As we mentioned in the beginning of the Toyota Prius review, the hybrid technology has been around for over a hundred years, with the first innovations in this area being made by none other than a young Ferdinand Porsche. Oddly, although they had brought "peace" and co-existence between electric motors and internal combustion engines, hybrids didn't caught on until the "we're running out of oil" pressure began to really show its fangs at the end of the twentieth century.
It was the year 1997 when Toyota unveiled the world's first mass-produced hybrid car, in the form of the first generation Prius. A bit over eight years later, the Japanese released their first crossover/SUV hybrids, represented by the Lexus RX 400h and the Toyota Harrier Hybrid, consequently.
Basically identical cars, but with different badges and features, these versions of the RX/Harrier twins took everyone by surprise by being the first modern all-wheel drive hybrids. As expected, the Lexus RX was the premium car of the two, with the Toyota Harrier being sold only on the Japanese market at first, to a more... "popular" clientele, especially since the Lexus brand was exclusively American at the time.
Being officially launched at the 2004 North American International Auto Show, in Detroit, the hybrid version of the Lexus RX became commercially available the following year. Technically, its Hybrid Synergy Drive system was a beefed up version of the one found on the second generation of the Prius, but with the aid of a 3.3-liter V6 instead of a puny four-cylinder.
A bit unexpectedly for some, the RX 400h managed to sell so well that it convinced Toyota to offer another hybrid version of its premium crossover for the third generation of the Lexus RX as well. They didn't rest on their laurels though, and the resulting RX 450h is more powerful and it has even better fuel economy than its predecessor.
Since we were rather curious about how the latest premium hybrid crossover from Lexus stacks up on its offerings, especially since the competition has began to heat up, we took an RX 450h for testing and managed to find out quite a few interesting things. Read on to see what we liked and what we didn't about this urban premium crossover.Continue reading