Welcome to the first true luxury hybrid SUV, the Lexus RX 400H. Produced from 2006-2009, the RX 400 H was a testimony to Japanese engineering. Once the people at Lexus decide to try something different they don’t quit until they are satisfied that it meets their standards, and those standards have always been rather lofty.
Whatever your pre-conceived notions are about hybrids you will most likely have to re-evaluate them once you drive the RX 400H. Powered by a 3.3-liter V6 engine that produced 268 horsepower, it also featured a 288-volt battery pack and electric-driven motor-generators. The combination of the two gave the driver a nice boost of power and the gas savings so desired in these tough fuel times.
What we now consider standard is the Lexus assurance of quality and reliability, and the word luxury certainly applies to the RS400H. All of the amenities we have come to expect from Lexus were available in this hybrid pioneer and it was also available in either front-wheel or all-wheel drive versions.
An interesting note about this particular Japanese import car is that the noted quiet that has become synonymous with the Lexus brand is noticeably missing in this hybrid. The existence of the hybrid system forced the V6 to perform at top revolutions causing an uncommonly noisy ride. Maybe we should amend that statement to say uncommonly noisy for a Lexus.
This vehicle raises an interesting dilemma for car buyers. If going green is the goal then there are certainly less-expensive alternatives out there. Why spend over $25,000 for a used hybrid when you can salute the green revolution for ten thousand dollars less? And no matter how much of an improvement this hybrid is over the other luxury SUV’s on the market, it is still an SUV and as such will get less miles per gallon than say a hybrid hatchback or wagon. A philosophical question to be sure but still a valid one.
Pushing philosophy aside, the Lexus RX 400H was a fine vehicle that accomplished what it set out to accomplish. It provided luxury, power, and a reliable ride in an elegant setting. It also provided better gas mileage and opened the door to later innovations in the Lexus line of fine vehicles. With an excellent safety record and the world-renowned Lexus reliability, the RX 400H was an excellent vehicle and deserves consideration when looking for a used SUV. Just make sure you shop around to find the best price possible because any way you look at it, $25,000 is a hefty price to pay for a used luxury hybrid.