2006 Lexus RX 400h: The Hybrid Emperor’s New Clothes — New York Times

19 Мар 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

When Your Mileage Match the Window Sticker 31, 2005)

Are European automakers to get serious about hybrid The Times’s Mark Landler at the latest trends in the industry.

In my the Lexus hybrid, which is on the gasoline-only RX 330, did not achieve mileage than the 2005 RX 330 I drove for comparison.

My hybrid window sticker did boast a mileage rating of 31 miles per in the city and 27 on the highway, compared just 18 and 24 for the RX without the hybrid But the government’s testing procedure has a — one that seems to be with hybrids — of fuel economy numbers as to the real world as national policies have been to reducing dependence on foreign

Speaking of which, isn’t what hybrids are all about: improved fuel economy, the nation off its oil habit? Perhaps not any

The hybrid version of the Lexus utility wagon follows in the of the 2005 Honda Accord by offering more horsepower the conventional version of the same a markedly different approach that of economy-focused hybrids Toyota’s own Prius or Honda’s Hybrid. In this case talking 268 horsepower for the RX 400h, 230 for the gasoline-only RX 330.

True, Toyota is not marketing the RX as being environmentally friendly, instead on its performance and typical luxuriousness. While this may the company some absolution, the RX failure to deliver, in my experience, a nominal improvement in gas mileage seems like a sin of omission. It has fundamental to the understanding and acceptance of that they offer fuel economy than powered by conventional gasoline Toyota itself helped to that impression with its

A hybrid’s improved economy is accomplished in city driving, by an electric motor to assume of the motive burden from the engine, as well as shutting off the when the vehicle comes to so it is not idling, burning fuel, at red

Certainly, it is the Prius’s above-average economy that Toyota has to for its image as a green car company. advocates do not proclaim the righteousness of all Toyota based on the 958,888 trucks and S.U.V.’s that it in the United States last fully 47 percent of its total By comparison, only 53,991 were sold in 2004, the company has stated that it to double that number year.

It is understandable that Toyota like to transfer the Prius’s chic and green patina to products. To this end, a version of the Toyota Highlander was also introduced this and the automaker has announced plans to add a hybrid version of its Camry, the best-selling sedan, and a hybrid GS sport sedan next Whether these vehicles be gas misers like the Prius or performance-oriented hybrids like the RX remains to be seen.

My first time in the Lexus hybrid over a weekend in which I the 200 miles from Chicago to Rapids, Mich. I spent a lot of on the freeway, but I also traveled back roads and slogged a couple of stop-and-go city By the time I returned to Chicago, I had put 531 on the odometer and calculated my fuel at 20.9 m.p.g.

I returned vehicle to Toyota, but later another RX 400h for a week. I this one 556 miles and did a bit better, 23.0 m.p.g.

In an effort to make a direct with the conventional gasoline-only I contacted Toyota and asked for an RX 330 car. When the company that none was available, I on an acquaintance who had recently bought an RX 330 all-wheel drive, and made to drive that vehicle essentially the same Chicago-Grand route.

While this was not a experiment, the results from my in the RX 330 were nonetheless illuminating: 462 traveled, at an average of 21.6

I’ll be charitable and call the gas comparison between the hybrids and the RX a draw, though there is a a loser — anyone who an RX 400h under the assumption it will consume appreciably fuel in a range of driving

That it doesn’t forces one to the RX 400h on its other merits, of there are precious few. The is visually indistinguishable from its counterpart, save for some and slightly different gauges, it does come loaded luxury equipment that is on the RX 330. It has somewhat lower emissions, carrying a super low emissions rating on models in states that follow clean-air rules, compared ultra low for the RX 330.

The best thing I can say in its defense is at least behind the wheel of hybrid, you won’t find being cut off by drivers of full-size and luxury sedans muttering hugger under their as you might in a Prius.


The hybrid RX accelerate briskly, thanks to the of two electric drive motors to a version of the 3.3-liter V-6 found in the RX (A third electric motor as a starter-generator.)

The ultimate value of extra thrust is debatable, as by Toyota’s own admission the hybrid cuts only half a off the RX 330’s 0-to-60 acceleration of 7.8 seconds. The culprit here is the 300 pounds of mass the hybrid has to around, which pushes its weight to 4,365 pounds.

those driving the RX 400h use the extra oomph is another as under full power the continuously variable transmission to rev the engine, producing quite a bit of This is exactly the sort of that causes the average to avoid the upper reaches of the

Noise of any sort is anathema to a so on the freeway the incessant whirring of the RX front electric motor was as as it was irritating. Cycling on and off, the was not loud, but it was audible above the of talk radio.

Though I be willing to put up with all sorts of in the name of better fuel or enhanced performance, I found not a lot of in the RX 400h. It doesn’t even farther between fill-ups, the hybrid’s gas tank is two gallons than the RX 330’s. And with little to make it preferable to a equipped RX 330, the price is outlandish than the mileage: At the RX 400h’s sticker is $4,000 than a fully loaded RX and about $11,000 more one without options.

Even so, presold 11,000 of the hybrid wagons before they at dealerships, a not-unsurprising development the popularity of the Prius. At least the paying so much for this should be able to afford all the gas won’t be saving. They also be eligible, under law, for a $2,000 federal tax for hybrid-vehicle buyers, and possibly for and local tax breaks as well.

I hope Toyota continues to the worthy cause of developing that push the limits of technology in the quest for better economy, as it has with the Prius.

the RX 400h does nothing to this goal is regrettable. even more unfortunate is Toyota’s motivation in pushing technology may turn out to be a different of green than we’ve led to believe, one much closer to the of money.

INSIDE TRACK: zero-sum game.



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