Currently, Lexus is using the fourth generation of Hybrid Synergy Drive from Toyota. The Lexus RX 400h, Lexus ES 350, Toyota Camry, and Toyota Highlander are all built on the same platform with slight modifications between the sedans and the SUVs.
The gasoline-powered part of the engine system is a 3.3L 3MZ-FE V6, very similar to the one found in the RX 330. It produces 268 HP when aided by the two additional electric motors. Under normal driving conditions, only the front motor and gasoline engine will be used. The rear motor will only be used under full-throttle acceleration or when the front wheels lose traction (if so equipped). The gasoline engine will switch off automatically when the vehicle is either stationary, decelerating, or being driven at a slow speed and the electric motor will take over. A Ni-MH battery is responsible for powering the motors, and it is charged during deceleration and from the heat energy caused from braking.
- Fuel economy
- Body styling
- Floaty suspension
- Rear visibility
Performance and Handling
The assistance of the electric motor increases the vehicle's performance, the RX 400h Hybrid can reach 60 mph (97km/h) in less than 8 seconds which is quicker than the normally aspirated RX 330. Despite the increased performance, the RX 400h consumes roughly the same amount of fuel as a compact four-cylinder sedan and it qualifies as a Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV) in America.
The great downfall of all the power offered up in the RX 400h, is that the suspension stuggles to find the balance of "supple yet sporting" this Hybrid strives to acheive. Reducing radius turns and older roads with higher speed limits bring this crossover SUV to its knees.
As seen on the FuelEconomy.gov website, the City/Highway MPG averages are as follows:
2006 RX 400h FWD
2006 RX 400h AWD
- Front seat-mounted side airbags (SRS)
- Driver's and front passenger's advanced airbag system (SRS) with crash-severity sensors
- Front and rear roll-sensing side curtainairbags
- Driver's knee airbag
- Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM)
- ABS with Brake Assist
- Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD)
- Reinforced Body
- Three-point seatbelts with pre-tensioners seatbelts for all seats
- Daytime Running Lights
- Vehicle Stability Control (VSC)
- Traction Control (TRAC)
- Direct Tire Pressure Monitor System
- Theft-Deterrent System with engine immobilizer
- LED tailights
Reliability and Maintenance
Interior and Comforts
Brushed-aluminum accents lend to an upscale and modern look. Hybrid specific instruments consist of an illuminated meter on the left that displays the level of power generated by the hybrid powertrain, instead of a tachometer. Gas-electric power distribution can also be monitored through the multi-information display or on the optional navigation system.
The cabin as a whole is simply luxurious. Leather seating is soft although the slightly bunched up ruffles may turn off some buyers. Entry and exit is easy, there is no need to climb up or duck down. The front seats are positioned off the floor at a comfortable height. Lateral support is good, foldable armrests on both front seats provide additional comfort on longer trips.
Rearward visibility is rather poor. The RX 400h benefits from having the optional navigation system and rear-view camera. The camera is automatically activated when the transmission is shifted into reverse. You can't drive backward by simply watching the screen, however. The system includes Bluetooth and voice activation. Downsides to this amount of integration is pressing two buttons to change the fan speed rather than one and a difficult to read trip odometer. Audio controls are at the bottom of the center console. The radio has big knobs for volume and tuning, that are easy to use. The Lexus premium audio is a 132-watt, eight-speaker system with AM/FM/cassette with six-disc in-dash CD changer. The optional Mark Levinson audio system features 11 speakers and 210 watts.
The rear seats fold down, however they don’t fold down perfectly flat due to the battery packs. Once the rear seats are folded, there is 83.9 cubic feet of cargo space. This slightly surpasses most competitors, the BMW X5 and the Infiniti FX. The RX 400h does not offer a third-row seating area.
Subtle styling differences which separate the RX 400h from its siblings include; a new front bumper for increased cooling, a new grille, new fog lamps and new tail lamps with LEDs instead of traditional incandescent bulbs. In addition, Lexus has supplemented the RX 400h with specific 18-inch wheels. The wheels are 7 inches wide and the tires are designed to provide grip in corners rather than offer low levels of rolling resistance. This says a lot about the intent of the RX 400h. Lexus could have gone the other way and improved fuel efficiency further with hard Low Rolling Resistance Tires, but chose to enhance handling instead.
Styles and Major Options
- Leather-trimmed interior, steering wheel and shift knob
- Brushed aluminum interior trim pieces
- Power tilt-and-telescopic steering column with memory
- Lexus Memory System to control power driver’s seat (except lumbar), outside mirrors and steering wheel
- Illuminated entry system
- Power tilt-and-slide sunroof with one-touch open/close and sliding sunshade
- Adaptive Front Lighting System (AFS)
- High-Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps with dynamic auto-leveling
- Roof rack with rails
- Dual-zone automatic climate control
- 10-way driver (including lumbar) and 8-way front passenger power seats
- Lexus eight-speaker, Premium Sound system with in-dash six-disc CD changer
- Steering wheel mounted cruise control, audio and display function controls
Individual Factory Options
- Lexus DVD Rear-Seat Entertainment System (RSES) (includes two pairs of wireless headphones) - $1,840
- Heated Front Seats with Rain-Sensing Wipers - $665
- Mark Levinson® 11-speaker, 210-watt Premium Audio System with in-dash, single-feed, six-disc CD changer - $980
- Lexus voice-activated DVD Navigation System (includes backup camera and Bluetooth® technology) - $2,350
- All-weather floor mats
- Car cover
- Cargo mat
- Cargo net
- Front-end mask
- Tow-hitch receiver
- Wheel locks
- Wireless headphones