Best Hybrids for the Money 2014

Hybrid-for-money

Gas prices remain historically high and volatile, and one of the most successful ways automakers and American motorists have adapted is by embracing hybrid technology. Though a few full-size hybrid trucks from GM have been discontinued, 2014 sees as many models as ever. No matter why you may want a hybrid, you might want to know how well it meets its mission.

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To determine if a hybrid's added expense is worth the cash, we devised an efficiency-cost rating. It's simply the EPA's combined mpg rating divided by the base price (meaning MSRP plus destination charge). We then multiply that result by 1,000. This formula can be applied to any type of vehicle, hybrid or not. A high mpg rating and low price provide a high efficiency-cost rating. A higher score is the better score.

We don't account for equipment levels, quality judgments, cost of ownership or any variances from EPA mileage estimates. The goal here is to pay the least for the most mileage, barring all other considerations.

By Joe Wiesenfelder | April 14, 2014 | Comments (10)

2014 Lexus RX 450h: Car Seat Check

Two-seats

Lexus' midsize crossover is one of the best-selling luxury vehicles on the market. The popular 2014 RX is available in regular RX 350 and hybrid RX 450h trims. For this Car Seat Check, we tested the five-passenger RX 450h. Although the second row slides and reclines for passenger comfort, difficult-to-access Latch anchors mean installing child-safety seats isn't easy.

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How many car seats fit in the second row? Two

By Jennifer Geiger | February 18, 2014 | Comments (0)

Recall Alert: 2012 Toyota RAV4, 2012-2013 Toyota Tacoma, 2012-2013 Lexus RX 350

2012ToyotaRAV4

Vehicles Affected: Approximately 260,000 2012 Toyota RAV4 SUVs, 2012-2013 Toyota Tacoma pickup trucks and 2012-2013 Lexus RX 350 SUVs.

The Problem: An electronic circuit condition can cause vehicle stability control, antilock brakes and traction control to turn off intermittently. Basic braking would still function but not the added safety systems in these conditions. There are no reports of accidents or injuries due to the malfunction.

The Fix: The cars will receive a software update at the dealer.

What Should Owners Do: A time frame for the recall has not been released yet, but Toyota will contact all owners by mail. Concerned owners can contact Toyota at 800-331-4331, Lexus at 800-255-3987, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's vehicle-safety hotline at 888-327-4236 or go to www.safercar.gov for more info.

Additional reporting by Kelsey Mays.

 

By David Thomas | February 12, 2014 | Comments (2)

Lexus LF-NX Turbo Advanced Crossover Concept at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show

LexusLF-NX-TurboCrossoverConcept

Looks like: A Lexus RX as interpreted by a Cylon from "Battlestar Galactica"
Defining characteristics: Muscular, space-agey exterior styling; Lexus' first turbocharged gas engine
Ridiculous features: A massive grille from which you half-expect to hear mechanical breathing ... "Luke, I am your father."
Chance of being mass produced: Seems more likely to be a vessel for introducing a new powertrain and general styling direction than an actual production vehicle

The Lexus LF-NX Turbo Advanced Crossover concept (rolls of the tongue, doesn't it?) makes its world debut this week at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show, and with it, the automaker's first turbocharged gas engine. The "smaller, more urban-centric" luxury compact crossover's objective is to provide "spirited performance with optimum fuel efficiency," Lexus says.

Nearly identical in looks to the LF-NX hybrid Lexus showed last summer at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show, the new LF-NX distinguishes itself with a gas-only turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. "The LF-NX Turbo's new powerplant targets a fast throttle and exhilarating performance while demonstrating outstanding fuel efficiency," the automaker said in a statement.

By Matt Schmitz | November 20, 2013 | Comments (0)

Lexus LF-NX Crossover Concept at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show

LexusLFNX-Concept1

Looks like: A Lexus RX that's been bulking up at the gym

Defining characteristics: Futuristic, aggressive exterior styling

Ridiculous features: That ginormous front grille

Chance of being mass-produced: Lexus isn't committing to it; the design looks out-there, but the powertrain isn't.

Lexus announced today that it would unveil its new crossover concept, the LF-NX, this month at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show. The concept combines aggressive, muscular exterior styling and "Human Oriented" interior design with a full-hybrid powertrain using a new variant of the Lexus Hybrid Drive system tuned for SUV performance.

By Matt Schmitz | September 4, 2013 | Comments (5)

Recall Alert: 133,000 Toyota and Lexus Hybrids

2008-toyota-highlander-hy

Vehicles Affected: Approximately 133,000 model-year 2006-10 Highlander Hybrids and 2006-08 Lexus RX 400h hybrid crossovers.  

The Problem: Heat damage to the transistors in the hybrid system could impair electrical circuits, causing warning lights to illuminate and the vehicle to enter a "limp home" mode. "In limited instances, the hybrid system will shut down, resulting in the vehicle stopping while the vehicle is being driven," Toyota said in a statement.

The Fix: Dealers will inspect and replace the affected parts for free.

What Owners Should Do: Owners will be notified via registered mail. They can also call 800-331-4331 or go to www.toyota.com/recall and www.lexus.com/recall for more information.

Related
More Hybrid Vehicle News
More Recalls
More Safety News

By Jennifer Geiger | September 4, 2013 | Comments (0)

Which Crossover SUV Is the Most Fuel Efficient?

"Which crossover SUV is the most fuel efficient?"

Norman M., Brooklyn, N.Y.


2013ToyotaRAV4EV

That honor goes to the 2013 Toyota RAV4 EV — a low-production electric version sold only in California at the moment — that earns the equivalent of 78 mpg for city driving, 74 mpg for highway and a combined city/highway rating of 76. Given that the RAV4 EV might not be available in your neighborhood, or be a good choice for your needs, the Lexus RX 450h hybrid has a combined city/highway rating of 30 mpg with front-wheel drive and 29 mpg with all-wheel drive. The similar, but less-luxurious, Toyota Highlander Hybrid comes in at 28 mpg with standard all-wheel drive.

Other crossover SUVs with higher EPA ratings are the Buick Encore (28 mpg), Mazda CX-5 (29 mpg), Subaru XV Crosstrek (28 mpg), and the Mini Countryman and Paceman (31 mpg with manual transmission, 27 mpg with automatic). The XV Crosstrek has standard all-wheel drive, but the other ratings are for front-wheel-drive models. The numbers will be lower on all-wheel-drive versions, and because these are just estimates, your mileage is sure to vary.

The Cars.com Vehicle Recommender, found here, can help you sort through the dozens of crossover SUVs to find the ones that offer the right combination of mileage, price, size and features.

Have a car question you'd like us to answer? Send us an email at tips@cars.com, or ask in the comments below.

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By Rick Popely | August 25, 2013 | Comments (1)

Bigger Than Average: Check Out This Owner's Manual

Lexus RX Manual 015

Pop quiz: What weighs 5 pounds, is twice as long as the King James Bible and can be yours for about $51,000? It is indeed a special book, but you won't find it at any rare bookstore: It's the owner's manual for the 2013 Lexus RX 350 F Sport.

A recent sampling of Lexus' latest take on a sporty crossover (comfortable, well appointed, attractive, but with artificially heavy "sport" steering and throttle response that's far too aggressive) revealed a surprise when I opened the glove box. Inside was the most massive owner's manual I've ever seen, taking up nearly half of the available space. Stuffed into a leather protective jacket are the owner's manual, navigation system manual, lemon law guide and a "quick start" booklet.

By Aaron Bragman | May 1, 2013 | Comments (4)

Cars.com Family Reviews the 2013 Lexus RX 450h

13RX450h

Parents are often in search of a little tranquility, and the 2013 Lexus RX 450h delivers it, says Cars.com Family reviewer Courtney Messenbaugh. Of course, silence is golden, so you'll have to pay a premium for this hybrid crossover, which starts at $47,205. The RX seats five, but it was a squeeze for Courtney to fit her three kids and their child-safety seats into the backseat.

2013 Lexus RX 450h Family Review

By Jennifer Newman | April 26, 2013 | Comments (0)

Best Hybrids for the Money 2013

Hybrid marker

Gas prices remain volatile, but even so, no one expects prices below $3 per gallon ever again, and many parts of the country consistently see prices near or above $4. As much as ever, shoppers need to know how effectively hybrids deliver efficiency for your dollar — if they do at all.

To determine if a hybrid's added expense is worth the cash, we devised an efficiency-cost rating to reflect efficiency bang for your overall buck.

It's simply the combined city/highway mpg divided by the base price (MSRP plus destination charge). We then multiply that number by 1,000. This formula can be applied to any type of vehicle, hybrid or not. A high mpg rating and low price provide a high efficiency-cost rating. A higher score is the better score.

We don't account for equipment levels, quality judgments, cost of ownership or any variances from EPA mileage estimates. The goal here is to pay the least for the most mileage, barring all other considerations.

By Joe Wiesenfelder | April 16, 2013 | Comments (21)

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