2008 Lexus RX 400h
3:36

2008 Lexus RX 400h

Automobiles
You see here's the problem, we just got back from the LA auto show and we saw the next generation Lexus RX. So here I am looking at the outgoing one and noticing it's got a lot of dumb and a lot of good when it comes to tech, that makes for a dilemma. [ Music ] Now our RX is an interesting mix of the future and the past; it's a weird bundle of tech. Starts off on the good side with our optional navigation system that's one of the best-looking nav systems in the biz, has been for a couple of years. It is touchscreen, it's also voice-activated, beautiful rendering, easy to figure out menus and in addition to the touchscreen you've also got lots of good clear, direct access physical buttons right here. We've also got the optional Levinson audio system which in this guy is 210 watts, I think it's 11 speakers, one of those would be a sub, nicely spread around the cabin and it's one of the very best sounding systems out there, plus that six disc begins to eat DVD, Audio, and Video which is a nice plus. You're going to appreciate those additional disc formats because you're missing a lot of other stuff, iPod adaptor, well, that's a dealer installed option, not factory. You can also get XM a la carte or, as part of the upgraded packages, if you want a standard aux jack up here, forget it, it's not even available. You can only get an aux if you get the rear seat entertainment system which is not my favorite because it drops down from the ceiling. Now, we do have some other interesting sources, no, not SD; no, not USB; no, not HD radio, what the -- cassette! For those of you too young to know what this is let me demonstrate that, folks, is a cassette tape and that's also craziness. About the only goodness of that cassette drive is to use one of those cassette adaptors since you don't have an aux jack. So, I guess Lexus kind of has you covered but in a real ass backwards way. Now, I'm going to go look for the eight-track slot. Underway the RX hybrid does several things rather well: First, it's eager to stay in all electric mode until you're well down the road. I could get it to get up near 20 miles an hour on electric only pretty easily and for fairly long runs around town. Once the gas engine kicks in, power is 268 horsepower all in, zero to 60 in about seven and a half seconds thanks to ample torque. There are a lot of cars that claim to have V8 performance from a V6, this is one of the few that can say that with a straight face. Now, all RX hybrids have one transmission this electronically controlled CVT, continuously variable transmission, with reverse, neutral, drive and then I blow that, the odd one B. B is braking as in engine braking. It allows you to bias the car's power train toward regenerative braking, using the engine to repower the cells. If you get all-wheel drive like our RX, there's a separate electric motor for the rear wheels in addition to the one for the front and, of course, there's the requisite system map that adds almost nothing in the way of meaningful information but sure looks cool. Now, let's get down to earth, the RX hybrid delivers 27/24 as its EPA mileage estimates. Yeah, those are numbers you'll feel good about at the pump but make no mistake they're not going to do much to save the earth. We're still talking about a well sub-30 MPG ride. You really want to help the environment, you've got to make a bigger sacrifice than driving one of these.

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