This sleek Lexus is the automaker’s first electric car designed for the US market


The first electric Lexus is here, with 225 miles of range and 308 horsepower. The 2023 Lexus RZ 450e is a compact SUV with a clean look and an all-new all-wheel-drive system. (Lexus sells an electric version of its entry-level UX SUV in Europe and China, so it’s the brand’s first electric vehicle aimed at an American audience, but the second globally.)

Lexus has yet to announce pricing details. We expect this information closer to the end of the year, when the RZ is likely to reach sell lots.

Shares his bones with a Toyota and a Subaru

The RZ shares its architecture with a Toyota MC,
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and a Subaru FUJHY,
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Toyota’s first consumer electric vehicle, the 2023 bZ4X, will likely hit dealerships soon. Subaru’s first electric vehicle, the 2023 Solterra, shares almost all of its parts with this car.

Lexus probably won’t emphasize this in marketing the car, but the RZ rides on the same platform. Many new electric vehicles are built on skateboard-like architectures that pack motors, batteries and suspension under a car’s floor. Engineers can scale these platforms up or down to design many different vehicles.

As the automotive world moves towards primarily electric lineups, it will become common for luxury cars and more affordable cars to share most of their parts.

To see: How much does it cost to charge an electric car? We do the math

Clean look with lots of character

The Lexus looks more refined than the Toyota, as you might expect. The marque’s controversial huge tapered grille gets an inverted interpretation here, with a sheet metal brooch shaped by air vents on its sides. The look is more understated than even Lexus’ gas-powered offerings. The crisp character lines in the doors make it look smaller than it is. A steeply sloping tailgate can replace cargo space with style.

Inside, everything is Lexus. The cabin is very similar to that of the similarly sized Lexus NX, including a generous 14-inch central touchscreen angled slightly towards the driver.

Lexus is famous for its quiet interiors. Electric vehicles present unique challenges for designers because they produce so little sound that wind and road noise seem amplified. Lexus says it has designed a new type of seal for the edges of the acoustic glass to prevent these noises. In case they still bother you, the RZ has the option of “expressive sounds in the cabin to convey the exhilaration of driving” delivered through the speakers to give drivers acoustic feedback.

New all-wheel-drive system with torque vectoring

The RZ may share its platform with Subaru and Toyota electric cars, but Lexus has given it some new performance to set it apart.

The RZ uses two electric motors rather than that of the bZ4X and Solterra. One, on the front axle, develops 201 horsepower. A second, on the rear axle, makes 107. They combine to give the RZ respectable horsepower for a 308-hp luxury car.

Lexus says the two are working together to create a new all-wheel-drive experience it calls DIRECT4. It continuously analyzes sensor feedback at each wheel, including speed and steering angle, to vary power at each thousands of times per minute. The system continuously adjusts power to each wheel to get the most out of range, handling and acceleration.

To verify: Which electric SUVs have the most cargo space? Here is a full list

Flying now, yoke later

At launch, the RZ will use normal mechanical steering linkages and a typical steering wheel. Later in production, Lexus will offer a unique cable steering system as an option. It uses a steering yoke, much like what small plane pilots use, in place of the traditional steering wheel.

Read also : Why a plug-in hybrid might be your best bet

TeslaTSLA,
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offered a similar steering yoke in its Model S sedan and Model X SUV this year to mixed reviews from critics. Toyota, however, says its system can vary the steering ratio so drivers never have to execute a freehand turn, which may address many of the complaints about yokes you may have heard from from Tesla critics.

The RZ 450e uses a 71.4 kilowatt-hour battery. Lexus says it should earn an EPA range rating of around 225 miles, but the EPA hasn’t tested the RZ yet.

This story originally took place on KBB.com.

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