What’s in a name, really? Well, nothing as long as the name doesn’t confuse and muddy the waters for the consumer. In the case of the Lexus RX 400, or more commonly called the RX 400H, all you need to know for clarification is that the H stands for hybrid. What we saw from 2006-2009 was a Japanese import car with all the technology you could ever hope to find combined with a hybrid engine in a midsize SUV. In other words, it was, at the time, a new species.
Hybrid- technology has been on the scene for quite some time but before the RX 400 hit the scene hybrid was mentioned in terms of compact cars and fuel efficiency. If you wanted hybrid your choices were small and smaller. Then along came the RX 400 hybrid and the automotive landscape shifted once again, as it has a habit of doing when Japanese automakers tackle a problem. While American carmakers seem to be always in catch-up mode and the Germans and British are stuck in tradition, the Japanese keep looking at things that never were and then find a way to make them reality. And probably the truly remarkable thing about it is that while the Japanese continually push the envelope with new ideas they never sacrifice quality and reliability. The old way of thinking used to be that if a new car hit the market then you waited a couple years while the kinks were worked out in the factory, but not so with Toyota, Honda, or the other Japanese automakers. New models hit the market at full speed and as reliable as if they had been produced for ten years.
For this review let’s not get bogged down with specifications and measurements. At the risk of sounding redundant, the engineers at Lexus completely understand what the word “luxury” means and with the introduction of the RX 400 it became obvious that they understood what hybrid meant too. Increased fuel efficiency combined with enough power to satisfy anyone in the market for an SUV intended for urban driving, this SUV made you look good, feel good, experience a feeling of safety, and all the while feel like you were doing your part for the environment. Not a bad combination at all!
If you are in the market for one of these luxurious SUV’s then plan on paying between $20,000 and $30,000, a rather steep price considering there are new midsized SUV’s on the market for about the same price, but none of them offer the reliability and luxury of the Lexus RX 400 Hybrid. In this case, you truly do get what you pay for.