Lexus RX 300 Review

The 300 is the first generation Lexus RX. The brand began selling the vehicles more than 20 years ago, it was launched in 1998 and, as far as luxury SUVs go – this one is the epitome of a successful launch. Though we are reviewing a 2003 model today because that was the last year before the 330 morphed into the 350, the RX model lineup is still going strong and last year’s sales were the best to date. If you ever wanted to see a steady brand growth – check out the RX statistics: the sales have never dipped below 70 000+  vehicles annually and now they are up to 120+ which, for a luxury crossover, is quite frankly, record-breaking. So, let’s see how it all started with the Lexus RX 300

The Pros

  • Unparalleled reliability
  • Comfy, well-trimmed cabin
  • Exemplary safety ratings
  • FWD is available 

The Cons

  • Dated tech
  • Old-fashion cabin design 

Lexus GS 300 Overview

Lexus RX 300

The common reaction while checking out this particular twenty-something year old-school Lexus is: WOW. You’ll surely be stunned by the way it looks, handles and how all of the materials really stood the test of time. Moreover, there’s really no need to take our word for it – just go to any popular consumer car review sites and read not expert, but customer reviews. These are the first ones from our beloved Kelley Blue Book: “best car I’ve ever owned!”, “best buy you can get in a used car, exceptional” or “quality, favorable design and excellent visibility”. Ming you, those are 2019-2018 reviews about used vehicles that are about 20 years old.

The 300 has a lot to offer, it is exceptionally well-built, comfortable and quiet, with just enough power for adequate off-roading, and overall it is exactly what sport/utility vehicle needs to be.

Exterior

It is an attractive car, and, surprisingly, the exterior design doesn’t look dated. But, it definitely has nothing in common with contemporary aggressive Lexus look. Back in the day, the Lexus grille was much smaller, and the RX 330 has a small grille with rounded corners and vertical slats. There are beautiful two-toned body models: superb white & silver is one of the most popular ones. The five-star alloy wheels look up-to-date, the car has an admirably wide windshield and roof-top racks add to the utility part of this sporty SUV.  A fun fact: back then Lexus tinted the two back windows and the cargo door with a very attractive mirror tint from the manufacturer, which can hardly be found, if ever.   

Interior

Interior of the Lexus RX 300

Moving on inside, you’ll find the RX 300 has a lot to offer: the cabin is roomy and very convenient, though the front seats offer more comfort and space when compared to the low-mounted seats in the back. Dashboard with the wood detailing does look a tad old-fashioned, but, all the controls and buttons are clearly marked and are comfortably spaced within reach. There are a lot of plastic details in the RX 300 that definitely could have been broken in 20 years, so just carefully asses all of the cup holders and storage units before you buy. As for the in-the-cabin tech – it is from 1998, so you’ll definitely find a tape deck. 

Performance

The Lexus RX 300 offers only one engine: it runs on the 3.0-liter V6 that generates up to 220 hp. It is equipped with a silky 4-speed automatic transmission and comes in AWD or FWD. Most of the reviewers argue against the all-wheel-drive stating that the FWD performs much better and offers a better fuel economy. Overall, it’s a fun drive, smooth and quiet, the steering is light and linear, and the brakes are quite strong. 

Technology

Since we are reviewing a 20th-century vehicle, the technology is also from the 20th century. So, it would be a serious challenge for those tech-savvy, everyone else can try to add a small screen and make use of their smartphone. Now, the RX’s 300’s standard equipment comes down to an in-dash six-CD changer and a one-touch power moonroof. To give you an idea of how expensive that was in 2000: to add that CD player and the sunroof people paid an additional 2 000 USD. A DVD-based navigation system is optional. 

Value

The prices vary depending on the condition, mileage, and where you’re buying your vehicle. The Kelley Blue Book shows RX 300 (1998-2003) going anywhere from 5 000 USD to 7 700. 

Seats

Lexus RX 330 is a five-seater. The 2006 RX 300 has great faux leather or boosted to genuine leather seating on Premium package, plus this package offers drivers memory seat. The front seats are power-adjustable with good lumbar support and heating. Two front seats have heating option. The seats in the back fold down for a 40/60 split. 

Climate control

  • Lexus RX 330 has a great AC
  • Infotainment System
  • Not available 

Storage and Space

The RX 300 offers a ton of space for the cargo in the back with the huge all-season mat to protect the carpeted floor with a secret door right beneath the to store the spare tire. The max capacity with the seats down is 75 cubic feet. You’ll find a very convenient cargo cover. There are a lot of cup holders, shelves, multiple compartments, and seat pockets to make you feel comfortable.   

Comfort

Interior of Lexus RX 300

If we are excluding the level of comfort, we demand to be provided by the cutting-edge tech, the RX 300 is a very comfortable vehicle. It is spacious, very well-crafted, fun to drive and comfortable. 

Seat comfort

Highlights of the interior are the plush Lexus seats. Max level of comfort is felt when driving –  the dashboard, center console, and door-mounted switchgear are all angled towards the driver. 

Ride comfort

The RX 300 is very comfortable while tackling daly city traffic, quick and long rides alike. 

Quality

It is  a quiet quality ride with the suspension capable of absorbing all of the roads irregularities. There’s no driver’s fatigue on long rides. However, serious off-roading is out of the question and the turning circle is uncomfortably large. 

Safety & Reliability

RX 300 scores highly with the NHTSA crash tests. 

Should I Buy the Lexus GS 300?

It is a solid choice if you are looking for a used reliable SUV. 

How Much Does it cost? 

5 000 USD – 7 700 USD