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Lexus RX 400h and 450h

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  • xcelxcel Posts: 1,025
    Hi Stevedebi:

    ___In some respects, you are dead right but you would be very surprised at the fuel economy capabilities of an SUV in the right hands … At least I know the above statement to be true in Lincoln and Acura SUV’s.

    ___Good Luck

    ___Wayne R. Gerdes
  • loloplolop Posts: 3
    Page 1: Intro

    Kailua, HI -- Luxury SUVs have long been loathed by the environmentally conscious. All that leather and space, the big engine, the heavy weight, and abysmal fuel economy to boot.

     They are considered by some to be modern day white elephants comfort for the sake of it, size just because you can afford it, waste because no one really cares.

     That may well be changing, thanks to Lexus and the latest hybrid vehicle to be introduced in North America, the 2006 Lexus RX 400h. Now even luxury SUVs and their owners can quietly have a role in saving the planet without joining Green Peace or giving up any of the creature comforts or performance they've come to expect from the vehicle they drive.

     Based on the current Camry/Highlander/RX 330 platform, the gas/electric hybrid combines for an estimated total of 270 horsepower. It uses the 3.3-liter V6 from the RX 330, adds a permanent magnet electric motor up front and an electric motor for the rear wheels.

    Page 2: Technology

     With the front electric engine developing 247 lb.-ft of torque, the rear motor generates 96 lb.-ft. of torque through a six-time gear reduction, boosting overall rear wheel torque to an impressive 650 lb.-ft. of yanking power good enough to garner a 3,500-lb. towing capacity. A third electric motor at the bell housing functions as a generator, engine starter, ratio control for the continuously variable transmission, and part-time charger for the 288-volt battery pack. The system effectively produces performance similar to a V8, while sipping fuel like a compact four-cylinder-powered sedan.

     The technology that drives the Lexus RX 400h is not completely transparent, however: when you insert and twist the key in the RX 400h's ignition, don't be surprised when the engine doesn't start. The electric air conditioning will quietly kick on, and the electric power steering will ease steering input. Otherwise, it's eerily quiet. Place the CVT into gear, push down on the accelerator, and the front electric motor pulls you away, up to 42 mph, given proper conditions.

     Adding additional pressure to the accelerator makes the V6 come to life, and the CVT seamlessly streams through the ratios, maximizing the powertrain's torque curve. Mashing the throttle to the floor takes this from mild-mannered SUV to hybrid hyper drive vehicle, as the battery packs flow a full line of voltage to the front- and rear-electric motors. Make no mistake: under full acceleration, the RX 400h feels as though a small block V8 were transplanted between the front shock towers, though the muted exhaust of the V6 and electric motor noise audibly tell you otherwise. Let off the gas and the V6 stops running and all the electric motors go into regenerative braking mode to recharge the Nickel metal hydride batteries.

    Page 3: Economy

     Even with a powertrain that mimics a V8, the RX 400h delivers very impressive fuel economy. Preliminary EPA estimates given by Lexus are 30-highway and 28-city about the same as a Toyota Matrix. We took a pre-production RX 400h on a 412-mile loop around the Big Island of Hawaii that included city, mountain and highway roads. Based on the vehicle's trip computer, our light-footed jaunt through paradise averaged an optimistic 34.4 mpg.

     Though we tried the RX 400h on a couple of cane haul roads, Lexus engineers were quick to point out that although the RX 400h is technically an all-wheel-drive vehicle, it's not a capable off-roader. True, the mass majority that will buy this hybrid SUV won't ever take on any thing worse that a graded dirt road, or on snow. However, sand is to be avoided. With the aft electric motor being air cooled, there's a concern for excessive heat build up, which would cause the system to shut down (to protect itself), temporarily leaving its passengers stranded. If you want to go off road, the Lexus RX 400h is not for you.

     Giving the RX 400h a cursory walk around during a rest stop, it certainly looks like a clone of the RX 330, though Lexus sprinkled a few practical additions to the design, such as a new front grille, a secondary bumper grille to aid electronics cooling, round fog lamps, and rear LED tail lamps.

    Page 4: Safety

     Behind the wheel, the cabin has all the amenities you'd expect from Lexus a buttery leather interior, plenty of soft-touch plastics, tasteful wood trim and perfectly engineered ergonomics. Where it differs from the RX 330 is in the replacement of the instrument binnacle's tachometer with a power meter displaying the amount of power generated by the hybrid powertrain. Other changes include a multi-function display, which allows the driver and passengers to monitor the gas/electric power distribution, and holds the optional DVD-based navigation system.

     As with all Lexus vehicles, safety is a prime consideration, and the RX 400h comes the latest safety equipment. Besides the front, front-side and side curtain airbags, the windshield and front-side windows feature a water-repellent coating, and there's a rear-view camera when equipped with the navigation system. One would expect rain-sensing wipers and HID headlamps (and they're there), but the adaptive front lighting, which computes the vehicle speed and steering angle, automatically rotating the headlamps into a curve, and is a wonder on mountain roads.

    Page 5: Wrap

     The 2006 Lexus RX 400h is a wonder in other ways as well, because it combines powerful technology under the hood with expected luxury amenities inside and subtle changes to the vehicle's appearance. The result takes the wasteful premise of luxury SUVs and turns it into a model for efficiency, done in a subtle way that's sure to have luxury SUV owners whispering, softly…“Look at me, I'm green…â€

     Pricing has yet to be determined, though we'd guess the RX 400h will command a $4,000 premium over the current RX 330. If spending somewhere in the neighborhood of $40,000 is too much of a commitment to better gas mileage,, the next step down is Ford's Escape Hybrid, offering a 2.3-liter inline-four coupled with a 70kW electric motor. The combination brings V6-like power to the smaller package. With a mere 24,000 units destined for America's shores this year, we suggest you get friendly with your local Lexus dealer if you're looking to score a 2006 Lexus RX 400h. Like the Prius and Escape Hybrid, we expect demand to far exceed this years' supply.
  • loloplolop Posts: 3
    Page 6: FAQs

    How much gas mileage can I expect from the Lexus RX 400h? We averaged around 30 tpo 35 mpg during our test of the vehicle. Mileage will changes depending on how and where you drive, but Toyota expects the RX 400h to deliver Matrix-like economy numbers.

    What's the best thing about the Lexus RX 400h? Clearly, the technology. With two electric motors and a traditional engine running things, the complexity is enormous, and the pay-off is significant: great performance with sippy fuel economy. As gas prices head to $3 per gallon, it's a crucial benefit. Look for other luxury nameplates to join the hybrid fray soon.

    What's the worst thing about the Lexus RX 400h? The price probably at around $4,000 over the MSRP for a Lexus RX 330, and the availability. With only 24,000 being planned, it won't be easy to get an RX 400h and it's not easy to build more. And oh yeah you really can't drive the thing through sand dunes or on the beach

    Page 7: Notes

     Test Vehicle: 2006 Lexus RX 400h

     Engine size and type: 3.3-liter V6, 123kw electric front electric motor, 50kw electric rear motor.

     Engine Horsepower: 208hp, 167hp, 68hp

     Engine Torque: 212 lb.-ft., 247 lb.-ft, 96 lb.-ft

     EPA Fuel Economy: 28 city and 30 highway

     Max Towing Capacity: 3,500 lbs.

     Max Seating Capacity: 5

     Competitors: Acura MDX, BMW X5, Infiniti FX35, Land Rover Range Rover, Mercedes ML350, Volkswagen Touareg.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    I guess I'm off to join green peace and pickup my X3 in europe next May.
  • nmpnmp Posts: 19
    Well, that goes to prove the theory that you can't beat physics with Hybrid technology. One cannot achieve truly high mileage in a heavy, large frontal area SUV.

    ...no one says we are beating physics...we are just using better physics ( a melding of the best of Sadi Carnot, James Clerk Maxwell, and solid state physics). 28 miles per gallon city is a nice achievment for a large vehicle. Beats the heck out of what I currently get with my 2001.5 Passat V6 and got with my 1998 Acura CL 3.0 and 19996 Nissan Altima while living in Chicago....
  • nmpnmp Posts: 19
    I guess I'm off to join green peace and pickup my X3 in europe next May.

    ....Thank god they have smooth roads....with the X3 you'll need it. I test drove one from a downtown Chicago dealership last month and it squeaked and rattled like a dog's chew toy on the frost heaves on Lake Shore Drive. I thought the complaints abou it stemmed from the usual anti-BMW hyperbole (because it drove wonderfully otherwise...the 3.0 is SOOO smooth). But it just wasn't tight (like the Acura CL I mentioned in a previous post). Nevertheless, with 2 little kids, I still envy anyone taking advantage of european delivery.
  • The real problem is that people are driving around with 200-300 horsepower engines when all they really NEED is 60 horsepower (just enough to move down the highway at 55 mph).

    Hybrids are a compromise between what people need (60hp) and what they want (a NASCAR 800 hp engine) by providing tiny engines with big-engine performance.

    Troy
  • robertsmxrobertsmx Posts: 5,525
    While I agree with you that people are encouraging HP war, I disagree that 60 HP is all that is needed. With lower HP you only gain poorer acceleration (not 0-60 but real life situations where you need to do more than cruise at 60 mph).

    Power to weight ratio is probably a more appropriate measure of things. For a 3000 lb vehicle, for all practical purposes, 150-200 HP may be enough to more than enough (in other words, weight/power ratio of 15-20 lb per HP).
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    As I have said before, I am perfectly satisfied with the performance of the 3.0L V6 in my 01 AWD RX300. I see absolutely no need for V8 performance and would much rather trade that level of performance for the additional fuel economy that the I4 with V6 performance would yeild.

    But then again having noted that the rear wheel torque for the AWD RX400h is so desperately low I wouldn't be going there anyway. Just another FWD vehicle to crash and burn the first time the road gets a bit slippery.
  • maxhonda99maxhonda99 Posts: 1,289
    "Just another FWD vehicle to crash and burn the first time the road gets a bit slippery."

    It's always nice to over, over exaggerate!
  • "I disagree that 60 HP is all that is needed. With lower HP you only gain poorer acceleration"

    .

    In other words you WANT fast acceleration, but you don't really *need* it.

    The amount of horsepower to move a car at 55 mph is only 20 hp. That's all. Sure a 20 hp car might only accelerate at 15 seconds 0-60, but that's all that we NEED in a car. Just enough power to get to work.

    .

    I think if gas increased to $20 a gallon, you'd quickly agree. You'd suddenly realize you don't need a 300 hp engine that burns through $500 fuel tanks... 20 hp would be all you need.
  • pjo1966pjo1966 Posts: 124
    If you want to pull into fast traffic or onto a freeway without getting plowed, you NEED more than 60hp.
  • robertsmxrobertsmx Posts: 5,525
    No, you NEED more HP for acceleration than you would need to maintain a cruising speed. Being a moderate by belief, IMO, extremism is a bad idea. Try to imagine a 20 HP engine in a 3500 lb vehicle. You would probably require a minute to get to 60 mph (assuming you would not be going up hill). And forget about trying to overtake a vehicle on a two-lane highway going 65 mph when the speed limit is 75 mph.
  • Hey, if 20 hp is all you want / need, why not by a motor scooter then? May get a little wet when it rains, but think of the savings on gas!
    ;-) Ok, sorry, couldn't resist on the sarcasm!

    BTW - I think Lexus with the 400h (and others like Ford with their hybrid SUV) are on the right track personally. I look forward to the day that my car doesn't require any oil or gasoline (e.g., dependency on Middle East).
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    the days of dylitheum crystals will soon be here.

    Now what planet were they from again??
  • deweydewey Posts: 5,243
    " are on the right track personally. I look forward to the day that my car doesn't require any oil or gasoline (e.g., dependency on Middle East)."

    If your goal is to eliminate oil dependancy, a Lexus 400h is one big waste of money. A commitment to save gas can be much better pursued by driving many cheaper non-hybrid vehicles .
  • falcononefalconone Posts: 1,726
    Am I the only person that thinks this is the right direction? A 4000lb.+ SUV getting 34+ MPG? Sure beats the heck out of a Yukon/Suburban/!!! Price is the only thing that is out of line. But heck... hybrids are here to stay, regardless of what the old timers here have to say.
  • wco81wco81 Posts: 495
    I'd get one of those instead but they are choosing to debut the hybrid on their SUV.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 3,863
    "Am I the only person that thinks this is the right direction? A 4000lb.+ SUV getting 34+ MPG? Sure beats the heck out of a Yukon/Suburban/!!!"

    To clarify my earlier statement about physics, many people were expecting the SUV hybrids to approach Prius / Civic Hybrid numbers. I said back then and repeat it now, that it can't be done - there is too much weight and frontal area involved.

    Of course any improvement is good. However, to be mainstream, the costs have to go down to where the benefits (added MPG) outweigh the added Hybrid costs. The lower the overall MPG, the better the ownership benefit.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,174
    Am I the only person that thinks this is the right direction? A 4000lb.+ SUV getting 34+ MPG?

    NO, they are lined up to buy them, just like going to the circus. If you have a need for a $52k dollar small SUV then It may be a good buy. It will not carry, haul or tow half the people weight or stuff that a Suburban will so I don't see the challenge. I rode in the RX330. It was OK kind of cramped for a luxury vehicle IMO. If economy is your motivation the Prius will haul 5 people around in equal comfort, and get 50 mpg. I don't see them selling as anticipated, especially if they come out the door at a huge premium over the RX330.
  • falcononefalconone Posts: 1,726
    52k is pretty steep. I can't even see a reason to buy the Escape for that matter. A Prius/HCH would be a better alternative. Me.... I'm getting a Mini Cooper S. Great package for a second car. My Accord will be put to pasture (someone will be getting a great car!) and I'm getting an Audi A6 as my primary vehicle.
  • robertsmxrobertsmx Posts: 5,525
    Why would be $52K steep for RX330 but $51K for a loaded A6/3.2 isn't?
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,174
    Why would be $52K steep for RX330 but $51K for a loaded A6/3.2 isn't?

    Maybe the A6 is a much better car? I was not impressed with the RX330 I rode in. Undersized and over priced. Just read a post where a fellow sold his RX300 and bought a Subaru Outback and likes it better. Said the RX was not stable in high winds. I'm sure the A6 is very stable out on the highway.
  • robertsmxrobertsmx Posts: 5,525
    I don't know if we can carry out the debate entirely on guess work. I'm not an SUV person either. I'm simply questioning the logic of the "steep-factor". And I doubt Audi A6 is any less cramped than RX330 either. The Audi fits on the smaller side of a midsize sedan.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    The Lexus hybrid concept simulates engine lagging torque by using regenerative braking to charge the batteries. Anytime you lift the throttle the system creates the "drag" you expect by charging the batteries.

    One has to wonder just how much better the fuel economy might be if the vehicle were allowed to just "freely" coastdown to a lower speed or to a stop.
  • You would lose all that energy. Better to engage the generator & try to recapture some of it.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    that it was never a really good idea to partially coast downhill out here in the West to conserve fuel?
  • deweydewey Posts: 5,243
    The RX400h is overpriced at 52k. Comparing it with a more outrageously priced vehicle like the Audi A6, does not make the RX400 a compelling value.

    I dont think anyone will buy an A6 or RX400h for value reasons. The value seekers will look at a Highlander vs. an RX SUV and a Passat vs. a A6.
  • deweydewey Posts: 5,243
    "I'm getting a Mini Cooper S."

    A Mini Cooper S excites me much more than any hybrid---and the mileage on the Mini is not too bad . The S version burns a bit more gas, but in this case the thrill of such a vehicle is worth every ounce of precious gas.
  • robertsmxrobertsmx Posts: 5,525
    I wasn't supporting the idea of $52K for RX400h, I was questioning the logic somebody used about "value" of $52K in a sentence to go along with Audi A6 as the next car. Look at the posts above, and you should know.
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