In the year 2000, my mother traded in the family’s much-despised Audi A6 wagon (the thing was in the shop every month for some electrical gremlin or another) for a Lexus RX300. Ours was white, not champagne, and today I found myself thinking about where the hell they all went.
That RX300 was the first time I’d experienced an SUV or crossover. They weren’t hugely popular yet and I remember having misgivings about the thing’s heightened center of gravity. Wouldn’t it tip over more easily? I wondered, and was quickly reassured that it would not. It had big wing mirrors, something my mother remarked she liked.
And then, as though nearly overnight, we started seeing them everywhere. Everywhere! They were so common that my younger brother and I made a game of counting all the RX300s we saw while driving around in ours. My dad joined in on the game, too.
If someone happened to fall asleep while riding in the Lexus, they were woken up at the destination with the news, “We saw another four while you were out.”
I get why they were popular, too. I remember ours as being very comfortable, practical and it even had a feature I’ve seen on no modern car since, a cubby between the two front seats for a purse. The RX300 also had an extra window between its C- and D-pillars, another feature that was appreciated. I was far from being able to drive when we had ours, but I imagine it made over-the-shoulder glances more fruitful.
These days, I hardly see any RX300s on the roads. I see far more 2000 model-year Honda CR-Vs and Toyota RAV4s. What happened to all of the RX300s?
Perhaps everyone did what we eventually did to ours. We traded in the faithful 300 for the second-generation RX330. It was black and this was the car that was eventually handed down to me once I got my driver’s license. Still, I missed the purse cubby and the weird, little extra window. Was it worth the trade? I couldn’t say.
The second-gens are far more common, and because of that, I find myself yearning to see the humble first-gen. Maybe someone on a tropical island somewhere collected them all and uses them as beach cruisers. That’d be a fitting place for the cars to end up.