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A DESIGN FOR LIFE (some text hidden)
BY ANDY ENRIGHT
Introductionword count: 109
The Lexus RX300 is the sort of car that can divide opinion like no other. As a 4x4 that wouldn't be seen dead up to its axles in mud, it's the sort of vehicle that makes greens seethe. If you can live with a big 4x4 that'll likely never leave the blacktop except to negotiate the odd gravel path or grassy car park, the Lexus RX300 is one of the best available. Once one of the most expensive 4x4s around, the furious pace of development now means that it's at the affordable end of the luxury 4x4 sector. Used examples are, like most Lexus models, a dependably reliable proposition.
Modelsword count: 8
Models Covered: 3.0 6cy 4x4 [standard, SE, SE-L]
Historyword count: 164
It has to be said that Lexus dropped a rare clanger when they introduced the original MK1 RX300 back in October 2000. It arrived a month before BMW's X5 and was promptly rendered rather obsolete. Certainly, the fact that it had been on sale in Japan for three years must go down as an enormous opportunity wasted by the importers. Many still have an image of the Lexus RX300 being a little behind the curve, but the thoroughly revised model launched at the 2003 Detroit Motor Show rectified many of its predecessor's shortcomings. Better safety features, more space, a more powerful engine and far sleeker styling means that the RX300 is one of the strongest offerings at the sensible end of the luxury 4x4 market. Nevertheless, sales have been unspectacular, hindered by the lack of a diesel version. What did arrive in the middle of 2005 was the RX400h, a petrol/electric hybrid version of the RX300 with a V6 engine and twin electric motors.
What You Getword count: 332
The styling is a good deal sportier than before, Lexus perhaps figuring that if customers weren't overly concerned with off roading, then nor did they need the internal dimensions of a pantechnicon. That said, the shape cleverly disguises the fact that this model is bigger and roomier than most of its rivals. It's also a full 155mm longer than its predecessor and 25mm wider with a 100mm stretch in the wheelbase for additional passenger room. Three main trim levels are available, with the entry-level RX300 opening proceedings. The SE version adds 18-inch alloys, leather trim, heated front seats, an electrically adjustable steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers, a power operated tailgate and memory for the driver's seat and mirrors amongst other features. The flagship SE-L version includes the Lexus Navigator sat-nav system with colour imaging rear view camera, an 11-speaker Mark Levinson stereo, air suspension and Active Front-Lighting System (AFS). This swivels the headlights for better visibility when cornering, taking into account the car's speed and the steering angle, and is linked to an automatic levelling system for optimum results. Water repellent glass and rain sensing wipers help visibility still further and, if the worst should come to pass, the RX300 is seriously tooled up with airbags. As well as the usual set of twin front and side airbags, the RX300 adds curtain shield bags at the sides and, for the first time in this sector, knee airbags for the driver. This bag helps to reduce injury caused by contact with the unyielding steering column, but tests have shown an additional benefit. Knee bags also reduce head and chest injuries. How? In a usual front-end collision, the legs come into contact with the lower dashboard and steering column. Rarely contacting square on, this causes the pelvis to cant forward and begins a twist in the driver's body that can prevent the airbag in the steering wheel doing its job to optimum effect. Knee bags nip this in the bud, making for a safer car.
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Scoring (subset of scores)
Category: Crossover or SUV 4x4s
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