Used Lexus RX review: 2003-2015
January 27, 2016
- Refined finishing
- Smooth, quiet running
- Sloping boot restricts storage
Lexus RX has been a huge success for the upmarket Japanese marque since its launch in Australia in April 2003. More a high riding station wagon than a 4WD it has mild to medium off-road ability in its AWD versions, though very few owners ever take advantage of it.
The introduction of the fourth generation RX series in November 2015 has created a lot of interest and many owners have traded up to one. Thus creating a rush on secondhand ones which are taking up too much space in the used car lots. If you're quick you might be able to pick up one of these at a lower than usual price. No promises, though...
By the way, though this is the fourth generation RX, the first-generation was only sold in the USA.
As the gen-four is still too new to comment on in this used-car piece we won't cover it here, other than to say it's on a longer wheelbase than the third series so legroom in the back is better than in previous models.
Lexus is famed for its refinement and quiet, smooth running. Upmarket materials and the quality of fit and finish inside was good right from the start, yet has reached even higher levels in subsequent models.
Interior room is good for two adults and three kids in the first RXs sold here, but the next model was significantly better and two adults in the rear works nicely. Three preteen children will fit in comfort.
We have heard of no real complaints about cost or availability of routine spare parts
Boot space is reasonable, but the stylish slope of the rear window means bulky items often won't fit.. The back seat has a 40/20/40 split to improve matters.
The third generation Lexus RX was introduced in February 2009 and was virtually all-new. It received a modest facelift in July 2012. It saw the introduction of a four-cylinder engine as well as 2WD (the front wheels) for the first time.
Most Lexus RXs are powered by a twin-cam V6 petrol engine, with a capacity of 3.0 litres in the 330 and 3.5 litres in the RX350. The engine sat beside a five-speed automatic transmission in the gen-two car. The all-new 2009 model saw it lifted to six-speed unit.
Lexus has long been strong in the petrol-electric hybrid field with all of its models. The RX is certainly no exception and since October 2006 an electric motor has been offered in combination with the petrol. Look for a lower-case ‘h' in the model name, for example Lexus RX400h. Note that it doesn't have a 4.0-litre petrol engine, it's actually 3.3 litres, but Lexus calculates it has the performance of a 4.0-litre petrol engine.
Lexus dealers are mainly in metropolitan areas of capital cities and major regional and country locations. Should you need work done in other areas some top Toyota mechanics have been trained in Lexus work.
Service and repair costs are about average for an SUV in this upmarket class and we have heard of no real complaints about cost or availability of routine spare parts.
Insurance charges don't vary significantly between major companies, but it may be worth shopping around.
What to look for
High build quality means that troubles are unusual, but these are complex machines and we recommend a professional inspection after you've completed your initial once over.
Look for a smoking exhaust on a high-mileage engine. It will be at its worst when the engine is worked hard.
Check the automatic transmission is all but unnoticed in its actions unless you're accelerating hard.
Look over the interior and boot carefully because the RX is popular in the Mums' taxi cohort.
Body damage indicating mild to moderate off-road use is most likely to be on the bumper corners, sill panels and scratches on the doors.