Keeping comfortable in most cars is as easy as cranking the climate control system and switching on the heated or ventilated seat. It’s been like that for decades, but Lexus is coming along and throwing a radiant knee heater into the mix.

While not as flashy as the yoke, the radiant knee heater debuts on the 2023 Lexus RZ and should prove popular with customers living in cold climates. The system sees infrared heating panels installed beneath the steering column and passenger side dashboard, and they work to warm your legs.

Lexus describes the effect as being wrapped in a warm blanket, but it feels even subtler than that in person. That being said, the panels deliver noticeable warmth and they were a welcome addition on a chilly California morning.

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The panels are tied to the heated front seats and they’re represented on the display by two curved lines. If you delve into the controls, you can adjust their intensity and tailor the experience to your liking.

While much of the discussion about electric vehicles and radiant heaters has focused on range, Lexus officials told us their primary concern was creating a more comfortable interior. However, they noted it’s more efficient to heat occupants directly rather than the air inside the cabin. 

Representatives went on to say that when people feel warmer, they’ll likely turn down the climate control system and save energy. Furthermore, Lexus UK has previously said “compared to a standard climate control system, energy consumption is reduced by around eight percent.”

The radiant knee heater comes standard on the range-topping RZ 450e Luxury and is only a $175 option on the entry-level Premium. That’s pretty affordable, but the radiant heater results in the crossover eschewing a glove box.

Live pictures: Michael Gauthier for CarScoops