Lexus RX Estate 2003 - 2009

Lexus RX Estate 2003 - 2009

Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016


  • Spacious and comfortable
  • The hybrid version is very economical
  • A comprehensive kit package even with lower trim levels
  • A reliable car


  • A horrendous gas-guzzler (unless it’s a hybrid version)
  • Low ground clearance results in poor off road ability


The first generation of the medium size Lexus RX SUV (or as the Japanese call it – SLV – sport luxury vehicle) was launched in 1998. The second generation made debut in 2003 and featured a redesigned rear end, an improved interior and the option of hybrid engine. The RX is a very popular luxury 4x4 despite its limited off-road abilities, but it does provide excellent comfort and quality as you would usually find in a Lexus.

Exterior and Interior

The RX is essentially a rebadged and "luxurised" version of the Toyota Harrier that was built for the local Japanese market. Lexus markets the RX as a crossover and the exterior design matches the idea. Although the RX is bigger than other leisure 4x4s, its body configuration resembles a conventional hatchback. Its door line and front end are fairly similar to the Lexus IS. The 2nd generation has developed the hatch back idea even further getting rid of the rear side window and adding a visible slope to the rear end of the car. The Lexus RX is a good-looking car, designed to please the taste of affluent customers. The key feature in the RX is its cabin. The seats are large and comfortable and the cabin is very spacious. Only the best materials have been used and the leather/wood combination resembles an expensive American limousine (only better quality) so it’s no wonder as the majority of the RXs are sold in North America (they even had to open a dedicated factory in Canada to fulfil the healthy demand for the car). The Standard Trim is the entry level of the RX and it’s inappropriately named because even the cheapest RX is boasting a long list of original equipment and a luxury interior.

Performance and Economy

Both of the V6 engines offer superb performances. There’s no such thing as a slow Lexus RX. Even the old Camry engine combined with the slightly unresponsive auto gearbox (no manual option is available) will accelerate the car from zero to 60mph in less than 9 seconds. The RX is a heavy car due to all of the extra equipment and safety features it carries and because of this the fuel efficiency is really disappointing – 23mpg is the best it can do. Because the first generation RX was often criticised for the high fuel consumption, a revolutionary hybrid RX was introduced in 2005. In full name it is called the RX 400h. Its drive system comprises a 3.3-litre petrol engine and two electric motors. The larger motor drives the front wheels while the smaller powers the rear axle. Although on its own, the 3.3-litre V6 is not an economical engine, thanks to the hybrid drive, the car manages around 34mpg on average. If you want the extra economy from an RX you will have to pay a premium for the hybrid version, although the fuel savings make it pay off rather quickly. Also, if you’re driving in London, you’re exempt from the Congestion Charge.

Like to Drive

The Lexus RX has a very comfortable driver’s seat. The upright seating position gives a great control and visibility. It’s a quick and pleasant car to drive or be driven in. The RX is equipped with an all-wheel drive system, but it is advisable to keep the RX on the road. The car has got a low ground clearance and this limits its off-roading abilities. Its main speciality is providing an excellent drive and comfort in a city or on a smooth highway.

Faults and Repairs

The RX is one of the most reliable 4x4 cars on the market. Just like the sedans, the RX comes with the usual excellent technical support and servicing from the official Lexus dealership. The hybrid RXs are very sophisticated so you’d be well advised to get the car inspected by a professional.