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2007 Lexus RX 400h Review – Bringing luxury and performance to the world of hybrid technology

Tuesday January 22nd, 2008 at 11:11 PM
Posted by: AKramer

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by Alex Kramer

2007 Lexus RX 400h

Pros

  • Excellent acceleration
  • Lexus luxury and quality
  • Silky smooth ride
  • Seamless hybrid powertrain

Cons

  • Overly cautious handling
  • All that hybrid technology sure is pricey
  • Not a true fuel sipper

The Lexus RX 400h brings Toyota’s award winning hybrid technology to the realm of luxury SUVs. While most hybrids sacrifice some performance for increased fuel efficiency, the RX 400h is one of a few hybrids to offer not only increased fuel-efficiency, but also increased performance over it’s gas only siblings. Add to that the fact that all this technology is mated to the best selling mid-size luxury SUV on the market, and the result is another winning effort from Lexus.

Driving Impressions

Lexus hybrid driveWith a combined 268 horsepower coming from a 3.3 liter V6 and twin electric motors, the RX 400h is very quick for a car that weighs well over 4000 lbs. With 247 lb-ft of torque available just from the electric motors, flooring the gas pedal provides a very satisfying dose of thrust that propels the car to 60 mph in just under 7 seconds. This makes the RX 400h a half second faster than the gas only RX 350, while fuel efficiency is 50 percent better. Now that’s a win-win situation!

Lexus RX 400h center consoleLike most other hybrids, the RX 400h has a continuously variable transmission that automatically selects the appropriate gear ratio to provide optimal power and efficiency. This occasionally results in some mildly annoying RPM oscillation, as the engine tries to find the right gear, but it wasn’t excessive. At low speeds the gas engine often shuts off completely, allowing the electric motors to do all of the work, and when more power is required, the gas engine fires back up automatically. Applying the brakes switches the electric motor into regeneration mode and only when more braking force is required do the 4 way discs kick in. In the RX 400h, the transition between gas and electric motors, as well as between regenerative and conventional braking, was very smooth and seamless, and occasionally it was even hard to tell if the gas engine was running or not.

The RX 400h has a silky smooth ride, very unlike more traditional truck based SUVs. In fact, it drives like a plush luxury sedan or wagon that is simply a bit higher off the ground. The RX 400h would be perfect for those long road trips on the interstate and even those stuck in traffic on a daily basis can appreciate the velvety ride. Handling is decent, although more spirited driving induces quite a bit of understeer, which the traction and stability control fortunately reign in. The Goodyear touring tires are designed more for comfort than grip, limiting the performance potential quite a bit.

Build

Lexus has gained an enviable reputation for outstanding build quality and the RX 400h is no exception. Top-notch materials are used all around and the level of fit and finish is excellent, with no large gaps between panels or other obvious signs of poor craftsmanship. The RX 400h comes loaded with standard safety features, including anti-lock brakes, traction and stability control, and front and side airbags for the driver and front seat passenger. All wheel drive is optional and was included on our test model.

Lexus RX 400h power lift gate Lexus RX 400h power lift gate Lexus RX 400h power lift gate

Interior

As befitting a luxury car, the full leather interior is quite sumptuous, with smooth surfaces and comfortable yet supportive seats. Many of the usual creature comforts are included, including dual zone climate controls and 10 way adjustable power front seats. Although the list of standard features is somewhat short, the RX 400h does offer a host of optional interior features, including heated seats, power moonroof, touch-screen with rear back-up camera and navigation system, Bluetooth with voice activation, and a Mark Levinson audio/video system. Our test model came with the touch screen and navigation system, which proved to be very helpful and user-friendly.

Lexus RX 400h interior

Exterior

The 2nd generation RX was one of the first vehicles to feature the sleek, swept back exterior that is becoming the norm for the new breed of crossover SUVs. Although some might crave a more aggressive, masculine profile, the modern looking RX remains a fresh, eye-catching design, even now that many others are imitating it. Those looking for instant hybrid recognition will have to look elsewhere, since the RX 400h is almost indistinguishable from its gas only sibling, the RX 350, with only a few hybrid badges indicating the difference.

2007 Lexus RX 400h

Value

With an MSRP of over $42,000, the Lexus RX 400h does not come cheap, especially when you compare it to the gas only RX 350, which costs $4000 less. Even with gas prices hovering close to $4 a gallon, it would take a while to recoup the extra cost, especially since the RX 400h gets only a modest increase in fuel efficiency when compared to other hybrids, like the Prius. However, for folks shopping for a class leading luxury SUV who still want to do a little something to help the environment, the extra cost is well worth it.

Build

Interior

Performance

Handling

Styling

Value

Overall

Rating

4.5

4.5

4.5

4.0

4.5

4.0

4.33 / B+


Be the first person to submit a review of the Lexus RX 400h and tell us why you chose to purchase this luxury SUV hybrid.

View all of the Lexus RX 400h pictures in the photo gallery

The Lexus 400h makes very few sacrifices. Watch our video review and find out why the Lexus RX 400h is more than just a environmentally-conscious luxury vehicle.

Check out the Specs

Official site for information on Lexus luxury cars, sports sedans, utility vehicles, and hybrids: www.lexus.com

 

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