Ten Point Test

Auto Trader Ten Point Test rating: 77%

Want a luxury SUV with “green” credentials? The Lexus RX400h has laid claim to this territory thanks to its combination of petrol engine and two electric motors.

There’s no doubt it is a classy looking vehicle but what’s it like to drive?

Auto Trader editor Adrian Higgins got behind the wheel for a week of hybrid driving.

1. Looks 8/10

Lexus’s cars don’t generally stand out: they are more about discreet elegance than “look-at-me” bling. But the RX400 is one of the most easily-identifiable and best-looking SUVs on the road. Like its prestige SUV rival, the Porsche Cayenne, the RX400 has a very sporty stance and a coupe-like profile which lends it a very modern look. Lexus is the first to admit this, the facelifted RX400 doesn’t actually look very different from its predecessor. The main changes are a revised front grille, and integrated front fog lights, but many won’t spot the difference.

2. Looks inside 8/10

The RX400h doesn’t disappoint once you get inside. The interior lives up to its luxury tag with cream leather creating a feeling of roominess while the wood from the previous model has been replaced by aluminum. The information display is simple to read and the central console, flanked by vertical air vents, is neat and stylish. Go for the top SE-L trim or choose sat-nav as an option on the SE grade and you can access information on the Hybrid Synergy Drive system via the same monitor.

3. Practicality 7/10

The Lexus 400h is both roomy and practical. There is plenty of room for drivers, passengers and possessions plus a 439 litre boot accessed by a power tailgate. Everything you would expect on a luxury SUV.

4. Ride and Handling 7/10

SUVs tend to have a comfortable ride while being let down by the handling. This stylish vehicle does have a 4×4 system but we’d be surprised to find many drivers employing that off-road. It steers fine on the tarmac and the ride lives up to the luxury image.

5. Performance 8/10

There’s nothing weedy about this green machine, with 269bhp enabling it to cover 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds, with the top speed standing at 124mph. The power comes from a 3.3-litre V6 petrol engine, coupled with electric motors back and front. The car can run on electric power alone at slower speeds with the petrol engine kicking into life when acceleration or a little more speed is needed. The silent nature of electric motor driving is a little disconcerting to start with and it is worth keeping an extra-vigilant eye out for unwary pedestrians who may not have heard your approach

6. Running Costs 7/10

If you travel into London during peak hours the RX400h’s hybrid power source will save you having to cough up for the congestion charge. The 192g/km of carbon dioxide it creates land it in tax bracket F, and an annual bill of £190 a year. The 400h returns an average of 34.9mpg, not bad for an SUV, but may surprise some simply going on its “green” credentials. Some have argued that while the petrol hybrid is more economical than purely petrol models, other models

7. Reliability 8/10

Lexus’ reliability is legendary. However, this revised RX400h has only been around since 2005 so it’s a little too early to say whether it will present any problems. There’s nothing in the car’s build quality to suggest it will.

8. Safety 7/10

Lexus has put together safety features including anti-lock brakes, traction control and vehicle stability control under one coordinated system – the Vehicle Dynamics Integrated System. Other passive safety features include adaptive front lights which respond to the steering. If the worst comes to the worst there are nine airbags including driver’s knee airbag to keep you in one piece.

9. Equipment 9/10

Lexus lives up to its reputation for ensuring even entry models come with plenty of goodies as standard. There are three grades to choose from: RX 400h, SE and SE-L. All models feature multi-zone climate control, cruise control, rear privacy glass, 18-inch alloy wheels and a six disc CD. Go for an SE model and you will get automatic headlamps and wipers, leather upholstery, heated front seats and Lexus’s Adaptive Front Light System which automatically swivels headlights for improved illumination through bends. Go for the SE-L trim and you will also get the Lexus Navigator DVD navigation system with rear park assist monitor and 11 speaker Mark Levinson hi-fi.

10. X-Factor 8/10

The luxury SUV market boasts a few good-looking cars, but only one has a hybrid engine. Some would argue that while it’s greener than its rivals, a luxury SUV is still not a very green choice. Whichever your view, this is the main feature which differentiates the Lexus 400h from its rivals.

Key facts

Model tested: Lexus RX 400h SE-L
On the road price: £45,268
Price range: £36,403 – £45,268
Date tested: July 2007
Road tester: Adrian Higgins