Introduced for the 2015 model year, the Lexus NX slots between the midsize RX and subcompact UX crossovers in Lexus' lineup. The NX has an upscale interior, versatile capacity, and standard driver aids, all wrapped in Lexus' angular exterior design. A hybrid model and performance-inspired F Sport trim are available.
For 2019, Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa functionality are added as standard equipment.
Lexus succeeded in making the NX feel luxurious, but it could have done more to improve the compact crossover's ergonomics and driving dynamics.
From behind the wheel, the NX feels solid and smooth. It ascribes to a classic approach to luxury, insulating occupants from road imperfections and outside noise (the F Sport package stiffens its ride). Power delivery from the turbo-four is surprisingly linear and responsive. Most materials look and feel upscale.
The NX's hefty weight permeates its driving experience. It causes the NX to roll through corners and require unexpected brake pedal effort. It drives like it's always loaded with passengers and cargo, undoing sensations of sportiness.
Although the seats themselves are comfortable, both rows are positioned high up, presenting challenges for shorter and taller drivers. The center console is riddled with buttons, not aided by the infotainment system's confounding touchpad controller. Cargo capacity is inexplicably small considering the NX's size.
This Lexus's list of standard features and equipment makes it a strong value, aided by good fuel economy. A few foibles aside, the NX is a compelling compact luxury SUV—if you can accept its edgy styling.
The NX 300 is powered by a 2.0-liter turbo-four engine producing 235 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. It's connected to a six-speed automatic transmission, and FWD is standard, with AWD available. In MotorTrend testing, a FWD NX 300 accelerated from 0-60 mph in 6.9 seconds, and an AWD F Sport model did the same in 7.0 seconds. EPA-rated fuel economy is 22/28 mpg city/highway for FWD and AWD models, however F Sport-equipped models get 22/27 mpg.
The NX 300h features a hybrid drivetrain. It has a 2.5-liter I-4 engine and electric motors on each axle, providing AWD with a CVT automatic. Combined output measures 194 hp. MotorTrend recorded an 8.3-second 0-60 mph acceleration time from the NX 300h. EPA-rated fuel is 33/30 mpg.
The NX earns a IIHS 2019 Top Safety Pick + designation. The small luxury SUV got Good scores, the highest, in all crashworthiness evaluations. The standard LED projector headlights received a Good score as well. Its standard front crash prevention system got the highest Superior score, as it avoided collisions in both 12-mph and 25-mph tests. From the NHTSA, the NX earned a five-star (out of five) overall safety rating, which factored four-star frontal crash and rollover scores with a five-star side crash score.
All NX models are equipped with eight airbags. Standard driver-assist and active safety features include adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning with steering assist, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, and automatic high beams. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are available.
In the NX 300, cargo capacity behind the second row measures 17.7 cubic feet. However, in the NX 300h, hybrid batteries reduce that space slightly to 16.8 cubic feet. With the standard 60/40 split-folding second row lowered, maximum cargo capacity is 54.6 cubic feet in the NX 300 and 53.7 cubic feet in the NX 300h.
Front-row headroom measures 38.2 inches as standard or 37.4 inches in NX models with a sunroof. That compares to 41.1 inches in the 2019 BMW X3. Second-row headroom in the NX is 38.1 inches regardless of sunroof, one inch less than in the X3. The Lexus offers 42.8 inches of front-row legroom, more than the BMW's 40.3 inches. However, the NX's second-row legroom of 36.1 inches is a bit less than the X3's 36.4.
The standard infotainment display in the NX measures 8.0 inches and, new for 2019, includes Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa functionality as standard; Android Auto is not included. A larger 10.3-inch display is available, and it adds built-in navigation. Neither display is a touchscreen; both are controlled by a touchpad on the center console or by voice commands. All models have a 4.2-inch gauge cluster display, two front-row USB ports, Bluetooth connectivity, and Wi-Fi hotspot compatibility. An eight-speaker audio system is standard, and a 10-speaker premium setup is available. Semi-autonomous parking capability is optional.
Exterior: 17-inch alloy wheels, power-folding side mirrors, roof rails, LED headlights
Interior: Leatherette seating upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, 8.0-inch infotainment display
Convenience: Adaptive cruise control, two-zone automatic climate control, keyless entry with push-button start
Performance: NX 300h hybrid adds standard AWD
Exterior: 18-inch alloy wheels, sport-inspired styling, enhanced front LED running lights, black side mirror caps
Interior: Sport front seats, perforated leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, aluminum pedal caps, steering wheel paddle shifters
Performance: Sport-tuned suspension, performance driving modes