RZ is going to be a popular seller at more urban Lexus dealerships but I think Lexus does in fact need more range for people like my mom who, lets face it, make up a much fatter part of the customer bell curve than I do with my used GX.
The RZ needs to not only be a good Lexus (quite, easy to drive, etc), it has to be SO stupid simple to live with and frankly…I can’t see what Toyota is doing to make that work. They need to offer an in home charging solution that makes it completely idiot proof and easy. They need to offer a way to connect to chargers without having to download 10 apps and fiddle with technology. And while 225 miles is a lot if you don’t plan on road tripping, the reality is that many Lexus buyers aren’t going to charge their car every chance they get. They want to get in and drive away like they do now.
The reason Tesla is still the EV standard is because they did the one thing no other manufacture is willing to do – make it easy and convenient to charge. I hate the apple comparison but the reason Apple is still a prefered choice in mobile isn’t because of hardware superiority, but because their ecosystem is very easy to live with once you are in. Tesla’s charging network is by far their biggest selling point other any other EV right now. Not to make this about Tesla, because they have a LOT of other issues, but yeah, ease of use is a big nut to crack to break into the EV space and honestly…Lexus isn’t doing in.
Yeah. The mileage is a deal breaker. I would love to leave my Tesla for a Lexus or Volvo but neither is competitive in the mileage game right now. Volvo may hit 300 miles with the new drivetrain in the c40 but they haven’t committed that to America yet.
Luxury is not getting stranded by the side of the road. We buy Lexus vehicles (used) not because we want to look fancy, but because we are frugal and practical. My wife drives an RX450H and I drive a GX460 and they have both been about as reliable as anvils. Who cares if the initial price is much higher than similar-year luxury vehicles? Who cares that they (well, at least the GX) get lousy mileage? Who cares that they don’t have every possible new electronic bell or whistle? There’s a reason the resale value is so high…
That said, I probably wouldn’t consider buying an electric vehicle with such a low range. We live in the middle of nowhere (northern MN) and the nearest place with even a Walmart is 40 miles away.
Going to disagree with it being a “hit.” At best it is going to grab loyal customers who just choose to go with the EV, but it isn’t going to bring anyone over who might be cross-shopping a Tesla or Mercedes. It is still a poor excuse for an entry into the crossover EV market that is taking off, just like its sibling from Subaru and Toyota.
The range is disappointing for a vehicle in this price bracket in 2023, so is the charging rate, and Toyota very much gives off a “we do it because we really really have to but we don’t care for it”vibe. Things will probably change with the new leadership team.
However… I don’t think Lexus is trying to set the sales charts on fire with this. They probably can’t make a bunch of them anyway. They will have their EV offering for loyal customers who wants Lexus + EV, and the next generation of EV that comes out (probably down-market from the RZ) will be the one to sell in larger quantities.
We are an Audi (expensive EV) & Lexus (cheap hybrid) household. I am usually the one who takes the cars in for service. The difference in customer service between Audi and Lexus is mind-boggling, and I hate to admit it, Lexus is a tad better in terms of fit and finish. So while a Lexus is on the unexciting end of the spectrum, I understand why people (and I, at this point) want to stick with the brand.
“As long as it’s reliable, it should do just fine.”
Did they ever fix that whole “the wheels keep falling off” issue the busyforks had?
Nobody buying one of these cares about anything but the badge. You know what my sister cross-shopped when she bought her 2nd Lexus? Absolutely nothing. She didn’t care if another car got better gas mileage, looked better, was faster or offered more features. She walked into the Lexus store and said “I’ll have the red one please” without thinking twice.
And you think that is any different than the typical car buyer how? I mean, how many people just lease X3 after 3 series after 3 series? Or buy Silverado after Silverado after Silverado? Or Explorer after Explorer after….. An absolutely huge percentage of buyers just buy the same brand and never even test drive anything else.
Until you can charge your BEV to 100% in 5 minutes, like filling your gas tank, and there are 168,00 charging stations all over the place, people will want a lot more range than that. Fast recharge times and lots of convenient chargers will drive down the need for more range.
“The base Premium AWD model”
this is hilariously confusing
My mother-in-law is on her 4th RX. T-minus 3 years until she gets her next one. They live far enough out of town that unless range goes way up, she’ll get a gas powered model.
Unlikely hybrid unless only option but I know she’s not opposed to electric. I do know she’s not on her last RX though. She’s absolutely in love with them and each time falls more and more in love with them. Her newest one is the F-sport. Her “zoom zoom” as she quotes the old Mazda commercials. Not that it’s fast or F anything really, but it’s that much more responsive than her old one. I can attest to that after driving it. Zippy…
The lack of range won’t matter right now when BEV pickings are relatively slim. But it will matter as more and more BEVs come out in higher volumes.
Toyota had better be working on a higher range version to come out at least by 2024-2025.
By that time, even Stellantis will be selling BEVs in North America.
Nobody cares about Stellantis, though. I bet not even their executives do, and $5 says several of them daily a non-Stellantis car.
Oh they’re going to sell every single one of these that they make. It exists at an absolutely unreal segment of different markets…Lexus people are, statistically speaking, extremely loyal, as the article states. But this has even more going for it than that…for one, when it comes to normies, who drive markers at an exponentially higher rate than we do, EVs are white hot right now. Everyone wants one.
It’s also a luxury crossover. People buy (or, more often, lease) these damn things at an unbelievable rate. So while you have the Lexus loyalists, who I would venture a guess are probably older, quite well off, and pay cash or finance a new car every 5-10 years, this also tickles the fancy of the conspicuous consumption/clout crowd.
It’s electric and it’s got a badge that carries a lot of weight. Boom. A lot of other people will buy them as a stretch purchase to post on Instagram, show off to their friends, and make everyone think they’re richer than they are. As you say…cars are an emotional purchase, and people want to be seen in high end cars. Plus with all the negative press that Musk is generating right now a lot of folks are going to leave Tesla or skip them altogether when looking. All those clout chasers need to go somewhere, and Lexus is a prestigious badge regardless of who you ask.
It doesn’t matter that the underlying platform is aggressively mediocre and the car is decidedly bleh when it comes to the numbers. That’s not what the people who will buy it care about. Like I said…they’ll sell every single one of these that they make. Although buyer beware, they’re going to depreciate like lead balloons…
I used to mock Lexus too. Then I got a 15 year old LX470 (gussied up Landcruiser 100)…and 5 absolutely drama-free years later, I am totally on board the Lexus train. That is how they get you. Now I keep finding myself dreaming about an LC 500 for myself, and an IS 500 for the wife. I guess this is what happens when you hit 40.
The LC500 is my attainable dream car. I want to love the IS500 as well but with that ancient relic of a transmission, interior that’s straight out of 2004, and the fact that they’ve already been anointed as collector’s cars and unlikely to ever depreciate, it’d be a hard sell over the competition for me.
I’d have a hard time picking it over a CT4V BW, M340i, or RS3. IMHO they should just offer it with a manual and call it a day. I know it doesn’t fit the Lexus ethos but Toyota’s entire performance car deal is manual all the things, so I’d imagine they could do it without much effort. Hell since the Zupra manual can handle B58 duty it’s probably up to the task.
I hold my cars for a long time, whether purchased new or off lease. Add the words “off warranty” in front of your list and tell me if the IS500 still sits at the bottom.
Comment posted before I finished. Your list is what I want to drive while someone else eats depreciation and covers repairs.
Those estimates are typically for a best-case scenario – no headwind, stop and go (rather than constant highway, 70 MPH), no load, perfect weather conditions. When that drops off to 89 or less miles on the first 6 degree day we’ll see how happy those folks are with their purchase.
That’s not necessarily true, some manufacturers are actually somehow conservatives on their official range numbers.
Lexus is just rich people Buick.
Except they run, well, forever
I don’t know that many multi-Buick households.
Lexus is just a present-day Buick. Nice enough, not flashy. But replace GM build quality and service with … you know an actually well built car and good service?
If only they were bringing the UX 300e to the US.
I’d be much more likely to buy one of those than any other BEV currently sold in the US.
If they do, they would update the plug to a CCS plug instead of the CHAdeMO port.