lexus rx 350 years to avoid

Lexus RX 350 Years To Avoid: The Most Problematic Years

Lexus is a Japanese automaker known for making reliable vehicles. The RX 350 SUV is one of their most popular models, and it has been a best-seller since its introduction. However, some model years of this mid-size SUV are more problematic than others. So, what are the Lexus RX 350 years to avoid? If you want to know the answer to this question, you have come to the right place.

Typically when people buy a Lexus, they expect the vehicle to be reliable and long-lasting. However, if you accidentally buy a vehicle built in a model year that is known to be problematic, this expectation will be shattered. On the other hand, it will be a waste of both time and money.

Nonetheless, after you are done with this article, you will have a clear idea of what years to avoid at all costs. Well then, without further ado, let’s start our discussion. First, we will tell you about the history of this iconic Lexus model.

Lexus RX 350

The history of Lexus’s RX lineup can be traced back over two decades. It is regarded by many to be the model that introduced the concept of a luxury SUV to the world. To date, there have been 5 generations of this vehicle. Now, let’s have a brief look into each of these generations.

First Generation

Lexus launched the concept for the RX in 1997 at the Chicago auto show. At first, the RX was given the moniker of “Sport Luxury Vehicle”. The vehicle was first launched in Japan as the Toyota Harrier, before making its way to other regions as the Lexus RX 300 in early 1998.

The RX was an instant sales success for Lexus. It became the best seller in the lineup, and almost half of all Lexus’s sold during the period was an RX. The high ride height, stylish body, and spacious interior contributed to the popularity of this SUV.

A number of transversely mounted gasoline engines were on offer with the choice of either two-wheel or four-wheel drive. A four-speed automatic was the only transmission available with the first generation Lexus RX. Around 370,000 units of this revolutionary SUV were sold during its five-year production run.

Second Generation

The second generation of the Lexus RX was designed to be more efficient, spacious, powerful, and affordable than the model it replaced. Making its debut in early 2003, the second-gen RX had an even sleeker exterior, helping it to achieve a drag coefficient of just 0.35. This was an impressive figure for the time and helped the SUV be more fuel efficient than its competitors.

For the first time, an air suspension system was offered with this generation Lexus RX. But, this option was only available on vehicles with four-wheel drive. A special model called the RX 330 was released in North America. It had a larger 3.3-liter V6 engine that put out 230 horsepower and was a sales success.

2006 brought with it some minor changes to the Lexus RX. A 3.5-liter gasoline engine with Dual VVT-i replaced the old 3.0 liter. As a result, the model name was changed to the RX 350. The second generation of the Lexus RX also saw the introduction of a hybrid system, making it the world’s first premium hybrid SUV.

Third Generation

The third generation Lexus RX began rolling out of the production line at the start of 2009. A new hybrid model called the RX 450h made its debut during this generation. It came with the RX 350s’ V6 engine paired with two electric motors producing 68 and 167 horsepower each.

The RX received a facelift in 2012. This brought with it a new front grille designed with inspiration from the L-finesse design language Lexus was using at the time. A revision of the trim levels also followed. The RX 450h received an F Sport version, which was aimed at buyers looking for a sharper-looking SUV with improved performance.

Fourth Generation

Lexus picked the 2015 New York International Auto Show to show off the fourth-generation Lexus RX to the world. By this time, this luxury SUV had become the best-selling vehicle ever released by the Japanese brand. 2.2 million units were shipped since its debut in 1997, accounting for over 30% of Lexus’s ever sold.

A longer body and a refined interior were the main features that differentiated this generation of RX from the past. The new Lexus Safety System+ technology came as standard, with the hope of making traveling safer for passengers. As usual, a number of engine and transmission options were available, which included some hybrid powertrains as well.

Throughout its history, the Lexus RX had been a five-seat SUV. However, this changed in 2018 when a new seven-seater version entered the market. Lexus named it the RX 450L, and it was aimed at customers who wanted a larger interior without compromising in terms of technology, reliability, and style.

Fifth Generation

The newest generation of the Lexus RX looks to carry the brand toward an electrified future. The exterior is styled adhering to Lexus’s unique ‘spindle body’ design language, making it instantly recognizable. Moreover, the SUV is built on top of a new platform that ensures better handling and a lower center of gravity.

A 14-inch touchscreen lays prominently in the interior, giving it a modern feel. With this generation, Lexus has made some powertrain changes to improve efficiency. There are now three models with electric systems, as well as efficient gasoline and diesel engines too. On top of that, the all-new RX 500h is set to be the performance-oriented version of the fifth-gen Lexus RX. It is the first Lexus RX model to pair a hybrid system with a turbocharged engine.

If you are in the market for a luxurious mid-size SUV, the Lexus RX 350 will surely be a great option. As we have now discussed all generations of the RX 350, let’s now shift our attention towards reliability.

Lexus Reliability

In this discussion of Lexus RX 350 years to avoid, we think it is essential to look into the reliability of the brand as a whole. Apart from their sleek look, high build quality, and performance, reliability is what Lexus models are mostly known for.

As some of our readers may already know, Lexus is the luxury arm of Toyota. So, these vehicles come with the same promise of impeccable Japanese reliability.

lexus rx 350 years to avoid

But, as these are aimed at the higher end of the market, the maintenance cost is relatively high when compared to Toyotas.

Overall, Lexus vehicles are well built, and some have been driven over 1 million miles! There are several Lexus models which are more reliable than others. We will tell you about some of these models in the next section.

Most Reliable Lexus

In terms of reliability, several Lexus vehicles stand above the rest. These models are,

  • Lexus IS
  • Lexus GS
  • Lexus LS

Lexus IS

The IS is the Lexus model with the least number of recorded reliability issues, and as a result, deserves to be called one of the most reliable Lexus models ever. Apart from that, this sedan is affordable, powerful, and fuel-efficient as well.

Lexus GS

gs

Low maintenance cost and great performance are what sets this 4-door sedan apart from the rest of the Lexus lineup. It comes with a V6 engine, and with proper maintenance, it will serve you reliably for years to come.

Lexus LS

With a 3.5-liter V6 engine making 416 horsepower, the LS is one of the most powerful Lexus models currently on sale. Not only that, it is one of the most reliable too, earning it a place in this list of most reliable Lexus vehicles.

Lexus RX 350 Reliability

The RX 350 also ranks high on the reliability front. However, as with all luxury vehicles, it is not without its own set of issues. There are some years of this SUV that are particularly worse than the others. According to us, the Lexus RX 350 years to avoid are,

  • 2007
  • 2008
  • 2010
  • 2016
  • 2017

Now, let’s go through each year and see what makes them years you should avoid.

Lexus RX 350 Years To Avoid #1 – 2007

2007 is regarded by many owners to be one of the two worst years of the Lexus RX 350. This model year suffers from a slew of issues related to different systems.

One of the main issues that make 2007 one of the Lexus RX 350 years to avoid is the dashboard. You see, the dashboard is known to crack easily. Furthermore, these cracks sometimes spread throughout the dashboard. Sometimes they can obstruct the dials, making driving the vehicle difficult.  The only way to fix this issue in your RX 350 is by replacing the entire dashboard, which is both expensive and time-consuming.

Another common yet more significant issue of the 2007 Lexus RX 350 is oil leaks from the engine. Leaks of this nature can completely drain your engine oil in less than an hour. This means that an undiscovered oil leak can lead to catastrophic engine failure of your RX 350.

Leaks in the steering mechanism are also found in vehicles from this model year. These leaks can be hard to diagnose, and cost upwards of $1600 to fix properly.

After considering all these issues, it is safe to say that as a buyer, 2007 is one of the Lexus RX 350 years to avoid at all costs.

Lexus RX 350 Years To Avoid #2 – 2008

The reliability of the RX 350 in 2008 was not much better than in the preceding year. Although it was less common, the engine oil leaks remained. Not only that, the fuel efficiency and maintenance cost of the 2008 RX 350 were extremely high compared to other years.

transmission

A new set of issues also reared their ugly heads during the 2008 model year. The gear shifts of the automatic transmission were laggy, and the power steering rack was prone to leaking. Not only that, the cracking of the dashboards continued as well. If you were looking for a reliable luxury SUV, you might want to steer clear of this model year as well.

Lexus RX 350 Years To Avoid #3 – 2010

Engine failures were the most common reliability issue with the 2010 Lexus RX 350. Moreover, there oil leaks and issues with the cooling system were also frequent. The air conditioning system of the 2010 RX 350 had some problems as well. To fix this issue, the air conditioning and heating servo motor on the passenger side had to be replaced at the cost of $2000.

The 2010 Lexus RX 350 suffered from several build quality issues too. The exterior paint discolored easily, and some body panels were known to rattle while driving. This included the doors and the front hood. The rattling often happened when the temperature fell below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Lexus RX 350 Years To Avoid #4 – 2016

The 2016 Lexus RX 350 suffered from major transmission issues. Shift delays were the main indication of these problems. Ignoring these issues for too long worsened the fuel efficiency of the vehicle and sometimes made it undrivable.

There were some issues in the interior of this SUV as well. The Bluetooth connection was unreliable and incurred many connection issues. On top of that, the sunroof of some models exploded while driving, which is sure to have been a terrifying experience for the passengers.

At the end of the day, the harsh, inconsistent and unreliable transmission marks 2015 as another entry in our list of Lexus RX 350 years to avoid.

Lexus RX 350 Years To Avoid #5 – 2017

Low brake pressure was the main concern regarding the reliability of the 2017 RX 350. Accelerating from a standstill between second and fourth gears was troublesome for some owners as well. You see, when the SUV is between 1500 – 1800 RPM, it shudders and rattles excessively, making the driving experience unpleasant.

If you are on the hunt for a Lexus RX 350, we advise you to refrain from buying vehicles that were manufactured in any of these model years. Although you may find a good deal now, you will have to go through many reliability issues down the line. With that out of the way, let’s continue our conversation about the Lexus RX 350 years to avoid.

Lexus RX 350 Recall

Since its introduction in 1997, the Lexus RX has been recalled 113 times across all model years. 2019 is currently the year with the most recalls at 10. All Lexus RX recalls were done under the instruction of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration out of concern for passenger safety. Some examples of Lexus RX recalls are as follows.

  • Lexus RX models made between the years 2004 – 2007 were recalled to fix sticking gas pedals.
  •  2013 – 2019 models were recalled in order to fix an issue with the fuel system of the vehicle. This widespread problem affected nearly 1.8 million vehicles.
  • Some 2019 Lexus RX SUVs were recalled to remove the transport hook that was left on by mistake.

Lexus RX 350 Problems

The Lexus RX 350 suffers from a few well-known issues. Some of them are limited to a model year while some are more widespread. However, most of these problems have been fixed in more recent versions of the luxury SUV. You may be curious to know what these issues are. If that’s the case, you’re in luck!

1. Battery Issues

Battery issues are a common problem among Lexus RX 350 vehicles. However, fixing this is just a matter of replacing the battery with a new one. Although it is relatively cheap to fix, recurring battery issues may cause the maintenance cost to add up over time.

2. Cracking Dashboard

As we discussed earlier, issues with the dashboard first manifested in the 2007 model year. The plastic material used in the construction of the dashboard was responsible for causing the cracking.

Apart from looking horrible, a cracked dashboard can be a safety concern as well. Well, you see, the cracks can sometimes intervene with the function of the airbag system, which can cause them to not deploy during a crash. Luckily, the dashboard cracking issue has been resolved with newer model years of the Lexus RX 350.

3. Issues With Steering

The rack and pinion steering system of some Lexus RX 350 models were known to leak steering fluid. This issue was expensive to fix, and it was a safety concern as well. The only way to fix this problem properly is by replacing the entire steering assembly. Most owners reported steering-related issues when the vehicle has completed under 100,000 miles.

4. Oil Leaks

Oil leaks are another infamous issue related to the RX 350, especially in earlier model years. The 2007 RX 350 is the best example. The VVT-i oil line that came with this model had a tendency to leak out all the engine oil in an instant. This affected the engine, ground, and the undercarriage of the SUV too.

lexus rx 350 years to avoid

If your RX 350 is showing a low engine oil massage or the engine oil pressure indicator is low, there is a high possibility that this is the cause of the issue.

5. Engine Issues

Some RX 350 SUVs had severe engine issues. The 2010 model is the most affected by this problem. Apart from engine problems, it was affected by faults in the All-Wheel-Drive system as well.

However, the recent RX 350 models are free from these issues. But, if you are buying an older vehicle, we recommend you get it inspected by a mechanic before making a purchase decision.

Most Reliable RX 350 Year

There have been a number of great years for the RX 350, including 2011, 2015, 2018, 2019, and 2021. However, most people agree on the fact that 2018 was the most reliable year out of all.

The 2018 RX 350 bought a mix of reliability, safety, and power, all wrapped into a luxurious package. It had a four-star safety rating, and the number of customer complaints was lower compared to other years too.

With the introduction of the 2018 RX 350, the towing capacity was increased from 1500 lbs to 3500 lbs. This was great news for people who liked to tow things with their SUV. All in all, when it comes to reliable SUVs, the 2018 Lexus RX 350 is a fantastic choice.

Verdict

Among the sea of compact luxury SUVs, the Lexus RX 350 is one of the more special ones. It has a history that runs back to 1997 and has a great reliability record as well. The newer models are packed with technology, have striking looks, and are fuel efficient as well.

When it comes to reliability, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2016, and 2017 are the Lexus RX 350 years to avoid. Vehicles made during this period had many issues. Cracking dashboards, oil leaks, steering problems, and engine issues are the most common ones.

In contrast, the 2018 Lexus RX 350 is the best one you can get. This model is packed with great features while simultaneously offering good reliability. If you are on the lookout for your next family vehicle, be sure to take a look at the Lexus RX 350. You won’t be disappointed! However, make sure to avoid the worse years we have listed above.

FAQs On Lexus RX 350 Years To Avoid

Are Lexus Reliable

Lexus is one of the most reliable car brands in the world. It is the sister brand of Toyota, and as a result, offers the same durability associated with the legendary Japanese manufacturer.

How Long Do Lexus Last

The Lexus RX is expected to last around 250,000 – 300,000 miles. That equates to around 16 – 20 years. However, you can increase the longevity of the vehicle through proper maintenance.

How Much Is A Lexus RX 350

The Lexus RX 350 is one of the most affordable vehicles in its class. The two-row version starts a around $45,000, while the RX L with three rows of seating starts just above $48,000. The top-of-the-range RX F Sport can be yours for $48,800.

Where Are Lexus RX 350 Made

There are Lexus RX 350 plants located around the world. North American versions are made in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada. On the other hand, the Japanese Domestic Market RX models are made at the Toyota plant in Fukuoka, Kyushu, Japan. Vehicles made at this plant are exported around the world as well.

When Did Lexus Come Out

Lexus launched as the luxury arm of Toyota in the year 1989. At the start, the brand had only two vehicles. Moreover, these vehicles were exclusively sold in the United States. Since then, the brand has gone on to become one of the most recognizable automobile manufacturers in the world, and its vehicles are currently sold in over 90 countries. The RX luxury SUV is the best-selling Lexus ever, and it made its world debut in 1997.

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