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Lexus hybrid cars in Australia: Everything you need to know

Lexus goes heavy on the hybrids.

Lexus, the luxury division of Japanese auto giant Toyota, passed the major milestone of having sold two million electrified vehicles - meaning electric vehicles (EVs), hybrids and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) - in the first quarter of 2021, a signifier of the brand’s long-term commitment to reducing CO2 emissions and having a more positive environmental impact.

Indeed, Lexus’s determination to offer hybrid versions of just about every car it ever releases almost seems bonkers at times - you’d have to wonder who would buy a hybrid LC when it’s clearly designed to be a big shouty V8 - but the company really does stick with the program.

And it definitely appears to be working: since 2005 when the Lexus RX 400h (the “h” being for hybrid) SUV launched in export markets (it was released as the “Harrier Hybrid” in its native Japan), Lexus electrified vehicles have clocked up a cumulative global reduction in CO2 emissions of approximately 19 million tonnes, which is about the same as the CO2 emissions of 300,000 passenger cars per year for the past 15 years (in the pure math terms, that’s what’s called “a lot”). 

The RX 400h arrived with Hybrid Synergy Drive (HSD) - also known as Toyota Hybrid System II - which is the brand’s signature hybrid drivetrain technology, first introduced in the global mega-seller Toyota Prius. It’s notable in that, in certain conditions, it allows Lexus hybrids to run in all-electric mode - so silent and with zero emissions - which isn’t the case for all hybrid vehicles. 

The year 2006 saw more hybrids arrive from Lexus in the form of a V6 hybrid performance sedan, the GS 450h, as well as the LS 600h and LS 600h L - the latter being, at the time, the most expensive sedan ever produced in Japan. 

Clearly feeling confident in its new hybrids, Lexus entered the GS 450h in the 2006 24 Hours of Tokachi race in Hokkaido, Japan, as well as the Targa Newfoundland event in Canada in 2007. 

In 2008, Toyota Motor Kyushu's Kokura Japan opened, the plant being dedicated solely to producing the hybrid systems used in Lexus’s hybrid models. 

Since then, Lexus has released a slew of hybrid models, including the HS 250h sedan for the Japanese and North America markets, the CT 200h compact four-door hatchback and the V6 LC 500h (on Lexus hybrids, the three digits of the model number refer to the combined petrol-electric output).

Lexus hybrid vehicles available in Australia 

Lexus UX 250h

Price: From $51,520

This Lexus hybrid is a self-charging compact SUV with a reasonably low fuel consumption of 4.5 litres per 100km. The base model is two-wheel drive, but there’s an all-wheel-drive (AWD) option that nudges the fuel consumption up slightly to 4.7 litres per 100km.

Lexus NX 300h

Price: From $57,500

A mid-size SUV that comes with Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) and an advanced 2.5-litre, four-cylinder Atkinson cycle engine that teams up with high-output electric motors to deliver a combined power of 147kW. The NX 300h has a self-charging battery, but the first Lexus PHEV, the NX 450h+, is due for release in Australia in November 2021. 

Lexus RX 450h

Price: From $73,136

A large SUV that comes with the Lexus Hybrid Drive System (HDS) and features a 3.5-litre V6 Atkinson-cycle petrol engine with twin electric motors (front and rear - 123kW max, 50kW rear only). Those with a family will be pleased to know it comes with a sizeable 453 litres of boot space.

Lexus IS 300h

Price: From $64,500 

Lexus’ medium-sized hybrid sports sedan also comes in a fancy “F Sport” trim for $73,000 (MSRP) that throws in 19-inch alloy wheels, adaptive suspension, sports front seats with heating and cooling, sports pedals, five drive modes, 8.0-inch digital instrument cluster and leather-accented trim.

Lexus ES 300h

Price: From $62,525 

The Lexus ES 300h base grade is the Luxury, with features like a 12.3-inch multimedia screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, sat nav, 10-speaker Pioneer stereo system and dual-zone climate control as standard.

Lexus LS 500h

Price: From $195,953

The Lexus flagship luxury sedan boasts a 10-speed automatic transmission and twin turbochargers that beef up a 3.5-litre V6 engine to deliver 310kW of power - enough to get the LS 500h from zero to 100km/h in five seconds. 

Lexus LC 500h

Price: From $195,165

The LC (Luxury Coupe) 500h has its acceleration provided from a set-up similar to that of a V8 hybrid, enhanced by a Multi Stage Shift Device that pairs a traditional four-speed transmission with a CVT.

Lexus CT 200h

Price: From $41,750

As you’d expect from a compact four-door hatchback hybrid, the CT 200h has excellent fuel consumption, using 4.1 litres per 100km. For a small car it packs in a load of safety features, including Active Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning with Steering Assist and Automatic High Beam.

The future of the Lexus hybrid

Considering that 33 per cent of Lexus vehicles sold globally in 2020 were electrified, it’s no surprise to learn that, looking forward, Lexus is putting a focus on EVs, PHEVs and hybrids. 

Currently Lexus plans to release more than 10 new electrified vehicles by 2025, with the brand’s first PHEV - the NX450h+ due in Australia in November 2021 it has also promised that all other exisiting models will be available in electrified form by 2025). 

Following that will be Lexus’ first all-electric EV, the UX300e SUV, in 2022, which will be built on a “skateboard-style” electric platform and with a battery that offers 400km of driving range.

Also due to be revealed by the end of 2021 is the Lexus LX750h, which will be a twin under the skin to the upcoming Toyota LandCruiser Hybrid, with both models rumoured to come packing a 3.5-litre twin-turbo petrol V6 engine. 

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