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Lexus RX400h PDF Print E-mail
Hybrids are currently all the rage, with the Toyota Prius selling more than half a million since its introduction, and Honda offering ? at least in the States ? dual-motor Civics and Accords.? Now Toyota has moved into the luxury segment with the launch of the Lexus RX400h SUV at the recent Bangkok motor show.

The Prius has been hugely successful across the world, although there are those that question the true effectiveness of its hybrid technology.? True, it improves fuel consumption and, while the electric motor is powering the car, is virtually pollution-free, analysts calculate that from production to destruction ? that is the entire lifespan of the vehicle ? it is one of the least efficient models.? To recycle or dispose of the batteries, the electrical windings and various other hi-tech components is vastly more expensive, both in monetary terms and environmental concerns, than a conventional vehicle.? The same presumably goes for the new RX400h.

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The hybrid SUV features a 3.3 liter gasoline engine producing 271 bhp (200 kW) and 288 Nm of torque, as well as two motor generators to power the front and rear wheels, the front one delivering 333 Nm between zero and 1500 rpm, the rear 130 Nm up to 610 rpm. On start up only the electric motors, battery powered, are used. At low speeds the engine does not operate, but on full acceleration the two electric motors and the gasoline unit all come into play.? When decelerating, the kinetic energy produced is converted into battery power via the two generators.

As well as reducing fuel consumption, inevitably, when the electric motors are in operation, there is an almost uncanny silence to the progress of the SUV.? Lexus has always had a strong reputation for quiet motoring but this brings a new dimension to the whole process.

Electronic all-wheel drive is a standard feature, with the appropriate amount of torque apportioned to the correct wheels according to traction and load.? During normal driving the system stops power to the rear wheels, again to promote fuel economy as well as a greater degree of onroad stability.? If the vehicle is being driven on a slippery surface, the intelligent AWD system calculates the required total motive force and the torque distribution between the front and rear wheels to achieve the best traction.

The interior of the SUV is typical Lexus with power seats and steering column, an electronic climate control system and, of course, Lexus? legendary sound system.? Concert-hall reproduction on the move, made all the better by the prevailing quietness of the SUV?s operation.

A comprehensive series of safety systems are incorporated into the 400h, including dynamic vehicle management which integrates the ABS, brake assist, dynamic stability control (DSC) and the traction control.? An advanced set-up, it detects any instability in any lateral direction and compensates accordingly.? In addition, an electronically controlled braking system allows a different brake force to be applied to each wheel along with braking assistance from the front and rear motor generators. While the Lexus SUV has not yet been crash-tested under the Euro NCAP rules, it is reasonable to assume it would achieve high ratings, except perhaps under the pedestrian protection tests.

Nine airbags are fitted, including side airbags, a driver?s knee bag and front and rear air curtains.

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Many people have questioned the validity of hybrids in protecting the environment, citing alternative fuels such as bio-diesel or ethanol as the preferred way to go, but for the immediate future, if you want a luxury SUV that is to some extent environmentally responsible, look no further than the new Lexus RX400h.? On sale in Thailand at 6.25 million baht.

 
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© 2018 Jeff Heselwood. All rights reserved.
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