2005 RX 330 New Car Test Drive
The Lexus RX 330 was redesigned and introduced as an all-new model for 2004. Sleeker, more stylish and more powerful than the best-selling model it replaced, the RX 330 glides into its second season with added luxury.
The Lexus RX set new standards for the modern luxury utility vehicle when it was introduced. The original RX 300 pioneered the crossover style of SUV based on a unibody car platform rather than a heavy-duty truck frame. Crossovers offer improved ride and handling. They offer more cargo room than a car. They also give the driver a better view over the traffic and a sense of security from an elevated driving position.
The original did all of those things, but this new, second-generation RX does them much better. Swift and silent, it rides more quietly than most cars, not to mention other SUVs. It glides over bumpy roads and its airy cabin is luxurious and inviting. While crossover vehicles offer neither the big towing capacity nor the off-road capability of a true truck, the RX 330 handles gravel roads just fine and can tow up to 3500 pounds with the optional trailer package.
The RX is very easy to drive with light steering and excellent brakes. It offers the latest in technology: headlamps that swivel to help the driver see around corners, a rear-mounted camera that displays more of what's behind the car on the dash, a voice-activated hands-free telephone system that wirelessly links to your Bluetooth compatible cell phone, a cruise control system that can adjust for certain changes in traffic, a giant sunroof. Even more important, it's equipped with advanced safety engineering, including seven airbags.
Lexus RX 330 is available with a choice of front-wheel drive ($35,775) or all-wheel drive ($37,175). It's powered by a sophisticated dual overhead-cam V6 with variable-valve timing, driving through a five-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission.
The list of standard luxuries is long, and includes automatic climate control, premium audio, cruise control, traction and stability control, privacy glass, automatic headlamps, fabric upholstery, and 17-inch aluminum wheels. The list has been lengthened for 2005 with eight-way power for the front passenger seat, ten-way power for the driverseat, wood and leather trim for the steering wheel and shift knob, AM/FM/CD stereo, and a power rear liftgate (previously optional) that's easier to use than before.
Standard safety equipment includes dual frontal airbags, front-seat side airbags, side-curtain airbags, plus driver's knee bag. The side-curtain airbags extend to help protect rear-seat passengers as well, and for 2005 there are roll-sensing curtain airbags in addition to the standard decelerometer. Lexus says it has upgraded materials in the 2005 RX 330 designed to improve side-impact protection.
There are no premium models or trim levels, but buyers can upgrade with free-standing options and option packages. The Premium Package ($2,145) includes leather upholstery, power tilt/telescope steering wheel, roof rack, and a one-touch moonroof. The Premium Plus Package ($2,960) adds high-intensity discharge headlamps with an adaptive front lighting system. The Performance Package includes all of the items in the Premium Package, plus 18-inch Graphite-colored aluminum alloy wheels with P235/55R18 tires, height-adjustable air suspension, sequential shifting transmission, rain-sensing wipers, and unique steering wheel and shift-knob treatment.
Open-sky enthusiasts who aren't content with the optional moonroof can opt for an even bigger multi-panel moonroof, which comes bundled with leather-trimmed upholstery and other features in a package ($3,740). The navigation system ($2,350) has been upgraded for 2005 with Bluetooth, voice activation, and improved graphics, and it comes with a rear-view camera that projects an image of much of what's behind whenever Reverse is selected. Dynamic cruise control ($600), a rear-seat entertainment system ($1,840), and an in-dash six-disc CD changer ($500) are also available.