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Lexus RX 400h and 450h

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  • cericceric Posts: 1,093
    EPA rating is not how people drive. There was a recent report on Autoweek about this, which is saying that EPA's way of rating fuel consumption is outdated for hybrids. Most consumers get 40~45mpg on survey. In order to get beyond 50mpg, you need to follow a "formula" of driving. (getting up to speed quickly and start cruising, etc..)

    Lexus is quoting 30mpg in autoshow. The best you should expect is about 25mpg. Hybrids get better city than highway mpg. 25mpg is pretty good considering most RX owners get 17~20mpg in combined driving.

    OK, assuming 7mpg saving for 91+ ($2 in CA). On average 12K drive per year, you save about less than $400 for fuel ($1330 vs $960). You need 10 years to recover the cost. It would be more if you consider $4000's opportunity cost (interest?)

    My point is that if people buy hybrids for saving money, they are missing the points. 400h get better response (horse power), which worth $4000 alone for some people. Saving fuel cost is just icing on the cake. Being first in owning one is priceless (as the TV ads says...)

    BTW, 400h would only come "fully loaded". That is on top of the $45K loaded RX330. You can expect $50 price tag. For lower-end, they want you to get Highlander hybrids instead.

    Just MHO.
  • lok888lok888 BostonPosts: 1,768
    This is what I found from Edmunds and Toyota websites, 60/51/55 mpg in city/highway/combined. And I am not sure how the EPA rating works. But I also heard most people are getting 40+ mpg. And this is what I believe is right.

    ceric - I agree with you. But the marketing for these hybrid cars make people think they are saving money by burning less fuel, like 20 mpg gasoline powered car vs. 40 mpg hybrid car.

    Beside the clean air issue, Lexus (Toyota) should consider putting its V8 engine on RX from LS430 for more power. Beside the the RX is 1000 pounds heavier than LS, the gas mileage is very close. I think people would agree to spend an extra $4K. And people will put a question mark on RX400h.
  • maxhonda99maxhonda99 Posts: 1,289
    lok888,

    Actually both the RX330 and LS430 weigh in at about 4000lbs. I believe the RX330 is about 4,200lbs.
  • Anybody having luck getting info on the 400h at dealers? Neither of my Twin Cities Lexus dealerships will return my emails. I was politely asking about waiting lists, ordering protocol, etc.

    Apparently you need to show up in person with a big wad of cash showing in your clenched fist before they will engage you in conversation? You would think they would treat 'live' prospects with at least a little interest.
  • lok888lok888 BostonPosts: 1,768
    It is a different story here in MA. I contacted two local Lexus dealers here. One dealer (Lexus of Watertown) told there is a $500 refundable deposit for the RX400h. And I would be 35th on the list if I want it. But there is still no pricing info yet. All information that we know are from the auto show coverage and Lexus website.
    He added that the available date is between December 2004 to January 2005. I have no reason to believe that he was lying. Otherwise, he would ask me to buy the RX330 now.
  • john1701ajohn1701a Posts: 1,897
    > I also heard most people are getting 40+ mpg

    That's because it is WINTER right now.

    ALL vehicles take an efficiency hit during the cold season.

    Going from -18F two weeks ago to 25F today, I saw a huge improvement with the MPG in my Prius. Another 50F degrees will account for another signficant MPG improvement.

    MPG is lower during the initial break-in period too.

    JOHN
  • If a 400h is going to be $50K, I know my wife will say forget about it!! She'll wait for the cost/benefit of a preowned 400h. Actually, we like the new 330 style and the added content such as backup camera, power tailgate,larger Nav screen & etc than we have on the 2001. She is more than willing keep to keep the 2001 for 5-6 years. We kept her 94 ES 300 8 years and it was like new when we sold it.
  • "While the 400h achieves 36 city/31 highway mpg and meets California's Super-Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV) requirements, it is the power and its delivery that excites us."

    Dennis
  • "The RX 400h will be the top-of-the-line RX model, probably with prices starting at more than $40,000."

    http://www.evworld.com/view.cfm?section=communique&newsid=503- 2

    Dennis
  • cericceric Posts: 1,093
    Imagine this...
    Do you think when EPA test highway MPG, they make sure th battery is bone-dry from previous runs (whatever they were) so that there is no "cheating"?

    As an engineering professional, I am having a hard time believing 400h would get better highway MPG (claimed 31mpg) than standard 330's 26mpg. Just explain to me where the extra energy efficiency comes from when cruising on a 400 miles stretch of highway 5 from SF to LA? (remind you that there is very minimum braking)

    If you know how EPA test MPG, you would smile. The numbers are inflated for hybrids. For regular vehicles, they are good for comparison only.

    That said, I am very interested in 400h. It is one of the few vehicles I am considering to replace my '98 BMW 540iA.
  • My 2001 RX came fully loaded and had an MSRP of just under $42K-bought it for $37.5K. I don't have a problem with an MSRP a bit higher than that, but $50K pushes my price point. I've owned many luxury cars in my life including Mercedes so you can figure my income bracket can handle it. We just set a limit as to how much we wish to spend on a car.
  • > Do you think when EPA test highway MPG, they make sure th battery is bone-dry from previous runs (whatever they were) so that there is no "cheating"?

    HSD has minimum threshold (I believe 30%)for the battery capacity. When the battery hits below that, it'll recharge from the ICE. One of the concept of HSD is to store energy when the most appropriate and use it when the most beneficiary. Your suggestion is the situation HSD is designed to avoid. Draining the battery before EPA test would be cheating out of HSD.

    > As an engineering professional, I am having a hard time believing 400h would get better highway MPG (claimed 31mpg) than standard 330's 26mpg. Just explain to me where the extra energy efficiency comes from when cruising on a 400 miles stretch of highway 5 from SF to LA?

    To appreciate HSD efficiency, you'll need to understand sources of inefficiency in the traditional cars. Graham Davies explained on his site very well.
    http://home.earthlink.net/~graham1/MyToyotaPrius/Understanding/In- ternalCombustion.htm
  • If all the improvement in highway mileage is only 5mpg, then it will take forever to recoup the premium paid for the 400h over a standard RX 330.There just isn't enough data and pricing info yet to make an intelligent decision on the 400h
  • > If all the improvement in highway mileage is only 5mpg

    If your main usage is highway, SUV might not be the best suitable vehicle for you. Just a statement, not a suggestion.

    RX330 FWD: 20 mpg / 26 mpg
    RX400h FWD: 36 mpg / 31 mpg
    400h has combined millage of 33.5 mpg. 10.5 mpg more than RX330

    RX330 AWD: 18 mpg / 24 mpg
    RX400h 4WD-i: 36+mpg / 31+mpg
    The 400h four wheel drive version is suppose to be even more efficient than 400h FWD version due to ability to recapture more energy from regenerate braking.

    The idea was to improve fuel economy by 50% and translate the other 50% to performance. The result is the extra 40 hp, super ultra clean emission, and other benefits I posted previously.
  • cericceric Posts: 1,093
    Thanks for your info. I am afraid that your post would be removed soon due to violation of policy. Basically, the site talks about a different engine tuning is used since ICE (internal combusion engine) is no longer the only driving force. Efficiency can be optimized at near peak level. If the ICE used on 400h is different than the one on 330, then my question is answered. However, that was not what I have read. We will see. Thanks anyway.
  • igibanigiban Posts: 530
    Would the RX400h offer less noisy ride than RX330. I test-drove a 330 just the other day and found the engine 'roar' during acceleration and tranny not all that smooth. I believe it's talked about on RX330 boards. I am wondering can we expect 400h to be quieter and smoother. That'd make $4K extra worth it to some.
  • I was just telling my mother how great it would be if the 330 was a hybrid, just my luck... today I'm told that it will be. Not all Americans are gas guzzlers.
  • > Just explain to me where the extra energy efficiency comes from when cruising on a 400 miles stretch of highway 5 from SF to LA?

    The same reason I4 Camry Auto gets 23 mpg / 32 mpg vs. V6 Camry Auto gets 21 mpg / 29 mpg. Lexus RX 400h will have similar engine as RX330. Instead of RX330 Otto cycle, 400h will use Akinson cycle. This fundamental change in engine cycle gives RX 400h better fuel economy (even highway). Akinson cycle enables the engine to be tuned closer to the "sweet" spot; resulting in higher efficiency. Akinson cycle has disadvantages as well but electric motor complements its shortcomings.

    You can think of HSD as a married couple rather than a single person. Husband makes up for the wife's weakness and vice versa. It is the harmony between the two that gives overall higher efficiency. Regenerative braking and others are also responsible.

    Dennis
  • > I am wondering can we expect 400h to be quieter and smoother.

    It should be quieter and smoother. Quieter due to the high RPM (Over 6,000 RPM) elimination. Smoother due to ECVT which will also gives instant power response. Read message #21 and #27 of my posts for more information.

    Dennis
  • igibanigiban Posts: 530
    won't have to be 'upgraded' like the current 330 anymore. One more thing to make it smoother. Gas along may not justify some $4K more on sticker, it has to be better in other regards. If Dennis is right, this'd be it.
  • john1701ajohn1701a Posts: 1,897
    Actually, the hybrid won't even have a tranny.

    All the HSD design has inside is a power-split device. No gears. No torque-converter. Always engaged.

    JOHN
  • igibanigiban Posts: 530
    In its own league I guess. Now we just have to see if the HSD presents its own set of problems on an SUV...
  • cericceric Posts: 1,093
    If an Akinson cycle engine is used instead, then I can understand why 400h could get 31mpg. By the way, I just heard from Nissan board that the CVT on Murano is a pain in the ?ss according to a service manager of Nissan. Let us hope the one used by Toyota is better.
  • cericceric Posts: 1,093
    I hope everyone read the following article from MSNBC. Things you should be aware of before making purchase decision. I am not trying to bad mouth 400h. As I have said, I am very interested in ordering it. Just that people need to have a reality check. Don't be fooled by the 60/51mpg of Prius or the 36/31mpg of 400h. You are not likely to get it. I know I won't. But, it is the future. And, I praise Toyota for taking the lead.

    http://msnbc.msn.com/id/3540844/
    by a MSNBC reporter on 04 Prius.

    P.S. If this post get deleted by the HOST, I will post a summary later.
  • HSD design in Prius and RX 400h has a very different CVT transmission than Nissan and Honda. Nissan and Honda CVT uses belt, pulley, and cones to shift continuously mechanically.

    HSD ECVT works fundamentally different. In fact, there is no transmission in HSD. CVT function is achieved by cleverly engaging ICE, Electric Motor, and Wheel in a planetary gear set (about the size of a coke can). Planetary gear set can combine power from any two sources and output to the third source. At a given ICE RPM, increasing Electric Motor RPM would increase the Wheel speed. At a given speed (Constant wheel rotation), ICE RPM can be adjusted by changing the Electric Motor RPM, thus, achieving CVT functionality electronically.

    Planetary gear can also split power from one source onto the other two sources. ICE power can be split into the Wheels and Electric Motor (aka electric generator). Therefore, you are driving the car and charging the battery at the same time. This enables Prius/400h to take advantage of ICE "sweet spot" when you accelerate the engine RPM close to the "sweet spot". In that situation, the computer might put the ICE to the most efficient RPM and charge the battery. Mild hybrid such as Honda Civic can only route the power from the ICE to the Wheel and back to the battery through regenerative braking.

    ECVT is also responsible for improving fuel economy and performance. You can take a look at the acceleration sensation curve from Toyota compared with Camry 2.4L Auto tranny (Third graph from top).
    http://www.toyota.co.jp/en/tech/environment/ths2/output.html

    *note - From the graph, Current Prius is the classic Prius and THS II is the 2004 Prius.
  • lok888lok888 BostonPosts: 1,768
    ceric - Good point! I love to see more discussion on the RX400h. But I am not interested to order on, maybe my friend want to trade his '00 RX300. We need to figure it out the true cost to own and how long will this pay for itself. Like I mentioned before, dealers here in MA are taking order for December 2004 or January 2005 delivery. There are already 30+ people on the list at one local Lexus dealer even there is little information on this car. Actually, Toyota already has several hybird vehicles (in addition to Prius) in JDM. The RX, Highlander, Camry and Sienna will be their next project.

    mytythor - Hang on to your RX300 for another year or more if you (or your wife) really want the RX400h. I personally love the RX330 much. The fully loaded one probably cost you around $43K. For a new one (RX400h), I am sure the $4K premium will be true for RX400h. For an old one (RX400h), it will take a year or two to see them in the market, maybe dealer's demos. I have a feeling Toyota will not make as many as of this (RX400h) to meet the demand. Just look at Toyota Prius with 7+ month wait and the '04 Toyota Sienna.
  • igibanigiban Posts: 530
    Any expert can share what you think maintenance cost for 400h would be vs. the 330? Well for one thing there's no tranny fluid to change but I am sure there're things needed just for 400h as well. Maybe Prius or CivicH can be good examples?
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,873
    ceric et al - you're not going to get a post deleted for linking to a news story on another site! What we don't allow is 1) linking to a site that provides automotive message boards, or 2) posting large portions of copyrighted material from another site in Town Hall. Linking to stories is fine. Thanks!

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  • wco81wco81 Posts: 495
    I assume some of the people here interested in hybrid SUVs are driven in part by the perception of the safety of SUVs. While gaining the benefits of lower emissions and fuel efficiency from hybrid technology, of course.

    But looks like SUVs aren't that safe after all:

    http://www.tnr.com/easterbrook.mhtml?pid=1334

    http://www.gladwell.com/2004/2004_01_12_a_suv.html
  • > Any expert can share what you think maintenance cost for 400h would be vs. the 330? Well for one thing there's no tranny fluid to change but I am sure there're things needed just for 400h as well

    There is an inverter fluid to change. It is like changing coolant, according to John1701a. Toyota recommends the same oil change period as traditional cars even though ICE is used less often. AC brushless motor and battery is also maintenance free.

    HSD is mechanically simpler than traditional cars by design. It should be more reliable but we do not have enough data to prove it yet. (Do we?)

    Dennis
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