September 15, 2008
It's been a long time since we've tallied up our fuel economy numbers for this car. So here's the scoop:
Best tank: 28.45
Worst tank: 15.55
Average MPG to date: 20.40
That's pretty mediocre considering the EPA estimate for this model is 26 mpg combined.
May 15, 2008
Although our Lexus RX 400h long-termer has mostly been retired from the fleet and is now driven by non-editorial Edmunds folks, it occasionally falls back into our hands to make sure everything's running smoothly with the goal to test the long-long-term reliability of hybrids. After driving the RX to and from Willow Springs International Raceway, I'm happy to report everything is A-OK.
I can't really say the same about highway fuel economy, however. With cruise control set at 75 mpg there and back, I only managed 25.4 mpg (according to the trip computer).
That's actually 0.4 mpg better than the EPA's 2008-standard highway estimate, but somehow I think it should be better even if the electric motor never kicks in at highway speeds. Certainly, the 27 mpg city is very impressive given most V6-powered crossovers get between 16 and 18 mpg in the city, however, I'm pretty sure we've never come remotely close to that. In fact, when I got into the car, it reported to me that it was averaging 18.3 mpg over its last 550 miles -- and that's not with the editor's lead feet on its accelerator.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 31,831 miles
March 17, 2008
I had our 2006 Lexus RX 400h this weekend and it's no Mini. I kid, heh. Anyway, the one thing I liked about it, apart from how aah-somely silent it is idling at a stoplight, was how the radio interface is separate from the navigation one. So I could change radio stations without having to cycle through the screens.
Huzzah! Same sorta goes for climate controls. I liked being able to increase/decrease temperature and fan speed just by pressing buttons. A little window pops up on the nav screen, not interfering at all with the map on display. I could spend more time watching the road than staring at a touchscreen, trying to find the right function and making sure to press the correct button.
Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 30,637 miles
March 12, 2008
This month signifies two full years of Lexus RX 400h ownership. Our reasons for keeping it in service this long are primarily to test the durability of its hybrid system. This is also why it doesn't receive too many blog posts.
Now that we recently eclipsed the 30,000-mile mark, its about time for a fuel economy update. The numbers are unimpressive and well below 31 city and 27 hwy EPA estimations.
And most of our driving takes place in the city.
Best: 28 mpg
Worst: 16 mpg
Average: 20 mpg
Just because it's a 'hybrid' doesn't make a car fuel efficient. It still takes a conscious effort to be light on the throttle to truly appreciate the efficiency this Lexus has to offer.
Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Coordinator @ 30,280 miles
November 13, 2007
I won't pretend I didn't groan a bit when handed the keys to our Long-Term RX400h for the weekend. It's not that I don't like the car, but I had a dinner party to attend Sunday night. I wanted to show up in something fun, something cool. At least the Lexus would make a fine chauffeur vehicle for my Designated Driver duties.
I was having a fine time when a young woman I'm friends with, who knows the perks of the job, asked me what I was driving tonight. "A Lexus RX400h", I said. Her eyes glazed over. Clearly she was lost in the alphanumeric nomenclature. Trying to move on, I filled in, "Some hybrid crossover thing. It's nice enough."
"Ohhh, that one!" she exclaimed, "It's sexy."
"Yeah, the hybrid one is."
"Just the hybrid one? What's sexy about adding 300lbs of batteries and electric motors?"
"It just is!"
The conversation moved to things that made more sense, but I was rocked and couldn't find my footing after that. The RX is quiet, very smooth, reasonably good on gas, and well styled, but it's not sexy.
Am I wrong here?
Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 28,500 miles.
November 06, 2007
Hey, everybody, I'm green. Or am I?
EPA estimates for our 2006 Lexus RX 400h are 31 mpg city and 27 mpg highway. That's better than the average SUV and certainly better than Lexus's non-hybrid counterpart, the 2006 RX 330, which is only rated at 19 city / 25 hwy.
For 2008 these figures go down. The new 2008 RX 400h is rated at 27 city and 24 highway.
According to the consumption meter pictured here, over the last 3,000 miles we've averaged 19.3 mpg. Woohoo.
June 26, 2007
It's not all trips to the country club for our 2006 Lexus RX 400h. This past weekend, the Lexus pulled garage sale duty instead. Our friends, the Calderons, were having a garage sale and we couldn't resist the opportunity to haul over some junk of our own.
The last run consisted of just three items, a couple of Ikea wall shelves, the longest one measuring 75 inches, and a picnic basket.
Shelves went for $3 each, and we got $2 for the basket, never-been-used plastic utensils included.
All sale proceeds were spent on Quizno sandwiches later that afternoon.
Kelly Toepke, News Editor at 25,611 miles
June 07, 2007
Our RX was due for a 25,000 mile service. Coincidentally the alignment was off, so we had that addressed as well.
We received prompt and friendly service when we called Lexus of Santa Monica. The service included typical visual inspections, fluid top-offs, an oil and filter change and tire rotation... The wheel alignment cost $99 en route to a $224.68 total invoice. Our next scheduled maintenance is at 30k miles.
Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Assistant - 25,152 miles
June 04, 2007
Cars without engine braking bug me. As a result I spend much of my commute all balled up. You see, the majority of the non-shifting masses here in L.A. don't think twice about slapping down the brake pedal in 70-mph traffic. Why?
Because they often have no choice. Give the wildly erratic traffic It takes much planning ahead to keep your automatic-transmission-equipped rig in a position where you never need to touch the brake pedal. And planning ahead in fast-moving traffic is something left to those of us who think about these things.
With engine braking planning ahead is less of a challenge. Lift off the throttle and the car slows down. Manual transmissions -- which lock the drive wheels to the engine do this any time the throttle is closed. It's one of the many physics-related reasons I'm convinced manual transmissions make people better drivers. This subtlety allows an attentive driver to efficiently pick a line through traffic without ever touching the brakes. Need to slow a little? Just back out of the gas. Automatics, however, slow very little when a driver lifts off the accelerator -- so down goes the brake pedal and on go the brake lights. The result is usually a crescendo of brake lights and unneeded slowing in the traffic behind.
I think I'm the only one who even thinks about this, so I'm going to throw it out there just for fun. What if, and believe me, this is a hypothetical, you could navigate a rapidly moving L.A. freeway without constantly working the brakes -- efficiently swapping lanes and even approaching a slower-moving car without braking? Would this not help flow? Would it not improve everyone's fuel economy? Would it not get us all home a little quicker?
I think so.
Getting to the point: I drove our RX400h home for the weekend. It has a continuously variable transmission, many of which suffer from the same off-throttle antics as automatic transmissions. Not this one. Just below Drive on the gear selector is a "B" for engine Braking. And it works. Score one for Lexus.
Josh Jacquot, Senior road test editor at 25,151 miles
May 31, 2007
My commute is ridiculous. It takes me between 45 to 50 minutes to travel eight miles. I could ride a bicycle home faster -- that's if there was anything resembling a safe bike lane. But my stop-and-go drive home with speeds that top out at 30 mph perhaps once, is a great laboratory for testing our hybrid Lexus RX 400h's maximum gas mileage.
With continuous conscious effort and a keen eye on the energy monitor, I did my darndest to eliminate the gas engine from the hybrid equation. I accelerated slowly, keeping in mind when the gas engine usually started, and looked far ahead so I could coast gradually to a stop rather than staying on the accelerator and braking later. This latter step is also key for regenerating the battery.
On the six-mile highway portion of my journey, I averaged 33.2 mpg. After the two-mile, higher speed portion through city streets, the final tally was 30.3 mpg. That's better than the revised 2008 EPA city mileage for the 4WD RX 400h. So what's the significance of all this? I would say that the hybrid RX is best suited to folks who want a high-mpg luxury car to tackle a craptacular stop-and-go commute like mine -- who aren't too concerned with price. In my opinion, though, the top-of-the-line Prius is also luxurious, has basically the same lengthy features list as the RX, is vastly cheaper and gets even better fuel economy. I bet driving the same way, I could get our Prius at least into the 50 mpg range. Mind you, the Prius won't go from 0 to 60 in 7.3 seconds when you need it to.
James Riswick, Associate Editor @ 24,800 miles