2008 Lexus RX 400h Review

Pros & Cons

  • Efficient hybrid technology, quick acceleration, smooth ride, luxurious interior.
  • Pricey, brake pedal feel difficult to judge, no third-row seat.
Other years
Lexus RX 400h for Sale
List Price Range
$6,795 - $11,994

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Though expensive, the 2008 Lexus RX 400h delivers impressive fuel economy and utility plus all the power, amenities and flawless build quality consumers have come to expect from Lexus.

Vehicle overview

When it debuted two years ago, the Lexus RX 400h marked the beginning of a new paradigm by introducing more efficient hybrid technology to the popular but highly consumptive luxury SUV segment. While more affordable hybrid utilities from Toyota and Ford have been around for several years and other larger upscale SUVs from Chrysler and GM are now joining the hybrid parade, the 2008 Lexus RX 400h remains the lone "green" entry in the midsize luxury utility class.

Using full-hybrid technology, the RX 400h's gasoline/electric powertrain can operate in gas-engine-only, electric-only or combination modes depending on conditions. The system combines a V6 engine with an electric motor-generator to drive the front wheels and stores its energy in a nickel metal hydride battery pack that fits inconspicuously under the vehicle's rear seat. (All-wheel-drive models feature an additional electric motor to drive the rear wheels.) These components work together seamlessly to generate up to 268 horsepower and 0-60-mph sprints in fewer than 8 seconds. During light acceleration or when coasting, the 400h saves fuel by running solely on battery power. It all adds up to acceleration similar to that of some V8-powered rivals while achieving the best fuel economy in the midsize luxury SUV class.

Of course, none of this comes cheap. A typically equipped 400h will cost close to $50,000, about $4,000 more than a similar RX 350. Even with gas above $3 a gallon, it will take many miles and years of driving to recoup the cost. And from a pure "save the planet" standpoint, buying a Prius still makes much more sense. That said, this is still one very likable vehicle. Quick, fuel efficient and luxurious, the RX 400h comes with a set of attributes that just about any luxury SUV buyer will find appealing.

2008 Lexus RX 400h models

The 2008 Lexus RX 400h is a midsize luxury SUV available in front- or all-wheel-drive versions. It comes in one trim level with standard and optional equipment levels much like the RX 350. Standard equipment includes 17-inch wheels, a power rear liftgate, 10-way power front seats, cloth upholstery, sliding and reclining second-row seats, dual-zone climate control, multifunction steering wheel controls, heated outside mirrors and eight-speaker premium audio with an in-dash six-CD changer.

Many popular optional features are available separately or in packaged groups, such as the Premium Package which includes leather trim, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, driver seat memory settings and a sunroof. A Premium Plus Package offers these items plus adaptive xenon headlights. Other RX 400h options include 18-inch wheels, a fantastic 11-speaker Mark Levinson audio system, a navigation system with back-up camera, a rear-seat entertainment system, satellite radio and specialized interior wood trim.

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2008 Highlights

The 2008 Lexus RX 400h luxury SUV features minor interior and exterior trim revisions.

Performance & mpg

The Lexus RX 400h hybrid combines a 3.3-liter gasoline V6 engine with electric motor-generators to power vehicle systems and the driving wheels. Front-wheel-drive models use two motor-generators -- one acting as a starter and the other providing motive force -- while the all-wheel-drive version adds a third electric motor to drive the rear wheels. Producing up to 268 horsepower and working through a specialized continuously variable transmission (CVT), Lexus claims the front-drive RX 400h can go from zero to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds and an even quicker 7.3 seconds for all-wheel-drive models. Towing capacity is 3,500 pounds when properly equipped, same as the RX 350.

EPA-estimated fuel economy is superior to that achieved by gas-only V6 or V8 competitors. Rated at 27 mpg city and 24 mpg highway, the front-drive RX 400h is also as efficient (or more so) than many smaller four-cylinder sport utilities.

Safety

Standard RX 400h safety equipment includes front seat-mounted side airbags, a driver knee airbag and rollover-sensing front and rear head curtain side airbags. Antilock brakes, stability control and traction control are also included. Adaptive cruise control is available as an option, as is a rear back-up camera that's included with the optional navigation system. In government crash tests, the 2008 Lexus RX 400h scored a perfect five stars in frontal- and side-impact testing.

Driving

The 2008 Lexus RX 400h drives a lot like its gas-powered RX 350 sibling, delivering both a smooth ride and reasonably tight handling despite its extra weight (which is noticeable when changing directions at higher speeds). That smooth ride comes thanks to soft suspension tuning, which makes the RX feel a little too spongy for those who appreciate a more spirited driving experience. However, the electric motor at least offers peppy acceleration and quiet operation under normal driving conditions -- the 400h is capable of approaching 30 mph in electric mode alone, which is of great fuel-saving benefit in stop-and-go traffic. Under maximum acceleration, though, a substantial amount of engine noise is apparent as the hybrid system forces the relatively small V6 to work harder and rev all the way up to redline. One other downside is that many drivers find the RX 400h's brakes grabby and difficult to modulate.

Interior

The Lexus RX 400h is as sleek inside as it is outside, seating five in a streamlined and high-tech interior that boasts aluminum or wood trim, bright-ringed gauges and a high-resolution touchscreen that displays the hybrid powertrain's gas-electric power distribution. The 40/20/40-split rear seat folds, slides and reclines to optimize passenger comfort and cargo-carrying versatility. A standard power liftgate opens up to reveal more than 38 cubic feet of luggage space and approximately 85 cubic feet of maximum cargo room with the rear seats folded, both competitive numbers for its class. A third-row seat, a feature often found in this vehicle segment, isn't available.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2008 Lexus RX 400h.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Great Hybrid SUV
Karin,01/29/2016
4dr SUV AWD (3.3L 6cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
Loved this car from the minute we bought it new. Nearing 80,000 miles and no complaints! Only some paint chips on door edges. Not buying a new one though. Don't like the new design and new screens. No more touch screens - uses a mouse! OMG! They went backwards!
Love Hate Relationship
G Henry,10/17/2007
4dr SUV AWD (3.3L 6cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
I have had my RXh for 4 months and I love it, and I hate it. It is comfortable, safe, easy to drive, quiet, stunning Levinson audio system and more but mine has problems with the regeneration. My regeneration worked perfect until the battery pack showed fully charged. Ever since then the regen works about 60% of the time. Two dealers have looked at it and found nothing. Now I have video proof I will take in this week to see how they will ignore my issue. If you get 19-22 mpg in the city your regen is also not working well. When it is working and you drive responsibly you will get 27 in the city. The RXh is wonderful and smooth and safe, but I bought a hybrid and expect it to work.
Wonderful Car
slo-jim,11/03/2010
4dr SUV AWD (3.3L 6cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
My RX 400h has been the very best, most reliable vehicle I have owned; buying my first car in 1967. Gas mileage has been super, averaging 28.5 MPG since day one. it is solid, very comfortable, has lots of power and a joy to drive. I recommend this car to anyone who wants a quality, energy efficient hybrid!
Excellent Vehicle
ramskifast,08/26/2013
4dr SUV AWD (3.3L 6cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)
I bought this vehicle with 64K miles on it. Now I have 102K. My worse tank was 24mpg and the best was 29.25mpg. I seem to average between 25 and 27.50 with mixed driving. High speed highway (75-84) is only around 22. When I get the higher mileage it's usually when most of the driving is at lower speeds as you would expect. I noticed a review of this vehicle by someone stating poor mileage. There was either something wrong with the vehicle or it was due to poor driving habits. Way too many people blast up to the light and hit the brakes. Then they hit the gas hard taking off. Dumb-de-dumb. If you use softer driving habits you will get 26-28. You have to be thinking hybrid. Smart drivers will see the good mileage. Navigation works well with two exceptions. First is it's incredibly dumb that a passenger can not program the vehicle while the car is in motion. Second is the warning notice which displays for 5 or 6 seconds everytime you hit the NAV button. There should be a way to stop it from doing that.

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Acceptable
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2008 Lexus RX 400h
More About This Model

For some folks, spas are a necessity. Regular visits to these purveyors of posh pampering keep the upper crust relaxed and ready to resume their moving and shaking lifestyles. Here, people de-stress by way of warm stone massages, serene surroundings and new-age music. For those looking for an equally soothing and environmentally responsible luxury crossover SUV, there is the 2008 Lexus RX 400h. A hybrid SUV that provides strong performance along with conscience- (and wallet-) easing fuel economy, the RX 400h also treats its driver and passengers to as quiet and unruffled a way of getting around as possible.

The Lexus RX 400h debuted for 2006, and though it hasn't changed much, we felt it was a good time to revisit this old friend given the fact that gas prices are nearly double what they were back then and it remains the only hybrid choice among midsize luxury SUVs (although there's now a Cadillac Escalade hybrid for those wanting something a bit bigger).

Happily, the current RX 400h is handling midlife in fine fashion (Toyota and Lexus models are typically redesigned every five or six years). The styling still looks contemporary, the cabin remains handsome and impeccably finished, and with a sprinting ability that can challenge sporty cars, this hybrid is still firing on all cylinders (and batteries) when it comes to pleasing its target market's desire for gusto without guilt. Whether it's navigating the asphalt jungle or running effortlessly through scenic countryside to that out-of-the-way haven, the 2008 Lexus RX 400h is comfortably competent.

Of course, all this luxury and leading-edge fuel-efficiency costs a pretty penny — about $50 grand in the case of our loaded test car. But if you go easy on the options and realize that you're getting the luxury of a touring sedan, the functionality of an SUV and the fuel economy of an economy car, maybe that's not too dear for such a well-rounded vehicle.

Used 2008 Lexus RX 400h Overview

The Used 2008 Lexus RX 400h is offered in the following submodels: RX 400h SUV. Available styles include 4dr SUV AWD (3.3L 6cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT), and 4dr SUV (3.3L 6cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT).

What's a good price on a Used 2008 Lexus RX 400h?

Price comparisons for Used 2008 Lexus RX 400h trim styles:

  • The Used 2008 Lexus RX 400h Base is priced between $6,795 and$11,994 with odometer readings between 88260 and167371 miles.

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2008 Lexus RX 400hs are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2008 Lexus RX 400h for sale near. There are currently 3 used and CPO 2008 RX 400hs listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $6,795 and mileage as low as 88260 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2008 Lexus RX 400h.

Can't find a used 2008 Lexus RX 400hs you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Lexus RX 400h for sale - 12 great deals out of 17 listings starting at $10,771.

Find a used Lexus for sale - 3 great deals out of 5 listings starting at $19,558.

Find a used certified pre-owned Lexus RX 400h for sale - 10 great deals out of 19 listings starting at $15,189.

Find a used certified pre-owned Lexus for sale - 12 great deals out of 18 listings starting at $17,424.

Should I lease or buy a 2008 Lexus RX 400h?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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