As the first luxury hybrid SUV, the $48,535 400h comes equipped with creature comforts like a navigation system, rain-sensing wipers, aluminum alloy wheels and a screen that lets you see what's behind you simply by looking at a dashboard monitor. (A camera mounted just above the rear bumper provides the video stream.) We found the navigation system to be slow and confusing but loved extra-cost options like the heated front seats ($540) and the rear-seat DVD system with wireless headphones ($1,840).
How It Performs
The combined city/highway rating for the 400h is 29 m.p.g.—close to the 26 m.p.g. we got in more than 200 miles of test driving. In comparison, a Lexus RX 330, which is identical to the 400h but runs on a standard gas engine, got only 14 m.p.g. on our tests. At start-up and in slow city traffic, the 400h runs solely on its silent electric motors, making for a peaceful commute. The 400h handled well, accelerated quickly and quietly engaged its gas engine. Because the 400h has a power output similar to that of a 4-liter V8 engine, you never feel as if you are compromising performance for fuel economy, as with some early hybrids, such as the Honda Insight.
The Bottom Line
If you want a luxurious car that's easy on the environment, this powerful, comfortable SUV fills the bill. It doesn't make sense to buy the 400h to save money, given that the hybrid system adds about $5,000 to the price, eating up any savings on gas. But you will travel farther between fill-ups and enjoy a quiet ride.