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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Reliability Trouble Spots
Engine Major Engine Major Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.
Engine Minor Engine Minor Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.
Engine Cooling Engine Cooling Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.
Transmission Major Transmission Major Transmission rebuild or replacement, torque converter, clutch replacement.
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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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?
NA
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.

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

“Not working properly”

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

“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

“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)

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

“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

“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)

Engine Minor

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

What Owners Say

Oil leaks

“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)

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

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)

Transmission Minor

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

What Owners Say

Slipping transmission

“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)

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)

“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 Integrity

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

What Owners Say

“Two belts had to be replaced as they were squeaking”

Diane A., IL (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)

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

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)

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)

“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)

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

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.

Exhaust

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

Engine Major

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

Brakes

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

Engine Cooling

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

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