Overview & Reviews
Lexus knows what its customers like and seldom slips up when it introduces a new model. This solid competence was exemplified by the company's RX 300 luxury midsize SUV. As one of the first entries in the crossover luxury SUV segment, the RX provided a high seating position, available all-wheel drive and generous cargo capacity but without the typical truck-based SUV side effects of poor fuel economy and a stiff ride.
With its handsomely trimmed cabin, velvet-smooth powertrain and polished overall demeanor, the Lexus RX 300 had a lot going for it, especially for folks who prized a serene driving experience over a more sporting one. It quickly became a hit and during its run it was often not only Lexus' best-selling model, but also the top-selling luxury SUV in the United States as well.
The Lexus RX series continues to be a very popular choice, with the original 300 being succeeded by the RX 330 and RX 350. As a choice for a used luxury crossover, the RX 300 shines, especially when the model's stellar records for build quality and reliability are factored in.
Most Recent Lexus RX 300
The five-passenger RX 300 was essentially a single-generation model that ran from 1999-2003. Its successors, the RX 330 and RX 350 sported revamped styling and larger V6s as indicated by the numerical part of their names.
Available with front-wheel drive or traction-enhancing all-wheel drive, the Lexus RX 300 came in one trim and was powered by a 3.0-liter V6 (220 horsepower and 222 pound-feet of torque) paired to a four-speed automatic transmission. Towing capacity, at 3,500 pounds, was on the light side.
Luxury features such as 16-inch alloy wheels, foglights, automatic climate control, full power accessories (including front seats and "auto-down" windows in all doors) and a cassette player came standard on the RX 300. Standard safety features included antilock brakes and front-seat side airbags.
For 2001, the Lexus RX 300 received a midcycle refresh that brought refreshed styling and newly standard safety features including stability control (dubbed "VSC") and brake assist. A handful of new options debuted as well, including a DVD-based navigation system, HID headlights, chrome wheels and a wood-rimmed steering wheel. Choosing not to mess with success, Lexus made no significant changes to the RX 300 for its final two years.
In our reviews of the Lexus RX 300, we appreciated the vehicle's low step-in height, comfortable seats and excellent outward visibility. Performance was respectable for a 2-ton vehicle with a 0-60-mph sprint of 8.8 seconds, while the transmission furnished smooth gearchanges, holding a gear when needed and stepping down promptly.
Long road trips had the RX 300 in its element, as it gobbled up large amounts of interstate effortlessly while providing occupants with a hushed, supple ride. Additionally, the backseat's ability to slide fore and aft nearly 5 inches allowed parents to more easily reach their children in car seats. In terms of handling, the RX 300 felt planted and precise, though the soft suspension allowed a fair bit of body roll when pressed in turns.
Gripes centered around so-so mileage (around 17 or so mpg) and a gimmicky center stack screen that, considering it displayed only temperature and trip information, didn't really need to be so large.
User Reviews:Showing 1 through 10 of 403.00
Best In Show - 1999 Lexus RX 300
By BWRobinson - December 27 - 10:00 am
The RX300 handles as smoothly as a Lexus sedan - - no "trucky" feel to the car at all. It corners well and handles bumpy Boston roads without difficulty. It has none of the useless SUV gadgetry that you'll never use and all of the luxury appointments that you'd expect from Lexus. I'm 6'6" so headroom was a priority and I fit comfortably in the front and back with plenty of legroom. The interior is well laid out and attractive.
Not sure but hopeful - 2001 Lexus RX 300
By Genia - December 26 - 10:06 pm
Bought the car around 60K miles; very nice looking interior and exterior. Very comfortable ride and heated seats still get hot at 179,000 miles. However, transmission had to be replaced last year since it would not go in rear drive. Lexus assisted a bit, perhaps because this is our third Lex. Still had a $3000 bill. Recent repairs $800 and now ABS axle broke so looking at another $1000 repair. Must say our 97 Lex Es300 has 300,000 miles and rides very nice still with only minor repairs. Our 05 Lex Es 330 is roomier but still ride was better in 97. Paint superior on all three cars. In the market for a newer car, just not sure if I should get another RX. A bit formal style vs. casual.
Lexus RX - 2003 Lexus RX 300
By Kenny Ken - December 22 - 10:00 am
Just a little disappointed. I think if I had to do it over I would buy the Hummer.
Great Vehicle - 2001 Lexus RX 300
By roo2 - December 9 - 2:00 am
Love the car. Excellent in winter.
Nice luxury SUV that needs power - 2002 Lexus RX 300
By babydoc - November 20 - 10:00 am
Nice overall vehicle for the money. But noise is definitely noticeable for a luxury car on highways. Serious improvements needed in engine power. Vehicle actually starts losing speed fast while going uphill. Transmission shifting is not as smooth as touted in reviews.
Beware of driveability - 2003 Lexus RX 300
By shmersla - October 28 - 2:00 am
I have 1,200 miles on my RX and have had it in for service 3 times to try to fix the tracking, alignment problem. The car will not drive down the road straight and stay driving straight as if the front and rear wheels are out of sync or camber. I have to constantly correct the car from drifting right and left. It's as though it responds to any and every imperfection or shift in the road and will drift off regardless of whether you have the wheel pointed straight. I cannot relax and cruise with this car and must keep my arms flexed and be ready for every unexpected shift in direction. Long drives are out of the question. I couldn't be more unhappy...
Love my lexus - 2003 Lexus RX 300
By Mary askin - October 16 - 10:00 am
It is a joy to drive, I love the way it looks. If you want an suv buy it.
Great car - 2001 Lexus RX 300
By kerifish - October 16 - 10:00 am
This is a wonderful car! I really hesitated at the price, but, so far, it has been worth it. Gas mileage could be better in town, but highway mileage is reasonable for the performance and safety features. The Lexus dealers have been uniformly excellent-they have the best customer service of any dealer around. I chose the car for its reliability and safety ratings, but it is a blast to drive, especially on long trips, and was great in the snow last winter.
RX 300 awd - 2002 Lexus RX 300
By tom w - October 9 - 10:00 am
This is our third suv and all I can say is wow, did extensive inquiries and shopping. The Accura was a close second, the Mercedes-Benz did not even come close in the ride, looks and comfort of the Lexus. A deffinate plus was the relationship with the dealership, they could not have been better. Very knowledgeable, concerned and helpfull.
Great ride - 2001 Lexus RX 300
By Julio Perez - October 8 - 2:00 am
Once you take it home from the dealer, you know what a great ride this is. Quite, almost silent engine, handles very well. However, gas mileage will dissapoint. After 14K miles, not a single minor objection