Large snowflakes were cascading down in regular intervals, making the driving a little hazardous on a spring ski trip to Lake Tahoe.
However, thanks to the efficiency of the 2019 Lexus RX 400hL, the tricky road conditions were never an issue.
The midsize hybrid sport utility vehicle was up to the task, it’s standard all-wheel drive capability and superb handling combining to give this driver a feeling of confidence and never once feeling a little uneasy about the somewhat challenging driving conditions in the snowy Sierra mountain range.
The RX 400hL joined the SUV-heavy Toyota and its Lexus luxury division a year ago. Lexus owners familiar with the RX brand might ask what’s different regarding the RX 350 and the RX 400hL? The primary difference is the 400hL has a third row of seating and all-wheel drive.
Before one gets too enamored with the addition of the third row, the negative is it’s no place for adults to reside. Even though the second-row cabin seats recline and slide, the third row is only suitable for kids. Note that the 400hL is only 4.3 inches larger than the regular RX 350 models
The third row also impacts the cargo area. With the three rows upright, all that remains is 7 cubic feet of space behind the third row. However, with the third row down there’s 23 cubic feet of space and 58 cubic feet with both rows folded.
Besides the secure driving acumen, the vehicle’s fuel economy is another major plus. There aren’t a lot of luxury crossover midsize or larger SUVs matching the mileage of the RX 400hL, which gets 28-31 mpg. With a fuel tank holding 17.2 gallons, the 400hL can go around 525 miles before needing to refuel.
There’s no decision making regarding the RX 400hL engine. The lone one is a 3.5-liter, V6 engine that generates 308 horsepower. The engine works in conjunction with a pair of front-mounted electric motor/generators through a continuously variable automatic transmission that drives the front wheels.
We found the 400hL more than capable performance-wise on the ski trip. It never came up lacking in powering up sizeable grades and in passing situations. So, we were a bit surprised to learn the attractive SUV went only 0-60 mph in 8.1 seconds.
2019 Lexus RX 400hL
- Performance: 3.5-liter, V6, 308 horsepower
- Mileage estimate: 28-31 mpg
- Price estimate: $50,900 to $54,900
- Warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles; drivetrain: 6 years/70,000 miles; roadside assistance: 4 years/unlimited; corrosion: 6 years/unlimited
Although the 400hL carries a little more weight than other RX models, the handling is excellent and so is the braking power. Giving the driver more piece of mind is the standard Lexus Safety System Plus that includes autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, and lane keep assist.
Another positive aspect of the 400hL is the elegantly-styled cabin. Other than a joystick that takes some time to master the 12.3-inch dash display, and the brand’s insistence on not offering Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the 400hL receives high marks. It has a smart mix of buttons and knobs, considerable storage areas, a top-shelf audio system, and overall space and comfort in the first two rows of seating.
Despite the new third row’s lack of size to accommodate adults, the 2019 RX 400hL has many positive aspects, including handling, quality interior, fuel economy and more.
Weidel on Wheels is featured periodically on www.tahoeskiworld.com. Auto writer Jeffrey Weidel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @jeffweidel.