Lexus RX300

First introduced in 1999, the Lexus RX300 is a midsize crossover SUV that the brand produced until 2003. Although the RX300 only saw a single generation of production, the vehicle underwent a mid-cycle refresh in 2001.

More on the Lexus RX300
Lexus RX300 Origins

While Lexus produced it for only four years, the Lexus RX300 is significant in that it was one of the first crossover luxury SUVs introduced into the U.S. market. During its limited run of production, the RX300 became something of a hit and had a run as the best-selling luxury SUV on the market. At the time of its discontinuation in 2003, the RX300 was scheduled for a complete redesign. However, the RX 330 replaced it.

About the Lexus RX300

A midsize luxury crossover SUV, the Lexus RX300 entered the crossover luxury SUV market segment early. Drivers appreciate the RX300 for its smooth drive train, polished demeanor, and well-appointed interior. Not only was the RX300 the best-selling luxury SUV on the market at one time, it was also the top-selling model produced by Lexus. However, despite its popularity, the RX300 still has its flaws. Like many SUVs designed around a truck-based platform, the RX300 gets poor gas mileage and offers a stiff, rough ride for a luxury model.

Reviews indicate that the Lexus RX300 suits drivers for long road trips. The midsize SUV’s quiet cabin and ability to absorb road irregularities make it ideal for extended highway odysseys. Another helpful feature is the ability to slide the back seat forward and backward five inches. This allows parents sitting in the front seat easier access to children riding in car seats in the rear.

Lexus RX300 Features

2003 was the final model year for the Lexus RX300. Introduced in 1999, the model received an extensive overhaul in 2001. In its final two years of production, little changed about the RX300. A five-passenger crossover SUV, the 2003 RX300 comes in a single trim level with the option for either front-wheel drive or traction-enhancing all-wheel-drive. It contains a 3.0-liter V-6 engine that produces 220 horsepower and 222 lb-ft of torque. Transmission-wise it comes equipped with a four-speed automatic.

The 2003 RX300 is constructed on a unibody platform and has similar dimensions to the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Its maximum cargo capacity is 75 cubic feet, and its towing capacity maxes out at 3,500 pounds.

The all-wheel drive version of the vehicle can go from zero to 60 in 9.1 seconds. While the ride quality of the RX300 receives criticism for being rather stiff, the vehicle’s transmission earns high marks for silky smooth shifting. This smooth transmission couples with the MacPherson struts that come standard on the model, giving the 2003 RX300 drivability on par with a light minivan. The vehicle is ideal for daily driving, and its sprung suspension easily absorbs common road irregularities. Steering and braking also work well.

However, like many luxury SUVs, the RX300 is, in truth, poorly equipped for off-road duty. Its low maximum towing capacity, and low-range transfer case, make it unsuitable for anything other than light off-roading.

While the 2003 Lexus RX300 may come up short in the ruggedness department, one area where it lives up to its billing is in luxury. The RX300’s interior offers plenty of space and comfort, and it is well appointed. The dashboard and instruments use quality materials, and standard interior amenities include automatic climate control, full power accessories, and a cassette player. Standard safety features include front-seat side airbags and anti-lock brakes.

The 2003 RX300 boasts exterior features such as 16-inch alloy wheels, chrome door handles, scuff plates emblazoned with the Lexus logo, and fog lights. Optional additions for the 2003 RX300 include a leather package that boasts cowhide seating surfaces and headrests, a wood-trimmed steering wheel, a wood-trimmed shift knob, two level seat heaters, and a DVD-based navigation system.

Lexus RX300 Evolution

Lexus introduced the RX300 in 1999 and produced it for a single generation. However, models prior to a mid-cycle refresh that took place in 2001 do differ slightly from later models. Standard safety features such as stability control and brake assist are not included on models from before 2001. Also, options such as the DVD-based navigation system, HID headlights, chrome wheels, and wood-trimmed steering wheel do not come on earlier models. Models prior to 2001 also have a different grille, as well as different front and rear lights. The 2001 redesign also increases driving range with the addition of a larger fuel tank capable of holding 19.8 gallons.

Models produced between 2001 and 2003 remained essentially unchanged from one another.

Select a Lexus RX300 Year

2003 Lexus RX300

SUV, Utility/Offroad

The 2003 Lexus RX300 serves as Lexus’ best-selling vehicle.

2002 Lexus RX300

SUV, Utility/Offroad

The 2002 Lexus RX300 sport utility vehicle (SUV) is a prime example of a luxury SUV with a car-like ride and handling.

2001 Lexus RX300

SUV, Utility/Offroad

Not only is the 2001 Lexus RX300 the best-selling Lexus, but it’s also the first SUV that's based on a car and can feel like it from behind the wheel.

2000 Lexus RX300

SUV, Utility/Offroad

The 2000 Lexus RX300 provides a good example of how the features of a sport utility vehicle (SUV) blend with elements of luxury.

1999 Lexus RX300

SUV, Utility/Offroad

The 1999 Lexus RX300 is a brand new venture into the SUV crossover market for the luxury automaker.