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Lexus RX SUV Buyer’s Guide

POR: Chris Brown

Buying a new Lexus is a big investment, maybe only second to a house, and there are just so many to choose from. Settling on an SUV is a good start, but the rabbit hole of makes and models is so deep and dark, you might end up getting lost in there.

To help guide the way, we’ve put together this buying guide to shed some light on the Lexus RX.

Below you’ll find all the information you need if you’re thinking about getting one of these popular SUVs, from its various model years to common repairs and warranty provision.

Lexus RX SUV: An Overview

Lexus is a brand renowned for its focus on high performance, luxury interiors, and bold styling. The Lexus RX is no exception.

Pop the bonnet of a standard RX model and you’ll find a 3.5-liter V6 engine. Do the same on the hybrid variation (one of the few in the segment) and the V6 is joined by two electric motors.

They aren’t the fastest off the starting line, but they can pick up speed at a relatively impressive pace, and work in harmony with the rest of the build for a smooth, comfortable ride.

Current models feature some of the most advanced in-car tech available. Touchscreen controls, blind spot cameras, and a high-definition audio system combine with Apple CarPlay integration and Amazon Alexa compatibility for a truly connected experience.

Adding to your comfort is the acoustics, finely tuned for a next-to-silent journey.

Its aggressive exterior may be Lexus design through and through, but get behind the steering wheel, and hopes of unleashing your inner Vin Diesel will most likely evaporate. While the RX certainly looks like something from the set of a Fast and Furious movie, its character is better suited to cruising, and handling is more secure than sporty—even in the RX F Sport variation.

Why Is the Lexus RX SUV So Popular in the USA?

The popularity of midsize SUVs isn’t going anywhere, and the Lexus RX has been one of the category’s clear frontrunners since it first landed in 1998.

In fact, a 2019 report on the sales of midsize luxury SUVs shows that not only does the RX sell more than any other SUV, but its annual sales figures are also double those of the second most popular model: the BMW X5.

Given that both are high on every car buyer’s list, Lexus’s consistent focus on luxury and comfort has proved a winning formula. Ticking both of these important boxes while remaining at a reasonable price point is what makes the Lexus RX the go-to SUV for thousands of Americans every month.

What Is the Best Lexus RX SUV Year?

Buying used is often a savvy decision, but there are some years Lexus dropped the ball. According to Car Complaints, the worst years for Lexus RX 350s are 2007 y 2008. The 2007 model received the highest number of complaints overall, with all kinds of leaks leading to hefty repair bills.

The 2008 model experienced shift lagging, power-steering leaks, and dashboard cracking after a surprisingly poor fuel economy—again ending in unwanted repairs.

On the flip side, 2011, 2012, 2103, and 2014 models received the fewest complaints, so you can invest in these with confidence.

History of the Lexus RX SUV: A Timeline

The beginnings of the Lexus RX can be traced all the way back to 1993 when the idea of a vehicle that found the middle-ground between the luxury saloon and SUV was first raised by toyota execs. It’s come a long way since then, with four distinct generations leading to the models of today.

  • 1994-1998: Development of this exciting new crossover began in 1994, reaching prototype testing three years later. Soon after, the first model was released in Japan as the toyota Harrier, moving to international markets in March 1998 as the Lexus RX 300.
  • 1998-2003: Right off the bat, the Lexus RX 300 became the best-selling model in the Lexus line-up, accounting for half of all sales. Available variations included a 2.2-liter 140hp 4-cylinder for the domestic market and a 3.0-liter 220hp V6 in all other markets. A midlife refresh was applied in 2000, upgrading the original 4-cylinder powerplant to a 2.4-liter 160hp.
  • 2003-2005: By this point, a number of competitors had begun to try to take a piece of the RX’s pie, so a new model was developed. The intention was to be bigger and more powerful, while more efficient and less expensive. Sleeker in design than its predecessor, the engine was almost identical, except in the US, where it was swapped for a 3.3-liter 230hp version. Because of this, the version released here was dubbed the RX 330.
  • 2005-2006: For the first time, diesel power came to the RX in the form of a new hybrid model. The world’s first production premium hybrid vehicle, it marked the launch of the Lexus Hybrid Drive System.
  • 2006-2009: The second-generation RX was tweaked in January 2006, when the 3.0-liter engine was replaced with a larger, more efficient 3.5-liter engine with Dual VVT-i. With this, it became known as the RX 350.
  • 2009-2015: Production of the third generation began in January 2009. Designed to be larger and more accommodating, groundbreaking hybrid models saw huge popularity in Europe. A refresh in 2012 changed key design elements and specifications, leading to the launch of four new versions (including the F Sport).
  • 2015-2021: The current generation of the RX was first revealed at the New York International Auto Show in April 2015. The new model featured a completely redesigned interior, sharper body, and longer wheelbase.

Does Lexus Offer Free Maintenance?

Every new Lexus comes with first and second scheduled maintenance services free of charge. The first is carried out after 6 months/5,000 miles, and the second at 12 months/10,000 miles. Once you’ve redeemed your coupons, however, you’re out on your own.

If your warranty has expired, or you bought your Lexus used, EnduranceVentaja is the perfect solution. With extensive component protection and $3,500 of maintenance included, taking out coverage will keep your vehicle running stronger, for longer, and could save you thousands on auto repairs.

The True Cost to Own

The base Lexus RX comes in at $45,070 (over $5,000 less than the BMW X5). Obviously, add-ons like Bluetooth connection, will bump up pricing, but before that, there are some other things to consider:

Cost of car ownership =

(Cost of buying the car) + (Applicable state registration costs) +

(Cost of fuel) + (Cost of insurance) + (Cost of regular maintenance) + (Cost of repairs)

The elements of the formula that require the most attention are the more unpredictable ones, namely maintenance, and repairs. Both could set you back thousands of dollarsusually when you least expect it—which is where extended auto warranty coverage can save you time, stress, and money.

Repairs to Look Out For

Looking at our own internal data, we’ve compiled the most common repairs claimed for by Lexus RX SUV owners. Of course, you may encounter other bumps in the road, but these should give you a good guide:

Top Lexus RX Car Repairs*

  1. Alternator: $1,188
  2. Lifters: $3,853
  3. Transmission: $5,242
  4. Water Pump: $854
  5. Compressor: $1,139
  6. Primary Fuel Pump: $940
  7. Condenser: $1,725
  8. Engine Mount: $1,166
  9. Rocker Arms: $1,535
  10. Radiator: $1,088

These are only some of the breakdowns you can experience while owning a Lexus. This doesn’t include breakdowns that impact your all-wheel-drive (AWD), tren motriz components, or infotainment system. Don’t let unexpected repairs take you by surprise. A Lexus extended warranty will take care of them for you.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Lexus RX SUV

So, is a Lexus RX SUV a luxury crossover for you? Before you rush out to a dealership, take a look at this list and see how the RX compares to other models.

  • Average fuel consumption: The standard, non-hybrid model of the Lexus RX 350 offers a slightly low 20/27 (city/highway) mpg rating.
  •  Ideal for: Comfortable, luxurious, and rugged when it needs to be, the RX is suited to both city and country driving. Standard models are spacious enough for families, and the RXL variations include an extra seat for those who need it.
  • Extended warranty protection options: Service by Lexus is an extended warranty service offered for an additional fee. Coverage can range from long-term care to accessories, to total loss of your vehicle, but before you commit to a protection plan, do some research. Third-party coverage can often be of better value.
  • Best time to buy: As with all vehicles, you can snap up an older model for a reduced price when the new lines hit the showroom floor. Salespeople will be under pressure to get rid of these, so you should be able to talk them down to something that better suits your budget. If you’re opting for a used SUV, the year models we mentioned earlier will be worth hunting down.

Save Thousands on Costly Repairs with Endurance

The Lexus brand of sturdy dependability makes the RX SUV a solid choice for anyone in the market for a luxury crossover. But no car is perfect, nor do parts last forever.

Repairs and maintenance are an expensive business, and they can add thousands of dollars to the cost of car ownership. By opting for extended warranty coverage, you can drive with complete peace of mind, knowing your wallet is safe should the worst happen. As the most comprehensive package on the market, Endurance is your best possible option.

Not only does every Endurance plan include trip-interruption costs, 24/7 roadside assistance, and a substitute rental car, you also get a whole year of Endurance Elite membership for free, which opens up a host of amazing benefits. Find out more and get a free quote now.

*Claims paid as of 9/29/2020

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