transportation, business, shopping and ownership concept - customer and salesman shaking hands outside
With gas prices pushing north of a buck and a quarter, we happily relieved Lexus Canada of a new RX400h gas/electric SUV for a few days recently. Rest assured, the truck is noticeably gentle on fuel, particularly in town where the gas engine is offline most frequently. Thanks to its electric motors, the RX is also surprisingly quick off the line (electric motors have virtually no torque curve, all torque is available immediately, like throwing a light switch), though the regenerative brakes were much too grabby when trying to gently slow down. The only real quirk with the hybrid RX is the strange noises it makes: there are electric motors whurring; the gas engine turning on and off; and copious buzzes, clicks and hums. They’re not unhealthy sounds — just different from what we’re used to with traditional internal combustion-only vehicles. In the end, I still question whether drivers will save money in the long-term with hybrids. Outfitted with an ultra premium package, our hybrid tester rang in at $67, 700 — $4,215 more than a comparable gas engine-only RX. While a new owner could re-coup that money in fuel savings if they kept it for around five years, what about the person who buys the RX down the road and has to change the battery packs? Time will tell, as more vehicles like the RX400h come to market.