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Car & Driver: Lexus RX 400h Long-Term Test

Lexus RX 400h

Easily, my favorite car magazine feature is the long-term test, where the magazines various writers and editors spend twelve months behind the wheel of a car then share the results.

Well, not satisfied with a single year, Car & Driver enjoyed a two year-long visit with the RX 400h. The magazine’s staff managed to put 40,000 miles on the SUV in that time, which gave them plenty of road to find out all of the vehicle’s low points:

To many drivers the transition from purely electric to gas and electric power wasn’t always smooth, and the amount of added power delivered was unpredictable. Many also felt a lurch and heard a clunking sound when the gas engine kicked in when the vehicle was at a complete stop. Most drivers thought that a $50,000 Lexus should behave more smoothly.

The regenerative braking system got gripes, too. The transition from regenerative to hydraulic braking was often disconcerting because a small increase in pressure on the brake pedal might produce a huge increase in deceleration. Drivers complained that when they began to press lightly on the brake pedal, the RX seemed to surge a bit, causing the knee-jerk reaction of applying more braking than intended. This was especially apparent in city driving at moderate to low speeds. All the Lexus service guys could do was tell us, “That’s just the way they work.”

These issues, along with the rather obligatory cost breakdown of a hybrid versus its traditional engine counterpart (it would take 91,000 miles before the 400h would justify its $3,800 premium over the RX 350), doesn’t really build a strong case for the hybrid. Unless you’re feeling incredibly guilty about your carbon output, stick with the RX 350.

Lexus LS 600hL on a Norwegian Test Track

Norwegian website Dinside Motor took an LS 600h L through its paces, hitting 160mph and showing off some major bodyroll:

I like to see these kind of tests, it’s so much more interesting to see the handling instead of reading about it.

Lexus Sponsors New Mobile Site & Lexus Team up

Lexus will be the first sponsor of Mobile, a new site created exclusively for car info on-the-go. While their involvement is seem to be limited to a simple banner ad directing visitors to the Lexus’ mobile offering, the actual site sounds like a very interesting service:

Visitors will be able to search’s inventory of 2 million new and used vehicles and get more details on the cars that interest them, including photos. Other features allow shoppers to access Kelley Blue Book’s Used Car Values, calculate vehicle payments and read expert reviews and the latest automotive news via’s blog, KickingTires. Mobile shoppers will also be able to quickly find a local dealer through the site’s dealer locator, which will also offer maps and directions to the dealership and click-to-call functionality.

No doubt, this would be a handy site, especially when shopping for used cars. Easier than keeping all the numbers in your head, I imagine.

[Source: CNN Money]

Classic Lexus SC 400 Commercial

Old Lexus commercials have been popping up on Youtube non-stop — First was the LS 400 double shot, and now we have the inaugural SC 400 ad:

The snapshot camera effect has to be my favorite part, it just screams of the nineties.

Autoweek & The 2007 Lexus GS 350

The Lexus GS 350

Autoweek has picked up a 2007 Lexus GS 350 for their fleet, and their first impressions are decidedly mixed:

Some of our drivers loved the exterior styling of the GS, while others found it amorphous. The interior also divided drivers; they called it either comfortable or eerily numbing.

I have to agree with any criticism of the GS’s new styling. While the front end is a satisfying amalgamation of the standard GS cues & the new L-finesse design language that’s shared among all new Lexus models, the backend of the vehicle is exactly as Autoweek says, “amorphous.” Far too large in proportion, the expansive derrière is no doubt a result of trying to differentiate the GS from the latest ES (which, in my opinion, is a much better looker of the two).

One interesting fact in Autoweek’s first impression regards the V6 of the GS 350 as compared to the GS 430’s V8:

Lexus says the GS 350 awd gives up 0.6 second to the [GS 450h] hybrid from 0 to 60 mph (5.8 seconds versus 5.2), and — for now, at least — this new direct-injected six actually outpowers the 290-hp V8 in the GS 430.