With its swelling roster of gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles, mighty Toyota is proving that it is, in fact, surprisingly easy being green. The paved the way with great press and months-long waiting lists, and now the tony Lexus RX400h arrives as the world’s first luxury hybrid sport-utility vehicle. The four-wheel-drive RX400h features a version of Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive system with a 3.3-liter V-6 at its heart, augmented by a pair of electric motors. The company promises the 400h will be both green and mean, with fuel economy in excess of 27 mpg and performance comparable to that of a 4.0-liter V-8 (hence the name), headlined by a sub-eight-second dash to 60 mph.
ON SALE: Late 2004
PRICE: $42,000 (est.)
ENGINE: 270-hp hybrid-drive system, 3.3-liter V-6, dual electric motors
BOTTOM LINE: Combining economy, luxury, and performance, the RX400h may prove to be hybrid power’s killer app.