The RX300, the best-selling model in the Lexus lineup, returns unchanged from last year. The RX300 was introduced as an early 1999 model and was an instant hit with buyers, who embraced the car-like ride and handling in a vehicle with Lexus' reputation for quality and service. The RX300 is built on a passenger-car platform instead of a truck chassis and comes with either front-wheel drive or permanently engaged 4WD.
Toyota will get a lower-priced version of the RX300 as a 2001 model with different styling and fewer standard features.
Standard equipment includes wood interior trim, a seven-speaker sound system and video-screen controls for audio and climate functions, but you have to pay extra for leather upholstery. Map pockets on all four doors and a roomy, two-tier center console provide ample interior storage.
At 180 inches long, the RX300 is about the same length as the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Mercedes M-Class, but both those rivals stand nearly four inches taller, giving them a more traditional SUV profile. Sloping roof pillars behind the rear doors give the RX300 a distinctive appearance but from the inside can make it harder for drivers to see other vehicles.
Under the Hood
The 220-horsepower, 3.0-liter V-6 and four-speed automatic transmission are the same ones used in the Lexus ES300 sedan. The 4WD system, which adds $1,400 to the base price, is designed for all-season on-road driving, not off-road boulder bashing.