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Preview: 2023 Lexus RZ electric crossover coming with a yoke on April 20

Lexus will formally unveil its first dedicated electric vehicle on April 20, the automaker said on Tuesday.

The vehicle is a small crossover called the RZ, and we’ll see it in showrooms later this year as a 2023 model. It will arrive in a single RZ 450e grade and possibly with a yoke steering wheel.

An interior shot released on Tuesday shows a cabin design similar to the in the NX small crossover. However, unlike the NX, the RZ’s cabin features a yoke steering wheel. It isn’t clear if this design will be offered in the U.S., as the related 2023 Toyota BZ4X also offers a yoke steering wheel, albeit exclusively in the Chinese market. The infotainment screen in the RZ is likely to be the same 14-inch unit offered in the NZ, and it appears that there’s also a digital instrument cluster.

Lexus provided an early look at the RZ last December during a presentation outlining parent company Toyota’s plans to launch 30 EVs across the Toyota and Lexus brands by 2030. Other electric Lexus vehicles shown during the presentation included an LFA-inspired supercar, a mid-size SUV, and a sport sedan with related convertible and wagon variants.

2023 Lexus RZ

The RZ rides on the same e-TNGA platform found in the BZ4X and its 2023 Subaru Solterra twin. This means we can expect things like steer-by-wire technology and dual-motor all-wheel drive. To help differentiate the RZ, expect Lexus to add performance tuning, particularly for the drive system which should deliver more than the maximum 214 hp offered in the BZ4X and Solterra. There might also be more battery capacity than the 71.4 kilowatt-hours found in those non-luxury models.

We do know that all-wheel drive is set to become a staple of Lexus EVs. Lexus calls its electrified all-wheel-drive system Direct4, and said the system automatically adjusts torque going to each of the wheels to optimize driving feel and stability. The system is also claimed to respond quicker than non-electrified all-wheel-drive systems with torque vectoring because of the instantaneous torque of electric motors.

Lexus is committed to EV technology. The brand plans to have an EV option in each segment that it competes in by 2030. It also wants 100% of its sales to be EVs in the U.S., Europe and China by that same date, and the rest of the world by 2035.

Note, the RZ isn’t Lexus’ first EV. That honor goes to an electric version of the UX compact crossover that Lexus has been selling overseas since 2019.

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