In an era where subcompact crossovers like the BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA dominate headlines, it is a bit odd that until now, Lexus' smallest crossover was the midsize RX. Fortunately, Lexus is broadening its lineup with a new small crossover entry in the form of the NX. From our tests, we discovered the NX isn't just a shrunken-down RX but feels like a wildly different model, for better or worse. Read on to learn what we thought of the 2015 Lexus NX.
What We DroveWe drove a pre-production version of the NX, but this model is pretty close to what consumers will actually be buying. You can get an NX for as little as $35,405, unless you opt for the variety of options like our model had. We opted for the F Sport model, which adds a sport tuned suspension, bolstered seats, aluminum pedals, gear shift differential, paddle shifters, and other cosmetic and performance upgrades. Also tacked on was an extra $1,400 for all-wheel drive.
Our NX came almost fully loaded in terms of optional equipment. A $2,140 navigation system requires opting for the extra $2,890 Premium Package, which brings a moonroof, 18-inch wheels and tires, and heated/ventilated seats. With everything accounted for, including a $925 destination fee, the total cost of our model came to $43,935.
The CommuteOne look at the SUV's aggressive grille up front and F Sport badge in back, and you're inclined to think of the model as a bona-fide sports car. Hopping behind the wheel for my first night in the NX, I discovered this wasn't completely true.
The first thing I noticed during my time on the highway is that the NX isn't as quiet as you'd expect from a Lexus. We welcomed the crisp growl of the engine, but the NX has a bit more bark than bite, as it feels particularly heavy starting up from a light. Overall, it is decently quick. According to Lexus, the F Sport model manages the 0-60 run in 7 seconds flat, but this is slower than the 6.5 seconds achieved by the comparable BMW X3 xDrive28i.
During your daily commute, though, you won't be thinking about numbers. Overall, the ride was comfortable for long drives, but many passengers think the F Sport seats are a bit too stiff to really sink into for extended periods of time. Operating the radio was easy thanks to Lexus' new remote touchpad system, but more on that later.
In terms of the ride experience, road and wind noise seeps into the cabin frequently when you're on the highway. Thanks to a sport-tuned suspension, the F Sport rides more firmly than you would expect in a typical luxury crossover. In our NX, the balance between the front and rear of the vehicle felt a bit off as the front tackled road imperfections quicker and easier than the rear of the vehicle, which took longer to recover when hitting a bump. This made for a bit of a floaty ride on those stretches of the 405 freeway that aren't as smooth as they should be.
The Grocery RunYou may think you'll be the envy of parents everywhere if you show up to the supermarket with an NX. But that feeling quickly fades as soon as you open the trunk. The NX has a paltry 17.7 cubic feet behind the rear seats, which isn't enough to fit groceries for the whole family. At best, I was able to fit not much more than two backpacks and a grocery bag in the trunk. If you need more room, we would definitely spend a little more for the RX, which features a cool 40 cubic feet of cargo room.
Luckily there is a solution if you just need a little bit more room than the NX affords. Drivers can access more space in the NX when utilizing 60/40 power-folding rear seats. Yes, power-folding/reclining rear seats, a feature that is first in its class. Seats can be lowered or raised individually by simply touching one of the switches in the backseat, cargo area, or on the instrument panel.
The Weekend FunPerhaps the thing we enjoyed most during our time with the NX was the technology. An all-new remote touchpad controls the infotainment screen on the dash, and it is leaps and bounds better than the computer-mouse Lexus currently uses on a number of models. By swiping our fingers across the touchpad, we were able to navigate functions just as naturally as we do on our smartphones. Speaking of smartphones, another cool feature is a wireless cellphone charger located inside the center console box.
Beyond the technology, the Lexus NX offers a suitable ride for weekend warriors, but only if you enjoy a firmer ride. We would recommend most consumers skip the F Sport upgrade for a gentler ride and lower price tag. This money can be better spent at the pump. During our week with the car, we averaged below the SUV's EPA rating of 22/27/24 mpg city/highway/combined.
SummaryWe think the best Lexus models are zippy, attractive, and superbly comfortable. However, we don't think the NX stands out in any of these areas. In a nutshell, we think there are plenty of sportier and more comfortable luxury crossovers on the market. But for all the technology and relatively low price point for all the features you get, the NX will attract a fair share of buyers, and rightfully so.
Spec BoxPrice-as-tested: $43,935
EPA City: 22
EPA Highway: 27
EPA Combined: 24
Cargo Space: 2 large backpacks and a grocery bag
Estimated Combined Range: 382 miles
Intellichoice Cost of Ownership: Not available