back to article We're not sure what it is, but we like it: Lexus NX300h hybrid SUV

Oh, for the days when it was obvious what category a car sat in. You see, I don’t rightly know which pigeonhole to try to shove the latest Lexus NX300h into. The closest thing in spirit is probably Nissan’s Juke, another style wagon that is part SUV, part four door coupé. Lexus NX300h hybrid SUV The Lexus NX300h – looks like …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not a CVT

    I've got to say this: the planetary gear in the Toyota hybrid design is not a CVT. It is not variable in any way.

    CVT normally refers to belt transmissions with variable pulleys. Toyota use these increasingly, using the AISIN design which is computer controlled (and very effective - it is almost as smooth as a hybrid.)

    The Toyota hybrid is quite different. The planetary gear on the Prius couples a petrol engine, a motor generator and an electric motor. To get variable effective gear ratio, the petrol engine can drive the wheels directly, or provide power to the motor generator which spins in reverse, and which then supplies power to the main motor. Effectively the engine revs are split between the road and the generator, with the generator providing additional torque via the main motor. The battery is there to allow extra power to the main motor for acceleration, to provide initial starting power, and to extract energy from the system for braking or regeneration.

    It is an extremely clever system but too complex for the average person to understand, so I can understand the careless shorthand of calling it a CVT. The principle, however, is as different from a normal CVT as a normal CVT is from a slushbox.

    1. Al Taylor

      Re: Not a CVT

      Fair point but as Toyota/Lexus refer to the transmission in the NX300h as a CVT system I thought it best to stick with their nomenclature but include a short para about how the system actually works. As you say, it is extremely complicated.

      Complexity aside it feels very much like a belt CVT system from the driving seat.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not a CVT - @Al Taylor

        Sorry, I should have made it clear that I was commenting on Toyota's description, not your use of it. I suspect that they want to confuse the general public into not knowing the difference between belt and hybrid, giving them the freedom to fit different transmissions for different markets under the same umbrella.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Not a CVT

      "It is not variable in any way."

      The gearing inside the box may not be, however the way it's all hooked up allows the petrol engine speed to be completely independent of the road speed so in that sense it does qualify as a CVT - and remember with an Atkinson(*) cycle engine some form of CVT is an absolute essential(**)

      The point about calling something a CVT is not _how_ it does it, but what the end result is. (There are around a half dozen types of CVT and some of the scarier ones will run as fast in reverse as forward.)

      (*) Actually it's Miller cycle and that offers some interesting possibilities if you get rid of the camshaft and use other forms of valve timing.

      (**) The interesting part about Toyota's CVT is that its the only practical result of the gas turbine project cars they worked on for decades.

      38mpg on a 2 ton car is nothing to sneeze at, but why the heck is it 2 tons?!?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not sure what it is

    Simple answer - a Chelsea tractor.

    It is not the type of vehicle that you would take across a field or down along the beach or use for actual work. It is something you would use to show just how 'cool' you are because it is a hybrid.

    1. fruitoftheloon
      Joke

      @Ivan Re: Not sure what it is

      Ivan,

      methinks this is not a Chelsea tractor, as it lacks proper ground clearance, locking diffs etc - which are of course essential if you have a SUV in a major city...

      Disclosure - we have a big Jeep and live in the middle of Devon.

      J

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @Ivan Not sure what it is

        I remember the Doonesbury strip when Mike is thinking of buying an SUV - "Some of the curbs at the soccer club are quite high".

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: @Ivan Not sure what it is

          >"Some of the curbs at the soccer club are quite high".

          Haha!

          Actually, you only have to watch someone strap a toddler into a baby seat to see why some people prefer higher vehicles. Simply, the parent has to bend less when holding a heavy object (the toddler), and they stoop less when engaging the straps.

          1. launcap Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: @Ivan Not sure what it is

            > why some people prefer higher vehicles

            And people like me do too - because the psoriatic arthritis makes it a real pain (literally!) to get in and out of a low-slung vehicle.

            My FR-V is about as low as I can go (although - the occasional trip in my wifes Morris Minor isn't too bad).

          2. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: @Ivan Not sure what it is

            "Actually, you only have to watch someone strap a toddler into a baby seat to see why some people prefer higher vehicles."

            There are better(*) ways of achieving that than using a SUV/4WD to do so.

            (*) Safer, more fuel efficient, less likely to end up on its side/roof in a crash

            1. Robert Grant

              Re: @Ivan Not sure what it is

              Don't forget that if you hit a person in an SUV you hit an adult in the chest instead of the legs, and a child in the head instead of the chest. Worth considering.

  3. frank ly

    re. braking

    Isn't there even a small discs/pads arrangement to deal with fine low speed braking and holding on a slope?

    The front end is a muck trap and would need jet washing regularly.

    1. Electron Shepherd

      Re: re. braking

      Looking at the front wheel in the second photo and the cutaway powertrain image, it seems to have discs all round. I'd guess that the regenerative braking is used for gentle slowing down, and the discs are used when you need to stop more quickly.

      1. Al Taylor

        Re: re. braking

        That's exactly right. I should have said "rather than purely with good old discs".

  4. fruitoftheloon
    WTF?

    Thirty-what MPG???

    That is rubbish, granted our 10 years-older-than a new Lexus Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited (limited to as many as we can sell...) doesn't have all the whizzy eco-tinsel and is a bit bigger, but the long-run average MPG on rural/city roads is 29ish mpg, the best I have managed on a run is 34mpg.

    I wonder what the real world mpg of this Lexus would be if all of the 'leccy gubbins were put in a skip?

    I am all for progress and hybrid stuff is certainly interesting, but the reality of carrying around several drivetrains and multiple power sources doesn't stack up at the moment does it...?

    J

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Thirty-what MPG???

      Is your Jeep Diesel? Because fuelly.com reports around 16 mpUSg for the older petrol models, or almost exactly 20mpg in real gallons. We would expect a Diesel version to do 25-40% better than that (a combination of the fact that Diesel fuel is denser go a gallon of Derv represents 10-15% more actual fuel than a gallon of petrol, plus the greater efficiency of the Diesel cycle) so we would be looking at 22-25 mpg in petrol energy equivalent gallons for the Diesel version.

      And the answer to your question is that the mpg might not be hugely worse, except in traffic, but the performance would be interesting because a single speed gearbox coupled to a petrol engine only really works on a speedway track. The main weight difference will be the batteries because the engine and transmission are no heavier than the equivalent Diesel (and probably lighter).

      The main differences with the hybrid, apart from the much better fuel consumption, are going to be NVH - noise, vibration, harshness. Or rather the lack thereof.

      The problem with Toyota's hybrids, for me, is that there is no equivalent of the small people carrier. They make most sense in the larger sizes. But as an engineering solution they are quite brilliant; the fuel consumption of a modern efficient Diesel without the particulates, and a smooth automatic transmission that does not waste fuel when accelerating, along with very low NVH.

      1. fruitoftheloon
        Thumb Up

        @Arnaut: Re: Thirty-what MPG???

        Arnaut,

        yes, it is the (Mercedes engine) 2.7 td, you are of course quite right about the potential NVH benefits of a hybrid drivetrain, having said that, if the the Lexus can do 1 mile on 'leccy alone, I still think that is frankly crap.

        All in all methinks the (UK) mpg quoted is very dissappointing indeed, prior to the Jeep we had a 2.2d Ford S-max, which regularly got 40-47 UK MPGs, and it was not driven in a particularly pedestrian fashion!

        Thanks for your comments.

        Cheers,

        j

      2. Sulphur Man

        Re: Thirty-what MPG???

        What do you mean by 'small people carrier'?

        They make the Yaris Hybrid, the Prius+ 7-seater. Where's the gap?

        The vast majority of car journeys are under 30 miles at a time, with the likelihood that urban/semi-urban traffic flows will be the predominant characteristic. Diesels, with their dpfs and slow warm through simply don't meet these conditions well enough. Fine for the long distance commuter and haulage industry, but not fit for purpose in a country with, statically, 62m of road space per car. Petrol hybrid on larger cars, or small turbo petrol on small/mid-size should be the default purchase for the majority.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Thirty-what MPG???

      I was routinely getting 32mpg in a 1974 Chrysler Valiant 4 litre 6cyl - or about 18 if you planted boot (and it weighed nearly 2 tons) - I'm sure it's the car that the B52s sang about in Love Shack because it sure handled like a whale as well as being as large as one.

      Contemporary engines are hamstrung by the legal prohibition on lean burning (due to NOX emissions on older setups) that was enacted in the USA instead of just limiting NOX output. Couple that with vehicles having gotten substantially heavier in the last 20 years AND engine outputs being ridiculously high it's no wonder milage hasn't improved much.

      The reality is that whilst a lot of petrol engines have 100+kW output, most people seldom if ever require more than 30kW and a properly tuned hybrid with larger batteries would do the job better as the petrol engine wouldn't be running at 1-2% efficiency most of the time (Yes, most petrol engines really are about that level of efficiency in real-world driving cycles/conditions)

      This may change if Toyota ever put their free-piston engines into production, as such a device would only need to activate as many pistons as necessary to do the job rather than dragging all that extra load around the crankcase when you only need 10kW. http://www.roadandtrack.com/car-culture/a6326/out-of-turn-toyota-engine/

  5. Anomalous Cowturd
    Meh

    Butt ugly from all sides!

    You can buy a Landy Disco for that sort of money.

    Volvo XC90 for five grand more.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Shady
        Mushroom

        Re: Butt ugly from all sides!

        My neighbours father drives a Lexus and regularly parks across two parking places. I wouldn't mind if it were down the supermarket, but in this case he parks straddling the line that seperates my neighbours drive from mine. He knows I think he's a wanker, but he still does it whenever he visits and I'm out.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Dr_N Silver badge

        Re: Butt ugly from all sides!

        "And your point is? Because some of us wouldn't be seen dead in one. "

        You think driving a Lexus over a Land Rover will make people like you on the roads?

        [snigger]

  6. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    £40,000 of why?

    How rich do you have to be to blow a years worth of take home on a crap car? And that's assuming you have a "Good Job in London" sort of take home.

    Or to put it another way - that's about 1/10 of the amount you need to stick away to be able to retire and live comfortably off the interest.

    Anybody who is smart enough to get the sort of job where they can buy one of these must see the point of not spending the money on one and going home to play instead?

    I can see the point of a Maclaren F1. If you were friends with Mr Putin, and as a result now own Belarus, then you can buy a £1M car with the interest earned in the time it takes you to choose the colour. But people with more money than God are not buying a Lexus SUV.

    ... and breathe out ,,,,,,

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: £40,000 of why?

      "How rich do you have to be to blow a years worth of take home on a crap car? And that's assuming you have a "Good Job in London" sort of take home."

      WOW....you need to come join us in the land of ice and Vikings if you think £40k is a years worth of take home for a good job in London!!

      "Anybody who is smart enough to get the sort of job where they can buy one of these must see the point of not spending the money on one and going home to play instead?"

      Personally I can see the point, but I don't care because I can afford to buy what I want without having to listen to people that aren't in the same position as me, which is entirely the point. It is only people that are NOT in a position to buy a new expensive car that come up with all the reasons for not doing it, it's rarely the people with the money to do it that discourage you.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: £40,000 of why?

        The point of going to work is to earn money to live. Once you have enough money saved to live on you stop working. The less you spend and the more you save, the quicker this happens.

        So by buying this car you are having to work for another year - actually several years with the effects of investment growth/ compounding etc. So the only people who should buy this car are those who already have so much money that it is pointless saving any more (ie Bill Gates) - who I assume aren't looking at Lexus hybrids.

        But I emigrated to Vancouver - the perfect combination of London prices and Newcastle wages - which shows what sort of financial genius I am.

        1. fruitoftheloon
          Pint

          YAAc: Re: £40,000 of why?

          YAAc,

          we emigrated to Devon, which is really rather quite pleasant as well funnily enough......

          Have one [local micro-brewery) on me.

          J

  7. ecofeco Silver badge

    40K?

    You lost me right there.

  8. Gordon 10 Silver badge
    WTF?

    PHev

    For the same money or less you can get a Mitsubishi outlander PHev and basically never fill up around town. Admittedly it's not got the looks but you don't look at the mantelpiece when you are poking the fire anyway.

  9. ThatGuy

    This is going to sell by the bucket load.

    I know this for a fact, because I would never buy this ugly POS.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just driven in one

    Oddly, we're with a friend at the moment who has just bought one of these. The technology really is astonishing, and the UIs seem remarkably intuitive. Re comments about Chelsea tractors, it's not as big as it seems, although you do sit at bum level, of you see what I mean, neither climbing down nor up to the seating position. Our friend bought it on the basis of 6 trouble-free years from his previous Lexus hybrid, which he bought as a two year old. Inside, I was expecting to feel claustrophoc, as the apparently titchy windows, viewed from the outside, might make it feel too enclosed, but from inside, it doesn't feel this way at all. As some have commented, this is by no means my personal cup of tea, even if I could afford such a thing, but I can definitely see its appeal. My friend was also very impressed by the Edinburgh dealership, and I suppose if you're in the market for cars at this price, you expect a lot from your dealer.

    1. A Twig
      Coat

      Re: Just driven in one

      "Our friend bought it on the basis of 6 trouble-free years from his previous Lexus hybrid, which he bought as a two year old."

      How the hell did he get a license?

      Coat...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just driven in one

        :-) A hit sir, a palpable hit. (but profraeding has never been strong in this one...)

    2. Lenny_Hao

      Re: Just driven in one

      Couldn't agree more - as one who is on the wrong side of 60 I appreciate the visibility (including the reversing system) and the "bum level" access. And as I'm about to order one from the excellent Edinburgh dealership (I've had a CT hybrid from them for over 3 years) I agree with that aspect of vehicle purchase. I'll be spending £34k ish though, for which I get most of the tech stuff.

  11. Bassey

    I think I've got it

    I think I've figured this out. We have a £25k car with £15k worth of hybrid technology that serves only to overcome the weight penalty of the £15k worth of hybrid technology but allows you to sell it to the sort of people who wouldn't be seen dead in a £25k car.

  12. dogged

    Not guilty by association

    Same chassis maybe, but I find the RAV4 to be extremely capable off road provided you can actually drive a 4x4.

    DISCLAIMER - grew up with Land Rovers and tractors.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    part four door coupé.

    The whole fucking point of a coupe is that it only has TWO doors. If it has more than two doors then it is NOT a coupe, it's a four door hatchback.

    1. dogged

      But the rear door isn't a hatch.

  14. Yugguy

    Lexus hybrid mpg fail

    Complaints about hybrid Lexusus (Lexii???) not reaching their claimed mpg figures have been around ever since the first one came out over 10 years back.

  15. Tanuki

    Expensive, Slow, Ugly....

    and definitely not doing anything to tempt me away from buying myself a Discovery 'Commercial' [on-the-road for £3500 less than the Lexus, but with 256BHP!! - is treated as a commercial vehicle for BiK tax and emissions-related VED] in the coming tax-year.

    [a Discovery also passes the 'dogs and logs' test whereas this Lexus emphatically doesn't].

    Now, if Lexus did one of these with only 3 doors, permanent proper 4x4, and fitted their rather lush V8 petrol lump, that would be a different matter.

  16. Chadzo

    Just bought one a week ago...

    I recently bought one. So far it drives well, the tech features are excellent. Especially like the radar cruise control. My first week of driving I'm getting 27MPG but expect it to go up as I get used to it.

    The only negatives, and they are big, are the mobile apps.

    1) The Enform App Suite -- After I signed up and installed the app it took my phone battery from 100% to 15% in four hours. Apparently a common problem. If you look at the reviews on the Google App store it's being savaged by end users. Right now this app is totally unusable and its been that way since Sep '14. Not looking good.

    2) The remote starter app. I couldn't get this to work so the app suggested that I push the SOS button and talk to customer service to enable it. So last night at about 920, I did. They were very nice, took my email and a bunch of other info and said the app would be enabled within 24 hours and we hung up. Fast forward to 9:46PM. I'm in bed and the doorbell rings. There are two police cruisers in my driveway with lights blazing. Apparently the call to customer service caused Lexus to call the police on me. The police asked about this and whether my car had been out of the garage. I told them it hadn't but they wanted to see. So I showed them. Then of course they wanted to see my license and registration. Oh it was a mighty spectacle in the neighborhood. Me at 10PM being questioned in my driveway by the cops. Once I cleared it up with them i heard a voice from the car. Lexus was on the line (different person this time) trying to talk to me. I did most of the talking...shouting. I'll be shouting at the dealer later today.

    So the car is great. All the mobile and add on services around it are total crap.

    AVOID THE APPS!

    @VSPEXGuy_Chad

    1. fruitoftheloon
      Thumb Up

      @Chadzo:Re: Just bought one a week ago...

      Chadzo,

      yup, there's technological progress in action for you...

      So the car is great, aside from the shite fuel consumption? Granted it will improve as it loosens up, but not by much methinks...

      Cheers,

      j

      1. Chadzo

        Re: @Chadzo:Just bought one a week ago...

        Fundamentally, car people shouldn't build apps and app guys shouldn't build cars!

        I'm looking at you Lexus and Apple. Oh and you too google!

    2. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Re: Just bought one a week ago...

      voice from the intercom?

      Uh, everything's under control. Situation normal.

      Voice: What happened?

      Uh, we had a slight weapons malfunction, but uh... everything's perfectly all right now. We're fine. We're all fine here now, thank you. How are you?

      Voice: We're sending a squad up.

      Uh, uh... negative, negative. We had a reactor leak here now. Give us a few minutes to lock it down. Large leak, very dangerous.

      Voice: Who is this? What's your operating number?

      Uh...

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