Review: Lexus RX400h (2005 – 2009)


Very successful hybrid application. Performance of a V8 SUV with better than diesel SUV economy. Handles well too. Most ECO friendly big SUV.

Lost Congestion Tax exemption from February 2008 except for existing owners. Go through brake discs and pads very rapidly.

Lexus RX400h (2005 – 2009): At A Glance

I don't feel any guilt making a case for the Lexus RX400h.

It's a quiet and very comfortable conveyance with the performance of a big V8 SUV, yet fuel economy that beats all full-size diesel SUVs.

I averaged 31.3mpg, which is nothing to be ashamed of in a car that kicks out 273PS, gets to 60 in 7.3 seconds and weighs 2,000kg.

It's not cheap at £36,393 for the base model to £45,258 for the fully loaded SE-L version I drove. And some of the trim isn't really grand enough for a forty-five grander, like the rattly ashtray cup holder and the honorary console between the seats. A BMW X5 has much better ambiance.

But it's superbly comfortable. It's very quiet and pleasant to drive. It handles better than most SUVs. And if you suddenly need to get a move on the combined power of the engine and two electric motors whack you up to warp speed remarkably quickly.

The anchors are very good, too. Despite nearly twice the weight of the Honda Hybrid, you don't get the same feeling of braking against the heavy flywheel effect of the electric motors.

So how does it work?

What does a Lexus RX400h (2005 – 2009) cost?

List Price from £52,705
Buy new from £46,340
Contract hire from £545.98 per month

Lexus RX400h (2005 – 2009): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4760 mm
Width 1845 mm
Height 1720 mm
Wheelbase 2720 mm

Full specifications

The more I drove the RX400h the more I liked it. You get a high driving position, fantastic, luxurious seats, decent handling, all the performance you ever need to overtake confidently and acceptable fuel economy. The top SE-L version doesn't just have touchscreen satnav, but also a rear parking camera with colour display that helps enormously once you learn to trust it. I didn't do any real offroading, but having been misdirected by the police at the Goodwood festival of Speed I did wind up driving across a completely empty dry grass field at 60mph, which may or may not have engaged the rear electric motor but felt completely stable and totally in control.

Child seats that fit a Lexus RX400h (2005 – 2009)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

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What's the Lexus RX400h (2005 – 2009) like to drive?

Under the bonnet there's the same 208bhp 3.3 litre V6 as you'll find in an RX300. That is coupled to a regenerative electric motor that develops 165bhp from 4,100 - 5,000rpm and 333Nm torque from 0 - 2,000rpm. The power and torque of the petrol engine and front electric motor are fed through a CVT transmission to the front wheels. The figures don't quite add up because the power comes at different revs, but Lexus gives it a "maximum system output" of 269bhp. Which is more than enough.

Trickling about the car runs completely silently on the front electric motor alone. On hard acceleration both petrol engine and front electric motor work together. On lift-off, especially when descending hills, the electric motor regenerates power, which is then stored in batteries. During normal steady speed cruising the petrol engine both drives the car and powers the generator, storing energy in the batteries. A smaller 66bhp, 130Nm torque electric motor directly drives the rear diff, giving four-wheel-drive capability when required. There is no front-to-rear propshaft as in an RX300, so the petrol engine never drives the rear wheels. When you stop, the petrol engine automatically switches off, starting again as soon as you press the accelerator.

From this you might think it was a recipe for colossal understeer, but while understeer is the main handling characteristic it is well maintained and the steering is pleasantly sharp and accurate. Though you can't see the bonnet, it's very easy and natural to ‘place' the car by the fame of the front screen.

And since it's a hybrid it is currently London Congestion Charge exempt. There There is no reason whatsoever for this to get up the nose of Ken Livingstone because the car does what a hybrid should do. In London traffic it will be running on electric motor a lot of the time and when stationary the petrol engine switches off. It emits virtually zero Nox and a comparatively low 192g/km CO2 overall which qualifies it for the £180pa hybrid VED rate. From an owner's point of view the big 235/55 R18 tyres absorb speed humps and cushions well. So no real reason not to use one in London, apart from the potential ignorance of green-envy protestors who may still label it an enemy of the planet even though the diesel bus they rode to their protest in will have had a far more devastating effect.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
400h 35 mpg - -

Real MPG average for a Lexus RX400h (2005 – 2009)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

24–37 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Lexus RX400h (2005 – 2009)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

Is it possible to buy a warranty on an old car?

Where can I get a warranty for a 2006 Lexus RX400h? Most companies seem to have a 12-year cut off for cover.
Unlikely to be able to purchase a warranty worth buying because warranties are insurances and insurances are based on risk. No one is going to sell you a warranty on a 12 year old car that covers the £3000 hybrid battery that the car is likely to imminently need. If you can buy a warranty at all it will be riddled with exclusions.
Answered by Honest John
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What do owners think?

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  • 5 star 83%
  • 4 star 17%
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  • 1 star

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