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What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For The RX is comfortable to drive and good on Tarmac

Against It has only limited off-road ability, and there's no diesel version

Verdict The ultimate in luxury 4x4s at affordable prices

Go for… RX 300 in standard trim

Avoid… SE trim

Lexus RX 4x4
  • 1. In the unlikely event that you need unscheduled work on an RX, labour rates at dealers are quite high
  • 2. RX is very well equipped, and there’s plenty of space for passengers and luggage
  • 3. The only potential problem we've heard of is that the alloy wheels can corrode quite badly
  • 4. The V6 engine is smooth and hushed, but there's no diesel alternative
  • 5. The automatic gearbox is slick, but could do with a fifth ratio
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Lexus RX 4x4 full review with expert trade views

Of all the so-called ‘off-roaders’, the RX is one of the most likely to shriek if you ever took it anywhere near mud. This is a car designed to be used almost exclusively on Tarmac, and that’s where it’s at its best. In fact, if you treat it as a posh estate car with extra ground clearance, you’ll be bang on the money.

On the road, it has an awful lot in common with Lexus’s executive saloons. Its comfort and refinement, in particular, are excellent: the V6 engine is very smooth, the automatic gearbox slick (although it would have been better with five, rather than four, ratios), the ride comfortable and the handling superb. On the motorway, the vehicle is almost silent, apart from a little wind noise from around the big wing mirrors.

Both models are very well equipped, and there’s plenty of space for both passengers and luggage.

Trade view

John Owen

Looking extremely dated, lacking space and versatility. Costly repairs

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

So limited is the choice of models that your biggest decision is over what colour you want. The RX was on sale as a new car for less than three years, and throughout that time, it only came with one engine (a 3.0-litre V6 petrol) and one gearbox, a four-speed automatic.

The choice of trims is between standard and SE only. However, the basic car is so well equipped that there’s precious little point shelling out the extra for the SE.

All models have an automatic gearbox, climate control, a CD changer, all-round electric windows and electric mirrors, as well as anti-lock brakes, traction control and four airbags. On top of that, the SE has an electric sunroof, leather upholstery and cruise control, but the difference in price between the two models is well into four figures, even in the used market.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Need to be selective about condition and SE model preferred

James Ruppert
Used car guru

As a used buy, this version of the RX is much cheaper than you may expect. It’s also a lot less expensive than the likes of the BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz M-Class and Volvo XC90 at the same age, making it something of a bargain.

For a big 4x4 the running costs aren’t too bad, either. Servicing and insurance look good, and the Lexus’s group 15 rating is lower than that of petrol versions of both the X5 and XC90. You can also expect fuel economy of more than 20mpg, which compares well to petrol versions of the contemporary Land Rover Discovery, XC90 and X5. However, bear in mind there is no diesel RX available.

In the unlikely event that you need unscheduled work on an RX, you’ll find labour rates at dealers are quite high, but that, on average, repair costs are, well, average.

Trade view

John Owen

Looking extremely dated, lacking space and versatility. Costly repairs

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

With some 4x4s, you may expect to have to worry about their quality and reliability, but not when that 4x4 has a Lexus badge. There has never been a recall on this version of the RX, and if the results of the annual JD Power reports are anything to go by, buying any Lexus is a guarantee of superb reliability and top-notch dealer service.

In the JD Power survey, Lexus was top make for six years on the trot up to 2006. Such an impressive showing is backed up by the experience of Warranty Direct: in its experience, Lexus models are responsible for virtually the lowest rate of problems of any manufacturer’s cars. The RX, it says, is almost faultless. The only problem it has heard of is that the alloy wheels can corrode quite badly.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Need to be selective about condition and SE model preferred

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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