Here why you should get the RZ 450e over the Toyota bZ4X.
  • The Toyota bZ4X and Lexus RZ 450e share a common platform.
  • However, the Lexus is more powerful and has a nicer interior.
  • We think it's worth paying extra for the Lexus.
We were underwhelmed when Toyota released specs for the 2023 bZ4X — the automaker's first purpose-built electric vehicle. Its EPA-estimated range of 222-252 miles (depending on trim) was decent enough, but it was the power output that grabbed our attention, and not in a good way.

We'll detail the bZ4x's disappointing power output below, but the good news is that its Lexus counterpart — the upcoming RZ 450e — doesn't take the same approach. Here's why the powertrain is just one reason why we think the Lexus version will be worth the upgrade.

Toyota vs. Lexus powertrains
 Lexus RZ 450e

Automakers typically offer two- and all-wheel-drive versions of their EVs, with the AWD models keeping the 2WD's electric motor and adding another motor at the opposite axle. That means the AWD models usually have a lot more power than their 2WD counterparts. The Volkswagen ID.4, for instance, produces 201 horsepower in 2WD form and 295 hp with AWD.

Toyota doesn't do this with the bZ4X. The standard 2WD version has a 150-kW (201-hp) motor at the front, but selecting AWD places 80-kW motors at each axle, for a combined output of 214 hp. For the bZ4X, the meager performance gains with AWD are essentially offset by its heavier weight.

While many Lexus models are merely upscale models of underlying Toyotas — the Lexus UX 200 is a reskinned Toyota C-HR, and the Lexus ES 350 is a leather-soaked Avalon — the RZ 450e is more than just a bZ4X with a prestigious badge. The proof is under the hood, or more accurately, below the body. The Lexus is all-wheel-drive only, but it uses the larger 150-kW motor in the front and the 80-kW motor in the rear. Its combined 230 kW of output is equivalent to 308 horsepower, or almost 50% more than the most potent bZ4X.

The extra power will undoubtedly make the RZ 450e feel sportier than its Toyota sibling, not to mention give the Lexus the legs it needs to compete with other small luxury electric SUVs. The bZ4X is down on power compared to other EVs in its class, and it's heartening to see that the RZ 450e doesn't follow in its stablemate's footsteps.

Upgraded interior
 Lexus RZ 450e

You'd expect a Lexus interior to be more luxurious than that of a Toyota, and that seems to be the case here based on the RZ's cabin photos. We've spent plenty of time in the bZ4X, and the passenger compartment is pretty dull. The dashboard is awash in hard plastics, the steering wheel is visually bulky, and the instrument panel is nestled within an odd surround that looks like a cobra's hood. Frankly, similarly priced rivals from Ford, Hyundai and Kia all feel more premium.

The RZ's cabin incorporates many of the same overarching styling elements but dresses everything up in soft-touch materials, including wood and synthetic suede. The instrument display is also lower on the dash and lies behind a slimmer, sportier steering wheel. And while Lexus has not yet published a full list of features, we expect that the RZ 450e will offer a few goodies absent on the bZ4X.

So what does it cost to upgrade from the Toyota bZ4X to a Lexus RZ 450e? We don't know yet — Lexus will reveal pricing closer to the RZ's debut this fall. But we expect it will start around $55,000, which represents a roughly $10,000 increase over a bZ4X with AWD. Assuming this is true, we think the Lexus is the superior choice. Not only do you get (presumably) competitive acceleration, you get the nicely trimmed cabin and some quality-of-life upgrades like adaptive dampers.
 2023 Toyota bZ4X

Edmunds says
Interested in the Toyota bZ4X but unimpressed by its specs and materials quality? We recommend waiting for the related Lexus RZ 450e instead, which has a lot more power and a nicer interior.