Lexus RZ long-term review

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

2023 Lexus RZ long-term hello

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 11,326 List price £69,095 Target Price £66,025 Price as tested £69,095 Dealer price now £50,985 Private price now £45,320 Official range 251 miles Test range 170-190 miles Running costs (excluding depreciation) Electricity £950

12 May 2024 – Train in vain

At the time of writing, an annual season ticket to take me from my nearest station (Mistley, Essex) to What Car?'s headquarters in Twickenham, works out at more than £700 per month. Meanwhile, a Lexus RZ 450e Takumi like mine costs £450 per month, via our free New Car Deals service.

Granted, that excludes the 15% deposit you have to put down first, but taking the deal means you get an entire car to use whenever you want, on any road you want to explore. And, of course,  you can park it right outside where you live, rather than walking half a mile to catch a train.


Yes, I always looked forward to boarding the Lexus, whereas standing on a drizzly platform awaiting a crowded commuter service is a chore that I was pleased to side-step. But to fully meet my needs, the RZ also needed to prove itself the perfect companion for rural exploration.

Fortunately, it felt at home in the countryside. The RZ is an electric SUV, so it didn't choke the scenery with noxious fumes as it passed, and – with four-wheel drive – it always felt secure and planted on wintry country roads. It coped very well with the slippery, mulchy coating that covers my local lanes from November through to March, and when the weather (finally) warmed up a bit in April, it proved pretty handy in drier conditions, too. For such a bulky car, it's impressively agile in corners, without much in the way of body lean, plus its huge wheels and fat tyres mean there's loads of grip. It's been more fun to drive than I ever expected, and certainly leagues ahead of the BYD Atto 3 I ran previously. 


That's not to say that it wasn't suited to motorways, though. In fact, one of my RZ's uncanny skills was how well it absorbed road surface imperfections at high speed, despite having huge 20in wheels wrapped with ribbon-like tyres. And it was exceptionally quiet – all the better to enjoy the Mark Levinson sound system that Takumi trim brings. Even the active cruise control and lane-keeping assistance won my approval; they're among the few such systems that haven't been so intrusive that I've left them switched off.

In fact, were my commute a little less epic than my regular 234-mile odyssey, the RZ would have been a great fit. However, as I mentioned in a previous report, it just didn't have the stamina to go that distance without needing a stop to recharge. Despite an official 251-mile range, it never beat 200 miles in my hands. Lexus says it's working on a software update to help on this front, and I hope that comes to pass; the limited range is a very frustrating fly in the RZ's ointment. 


Another bluebottle that spoils the RZ's lotion is the Toyota bZ4X. This electric family SUV just so happens to be closely related to the RZ; beyond their styling (inside and out), the two cars share dimensions and much of their mechanical package. And that means the bZ4X is also a very competent machine – despite being a lot less expensive.

In range-topping Vision trim, with four-wheel drive, it comes in at £51,410 (or £48,119 via our New Car Deals service). That's £17,685 less than my RZ costs, although my car is several notches up when it comes to interior quality and performance (the RZ has 313bhp to the bZ4X's 215bhp).


I like to think of choosing the RZ over a bZ4X as akin to upgrading to first class when buying a plane ticket; you're still making the same journey, in the same aircraft, but you're paying for a more luxurious experience. It's fitting, then, that the RZ's extra plushness certainly makes the bZ4X look distinctly Premium Economy by comparison. Incidentally, the rail season ticket I mentioned earlier rises to £1105 per month if you opt for first class: over four years, that would cover a 48-month PCP contract on the RZ, including deposit, with a fair chunk left over for electricity.

The RZ isn't cheap, then, but it makes more financial sense than upgrading to first class on a train or plane, while also enabling you to sing along to the radio or have animated phone conversations without annoying fellow travellers. You also get to keep the RZ outside your house, so you can wash it in front of covetous onlookers.


Every time I did so, my car's looks grew on me a little more, no doubt helped by its Sonic Copper and Black two-tone colour scheme. It's certainly not short on showroom appeal. Even better, though, if you allow somebody else to shoulder the initial bite of depreciation; it looks great on the used car forecourt, where the price gap between RZ and bZ4X narrows somewhat.

If you can charge at home, and your round trips are typically shorter than 200 miles, the RZ could be just the ticket as a luxury commuter. Just like taking the train, though, it's more appealing if the fare is handsomely discounted.

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