Used 1999 Lexus RX 300 Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1999

The RX 300 is an all-new car-based SUV from Lexus designed to compete in the luxury SUV segment.

Vehicle overview

Lexus, like many manufacturers these days, is jumping on the sedan/sport-utility hybrid bandwagon with the all-new RX300. Touted as a "new breed of SUV," the RX300 is supposed to offer the style, versatility, and poor-weather traction of an all-wheel drive SUV without the compromise in ride, fuel economy, or ease of entry/exit associated with most SUVs.

While it may be "new" for Lexus, this luxury market segment had already been addressed by Infiniti, Mercedes-Benz and the new Jeep Grand Cherokee. However, Lexus chose to base the RX300 on a car, rather than truck, platform. Consumers who want all the luxury of a high-end sedan along with the apparent security and beefiness of a truck are buying these vehicles faster than the manufacturers can produce them.

Powering the RX300 is a 3.0-liter 24-valve V6 that makes 220 horsepower and 222 pound-feet of torque. Lexus' trademark Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVTi) is used to create 80 percent of the engine's torque at 1,600 rpm. It also enhances fuel economy and reduces emissions.

For buyers living in mild climates, the RX300 can be had in front-wheel drive, which improves both performance and gas mileage. To add to the front-wheel drive model's capability in less than perfect weather, electronic traction control is optional. Full-time four-wheel drive is also available with a viscous center coupling that directs torque to the wheels with the most traction whenever slippage occurs.

In keeping with its Lexus nameplate, the RX offers numerous luxury features like a dash-mounted liquid crystal display for relaying climate control and trip computer information. A standard 190-watt Pioneer system can be upgraded to an optional 230-watt Nakamichi sound system for audiophiles who like to scare the wild life while slogging though the wilderness.

With its long list of luxury and safety features (side airbags are standard in the RX300) Lexus is able to offer a lot of car (in the guise of a truck) for not a lot of money. While we wouldn't recommend the RX to anyone with serious off-road aspirations, it fulfills its intended mission of giving semi-affluent buyers an SUV that won't offend the other country club members.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.