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Coloring Outside the Lines: 2003 Crossover Buyer's Guide
by Steve Siler

Lexus RX300 - The One That Started It All
2003 Lexus RX300

Lexus made big news back in 1998 when it rolled out something that looked like an SUV but that was actually based on a car (the Toyota Camry). In the RX300's case, jacking up the ground clearance and adding big tires didn't hurt ride comfort one bit. In fact, many would say that the RX300 has one of the smoothest, most isolating ride qualities of any vehicle, car or truck. And there are a lot of people out there that like that, based on the incessant popularity of this $36K-$45K luxo-ute.

This being a Lexus, the RX300 is absolutely to-die-for comfortable. The materials simply reek of quality, with aromatic leather seats and rich-looking genuine wood trim. The funky dashboard looks more at home now than it did five years ago, and now it can be equipped with a stellar, easy-to-use DVD-based GPS navigation system. Space up front and in back is outstanding, as it is in the cargo bay as well.

Driving the RX300 is brilliant if you're not a performance-oriented driver. It has strong acceleration, thanks to its smooth 220-hp V-6, but don't expect a thrill ride when the road gets curvy. But it does have standard stability control, and in normal driving conditions, is quiet as a library.

Something to remember now is that by fall of this year, the RX300's replacement, the RX330, will be in showrooms, so Lexus may be making attractive deals on the RX300 through the summer and the rest of the year.