Among our top-rated SUVs of the time, the RX300 is comfortable and quiet. Handling is secure, though not agile and aided by standard stability control. The interior is modest-sized, but well finished and provides a little more cargo capacity than some similar station wagons. Overall payload capacity is modest, but fuel economy is very good for its class.

Road Test Results

Performance
Acceleration Acceleration Acceleration tests are conducted on a smooth, flat pavement straightaway at the track. Time, speed, and distance measurements are taken with a precise GPS-based device that’s hooked to a data-logging computer.
0 to 60 mph 0 to 60 mph (sec.) The time in seconds that a vehicle takes to reach 60 mph from a standstill with the engine idling.
Transmission Transmission Transmission performance is determined by shifting smoothness, response, shifter action, and clutch actuation for manual transmissions.
Fuel Economy Fuel Economy We perform our own fuel-economy tests, independent of the government's often-quoted EPA figures and the manufacturers' claims. Using a precise fuel-flow measuring device spliced into the fuel line, we run two separate circuits to represent city and highway consumption.
CR's Overall Mileage CR's Overall Mileage CR's overall mileage is a composite of measured fuel usage on a prescribed city course and highway cruising; and CR's 150-mile test trip of mixed driving, if tested. In recent road tests, we've discontinued the 150-mile trip test.
CR's City Mileage CR's City Mileage Measured fuel usage on a prescribed city course.
CR's Highway Mileage CR's Highway Mileage Measured fuel usage on a prescribed highway cruising.
Annual Fuel Cost Annual Fuel Cost The cost and amount of fuel used in 12,000 miles and is calculated from CR's overall mileage.
Braking Braking The braking rating is a composite of wet and dry stopping distances and pedal feel. Braking distance is from 60 mph, with no wheels locked.
Emergency Handling Emergency Handling Several factors go into the rating, including the avoidance maneuver speed and confidence, as well as how the vehicle behaves when pushed to its limit.
Comfort / Convenience
Ride Ride Our expert judgment of how well the suspension isolates and absorbs road imperfections and how steady it keeps the body on various road surfaces.
Noise Noise Our expert judgment of the vehicle's interior noise level in everyday driving.
Front Seat Comfort Front Seat Comfort Our judgment of how comfortable the front seat is for drivers of various heights.
Rear Seat Comfort Rear Seat Comfort Our judgment of how comfortable the rear seat is for two passengers to sit across.
Interior Fit and Finish Interior Fit and Finish An expert evaluation of the interior quality and craftsmanship.
Trunk/Cargo Area Trunk/Cargo Area Our rating is based on the amount of luggage or cargo space that a vehicle has in the trunk or cargo area.

Owner Reports

Worse Better
Reliability History Reliability History The reliability charts are based on responses on hundreds of thousands of vehicles from our latest Annual Auto Survey. Consumer Reports subscribers reported on any serious problems they had with their vehicles during the past 12 months that they considered serious because of cost, failure, safety, or downtime, in any of the trouble spots included in the table below. The results are presented relative to the average model that year. Extra weight is given to the more serious areas such as major engine or transmission problems. Based on this data and further analysis, we predict reliability for the latest year. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.
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2002
2003
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Reliability Trouble Spots
Engine Major Engine Major Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.
NA
Engine Minor Engine Minor Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.
NA
Engine Cooling Engine Cooling Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.
NA
Transmission Major Transmission Major Transmission rebuild or replacement, torque converter, clutch replacement.
NA
Owner Satisfaction Owner Satisfaction To learn about satisfaction, CR has collected survey data from our annual survey on more than half a million vehicles. Our subscribers provide great insights into their satisfaction by answering one simple question: If they had it to do all over again, would they definitely buy or lease the same model? In addition, respondents also rate their cars in six categories: driving experience, comfort, value, styling, audio, and climate systems. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.
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2007
2008
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Driving Experience Driving Experience Includes acceleration and handling
Comfort Comfort Includes seats, climate control, noise, and ride
Value Value Did you get what you wanted relative to the price you paid?
Styling Styling How it looks inside and out
Safety Equipment
ABS and side air bags standard. ESC standard from 2001. Head protection air bags standard from 2004.
Road Test

Among our top-rated SUVs of the time, the RX300 is comfortable and quiet. Handling is secure, though not agile and aided by standard stability control. The interior is modest-sized, but well finished and provides a little more cargo capacity than some similar station wagons. Overall payload capacity is modest, but fuel economy is very good for its class.

Seating
2 front, 3 rear
Drive Wheels
AWD , Front
Warranty

In most cases, automotive warranties are based on the vehicle identification number (VIN), and the warranty will be valid regardless of ownership. The dealership can tell you exactly how much warranty is left.

Read more about extended warranties
Body Styles
4-door SUV
Transmissions Available
  • 4-speed Automatic
Engines Available
  • 3-liter V6 (220 hp)

Owner Reported Trouble Spots

The Reliability score is based on our latest subscriber survey of 2003 Lexus RX owners. The owner comments describe problems respondents experienced with this vehicle.

Electric System

Alternator, starter, hybrid battery and related systems, regular battery, battery cables, engine harness, coil, ignition switch, electronic ignition, distributor or rotor failure, spark plugs and wires failure.

What Owners Say

Exterior lights (other than headlights)

"Not a big deal.. the left hand rear signal light burned out and was easilly replaced."

Don C., BC (2003 Lexus RX 300.0 3.0-L V6)

"Have a rear light that keeps going out"

Michael G., NC (2003 Lexus RX 300.0 3.0-L V6)
Headlights

"The headlight covers are yellowed to the point it's a safety concern"

Lisa G., TN (2003 Lexus RX 300 3.0-L V6)
Interior lights

"The lighting that labels DRN... and other features on the dashboard no longer works"

Anonymous, CO (2003 Lexus RX 300 3.0-L V6)
Keyless entry

"The lock on the drivers door does not operate as well as all the others. I have to hit the lock or unlock button twice to activate that one door lock. I b\can operate the lock manually or use the key to open that door. Annoying, but not wrist slashing."

Don C., BC (2003 Lexus RX 300.0 3.0-L V6)

"The doors don't always unlock or lock using keyless entry."

Anonymous, OK (2003 Lexus RX 300.0 3.0-L V6)

"2 door lock actuators have stopped working. Lexus wants 1500 a piece to repair. Part is available on line for around 50"

Michael G., NC (2003 Lexus RX 300.0 3.0-L V6)

"Electrical lock system freezes up on drivers door.. Must enter thru passenger side and lock from inside and unlock the same. Key is a replacemnt which has broken off several times and which I now glue together."

Gene P., FL (2003 Lexus RX 300.0 3.0-L V6)

"Electronic locks failed on passenger door"

Steve Z., NC (2003 Lexus RX 300 3.0-L V6)

"Doors periodically fail to operate with key less or use of key. I enter from the opposite ide and use inside controls"

Gene P., WI (2003 Lexus RX 300 3.0-L V6)

"3 of 4 door locks no longer work with remote entry key"

Anonymous, OR (2003 Lexus RX 300 3.0-L V6)

"Three of the four individual power door locks have recently failed including the driver's door. I have replaced two of them. Keyless entry is erratic so I usually just use the key to unlock the car. This is annoying but does not affect reliability or drivability"

Dan G., FL (2003 Lexus RX 300 3.0-L V6)

Climate System

Blower (fan) motor, A/C compressor, condenser, evaporator, heater system, automatic climate control, refrigerant leakage, electrical failure.

What Owners Say

A/C compressor

"Problems with the A/C system are inter twined with the Heat system. The problems with the A/C are having to sometimes turn the A/C System off to permit the heating system to function."

Anonymous, VA (2003 Lexus RX 300.0 3.0-L V6)

"Not working properly"

Michael S., TX (2003 Lexus RX 300 3.0-L V6)
Automatic climate control

"Vent selector switch and/or motor failed leaving all ventilation on the defrost mode."

Anonymous, FL (2003 Lexus RX 300.0 3.0-L V6)

"Needed to replace door actuator for directing fan blower air to windshield."

Anonymous, IL (2003 Lexus RX 300.0 3.0-L V6)

"server control failure"

Anonymous, CA (2003 Lexus RX 300 3.0-L V6)
Blower (fan) motor

"It started making a high pitched noise. My mechanic repaired the flap that switched it from heat to air conditioning"

Anonymous, CO (2003 Lexus RX 300 3.0-L V6)
Heater system

"At times, on what seems to be a random basis,I had to turn the heat up to feel any effect."

Anonymous, VA (2003 Lexus RX 300.0 3.0-L V6)

"The vent system failed so that it is now impossible to redirect airflow. It is stuck blowing on the windshield and feet"

Dan G., FL (2003 Lexus RX 300 3.0-L V6)
Refrigerant leaks

"Problem was a small leak plus more. When engine was cold A/C would work reasonably well but as it the engine warmed up the A/C would begin to fail. After 1-2 hrs there would be no cooling. Problem as a fairly expensive part that had a 'gate' that was not working correctly"

C B., DE (2003 Lexus RX 300 3.0-L V6)

"Coolant gasket leak; had to be replaced. $675"

Steven J., AZ (2003 Lexus RX 300 3.0-L V6)

Fuel System

Check engine light, sensors (includes O2 or oxygen sensor), emission control devices (includes EGR), engine computer, engine computer, fuel cap, fuel gauge/sender, fuel injection system, fuel pump, fuel leaks, stalling or hesitation.

What Owners Say

Sensors (includes O2 or oxygen sensor)

"I have had to replace most of the O2 sensors in the 1-2 years."

Marcus W., TX (2003 Lexus RX 300.0 3.0-L V6)

"Engine light was displayed continuously. I do not recall any significant problem with the performance."

Ronda M., CA (2003 Lexus RX 300.0 3.0-L V6)

"Could not pass State Wisc. emission control test. Fixed by resetting,, and driving 50 miles at 50 mph and immediately going to test station. Good for two years. May be canister problem which may be a $1,000 plus repacement due to placement in the underside."

Gene P., FL (2003 Lexus RX 300.0 3.0-L V6)

"Both 02 sensors needed to be replaced. Gas mileage improved quite a bit"

Jackie P., MI (2003 Lexus RX 300 3.0-L V6)

Body Hardware

Power or manual windows, locks and latches, tailgate, hatch or trunk, doors or sliding doors, mirrors, seat controls, safety belts, sunroof, convertible top.

What Owners Say

Glass defects

"Windshield appears to have multiple tiny defects as if salt or other chemical affected the glass"

Anonymous, VA (2003 Lexus RX 300 3.0-L V6)
Locks and latches

"Auto door lock system failure"

Anonymous, NM (2003 Lexus RX 300.0 3.0-L V6)

"Auto door locks failed on 3 doors. One of the doors would lock but would not unlock when using the master control. The other two would not lock. This required that I walk around the vehicle checking or locking all doors to insure security."

Ronda M., CA (2003 Lexus RX 300.0 3.0-L V6)

"Power door lock on the front passenger door, stopped working & had to b e replaced."

Michael Y., OH (2003 Lexus RX 300.0 3.0-L V6)

Transmission Major

Transmission rebuild or replacement, torque converter, clutch replacement.

What Owners Say

Transmission rebuild or replacement

"second time to rebuild"

Anonymous, GA (2003 Lexus RX 300.0 3.0-L V6)

"The transmission went from slipping a little, to a lot and then finally it failed completely. We could not move it at all. We had to leave it there and rent a car to get to our destination and then back home after the weekend. We almost had to replace the vehicle completely because the estimate for transmission replacement with a guarantee that was not tied to the very distant location in which it failed was nearly the blue book value of the SUV. In the end, we rented a Uhaul car drove back down to get the SUV(400mi away), rented a truck and trailer and hauled it back here where we know someone who knows someone who will do it for a reasonable price. We had just replaced the brakes and put new tires on the car so it seemed a shame to junk the car at that point. The vehicle is in very good shape overall so it seemed wasteful to not try to fix it."

Heidi G., MD (2003 Lexus RX 300.0 3.0-L V6)

"Replaced transmission and complete steering assembly"

Anonymous, WA (2003 Lexus RX 300.0 3.0-L V6)

Body Integrity

Squeaks, rattles, wind noises, loose or cracked seals and/or weather-stripping, air and water leaks.

What Owners Say

Seals and/or weather-stripping

"gasket leak"

Elaine L., TX (2003 Lexus RX 300.0 3.0-L V6)
Squeaks or rattles

"Two belts had to be replaced as they were squeaking"

Diane A., IL (2003 Lexus RX 300 3.0-L V6)
Wind noise

"tire bearings needed replacing but noise still a problem."

Elaine L., TX (2003 Lexus RX 300.0 3.0-L V6)

Engine Minor

Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.

What Owners Say

Oil leaks

"Issue was with rear main oil seal leaking; required replacement of some gaskets but high labor cost because of need to remove engine."

James C., WI (2003 Lexus RX 300.0 3.0-L V6)

"Rear Seal Leaks, Use an additive to control"

Gene P., WI (2003 Lexus RX 300 3.0-L V6)

"In the garage we see a couple of drips per day"

Jon B., UT (2003 Lexus RX 300 3.0-L V6)

Power Equipment

Cruise control, clock, warning lights, body control module, keyless entry, wiper motor or washer, tire pressure monitor, interior or exterior lights, horn, gauges, 12V power plug, remote engine start, alarm or security system

What Owners Say

Coil

"One original coil failed which caused the spark plugs to foul. Mechanic recommended replacing all three coils on that bank plus all spark plugs and SP wires."

Anonymous, (2003 Lexus RX 300.0 3.0-L V6)
Spark plugs or wires failure

"This was related/caused by the coil failure."

Anonymous, (2003 Lexus RX 300.0 3.0-L V6)

Drive System

Driveshaft or axle, CV joint, differential, transfer case, 4WD/AWD components, driveline vibration, traction control, electronic stability control (ESC), electrical failure.

What Owners Say

Electrical failure

"The dealer service actually worked on my behalf to get this covered under the extended warranty I had purchased (when this happened) The car had JUST passed the timeline of the coverage. I did not understand it all, but after that, it's been smooth sailing overall."

Linda P., GA (2003 Lexus RX 300.0 3.0-L V6)
Stability control (ESC)

"Engine warning light for ESC came on. Entire system had to be replaced in addition to other issues"

Diana S., NC (2003 Lexus RX 300 3.0-L V6)

Suspension

Shocks or struts, ball joints, tie rods, wheel bearings, alignment, steering linkage (includes rack and pinion), power steering (pumps and hoses, leaks), wheel balance, springs or torsion bars, bushings, electronic or air suspension.

What Owners Say

Bushings

"Front end suspension system had worn bushings, struts, and tie rod ends all at about 130000 miles. Replaced all at significant cost but now runs and operates like new."

Anonymous, FL (2003 Lexus RX 300.0 3.0-L V6)
Springs or torsion bars

"One side went out and decided to replace both sides to drive evenly"

Anonymous, TX (2003 Lexus RX 300 3.0-L V6)

Transmission Minor

Gear selector or linkage, leaks, transmission computer, transmission sensor or solenoid, clutch adjustment, rough shifting, slipping transmission.

What Owners Say

Slipping transmission

"slipping began and lead eventually to the total failure that I wrote about in the other part of the survey."

Heidi G., MD (2003 Lexus RX 300.0 3.0-L V6)

"Takes long time to shift from 1 to 2. Had 2000 RX300 with exact problem. Had to get that one rebuilt"

Lanny F., NC (2003 Lexus RX 300 3.0-L V6)

Paint/Trim

Paint (fading, chalking, cracking, or peeling), loose interior and exterior trim or moldings, rust.

What Owners Say

Paint (fading, chalking, cracking, or peeling)

"Paint on the top of the rear spoiler had completely worn off the part"

Michael Y., OH (2003 Lexus RX 300.0 3.0-L V6)

"There are numerous spots of chipped off paint on the front and top of the hood"

Lisa G., TN (2003 Lexus RX 300 3.0-L V6)

In-car Electronics

CD or DVD players, radio, speakers, GPS, communication system (e.g., OnStar), display screen freezes or goes blank, phone pairing (e.g. Bluetooth), voice control commands, steering wheel controls, portable music device interface (e.g., iPod/MP3 player), backup or other camera/sensors.

What Owners Say

In-dash navigation system (GPS)

"The nav system stopped working Exactly 10years to the day after I purchased the 2003 Lexus. Bought 12/31/02.nav system out 12/31/12."

Robert B., TX (2003 Lexus RX 300.0 3.0-L V6)

Exhaust

Muffler, pipes, catalytic converter, exhaust manifold, leaks.

What Owners Say

Other/unsure

"Airbag warning light stayed on while driving. The problem was repaired by replacing a sensor; nothing was wrong with the airbags per se. The sensor was expensive, and vehicle was with the mechanic a full day."

Anonymous, FL (2003 Lexus RX 300.0 3.0-L V6)

Engine Major

Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.

Engine Cooling

Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.

Brakes

Antilock system (ABS), parking brake, master cylinder, calipers, rotors, pulsation or vibration, squeaking, brake failure or wear.

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