2002 Lexus RX 300 Preview

2017
The Car Connection
2017
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

by Dan Carney

2002 Toyota Highlander by John Pearley Huffman (4/8/2002)


It may be that no vehicle embodies the inherent contradictions of a “luxury SUV” better than the Lexus RX300. It was one of the earliest SUVs to be based on a car’s unibody platform (in this case, the Camry), instead of on a truck-like ladder frame design.

Lexus has successfully cultivated an image of building cars that emphasize interior tranquility above all else. Let the others be sporty and aggressive, Lexus seemed to say — we’ll stick with smooth and quiet. But smooth-riding luxury SUVs are a rare commodity because the features that improve off-road capability detract from ride and handling. That is why Jeep and Land Rover products, while highly esteemed for their off-road prowess, do not depict their cars with a jeweler performing delicate diamond cuts while riding in the back seat (as Lincoln did in television commercials decades ago).

On the road again

Lexus has largely succeeded in merging these two disparate requirements, probably by reducing the RX300’s absolute off-road capability. We haven’t had the chance to torture an RX300 in deep snow to test this theory, but we suppose few owners will test its limits either.

On-road ride is very good, but handling is somewhat compromised by the tall ride height. This is probably due to a desire to preserve some off-road capability, but most drivers would probably prefer a less top-heavy feeling vehicle in everyday use. Lexus could consider a lower standard ride height, with an off-road package available for people who actually live in the country. Or, it could offer variable height settings, so users can raise the RX300 when extra ground clearance is needed.

The jumbo-sized mud and snow tires on the RX300 are probably just the thing for the Crocodile Hunter wannabes who plan to equip their luxury vehicle with brush guards and other paraphernalia, but they are unnecessary for the kind of use this vehicle actually sees. Let the dealer make a few dollars putting on tires with the rest of the fantasy package for customers who are so inclined, but let the rest of us enjoy the braking, ride, and economy benefits of street tires.

The Car Connection Consumer Review

Rate and Review your car for The Car Connection! Tell us your own ratings for a vehicle you own. Rate your car on Performance, Safety, Features and more.
Write a Review
April 13, 2015
For 1999 Lexus RX 300

Lexus put together a benchmark in quality that was years ahead of it competitors. 2015 competitors still mostly inferior.

  • Overall Rating
  • Interior/Exterior
  • Performance
  • Comfort and Quality
  • Safety
  • Features
  • Fuel Economy / MPG
  • Reliability
Our RX300 has served us faultlessly for 16 years and 86,000 miles. Our was one of the very first, shipped in from Japan And at $ 35k represented a major expense for our family. Now 16years later the car still... + More »
people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
August 28, 2016
2001 Lexus RX 300 4-Door SUV 4WD

Quiet, Go (Almost) Anywhere Luxury

  • Overall Rating
  • Interior/Exterior
  • Performance
  • Comfort and Quality
  • Safety
  • Features
  • Fuel Economy / MPG
  • Reliability
Very comfortable and extremely reliable. At 145,000 miles the exterior looks great other than a few tiny stone chips. It still looks current. The interior has held it's luxury look well. Long distance travel... + More »
people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
December 27, 2015
For 2000 Lexus RX 300

great car. some problems with transmission at rather early stage, and the fuel gauge problem was rather annoying.

  • Overall Rating
  • Interior/Exterior
  • Performance
  • Comfort and Quality
  • Safety
  • Features
  • Fuel Economy / MPG
  • Reliability
Overall loved this car. Transmission issues and fuel gauge problems ongoing irritation. But overall loved the car. Wish the mileage per gallon would be greatly improved
people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
See all user reviews »
Looking for other models of the Lexus RX 300?
Read reviews & get prices
Compare the 2002 Lexus RX 300 against the competition
Compare All Cars
Related Used Listings
Browse used listings in your area
See More Used
s