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Edmunds: Long-Term Test: 2006 Lexus RX 400h

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March 2006 Update

As its odometer fast approaches 13,000 miles, our long-term Lexus RX 400h continues to be popular for long road trips. Editors all agree its ride quality remains one of the most luxurious of any SUV on the market, and its smooth-running hybrid drivetrain provides abundant amounts of torque for passing and merging. "The interesting thing is that you're scarcely aware of how fast the RX 400h is," said Erin Riches, senior content editor. "Even though it weighs 300 pounds more than the standard RX 330, the hybrid RX is faster than many V8-powered SUVs — there's just no baritone exhaust note or aggressive shift points to herald its greatness."

Executive Editor Scott Oldham also hit the freeway in the RX 400h this quarter, taking a father-son trip to Scottsdale, Arizona, for the annual Barrett-Jackson collector car auction. "Typical Lexus fit and finish," said Scott. "Typical Lexus luxury. Typical Toyota/Lexus soft brake pedal. Big-block Chevy passing power."

Although the extra poundage doesn't slow the Lexus down on the interstate, it does have an impact on handling. "During a detour on a winding two-lane road, the RX 400h felt sluggish through the tighter turns, particularly compared to the RX 330 with the optional sport-tuned air suspension (not available on the hybrid version)," Erin wrote in her notes. "Additionally, the regenerative brakes heated up quickly and began to fade a little on downhill stretches. Granted, most RX 400h owners probably wouldn't drive their vehicles this hard, but if you're currently in the market for a car-based SUV with sporty dynamics, the hybrid Lexus isn't a good choice."

Inside, the RX 400h provides a relaxing environment with top-quality materials and many thoughtful features, including a spot for a purse under the center console. "The attention to detail is impressive," said Erin. "For example, on the energy monitor screen, there's a diagram that shows the flow of power between the gas engine, electric motors, the battery pack and the wheels — and the wheels pictured are the very set of twin-spoke alloys that come standard on every RX 400h."

Although Scott agreed that the RX was comfortable on the long haul, he was disappointed when he failed to locate a couple of features he assumed would be standard. Lack of satellite radio was a big loss during the 10 round-trip hours spent on the interstate, as was the absence of a fuel-range readout, which tells the driver how many miles to empty. And even with a 17.2-gallon fuel tank in the hybrid, Scott found himself needing to fill up every 300 miles.

Since our last update, the RX 400h has made three trips to the dealer and one to the body shop. The first visit was the result of a power steering failure due to a short in the electronic control unit, which was replaced the next day under warranty. Two visits were for regular maintenance at 5,000-mile intervals, which included oil and filter changes, and a tire rotation. And after we accidentally touched the right rear fender to a large pole, the RX was off to the body shop for a few days, and we paid $1,113.66 for a top-notch repair at Golden Hammer.

Current Odometer: 12,940

Best Fuel Economy: 25.4 mpg

Worst Fuel Economy: 16.7 mpg

Average Fuel Economy (over the life of the vehicle): 21.5 mpg

Body Repair Costs: $1,113.66

Maintenance Costs: $115.92

Problems: Power steering failure.

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Link: http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/Drive...rticleId=106271

Previous Updates

August 2005

Introduction

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