The new Lexus RX450e is the first all-electric Lexus built from the ground up to be an EV. Although it shares a platform, this EV SUV is extremely different.
The new RZ450e shares a platform with the Toyota bZ4X and Subaru Solterra which are also new electric vehicles. This shared E-TNGA platform doesn’t make this new Lexus SUV a rebadged Toyota, but its own vehicle. The RZ450e is made for some incredible on-road driving, which is a lot different from what you find in the bZ4X.
The style is all Lexus
The RZ450e delivers a much sharper style and aggressive lines than the cheaper platform mate. These qualities give the Lexus SUV an incredible look that should make it a lot of fun to drive. Don’t expect a ton of power or performance out on the road. This new luxury electric SUV has plenty of horsepower at 309 ponies, but that’s not enough for the raw speed to best some of the other electric SUVs. Still, the digital controls and AWD system of the Direct4 package make this Lexus SUV a terrific vehicle on the road.
What’s the driving range of this Lexus EV?
Lexus didn’t mess with different battery sizes to give you more driving range or faster charging. Still, the 71.4-kWh battery is sufficient to return 245 miles of driving range when equipped with 20-inch wheels. If you opt for the 18-inch wheels, that driving range increases to 265 miles. If you have a regular commute of 50 miles or less, this could be enough driving range for you. On the other hand, we see a slew of new EVs that offer more than 300 miles of driving range on a single charge.
When you pull up to a fast charger with the Lexus RX450e, you can replenish the battery to 80 percent in only 30 minutes. This won’t make you smile too much, but it does the trick without taking too long.
The new steering system makes things interesting
The first versions of this new Lexus EV will use a traditional rack and pinion steering system, but something new and special is on the way. Lexus will eventually offer the RZ450e with a One Motion Grip (OMG) steer-by-wire system. This new option should arrive in 2025, and it removes the mechanical link between the steering wheel and the wheels.
The new connection with the wheels is accomplished through a torque actuator that sends commands and controls to the wheels. These instructions are carried out by the system. If you can think of how instructions are sent through a video game controller to the game system, you’ve got an idea of how this steering system works.
You’ll change the way you steer
Without a mechanical connection to the wheels, the steering system in the new Lexus 450e is direct and translated through simple adjustments. Even though you’ve got to turn the wheel, you can forget the hand-over-hand system of making a turn that we’ve been executing for years. Small adjustments are translated in a big way in this Lexus. Early reports are that it’s a bit touchy, but in reality, this system recalibrates the way we think about steering and deriving.
Direct4 sends power where you need it
The movement of EVs could signal a severed relationship between drivers and the road. Driving purists might crave engagement and old-school driving, but this Lexus doesn’t offer that. The new Direct4 system alters the torque delivery to ensure each wheel always has exactly the right amount of torque for the drive. This is a big change from traditional systems that could leave you with a spinning wheel because the torque is even at all four wheels.
A new steering apparatus in the 450e
Are we seeing the end of steering wheels altogether? Most likely, we are. The steer-by-wire system Lexus adds to this new electric vehicle means a steering yoke is all that’s required. This means less clutter and a clear view of the instrument binnacle, which makes it much easier to see what’s going on. Unfortunately, this makes driving a little more challenging with a new learning curve.
The new Lexus RZ450e may be a little disappointing with its driving range, but it delivers an interesting new steering system with its steer-by-wire OMG system. Could this be the end of traditional driving as we move into the EV market?
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