I have just recently purchased this limited edition RX330 after coming very close to purchasing an Infiniti FX35. The Thundercloud Edition is only cosmetic (and quite nice), so mechanically this Lexus is exactly the same as the regular models. My purpose here is to focus on the differences between these two competing models, given the frustration I and most likely others have had in trying to make their own decision.
I will begin by giving the FX35 its due in that it is quite powerful, it does perform well, and doesn't feel as big as it looks although it does have a large turning circle. It handles well, but doesn't feel particularly nimble. The fit and finish is well done, and there are some well thought out conveniences like the release levers in the cargo area that fold the rear seat backs forward (the rear seats also recline). Also, the gauge cluster moves with the steering wheel when making tilt adjustments. There are some things that I did not care for as well. The gas mileage is quite low and it also requires premium fuel. The front seat control location impinges on the width of the seat. Due to the size of the rear wheel wells, you are required to twist your body to get in and out of the rear seat. The rear seat feels cramped due to the sloped roof line. As this is a rear wheel drive vehicle, the center tunnel on the floor causes the rear middle passenger to straddle it, making for a very tight fit for three in the back. The ride itself is rough with the 18" wheels and the regular suspension with pronounced road noise, and positively rattling with the 20" wheels and the sport suspension. The rear cargo area is minimal.
The RX330 is different on a number of points. It has plenty of power and handles quite well with its front wheel drive set up, and the ride is smooth and quiet. The mileage is very good and it only requires regular fuel. The front seats are firm and supportive, and the rear seats are also very comfortable and adjust fore and aft in addition to reclining. The rear seat backs are split 40-20-40 instead of the usual 60-40 which allows two people to sit on the ends in case you have long cargo like skis that need to go up the middle. The center console between the front seats slides forward and back (opening a bit of floor space for storage in the front) and has simple push button releases to open and close the doors. Being front wheel drive, there is no center tunnel for a rear center passenger to straddle, and it is quite easy to enter the rear seat. The cargo area is generous with many hidden storage areas beneath the floor, including one for the cargo area cover. The rear lift gate is power operated which is helpful when your arms are loaded, and the cargo cover automatically retracts when the rear hatch is opened. The cross bars between the roof rails are adjusted by simply lifting a lever on one side and they easily slide to different positions. The headlights turn as you go around curves to help illuminate your way.
Amount Paid (US$):
2005Model and Options:
Thundercloud Edition /Premium Plus Package