Evolution of the Lexus RX Crossover: Which is the best?


Posted by: 234DRIVE x NAIJAUTO.COM

Share this post:

Latest news articles

The Lexus RX pioneered a new era of premium Japanese SUVs all around the world. How has this car evolved? See here to read the history of this car

Introduction : Meet the RX

The Lexus RX is the household name for comfort and reliability in an averagely priced SUV in Nigeria. Its size is just somewhere between the LX and the GX Lexus models. Are you surprised to know that the 'RX' stands for Radiant Crossover? Well, every car name has meaning. Today, I want to take you through the evolution of the Lexus RX, how it started off, and got to the point it is today in the automotive industry.

History of the RX

During the 1990s, most SUVs were based on a body-on-frame design that always had very bad handling and ride comfort. A lot of these Japenese SUVs like the Toyota Land Cruiser even had a warning message on the sun visor saying "high rollover risk". 

Lexus, a subsidiary of Toyota was just booming in luxury car production and sales around the world when it also got an interesting idea that would be one of the turning points in the history of Lexus and other Japanese automobiles. So, what did Lexus do?

Lexus built an SUV based on the Toyota Camry unibody design and it became the first mid-size luxury crossover SUV by Lexus. It was named the Lexus RX all over the world but called the Lexus Harrier in Japan. The first RX successfully merged the ability of an SUV, station wagon, and a luxury Sedan.


Looking into the 2005 Lexus RX330 from the side

Now, let's look at all the four generations of the RX with their various special features, and trust me, you would want one RX land vehicle at the end of this interesting read.

1. The first-generation RX (1998 - 2003)

The first-generation RX was badged the RX300 and used a 3.0-liter V6 engine paired to a 4-speed automatic transmission producing 220hp, as the widely available option. This SUV was very unique in Nigeria because of its two-tone paint job with the bumper and lower body-side that mostly carried a grey color. 


The first face of the RX, it's always two colors

You can get the RX300 either in a front-wheel drive or four-wheel drive package and these cars are very reliable. I am telling you this from a personal experience point of view. All my friends that drive the first-generation RX only call me for two reasons; either to ask for advice on how to repaint the car or complain about their car battery going dead due to aging.

Its interior leather seat and walnut wood trim bestow this car that luxury feel. Below the multimedia-screen is where you would find the gear shifter. This gear shifter placement gave the RX300 ample open space in front for additional cargo, and legroom for passengers.


Spacious RX300 interior plus luxury finishing

The RX300 has driver and passenger airbags, anti-lock brakes, daytime running lights, and five headrests all for maximum safety.

This car flooded Nigeria's foreign used a.k.a Tokunbo car market between 2009 and 2014 because Americans were selling off theirs to get the new generation in 2006. The parts are also very available in Nigeria, so trust me when I say the first-generation RX is a goal.

2. The second generation RX (2004 - 2008)

The second-generation RX was released in January 2003 and it is basically a cleaned up first-generation RX. This SUV shared many similar features with its friendly competitor, the 2004 Toyota Highlander. This SUV was initially badged the RX330 because of its 3.3-liter V6 engine then in 2007 it received an engine upgrade to a 3.5 liter V6 and it got rebadged as the RX350. The difference between the RX330 and the RX350 is not so much but very significant when you compare.


The face of the RX330: the birth of the hybrid era 

Lexus took the world by surprise in 2004 by launching the first premium hybrid vehicle with the Lexus RX400h. The RX400h uses a 3.3-liter V6 engine in addition to two electric motors paired to a CVT transmission. This RX400h with a different front grille and taillights paved the way for the other Lexus Hybrid cars we have today like the GS450h, LS600h, and HS 250h.


The fastest 2nd gen RX was this hybrid 

In 2007, the RX350 received a facelift of just a re-designed grille and chrome door handles., All year models of the second generation RX have this signature transparent taillight that makes it appear like clear glass. 


See the differences between the RX330 (left) and the RX400h (right)

The new features introduced on the 2005 Lexus RX330 were adaptive front-lighting system, height-adjustable suspension for the all-wheel drive trims, which is perfect for Nigerian roads, and rain-sensing wipers in addition to all the previous safety features in the previous generation.


The RX330 going off-road as it does in Nigeria 

The 2005 Lexus RX330 review and price in Nigeria makes a lot of women in Nigeria buy & drive the car. The car is not gender/age selective, it's just that go-to SUV for comfort and a premium ride.

3.The third-generation RX (2009 - 2015)

The third-generation RX is a complete body redesign from the previous generations that were released before 2008. Sharper angles make it look muscular in a way, and it still uses the same 3.5-liter V6 engine. This time, it's paired to a 6-speed automatic transmission.


This is the totally new look on the RX350 from 2009 

An Electric Power Steering (EPS) system replaced the previous belt-driven hydraulic pump. The suspension also got an upgrade that makes it show an improved handling and more cargo space.

For the interior, the standard features are keyless entry and start system, UV reducing exterior glass, sliding and reclining seats as well as power rear liftgate. 


The fresh luxury interior on the 2010 RX350

The optional features available were a premium sound system with 15 speakers, dual screens for the rear seats for entertainment, navigation, and heated/ventilated front seats. Surprisingly, it has a fun voice recognition system which was the first of its kind on a Japanese car commonly imported to Nigeria.

The hybrid Lexus RX for this generation is badged the RX450H which uses a 3.5-liter V6 engine in addition to its electric motors. From review videos I watched, the hybrid is faster than the gasoline powertrain RX. 

In 2011, the Lexus RX350 2010 received a facelift to the Lexus L-Finesse style and for the first time ever, a Lexus RX 350 F-Sport was introduced to the RX line-up for the 2013 model year. It featured an 8-speed automatic transmission and unique sporty interior and exterior features. There is a facelift kit for 2009, 2010 and 2011 Lexus RX350s to the L-finesse style at about ₦180,000.


From 2012, the RX started looking mean, haha!

To tell you how safety conscious this generation of the RX was, it received a top safety rating from the Insurance Institute for highway safety in the USA. Its major competitor in Nigeria is the Toyota Venza, the Highlander, and the Mazda CX-9. There are so many mind-blowing facts about the Lexus brand apart from the fact that Toyota surprisingly owns it. The company makes history all the time.

4. The fourth-generation RX ( 2015 - present)

The fourth-generation RX is undisputedly the most aggressively styled SUV in the history of Japanese SUVs, with it's carefully carved body lines. The first thing you would notice is the floating roof design carved out by the black pillar design and the bold spindle front grille. 


The aggressive RX350 front view

The interior of the 2015 Lexus RX350 has a new design with specially finished trims and styling. It features an 8.0 inches center console display screen with optional 12.3 inches displays in top trims which can be accessed with a trackpad at the center console. There is also an optional panoramic sunroof and heads-up-display for you. 


Soothing topnotch interior of the new Lexus RX

Safety is always a priority for Lexus. That's why the latest RX generation has the Lexus Safety System + that merges various safety technologies like the Pre-Collision System (PCS), Lane Departure Alert(PDA), Dynamic Radar Cruise control and other safety features.


Spot the floating roof design 

From 2019, the Lexus RX received an upgrade to the fourth generation with a much more aggressive front end and an upgraded Lexus multimedia system that makes the multimedia a touchscreen. The most amazing new ability of the RX SUV is the option of three-row seats in two trims. The 2019 RX 350 L and the 2019 RX 450h L (hybrid) are these models.


Wow! three-row seats on an RX is so cool

All the RX trims are powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine producing about 295 hp, with power coming from either all four wheels or the front-wheels. However, the hybrid is different as it has its own special power train.

The hybrid RX450h even has an F-Sport trim to make the hybrid car feel sportier than it normally is. The non-hybrid RX350 F-Sport uses an all-wheel-drive system and has a lot of performance components like performance brakes and vents. The RX350 F-Sport can sprint from rest to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds.

Which Lexus RX is the best?

Now, let's see which RX generation takes the crown based on different aspects of. 

Which Generation is the best Lexus RX
Category  Generation Remark  
Best-looking  4th gen AL20 (2015 - present) This car looks aggressively sporty because of the L-FINESSE front end. 

1st gen XU10  (1998 - 2003) 

This was an era when stronger materials were used to build car exterior body and the bumper even had offsets to prevent damage to the body. 
Fastest 4th gen AL20 (2015 - present) The 2019 Lexus RX350 F-Sport would do 0 to 60 in 6.5 seconds
Most reliable 2nd gen XU30 (2004 - 2008)
The 3.5 L 2GR-FE V6 engine of this Lexus generation is one of Toyota's best engine used on all Lexus cars
Interior quality 4th gen AL20 (2015 - present) The interior looks better on the latest RX and has better quality materials than previous models. The touchscreen infotainment is also very advanced with a high-quality display
Ride quality 4th gen AL20 (2015 - present) The present generation has a superb suspension/damping system
Ground clearance  1st gen XU10  (1998 - 2003)  Entering this car can be difficult sometimes because of its ground clearance to make sure it can go off-road conveniently

3rd gen AL10 (2008–2015)


This Camry uses 10.22 of litres of fuel for every 100km averagely which is the best gas mileage you can get from any Lexus except the Hybrid which is 7.8 litres per 100km.
Technology 4th gen AL20 (2015 - present) Android Auto and apple car play are standard on this RX and it has a lot of new technologies for both safety and entertainment. 

Check out the prices of Lexus RX350 models in Nigeria for brand new, locally used, and tokunbo.

Lexus RX prices in Nigeria

Here are prices for band new models for the 2019-2020 model years.

Prices of Brand New Lexus RX in Nigeria
Model year  Price in Naira
2020 Regular ₦18 million
2020  F-Sport

₦20 million 

2020 RX-L ₦18 million
2019 RX-L ₦18 million

Please note that the prices for the brand new Lexus are exclusive of the shipping and customs fee to bring it into Nigeria.

Here the prices for foreign used RX 300, RX330 and RX350 models in Nigeria:  

Prices of Foreign Used Lexus RX In Nigeria
Model year  Price in Naira
2000 - 2003 ₦1.5 million - ₦2.3 million
2004 - 2008

₦2.4 million - ₦3.5 million 

2009 - 2011 ₦4 million - ₦7 million
2012 - 2015 ₦5.5 million - ₦12 million
2016 - 2018 ₦11 million - ₦20 million

Look at what you can get Nigerian used models for:

Prices of Nigerian Used Lexus RX In Nigeria
Model year  Price in Naira
2000 - 2003 ₦800,000 - ₦1.5 million
2004 - 2008

₦1.5 million - ₦2.2 million 

2009 - 2011 ₦2.5 million - ₦5 million
2012 - 2015 ₦5 million - ₦9 million
2016 - 2018 ₦9 million - ₦15 million

Should I buy a used or new Lexus RX350?

The RX350 received a facelift in 2020 and also an interior upgrade that now has a touch screen and also Apple CarPlay /Android Auto. These updates are worth the extra millions of Naira you would need to add to the amount for purchasing a used one.

Be sure to check our Naijauto car review on these cars to help you make your buying decision.



The local prices for Lexus RX350 make this brand a great choice for lovers of comfort and luxury from an SUV. We are always here to provide you with developments in the auto industry. You can also get info like an updated car price list, and car tips and advice on Naijauto.com. 

Here is a video on why the Lexus RX is the top-selling luxury SUV brand all over the world :

Why the Lexus RX is the top-selling luxury SUV of 2020

>>> Get brand new, foreign used, and locally used cars on our car for sale section. Do check them out!

>>> Stay tuned to Naijauto.com for more interesting reviews and car price articles like this brought to you by our auto experts.





The number one social media platform for cars in Africa 234DRIVE is now on NAIJAUTO.COM

Crank - the head of content for 234DRIVE is a mechanic/car enthusiast/car vlogger that writes and creates relatable motoring experiences. Whenever he lays his hands on any car, he reviews them in depth. He calls himself the 'Educative Car Guy'.

See more