By KBB.com Editors
Based on the company's popular RX 350 car-based SUV, the full-hybrid Lexus RX 400h Lexus combines a 3.3-liter V6 engine with two electric motor-generators (three in all-wheel-drive models) and a large battery fitted beneath the rear seat. All together, the system combines to deliver quicker acceleration, significantly improved fuel economy and a warm, fuzzy, green feeling.You'll Like This Car If...
Better mileage and fewer emissions. More power and improved drivability. If you like the RX 350, you'll like the RX 400h more.You May Not Like This Car If...
If the environment, geo-political sensitivities and/or the price of gas are of no concern to you, the hybrid's price premium will be a tough pill to swallow for the improved drivability alone.What's Significant About This Car?
The Lexus RX 400h lineup gains a front-wheel-drive model for the 2007 model year and loses as standard equipment features like leather, moonroof and navigation system, which were included as standard equipment on the introductory 2006 model. Accordingly, base sticker price has been adjusted downward.Driving It Driving Impressions
The RX 400h pulls quickly and smoothly from a stop, thanks in part to the immediate torque provided by the electric motors. It passes quickly and smoothly also, even starting from highway speeds, thanks in part to the continuously variable transmission that doesn't need to downshift. In fact, the only area in which the RX 400h doesn't handily better the RX 350 is in braking, during which we experienced slight but noticeable irregularities, usually on our way to a complete stop.Favorite Features
With its remarkably sophisticated gas-electric powertrain, the RX 400h is smoother, quicker and, importantly, more luxurious than the RX 350.
Voice Recognition on Optional Navigation System
The DVD-based navigation system allows a driver to designate a desired destination by voice command while driving, allowing them to keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the steering wheel.
Except for a power meter where you'd expect a tachometer, the RX 400h passenger cabin is virtually indistinguishable from the RX 350's. Up front, soft, comfortable seats complement an attractive, intuitive array of controls. Likewise, rear-seat passengers are treated to generous legroom and headroom. Opening the rear hatch reveals a cargo area that, while not overly voluminous, proves surprisingly adequate for bigger loads.Exterior
The RX 400h is most easily distinguished from the RX 350 looking head on, with a revised front end that includes a unique grille, reworked air intake and round fog lamps..Notable Standard Equipment
Standard on every RX 400h are a power rear liftgate, auto headlamps, 10-way adjustable driver and passenger seats, six-CD sound system and electrically-powered automatic dual-zone climate control system that stays running even when the combustion engines shut down at a stop.Notable Optional Equipment
Many features that were standard in 2006 are offered as options in 2007, including leather seating, DVD-based navigation system, power adjustable steering wheel, moonroof and roof rails. Also available is a Mark Levinson audio system, back-up camera, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, rear-seat DVD entertainment system and front seat heaters.Under the Hood
Front-wheel-drive versions of the RX 400h combine a 3.3-liter V6 with two electric motor-generators. One of the electric power units runs accessories while the engine is off, restarts the vehicle and controls the transmission, while the other powers the front wheels (by itself or in conjunction with the engine) and recharges the battery by capturing energy from deceleration. All-wheel-drive models feature a third motor-generator that powers the rear wheels when called upon and also assists in regenerative braking.
3.3-liter V6-based Gas-Electric Hybrid
268 horsepower (peak, combined)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 32/27 (FWD), 31/27 (AWD)
With a base price in the low-$40,000 range, the hybrid RX 400h costs about $4,000 more than a similarly equipped RX 350. That's less than the BMW X5 3.0 and the Mercedes-Benz ML350. Before going to your local Lexus dealership, be sure to check out Fair Purchase Price to see what the RX 400h is selling for in your area. Aside from being less expensive than the X5 and ML350, the RX400h also holds a much better resale value over time, making it a very attractive option in the luxury SUV segment.