Lexus RX400h - RX400h owner's review for gordonbennet - SteveLee

I bought a 2006 Lexus RX400h four years ago, despite being and old git I was stupid enough to land myself with a young child and couldn’t spend four weekends a year maintaining my beloved P38 Range Rover, nor risk it breaking down – not that it ever did.

So I bought Japanese. The car had done 50K miles, this period coincided with a massive drop off in my annual mileage so I’ve only put another 50K on it since.

The Good:

It has a large boot, it’s reasonably refined it has the performance of a V8 Range Rover with the economy of a diesel (30mpg), I'm over 6 foot and find the driving position (2 memory seat, mirror and steering wheel adjustment) to be completely comfortable after many hours at the wheel, The car grips well but offers little feedback.

Thanks to the instant grunt from the electric motors, the sprint to 30mph is very impressive, I’ve “burned off” many more exotic cars at the traffic light GP – the thing just leaps away from the lights. Definitely faster than my old Jag XJR to 30 and faster than the official figures suggest (except in the wet). The later 450h trades some of this acceleration for extended battery-only range. At the last service – the 11 year old battery pack showed no signs of aging and is still very healthy passing the hybrid-drive test with flying colours. The 3.3litre v6 is fairly punchy but like many Japanese cars seems to have quite loud valve-train noise. I’ve listened to a few others - this is perfectly normal. The headlights are excellent, they are the optional follow the steering Xenons.

The Bad:
Soul, or lack of – it does everything well but doesn’t get your juices flowing. A perfectly decent car but completely forgettable. Rust, a few bubbles of rust have appeared near the arches and on the bonnet lip. The wheels are heavily corroded (typical Lexus), the brakes work well when pushed but don’t inspire confidence. The sat nav is rubbish. The traction control is over sensitive and really hampers acceleration in the wet, I suspect this nannying is because of the next issue - there’s noticeable torque steer when hammering it in the wet which never gets out of hand, but it’s there to remind you you’re not driving a Range Rover! If you’re not lead-footed you probably won’t notice either of these traits.
Car Park anonymity! I find I have to drive around car parks with the windows down and the (decent) stereo on, pedestrians just don’t hear you coming when running on battery power and step into your path lemming-style. Reversing lights are awful, I’ve replaced them with LEDs which means the parking camera is now useful at night – but the electrical noise from the dodgy Chinese LED's means I have to turn the wireless off when reversing to avoid a blast of white noise!

Don’t forget it has a CVT – some drivers loath them, I think the combination of the grumbly V6 and whirr of the electric motors makes it sound a bit like airwolf from the 80s! The nearest the car has to character!

Other than the 90K cambelt service (+£700 to usual service bill) there haven’t been any extra costs associated with running the car, I ditched the horrible squealy half-worn Bridgestones Duallers when I first got it and fitted road biased Toyo Open Country HT Mud&Snow tyres, the fronts are now down to 3mm after 40K miles and need replacing (I didn’t rotate them). They grip impressively in the wet and yet don’t squeal like most M&S tyres in the dry – I tend to corner hard and they really impress. My exuberant cornering style has probably caused another issue – I’m starting to get wheel bearing noise from the rear, I think there’s probably 10K before I’m facing a sizable bill!

All in all it’s a cheap car to run for a large petrol SUV. I have a feeling it will last quite well but will get tatty quickly due to the aforementioned surface rust. It’s not really an off roader (although I waded through a 100 yard, 1 metre flood with "water and electricity don't mix" screaming in my head - with no noticable outcome - there were cars stranded everywhere, the RX was fine.) and the (non-switchable) traction control stops you having any real fun off road anyway – but with the trusty Toyos I don’t worry about wintery conditions – the car copes very well indeed. Later cars have mud and snow modes. If you don’t pnie for excitement from your motoring, there’s a lot to commend this car.

Lexus RX400h - RX400h owner's review for gordonbennet - gordonbennet

Wow i asked for a report and a report i got, thankyou very much for that.

I've just read that out to SWMBO, a smirk appeared at the instant and fast acceleration description, she's not a high speed driver but doesn't like faffing at junctions etc, she never holds anyone up put it that way.

One of the reasons for not going too high with the next car is she doesn't want to lose the point squirt and let the car get on with it throw it about ability that the ageing Outback has, the larger boot would be welcome as we now have 3 dogs and her car is the dog carrier as they are almost always with she does moderate her driving with the dogs on board.

That cambelt change cost is nothing short of scandalous, it took me one hour DIY with an £80 full Gates kit to do the Landcruiser, the H6 Outback is of course chain, bit i believe the 2.5 Subaru engines with cambelts are reasonably simple to do too.

Impressed the batteries are still strong at 11 years, so much for the anti hybrid crew bellyaching about batteries being scrap in no time at £XXXX cost.

The rust coming through on the body has me a little concerned, the Outback is 15 years old and has no body rust at all anywhere, the rear subframe was looking rusty but painting with some seriously hard two pack epoxy and then covering in BIlt Hambers finest anti rust stuff is seeing it not deteriorating at all.

Excitement isn't an issue, SWMBO nips about a bit but likes cars she can just plant her hoof regardless of weather and corners and the car to just do its thing, this it must be said the Subaru does so well and without the slightest drama, without nannying.

She does like sharp brakes, and i've recently discovered Brembo brake pads (ECP do them quite cheaply) which feel like those lovely Ferodo pads of years ago, bite well wtih a light pedal, they have improved the previously only IMO adequate brakes on the Subaru no end and i wouldn't be surprised if they had the same effect on a 400h.

If and when the time comes the present steed is approaching end of life, we'll certainly consider a 400h if one presents itself, i now know a lot more than i did about them, but it has a lot to beat as the Subarus just do what they do so well, though she would like a slightly higher seating position without compromising the handling too much.

Very much obliged for your time and trouble there.

Edited by gordonbennet on 05/08/2017 at 20:36

Lexus RX400h - RX400h owner's review for gordonbennet - RT

If SWMBO wants Outback agility with more space, have a look at the outgoing VW Touareg - at 2.2 tonnes, it's not quite as nimble as the 1.5 tonne Outback but very close - space and fuel consumption are much better and the brakes are sublime, 4-pot Brembos the same as the Porsche Cayenne gets - if you're buying used then VW diesels are inevitably cheap.

Lexus RX400h - RX400h owner's review for gordonbennet - gordonbennet

Not one we'd considered before RT, would prefer to stay Japanese.

Economy isn't a big issue anyway due to LPG, which it must be said has been a success with the H6 engine.

Lexus RX400h - RX400h owner's review for gordonbennet - corax
She does like sharp brakes, and i've recently discovered Brembo brake pads (ECP do them quite cheaply) which feel like those lovely Ferodo pads of years ago, bite well wtih a light pedal, they have improved the previously only IMO adequate brakes on the Subaru no end and i wouldn't be surprised if they had the same effect on a 400h.

Agree about Subaru brakes. I don't know what they're like on the STi's but adequate would be my description too. I've been on the forums about this and although you can get 4 pot conversions which improve the feel slightly, the general consensus is that standard brakes are fine for just about anything when mated with fast road pads like Ferodo, or the Brembo's you've mentioned. They're certainly not a patch on my old BMW which were superb for standard brakes, but in most other areas the Subaru's are better.

Strange about the wheels on Lexus - it seems to be one area where they've cut the budget slightly.

I've looked at the Lexus RX300 as a possible future replacement with it's supposedly great ride quality and refinement, but the thirst and tax puts me off, the one thing that you can't fault the Forester with is lack of soul.

Impossible really to find a like for like replacement to an outback with it's permanent four wheel drive and boxer six engine, it's fairly unique.

Nice to see SteveLee on here again - a blast from the past!

Edited by corax on 05/08/2017 at 21:47

Lexus RX400h - RX400h owner's review for gordonbennet - BloodySurgeon
Hi Steve
Just seen your detailed review of the RX400h. Thank you! Immensely helpful. I’m looking to get one second hand this week. Am rather a novice with cars and have somehow settled upon this as what I’d like to get.

There are a few on AutoTrader available within a £6000-£8000 budget. They vary a lot in mileage and age. In view of two comments of yours about the wheel rust and the battery life, do you have any advice as to what year I should stay within, and indeed, any suggestions about mileage to stay under? I can up my budget a little if it seems the sensible option.

Lexus RX400h - RX400h owner's review for gordonbennet - SteveLee

I think the condition is more important than age, with every service there should be a hybrid system check - here's where you can see what the battery condition is like - I've not heard of any RX400hs requiring new traction battery packs - I have changed my auxiliary (standard 12 volt) battery twice - once when I first got the car for peace of mind and another one last winter as I got a "please shift to P before starting" message - which usually means the auxiliary battery is on the way out. I keep meaning to track down a larger capacity battery that'll fit in the same space, but to be honest, this is based on prejudice rather than any evidence of there being a problem.

With a 400h purchase there are two big things to look out for - obviously one is the 90K cam-belt change - check it's been done if the car has gone over 90K or use it as a haggling point if the service is looming ensure the water pump is done at the same time. The other thing is there's a 2013 recall for the invertor this applies to all 400h's I believe.

Mine's past 110K miles now and has still been very good, the middle exhaust box has started to puff a bit and the headlight levelling sensor arm has broken off - two minor jobs I'm going to tackle this weekend. Other than that - it's still the same good, slightly soulless but utterly dependable car it's always been. I'm on General Grabber AT3 tyres now - staggeringly quiet for AT tyres, brilliant off the beaten track and surprisingly good on the tarmac – I haven't checked that closely because I don’t care about fuel economy but I reckon going to full AT tyres has probably cost a couple of miles per gallon. Just a reminder – this may be a hybrid car but it’s not great on fuel – 30mpg on a motorway cruise and around 25mpg plodding round town.Still a lot better than a V8 Range Rover!


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