Lexus RZ long-term test: report 4

How does Lexus's four-wheel-drive electric SUV cut it as a commuter car and a countryside companion alike? We're finding out...

Lexus RZ 2023 Long Term review: elephant

The car Lexus RZ 450e+ Takumi Run by Chris Haining, sub-editor

Why it’s here To find out whether Lexus's premium electric car combatant offers the right blend of efficiency, luxury and performance to succeed in a crowded market

Needs to Cope with a long motorway commute as well seeming at home in the countryside, and be easy to live with day to day

Mileage 6635 List price £69,095 Target Price £66,025 Price as tested £69,095 Official range 251 miles Test range 170-190 miles

27 March 2024 – Pack it in, pachyderm

In many ways, my Lexus RZ continues to delight me. It’s quiet, comfortable and – very much helped by its excellent driver assistance systems – extremely relaxing. However, I can no longer ignore the elephant in the room, nor the hippo in the corner or the rhino under the stairs. These uninvited mammals won’t shut up about the RZ’s disappointing range, efficiency and running costs. 

Regular readers may have noticed that this very car finished at the bottom of the table in the What Car? Winter Range Test recently. It turned in just 159 miles on our test track – 92 miles or 36.7% short of its 251-mile official range. Okay, no electric car can reasonably be expected to deliver its best during the winter, but only one model (ironically, another Lexus – the UX 300e) delivered a worse shortfall – 37.6%. Meanwhile, the Mercedes-Benz EQE 300, a car similar in price to the RZ, finished at the top of the table, racking up 300 miles – 21% behind its official figure.

Lexus RZ 2023 Long Term review: Winter range test

In practice, it’s evident that my usual 234-mile round-trip motorway commute punishes an EV a little less than our test regime, but the RZ has still proven incapable of getting me to work and then home on a full charge. The best estimated range I’ve seen so far, after an overnight charge on a warm night, has been 217 miles, but after reaching the office 117 miles away, I had only 90 miles remaining.

That means I have no choice but to stop and charge on my way home, and this rather clashes with the luxurious personal transport solution that the RZ otherwise offers. For starters, it means visiting South Mimms Services on the M25, and that’s a distinctly non-deluxe place to be forced to spend time. Thankfully, I don’t have to stay too long; the RZ can take on power at rates of up to 147kW, and a brief session with the AppleGreen rapid charger gives me enough range to complete my journey.

Lexus RZ 2023 Long Term review: Charging at South Mimms

On top of the inconvenience, though, comes the cost. Fully charging the RZ at home costs me around £18 (based on making use of the five late-night hours at 9p/kWh that my EV tariff affords me), and this would cover my day’s commute if its official range was plausible. As things are, though, the need to squirt in additional get-me-home juice (at 72p/kWh) from a public fast charger basically doubles the cost of my commute. I feel better, though, after doing some maths; it turns out that I'd be paying the same to fuel a 50mpg petrol car, and not many of those are as quick or comfy as the RZ.

There’s potentially good news ahead, too. Lexus is reportedly working on a software update that could help with power management, and I’m hoping it’s ready while I still have the car. I’m also looking forward to the weather improving; the RZ's brilliantly effective and purportedly efficient radiant leg warmers mean I’ve had no reason to use the heater, but damp days bring steamy windows, and turning the air-con on to clear them immediately knocks about a quarter off the car’s estimated range. Hopefully, the software update and the advance of Spring will rid the RZ’s room of safari animals.

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