First Test: 2004 Lexus RX 330
The segment leader holds its ground
For Lexus, 2003 is the year of the SUV: the brand launched its 4Runner-based GX 470 (Motor Trend magazine January 2003), and behind it comes a revised RX, now called the RX 330. This brings Lexus' sport/utility total to three, including the also-revised-for-2003 LX 470. The RX 300 often has been Lexus' best seller since its intro in 1999.
Underhood is a new 3.3-liter V-6 that ups the RX's output from 220 to 230 horsepower. Torque increases by 20 to 245 lb-ft. Teamed with a new five-speed automatic, the RX does the 0-60 dash in 7.8 seconds, almost a second quicker than its predecessor. Despite the newfound power, fuel mileage has increased from the previous model; EPA ratings are up from 17/23 to 18/24. An optional air suspension provides automatic ride leveling; four selectable height settings allow the driver to tailor ground clearance and handling characteristics.
Redesigned engine mounts, new sound-absorption material, and slippery aerodynamics make this RX nearly as quiet on the road as its ES 300 sedan cousin.
For 2003, improved safety features include additional airbags and optional road-following adaptive headlights that pivot as the RX turns. Handling has improved, thanks to a stiffer chassis and standard 17-inch wheels (18-inchers are optional).
The new RX 330 will be the first Lexus built in North America (Canada), and we expect it to maintain a strong position in the mid-lux sport/utility segment.