I have owned this car since December. It is built from superb quality materials. This is definitely not an off-roader but more of a dressed-up executive saloon.
It has a well-made interior, but it's very dull and there is not much equipment for the money. It has more image than others such as the Range Rover Sport, but not more than the BMW X5. Don't go for the SE-L, it's too expensive.
Since submitting my last review (on an RX300), I registered a 400hSE on 12 July 2005, and after 6000 nervous miles I have sold it. The 400hSE was purchased for better fuel economy and a little more pace.
What was not explained pre-launch, and what is carefully avoided in all current publicity, is that this is a front-wheel drive vehicle, except possibly in 'electric' city driving.
I sold the car because of what I saw as dangerous torque steer, with huge amounts of power to the front wheels only. In wet condtions with crosswinds or slipstream, this is a tall, heavy, front-wheel drive(?) off-roader whose management system failed to deliver the four-wheel drive solidity which easily coped with the same conditions in the RX300.
I think that intelligent testing of this vehicle in the hands of your experienced staff could uncover the same under-engineering faced by Mercedes in the A-class after the infamous elk test.
Toyota currently has an effective monopoly on hybrids but only currently offers the Prius or Lexus RX 400h.
A hybrid appeals to London drivers to minimise emissions while at standstill due to traffic congestion.
There is little economic incentive, apart from the congestion charge concession, for the Prius.
The fundamental problem with RX400h is that a hybrid is only really beneficial in town, but this is where a 4x4 offers little benfit and attracts plenty of criticism.
It has no real off-road ability and is compromised on the road.
My irritations are that Lexus appears to have engineered synthetic creep into the electric drivetrain, which requires constant use of the brake pedal when at a standstill (most of the time in London) which I do not recall with the Prius.
The tailgate camera is not as helpful as an audible warning, which allows the driver to watch all mirrors while reversing.
I do not like the foot-operated parking brake. The driver's seat tends to lose shape quite quickly and the side bolsters crush. The alloy wheels are subject to pitting but were replaced under warranty. What happens after the warranty expires?
Otherwise, this is a superb car.
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