Beaters are designed to do one thing, get you from one place to another without breaking down. They’re usually not pretty, but most beaters are just temporary cars that you drive until you can afford to buy something better. But who says they can’t be nice? So may we present the 1999 to 2003 Lexus RX300. A $5,000 beater than so nice… you might actually take care of it.
When the Lexus RX300 debuted in 1999, it took the world by storm. It looked like some sort of transporter from the year 2039, it was made by Toyota, and it was freakin’ nice. At the time, most luxury SUVs were truck-based, so they weren’t very good to drive. The Lexus RX, on the other hand, used a car-based front-wheel-drive platform, along with the brilliant 3-liter V6 from the Toyota Camry. This resulted in a luxury SUV that was smoother then Barry White sitting in a tub of heavy cream. Housewives from Palm Springs to Fort Lauderdale immediately informed their husbands that they were getting one. And that helped the $35,000 ($47,000 in today’s money) Lexus RX300 to become a bestseller in its first year on the market.
Besides the futuristic styling and luxury car driving dynamics, the Lexus RX 300 also had one of the best interiors in the business. The dashboard looked futuristic, the entire cabin was lined with real wood and premium leather. The seats were fantastically comfortable, and there was enough sound deadening to reduce the outside world to a collection of muted tones. The 1999 Lexus RX set the benchmark for the midsize luxury crossover segment, and it remains one of Lexus’ best selling models to this day.
The first-generation Lexus RX300 was made from 1999 to 2003, and you can find a nice example on the used market for $3,000–$7,000. They will last for 200,000 to 300,000 miles if you maintain them properly. But because it’s a Lexus, maintenance and repairs will be a little on the pricey side. For example, changing the spark plugs will run you around $400, because they have to remove part of the fuel injection system in order to reach the back three plugs. However, the upside is, these luxury Yoda’s rarely break, and they’ll return 19–20 mpg if you drive carefully.
So if you want a nice beater that you won’t hate driving, check out the 1999 to 2003 Lexus RX300. it will most likely have some miles on it but if you are lucky and find a gem that has been taken care of, they are great cars. But make sure that it comes with a complete service history.