Tuesday, September 21, 2010

2001 Lexus RX300 AWD

When we bought my Lexus RX300 (AWD) in 2000, I didn't think much about the longevity of the car since my entire being was focused on our newborn son. I was interested in how easily the car seat installed and that the second row slid back and forth so I could reach him from the front seat. Safety was a major factor, of course, but so was the nice space between the front seats for my purse.

In October 2000 I installed the car seat into my new RX300, filled the CD changer with baby & parent-friendly music and we hit the road. Some 90,000 miles later we've added a daughter and a new puppy to our family, and we've added Sirius radio, new tires, and a few new parts to the Lexus. I moved the second row back so the 10-year old has more leg room and so that the 6-year old can't use the driver seat for leg presses (although she tries her best). I don't plan on retiring my RX any time soon, and it certainly doesn't show all the adventures we've had together...
  • To & from several schools,
  • Strollers and luggage to & from SFO 50,000 times (or so it seems),
  • Numerous vet visits with 2 Golden Retrievers,
  • Taking those 2 Goldens to their very last appointments,
  • Tears & Tantrums, Naps & Sibling arguments,
  • Ski trips, Camping trips, and one Disneyland Road Trip,
  • Date Nights,
  • And the back & forth, up & down, and all around town trips we take every day.
The RX300 is a good car for a small family, and it fits me well (I'm 5'3" with heels). It drives like a nice car, not a truck, and responds well to corrections on dry and wet pavement.

  • Good driving position for shorter people
  • Good visibility
  • Quality interior materials that are holding up very well
  • Back seat slides forward & back
  • Locking seat belts in rear to securely install car seats
  • 60/40 split rear seat
  • Back row folds down easily and flat
  • Driver seat memory for 2 configurations
  • Roof racks make ski rack & topper installation easy
  • Runs well with regular fuel (87 or 89 Octane)
  • Smooth ride
  • Good noise insulation
  • Adequate cargo room
  • Two adults fit comfortably in back seat

  • Cup holders are too shallow
  • No 'Distance to Empty' calculation
  • Poor turning radius (too wide -- I'm now the Queen of 3-Point Turns)
  • No heated or cooled seats
  • No radio controls on steering wheel
  • Poor transfer of power to other wheels on snowy or icy roads (even when in Snow Mode)
  • Expensive parts & repairs
  • Max or two Car/Booster seats in back seat due to seat belt placement
  • One adult + two car/booster seats do not fit well in back seat
Most of the features I would like to see on this 2001 model are now available as standard on most 2009 & 2010 models. To make longer trips more palatable, we added Sirius Satellite Radio, a Garmin, and a rear seat DVD player to my RX.

Cargo Space
The cargo space is adequate for weekend trips when 2 kids are in the back seat, but a bit more cramped when you add a medium-sized dog. When going to the airport, we can fit 4 suitcases and a golf bag. Strollers that fold fit perfectly in the cargo area. My jogging stroller that did not totally collapse was too tall for the back of the RX.

As for reliability, I have little to complain about. In late 2009 the Check Engine light came on and after several trips to the mechanic he finally found a hole in the exhaust system. Some $800 later, I passed the smog test and it's been fine since. I do wish the MPG were higher (I average 16 MPG), but it fits with other 2001 small SUV.

Family Car
The 2001 Lexus RX300 AWD is a great family car for a smaller family. Based on my research, the RX series is an all around good family car for getting you and your kids comfortably from Point A to Point B with relatively few issues.

10/10 for first eight years
8/10 for last two years

Photos from www.edmunds.com

(c) Copyright 2010-2016. Erika JN Fish. Car Mama. All Rights Reserved.


  1. Hey!!!! Great post!!! Thinking of buying a used 2003 or 2004 (turning radius fixed in 2004 rx330 model!) but preggo w first & we have a Golden also!! Can my Britax B Ready stroller fit straight in or will it have to go sideways? Can the dog fit back there with the stroller? Are there enuf cup
    Holders fir the big kids? Thx soooo much in advance! Excuse my iPhone typos!! :-)

  2. Congratulations on baby! Thanks for the nice comment and the questions. I haven't seen that Britax stroller in action, but from what I see online it should fold & fit in the back of the RX330 no problem either flat or on it's side. With the dog, I would bungee cord it on it's side to give dog more room. And you can move the 2nd row forward for more room in the cargo area. Here's what I did with 2 Goldens & 1 baby: dogs in the way back, baby in 2nd row, & stroller folded in front passenger seat. With 1 dog I could fold 1/2 of the 2nd row & fit stroller, dog and baby in the back. Good luck! Lexus does make great vehicles with great customer service.

  3. Thank you soo much! You have been so helpful! I'll update you when we get our new car!!