Last post on Oct 16, 2013 at 10:49 PM
You are in the Lexus RX 300/330/350
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Lexus RX 330, SUV
#3463 of 3942 Ownership Experience of the 2005 RX330
May 22, 2005 (11:12 pm)
These are my experiences, observations, and opinions about my new, 2005 AWD RX330
with the Mark Levinson/Navigation Package. I have owned the car for about 5 weeks now.
I share these in the hope that other prospective owners be forewarned. Obviously there
will be people who love their cars unconditionally, but regretably, I am not one of them.
Pros: Comfortable Seats, Logical Heat/AC & Radio Controls, Power Tailgate
Cons: Unrelenting Noise, Transmission Hesitation Dangers, Poor Gas Mileage
This SUV is very noisy inside. Indeed, it is not quiet at all, unless you are at
a dead stop. At speeds 35 mph and over there is excessive wind/road noise that
intrudes inside the cabin. The Goodyear tires are very noisy (Michelins are less
so). The engine is very loud and truck like, due in part to a change in the materials
used for the intake manifold -- from aluminum to less expensive -- and louder --
plastic. The 5 speed electronically controlled transmission is buggy and often hesitates
when driving at low speeds, typically around 25 mph. As this hesitation occurs there
is very little power going to the power train, and then suddenly the car slams into
gear at about 5000 rpm! This is a problem well known to Lexus RX330 owners, as
well as LS 330 owners. There has been no fix, and it appears doubtful there will
be one. In this owners opinion, it is a defect that could get you in a very bad,
and even fatal accident. The gas mileage is terrible. I am getting 9 -11 mpg in
town. AWD model exhibits greater road grip and better handling characteristics than
the 2WD model. The new engine provides ample power.The ride is comfortable except when
you hit a bump in the road you are jarred and punished in the cabin. Best to avoid
sudden maneuvers, especially at highway speeds. Braking power is excellent.
Comfort & convenience
The seats are wide, supportive and very comfortable. Among the best available. The
console is well layed out, convenient, and ample. The rear back-up camera is a good
idea on paper, but in reality it is of little utility. The quality of the lens
is such that at night, much of the vision field is washed out by even minimal light,
and due to the fish eye lens, and a lack of a depth gauge, one cannot tell how close
they are to another object with any certainty. It will help you see if little Johhny
left his bike in the driveway, and that's about it. The Navigation system, while
better than anything German cars have to offer, is just OK. Acura and Infiniti offer
better, easier, and more intuitive systems.
This SUV is a tremendous disappointment, as has been Lexus' attitude toward addressing
the serious shortcomings of this vehicle. Even though thousands worldwide have
complained about the transmission hesitation and the noise problems, Lexus appears
to be doing next to nothing to address these concerns. They use carefully written,
'legalese' to reply to customer complaints at the dealership, such as the vehicle
is displaying "normal operating characteristics". Well, the Pinto Wagon (exploding
gas tanks) and the Ford Explorers (rollovers) were all operating normally right
before they blew up or rolled over and passengers were injured or killed. I don't
plan to be one of them. I will likely sell the car. Anyone considering this car
would do well to test drive it carefully, radio off, and salesman keeping his/her
mouth shut so you can listen to this car, and look for the transmission slipping
and hesitating. This SUV is manufactured in Canada and in Japan. Some of those made
in Canada had brake booster failure problems. Former RX300 owners must know that
this is truly a completely different car -- excuse me -- SUV. The quiet and refined
ride you experienced will not be present in this new, so-called improved version.
Know too that this new RX uses "drive by wire" technology, meaning that a computer
sensor is interpreting your gas pedal movement. The pedal is no longer connected
via cable throttle linkage to the fuel injection system. That means that your commands
to the engine via the pedal must first be interpreted then communicated to the engine
electronically. Maybe that works well in the latest military jet fighter and commercial
jets, but it seems to me and to many, that there are still a lot of bugs in this
concept as it relates to automobiles. It is apparent to this owner that Lexus has
gone about seeking ways to pull costs and save money on this car. Using one hood
shock support instead of two, using cheap plastic for an engine manifold instead
of metal, and what appears to be less sound deadening materials. They have also
shortened the width of the brake pedal -- what was once a pedal that allowed two
feet/and or a bigger 'target' in an emergency stop, is now a very small pedal. This
all adds up to to a lot of sizzle and very little steak; steak that you are paying
big bucks for. The 18" tires will cost nearly $1,000 when it's time to replace them.
Even with a bigger engine and a better turning radius, in my opinion, the former RX300
remains a vastly superior vehicle. It was far more car like than the RX330. Consumer
Reports (CR) needs to investigate the transmission hesitation, brake booster failures,
and noise problem and address these concerns in future reviews.Their glowing
review of this car strongly influenced my buying decision, and while I continue
to support CR's good work in general, in my opinion, they badly dropped the ball
as regards this current model.
#3464 of 3942 towing a boat with an RX330?
May 23, 2005 (8:48 am)
Has anyone added a towing hitch to their SUV and attempted towing? Less than a year after purchasing the car I'm starting to think it's too small for my family (only 3 of us). Now we want a ski boat - under 3k lbs but the users manual really doesn't recommend towing... Let me know if and what you've heard about the towing capacity of the RX330.
#3466 of 3942 Towing....
May 23, 2005 (9:58 am)
Normally I would say that if towing doesn't involve long climbs or long distances and remains within the designated weight limits the RX would be okay.
But my 2001 AWD RX300 has the towing package, including the extra ATF cooling heat exchanger, and the hitch was removed the week I bought the vehicle, brand new. Yet something within the transaxle is wearing so rapidly that the ATF was highly contaminated and burned at only 38k miles. This for a transaxle that has NO recommended fluid flush and drain for the life of the vehicle.
And I seem to be seeing an inordinate number of posts about premature failures of this transaxle in the 60 to 70k miles range.
And now it's becoming pretty clear that the newer models, the RX330, have this hesitation problem.
So no, I wouldn't plan to tow anything with an RX300 nor an RX330, nor would I buy one, until some definitive answer to these problems is brought forth.
#3467 of 3942 Re: towing a boat with an RX330? [carqueen]
May 24, 2005 (9:08 am)
I have a 17 foot aluminum boat with a 120 hp outboard that I pulled with my 1999 RX 300. It came with a trailer hitch and a towing package. I had over 150,000 miles on the RX 300 with no problems what so ever. I recently traded it in on a 2005 RX 300 that had a towing package but no hitch. I installed an after market hitch, which because of the location of the spare tire, extends slight past the rear bumper. I am not to happy about that as it defeats the purpose of an energy absorbing bumper. I have only pulled the boat a few times and for only a short distance with the new RX 330, but have had no problems.
#3468 of 3942 Re: Antenna [tidester]
May 26, 2005 (8:00 am)
Interesting that the roof antenna is auxiliary for marginal areas. I live about 30 miles outside the city - and radio reception in the RX330 is not good. (All my other cars both current and past are noticably better). I wonder if there is a problem with the connection to this antenna which is my problem. Does anyone else think the reception in the RX330 is not as good as in other cars they own?
#3469 of 3942 Antenna
May 26, 2005 (9:21 am)
Tidester--Thanks for antenna info.
I have always found that an external antenna (retractable type) gives you better radio reception than the embedded antenna. Neither wife's LS 430 nor my RS 330 gets as good reception as I got in my RX 300 with the retractable antenna. Have noticed this in other cars also. That little folding antenna on the RX 330 just doesn't seem to do the job with weaker signals. Wish they had kept the same antenna that was on the RX 300.
#3470 of 3942 First Time Driving New RX330
May 26, 2005 (8:32 pm)
Finally! Got behind the wheel of the new RX330, AWD, TC Ed. I bought from So. Cal. 4/16/05.
Took it for a short spin locally. Noticed the ride appeared very comfortable, the ML audio with CD playing classical music middle of the night sounded better than when I first tested the sound while SUV was parked in my driveway. Handling was good, though I had to get used to the bigger support columns on both sides of the windshield; they appeared to block the side vision somewhat. I was amazed at the big size of the side mirrors (hope they add to safety of driving this car). Worse disappointment so far - As noted previously in other posts, the armrests of the driver and passenger seats in the front are pathetic, for any car, let alone a luxury car. I have relatively thin arms and the inside arm rest (towards the middle of the car) felt like it barely contained the width of my arm. I am not sure what it will be like for my husband once he starts driving the car. I did not notice this when I was looking over the car at the dealership.
No transmission hesitation noticed yet at 20 miles (I believe this problem can occur after more miles have been put into the SUV). I tried to stop the car suddenly, then accelerate to make a left turn to test for hesitation problems; so far, none was apparent. However, I must point out I did not gun the car to pick up speed fast. So I have to see what happens when I have to slow down and then merge quickly into fast-moving traffic, as in a highway.
There was slight rain outside and occasional big gusts of wind while I was driving. It appears the noise from outside are penetrating into the cabin despite having all windows closed and driving at 35-40 miles/ hr locally. It may be my RX has one of two major problems reported by owners. I will check out the noise level in the cabin coming from the outside when I can drive it in the highway at higher speeds. I hope this will not be a big factor and will not have to result in taking out the crossbars on the roof of the car.
Overall, the car appears to be very nice after a short initial ride. Will see if the driving experience changes over time.
Jun 01, 2005 (3:26 pm)
I don't find the RX330 radio very good. My 2001 RX300 was better. I have a small Ford Focus which has better reception, even though I managed to break off the antenna.
I think car manufacturers have given up on building in radio reception because we have CD players.
Perhaps XM or Sirius would improve things.
#3472 of 3942 Re: Antenna [kenlex41]
Jun 04, 2005 (5:25 pm)
I don't have Nav in my 330 and I have the outside. I haven't had any reception problems with my radio. antenna?