Shopping for a new Lexus RX 400h?
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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
impressive thrust and outstanding passing punch
performance reigns supreme
brake pedal feel difficult to judge
a smooth, quiet ride
Kelley Blue Book
The 2008 Lexus RX 400h delivers V-8 performance with V-6 fuel economy, a compliant ride, and fairly precise handling.
The Lexus 2008 RX 400h's powertrain combination of a V-6 engine, two (2WD) or three (AWD) electric motors, and a potent battery pack result in "acceleration similar to that of some V8-powered rivals while achieving the best fuel economy in the midsize luxury class," says Edmunds. A Lexus RX 400h AWD did 0-60 mph in 7.3 seconds in ConsumerGuide testing. And, true to its utility designation, the 2008 Lexus RX 400h can tow 3,500 pounds. Cars.com reports, "Lexus says...the transition between power sources [is hard] to discern," but ConsumerGuide finds the powertrain "is prone to subtle but annoying surging and bogging in cruising conditions."
Unique to Lexus's 2008 RX 400h AWD models is that the rear wheels are not driven by the engine but by an electric motor (Cars.com). Both the Lexus RX 400h AWD and 2WD models "can run for short distances on electric power alone...cutting emissions to zero," finds The Auto Channel. Powering the front wheels, a continuously variable transmission (CVT) "provides smooth and steady acceleration," reports ForbesAutos, though they add that it transmits "odd drivetrain noises, especially when coming to a stop."
Fueleconomy.gov gives fuel mileage ratings of 26 mpg city/24 mpg highway for the 2008 Lexus RX 400h AWD and 27 mpg city/24 mpg highway for the 2008 Lexus RX 400h 2WD. ConsumerGuide tested an AWD Lexus RX 400h and "averaged 23.5 mpg in mostly highway driving, and 22.7 mpg with gas-eating performance runs and lots of city driving." They point out that both Lexus 2008 RXs "require premium-grade gas."
The Lexus RX 400h's hybrid components (battery and electric motors) add 300 pounds over the RX 350's weight, and "you can definitely feel that extra weight in faster corners and quick transitions," reports Edmunds. They say the ride is "soft and compliant, yet the handling is also generally tight and precise." ConsumerGuide calls the ride "firm but absorbent and controlled...though a bit harsher over sharp bumps."
A few reviews read by TheCarConnection.com disliked the feel of the brakes. ConsumerGuide says that the "brakes are strong, but the pedal feels slightly mushy"; Kelley Blue Book writes, "the electronic boost of its power steering...and brakes impart a somewhat artificial feel"; and Edmunds states, "many drivers find the RX 400h's brakes grabby and difficult to modulate."
The 2008 Lexus RX400h's combination of power, fuel economy, and a smooth, quiet ride helps make this hybrid a perennial favorite among buyers, but handling is somewhat hampered by its extra weight.