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Lexus RX: Yearly Changes

If you’re thinking about buying a used Lexus RX, you might be wondering which year it gained a certain feature, added a certain engine or changed designs to a particular look. To help you out, we’ve rounded up all the key RX revisions, updates and changes since the upscale SUV first went on sale for the 1999 model year. That way, you can figure out which model years to focus on if you’re looking for a used RX.


The RX 300 made its original debut for this model year. Based on the Toyota Camry sedan, the RX used a 3.0-liter V6 engine that offered 220 horsepower and 222 lb-ft of torque, along with a standard 4-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive was standard, though all-wheel drive was an option. Other standard features included front-side airbags and anti-lock brakes, while options included a Nakamichi premium sound system and an in-dash 6-disc CD changer. Although the RX wasn’t Lexus’ first SUV (an honor that goes to the brand’s LX 450 in 1996), it quickly became the upscale automaker’s most popular vehicle.


The RX 300 gained a standard tow hitch for the 2000 model year, along with an optional navigation system.


The RX 300 received minor changes for this model year, the largest of which was the addition of a newly standard Vehicle Skid Control system (denoted by a VSC badge on the doors). The SUV also featured revised front and rear lights, along with an updated front grille. Other changes included a larger fuel tank (now 19.8 gallons), improved interior trim and an extra cupholder in back.


The RX 300 received only two changes for 2002 — the Nakamichi sound system was no longer offered, and the navigation system was tweaked for slightly easier use.


With an all-new model on the way for 2004, the RX was unchanged for the 2003 model year.


The RX was completely redesigned for 2004. In addition to a totally new look inside and out, the RX added a larger engine — a 230-hp 3.3-liter V6 — which also earned the SUV a name change to RX 330. Other new features included a larger overall body (and thus a roomier interior), as well as a long list of new features including side-curtain airbags, a driver’s-knee airbag and larger wheels. Options included a backup camera, a power lift gate, leather upholstery, a panoramic sunroof and more.


The formerly optional power lift gate became standard for 2005, while the navigation system added Bluetooth connectivity. Additionally, the previously standard 6-disc CD changer now became optional.


Although the RX 330 was unchanged for 2006, the big news this year was the addition of the hybrid-powered RX 400h, a model that remains a mainstay in the RX lineup to this day. In addition to offering higher pricing than the RX 330 (and some new styling cues), the RX 400h added a 270-hp hybrid version of the RX 330’s V6 that was good for an impressive 30 miles per gallon in the city and 26 mpg on the highway — a big improvement over the RX 330’s 18 mpg city/24 mpg hwy.


After the hybrid-powered RX 400h earned the spotlight in the previous model year, it was the gas-powered model that received a big change for 2007 — a new 3.5-liter V6 that replaced the outgoing 3.3-liter engine. The new powerplant came with a big power jump to 270 hp, though it retained the RX 330’s 5-speed automatic transmission.


Changes for 2008 were cosmetic, limited to a new wheel design and a new interior trim on models with a gray interior.


The sole change for 2009 was the addition of a special Pebble Beach Edition model, which was produced in a limited run of 6,000. Otherwise, the RX remained unchanged pending a redesign for 2010.


For 2010, the RX was once again fully redesigned. Base-level RX 350 models earned more muscle (now 275 hp) and a 6-speed automatic transmission, while the hybrid version saw a new 295-hp 3.5-liter hybrid V6, along with a name change to RX 450h. The RX also added some newly available equipment, including a heads-up display, LED headlights, adaptive cruise control, a sport suspension and a newly optional pre-collision system designed to prime the brakes and tighten the seat belts in the event of a potential crash. The RX also gained Lexus’ Remote Touch feature for 2010, giving drivers a new way to control the infotainment system.


Following a comprehensive redesign the previous year, the RX was unchanged for 2011.


The RX’s sole change for 2012 was Lexus’ recommendation that the gas-powered engine now run on regular gasoline instead of premium. The premium requirement remained in place for the RX 450h.


The RX earned a facelift for 2013 with the addition of Lexus’ new corporate grille, giving the SUV a bolder, more aggressive front-end look. The RX also added a newly standard iPod/USB interface, along with a newly optional F SPORT package that included sporty styling cues, an 8-speed automatic transmission and a sport suspension.


The RX saw three changes for 2014 — the addition of Siri Eyes Free technology for iPhone users, an available blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert and a new 115-volt power outlet for back-seat passengers.


In spite of an upcoming redesign for 2016, the RX earned some major changes for 2015. Chief among them was a newly standard 7-inch center screen, which was previously optional. The RX also gained a standard backup camera, along with newly optional LED fog lights, a newly available Crafted Line high-end trim level and an updated Remote Touch controller for improved infotainment control.


The RX received a major redesign for 2016. The base-level RX 350 now includes a 295-hp 3.5-liter V6 along with a standard 8-speed automatic transmission, while the hybrid-powered RX 450h offers a 308-hp 3.5-liter hybrid V6. Styling is drastically different, meant to give the SUV a bolder, more aggressive look, while performance is improved with sportier handling, better acceleration and wider availability of the F SPORT model. The RX also adds a long list of new safety features, including forward-collision warning with automatic braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist and more.

Keep this overview handy, and you should have no trouble knowing what to expect from a used Lexus RX in any recent model year.

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Doug Demuro
Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

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