Premium midsize SUV; Built in Japan
  • 4-door wagon
  • transverse front-engine/front- or all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $5,400 – $10,700*


2000 Lexus RX 300


2000 Lexus RX 300


2000 Lexus RX 300 interior


2001 Lexus RX 300 SilverSport


2001 Lexus RX 300 SilverSport

Pros:
  • Build quality
  • Exterior finish
  • Interior materials
  • Passenger and cargo room
  • Ride
Cons:
  • Audio and climate controls
  • Wind noise

Essentially a “suburban utility vehicle” rather than a traditional SUV, the RX 300 is posh, refined, roomy, and pleasant to drive. Strong demand keeps prices high, but we recommend it highly.

Overview

With the RX 300, Lexus became a pioneer in what came to be called “hybrid” or “crossover” vehicles, which blend the attributes of a truck and a passenger car. Introduced as an early 1999 model, it quickly became the top Lexus seller. Available with front-wheel drive or permanent all-wheel-drive, the new-wave four-door SUV was based partly on a passenger-car platform, but had a personality all its own. Exterior dimensions were similar to Jeep’s Grand Cherokee, with a 7.5-inch ground clearance. Absence of low-range gearing marked Lexus’s new model as an all-weather on-road wagon, rather than a true off-road 4×4. Sole powertrain was a 3.0-liter V6 engine with variable-valve timing, coupled to a four-speed automatic transmission. The gearshift lever protruded from the center console. Towing capacity was 3500 pounds. Seat-mounted front side airbags and antilock all-disc brakes were standard. Handy touches included full automatic-up/down power windows, two tiers of drawers in the center console, and large map pockets in each door. Two small underfloor bins flank a covered spare-tire well.

Yearly Updates

2000 RX 300
Except for a newly standard trailer hitch, nothing was new for 2000. A satellite-based navigation system was optional.
2001 RX 300
Safety took precedence among the 2001 changes. A new standard Vehicle Skid Control (antiskid) system modulated brakes and engine power to maintain stability in slippery conditions. A new Brake Assist feature applied full braking force in response to rapid brake-pedal movement. Also new were a three-point center rear seatbelt and rear child-seat anchors.
An alloy spare wheel replaced the prior steel unit, the fuel tank was enlarged, and the grille was modified. New options included all-black leather interior trim, a wood steering-wheel and gearshift knob, and heated seats with dual warmth levels (rather than a single setting).
2002 RX 300
For 2002, the navigation system got revisions including multiroute calculation, simplified graphics, and route preview, along with a faster computer and the ability to play DVD movies on its dashboard screen.
2003 RX 300
In the final year before a redesign, no changes were made to the RX.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front- or all-wheel drive

All RX 300 models used the same powertrain. A 3.0-liter, dual-overhead-cam V6 engine, rated at 220 horsepower, drove a four-speed automatic transmission.

dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/183
Engine HP 220
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 222
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

19/24

16.3

Road Test

Whether it has front-drive or all-wheel drive, an RX 300 delivers snappy off-the-line acceleration and has plenty of power throughout the speed range. The V6 is a model of refinement, augmented by flawless transmission behavior–though some early units exhibited uneven shifting until warmed up. An early 2WD model did 0-60 mph in 8.2 seconds and averaged 16.3 mpg–short of EPA estimates but better than most midsize SUVs. All-wheel drive doesn’t slow it down much. An RX 300 feels like no other SUV–more like a luxury car or a minivan, unlike the posh but truck-flavored Mercedes M-Class. The ride is impressive, smothering large and small bumps with ease–better than many cars and less bouncy than most SUVs on scalloped freeways. An RX 300 corners with fine stability and little body lean for an SUV, helped by responsive steering. Still, it’s too big and heavy to be a truly sporty handler. Routine braking is good, though the pedal might be a trifle spongy. Some tire noise occurs on coarse pavement, but the RX 300 is pleasingly quiet overall–except with the sunroof open, when wind rushes past with a mighty roar. Entry/exit is a simple matter of stepping in and out. Five adults can ride without complaint, and the center-rear position matches the comfort of the supportive outboard seats. The driver sits commandingly high, but roof pillars may be too thick for best outward vision. The tilt steering wheel does not adjust to suit everyone. Though it works well enough, the video-screen display for climate and audio settings is unorthodox and a little gimmicky. Other instruments and controls are attractively arranged, large, and functional.

Conversion of the back seat is convenient, but the load floor isn’t so long with seats up, and liftover is relatively high.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2001 Lexus RX 300 w/AWD

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 5
50%
Fuel Economy - 4
40%
Ride Quality - 6
60%
Steering/Handling - 5
50%
Quietness - 6
60%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Front - 8
80%
Room/Comfort Rear - 7
70%
Cargo Room - 7
70%

Other

Value - 7
70%

Total: 61

Specifications

4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
103.0 180.1 71.5 65.7
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
75.0 17.2 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.5 39.2 40.7 36.4
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1999 RX 300 4-door wagon

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
80%
Front Passenger Injury - 5
100%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
100%
Rear Passenger Injury - 5
100%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 84
Injury 61
Theft 140

Trouble Spots

Brake noise
Description: Squealing front brakes may squeal require revised rotors, shims, support plates and/or pads. (1999-2000)
Exhaust system
Description: A booming noise from the exhaust system is corrected by installing a damper weight. (1999)
Audio system
Description: Noises from the speakers (Nakamichi unit) can be corrected by exchanging the amplifiers under warranty. (1999)
Suspension noise
Description: Noise from front suspension could be due to problem with strut support. Revised support with new bushing is available. (1999-2000)
Wind noise
Description: A throbbing wind noise from the moonroof is due to the location of the luggage-rack cross bars. Repositioning them may reduce the sound. (1999)

Recall History

1999
Description: Headlights and taillights may not automatically illuminate in low ambient light, when headlight switch is placed in “Auto” position.
1999 w/optional traction control
Description: If one of the dual brake lines fails and driver applies brake, vehicle will feel unstable compared to vehicles with proper brake distribution.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.