Car & Driver has republished its original review of the 1998 Lexus RX 300, and it’s a trip through time. This passage in particular was an interesting insight:
The RX300 is motivated by Lexus’s new aluminum 24-valve, 3.0-liter V-6. Variable intake-valve timing (or VVT-i in Lexus parlance) helps it crank out an invigorating 220 horsepower—five more than the ML320, with its 18-valve V-6. Working through a four-speed automatic of impeccable smoothness, it hauled our four-wheel-drive, 4020-pound RX300 to 60 mph in just 8.2 seconds. In the inevitable Rodeo Drive stoplight drag, the 4443-pound Mercedes, at 9.8 seconds to 60 mph, doesn’t stand a chance. On a roll, the Lexus outruns the Benz, too.
This engine is one of the best parts of the RX300. It revs eagerly, and with near sports-car-like smoothness. The result is a healthy dose of excitement in what is normally a blasé driving experience.