Used Vehicle Review: Lexus RX, 2010-2015

Vehicle Type

Crossover

History/Description

The Lexus RX lineup effectively helped kick off the luxury crossover SUV scene some generations ago, and 2010 saw the third generation model launch on Canadian shores with new power, styling and feature content that left the RX’s original blend of affordable luxury, quality, reliability and just-right sizing largely unchanged.

A sure bet in a luxury crossover, this one’s hard to beat.

Notably, the RX is the recipient of numerous awards for owner satisfaction, reliability, low maintenance costs, safety and more. As a sure bet in a luxury crossover, this one’s hard to beat. Newer used models may include portions of remaining warranty, roadside assistance and Lexus owner privileges, including concierge services and preferred pricing packages for various attractions, too.

Lexus’s Canadian-built luxury hauler offered up both gas-powered and hybrid variants to meet a wide range of needs. Feature content included a head-up display, climate controlled leather, high-resolution Optitron gauges, Bluetooth, navigation, wood trim, a sunroof, automatic climate control, automatic xenon lights, radar cruise control and more. Audiophiles are advised to seek out a model with the Mark Levinson stereo system, and numerous packages can be sought out to fine-tune a used RX to the shopper’s precise budget, needs and lifestyle.

Engines/Trim

Look for V6 power and All-Wheel Drive (AWD) on all models. Standard RX350 variants got a 3.5L V6 with 275 hp and an automatic transmission. Hybrid-powered variants were called RX450h, and packed a hybridized version of the 3.5L V6, running the  Atkinson cycle with a lower compression ratio, and adding an electric motor drive system, pushing power to 297 horses.

Notably, a Touring Package adds a voice-commanded navigation system, back-up camera, premium, climate-controlled seats and a self-dimming rearview mirror. The F-Sport model adds big wheels, sporty design touches and a sports-tuned suspension, and the Ultra Premium 2 Package goes top-dog, with all of the toys, including a rear seat DVD console, push-button start and heaps more.

What Owners Like

Overall, it’s a sense of practical luxury, well-appointed cabin, flexibility and overall comfort that get RX owners talking. A quiet ride is reported, along with great handling and traction in snowy weather. Styling and smoothness are also highly rated.

What Owners Dislike

Some owners wish for more at-hand storage, a more detailed and upscale cabin, a third row of seating, and a more modern and easy-to-use navigation system. Some drivers report a rough ride on some surfaces, more on models with bigger wheels. Some owners of the hybrid-powered version of the RX wish for less whining noises as the electric drive system works away beneath the vehicle in some situations.

Here’s a list of owner reviews.

Common Issues

Start with a walk-around of your potential used RX candidate, checking the condition of the wheels, checking that both xenon projector headlamps illuminate, and ensuring the front bumper is properly attached at the edges and lines up with the panels adjacent to it.

Double check for proper operation of the intelligent key system, all windows and the climate control system.

Ensure the central display system operates as expected, with no unwelcome blackouts, failure to switch between on-screen displays, or failure to display the back-up camera. Any issues with operation of the central system should be identified and remedied before purchase. Some owners have had issues with bad components and wiring, though in many cases, a firmware update, installed at the dealer, can fix issues with intermittent head-unit failure.

Ensure the RX you’re considering hasn’t been pre-warmed ahead of your test-drive. Insist on starting the engine cold and listening for any loud ticking or knocking sound as it idles after start up. Though inconclusive, some owners have reported this issue. Some owners say the sound comes from a new timing chain used on this engine family, which is inherently noisier than a timing belt. This, combined with lower-viscosity engine oil that provides less cushioning between internal engine parts, can contribute to questionable noises at idle. Still, here’s some further reading, and be sure to have any unwanted noises from under the hood checked out ahead of your purchase, to be absolutely safe.

Hesitation or hunting during gear shifting on the automatic transmission may be remedied by reprogramming the transmission’s computer brain. This problem is somewhat common on numerous Toyota and Lexus models with automatic transmissions in this generation, and is easy to spot and typically easily fixed with updated electronics. Thing is, transmission misbehavior can be the result of wonky programming, or a transmission that’s about to turn itself inside out to the tune of several thousand worth of repairs. Though the latter is unlikely, be sure to have a dealer mechanic take a look, and check transmission fluid levels, for peace of mind if you note any issues.

Other checks should include an in-the-air check of the used RX’s suspension system, with an eye for leaky shocks which will require replacement, as well as a check for proper performance of the air conditioner system. Any failure of the system to quickly deliver strong, cool air could be the result of a dirty or plugged condenser, or a refrigerant leak. Your local Lexus dealer can check into issues like these with ease.

Have the RX you’re considering inspected for standard signs of fluid leakage, rust, suspension wear, sporadic power delivery or warning lights as well. Lexus or not, the RX and RX hybrid are vehicles made of parts that will eventually wear down. Opting for a model with full service records and a clean bill of health from a Lexus mechanic is your easiest path to a confident purchase.

Reliability issues pertaining to the RX Hybrid are somewhat difficult to nail down online because of relatively low sales volumes. Shoppers set on a hybrid RX variant are advised against purchase without having all system components inspected and scanned electronically by a Lexus-certified mechanic. Have the vehicle’s conventional battery checked for condition, as some owners report issues related to battery levels, as the RX450h’s engine doesn’t run full time, which can prevent full conventional battery recharging as the battery ages. In turn, low battery voltage can cause sporadic problems with other vehicle systems.

Finally, note any hybrid-related warning lights or messages that may be present in the driver computer or instrument cluster.

The Verdict

Largely, it appears that the RX and RX Hybrid maintain Lexus’s reputation for reliability. A well-maintained, non-hybrid model will be the lowest-cost alternative for most shoppers, and added confidence can be had by purchasing a model from a Certified Pre-Owned program at a Lexus dealer. Common issues should be easily-spotted and easily fixed.

The Lexus RX lineup effectively helped kick off the luxury crossover SUV scene some generations ago, and 2010 saw the third generation... 6/25/2015 10:26:37 AM