New Car Review
2017 Lexus NX: New Car Review
The 2017 Lexus NX has all that typical Lexus goodness packed into a premium compact crossover. Based on the Toyota RAV4, it brings modern styling, turbocharged or hybrid power, a high-end interior, plenty of modern features, a wide range of safety equipment and a cockpitlike driving position similar to that of a BMW.
This nod to Munich is not coincidental. Lexus would have us believe that the NX appeals to a younger, more active type of customer than the well-off soccer mom who wants the larger RX. Despite its sporty pitch, though, the NX doesn't feel especially muscular. And the substantial premium Lexus is charging for the NX 300h hybrid model is somewhat disappointing.
What's New for 2017?
A couple of different exterior paint choices, plus a new design of optional 18-inch alloy wheels. And a smartphone-based navigation app called Scout GPS Link is now standard.
What We Like
Excellent interior quality; roomy rear seat and cargo area; reasonable starting price; fantastic Lexus reputation for service and reliability
What We Don't
So-so powertrains; pricey hybrid variant; no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto
The NX 200t has a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine making 235 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. This is linked to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard; all-wheel drive is optional.
With front-wheel drive, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) puts fuel consumption for the NX 200t at 22 miles per gallon in the city, 28 mpg on the highway and 25 mpg in combined driving. All-wheel drive adjusts those figures slightly to 22 mpg city/28 mpg hwy/24 mpg combined. The all-wheel-drive F Sport version is rated at 22 mpg city/27 mpg hwy/24 mpg combined.
In the hybrid-powered NX 300h, a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine combines with electric motors for a total system output of 194 hp (Lexus/Toyota does not give combined torque figures for hybrid vehicles). It uses a continuously variable transmission (CVT) along with a part-time all-wheel-drive system (which engages the electric motor powering the rear wheels whenever it's needed). Fuel consumption is rated at 33 mpg city/30 mpg hwy/31 mpg combined.
Standard Features & Options
The 2017 Lexus NX comes in two versions differentiated by drivetrains: the turbocharged NX 200t and the hybrid NX 300h.
The NX 200t ($36,060) has 17-in alloy wheels, keyless entry/ignition, automatic LED headlights, LED brake/fog/running lights, dual-zone automatic climate control, synthetic leather upholstery, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated side mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat, an 8-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, a cargo cover, a rearview camera, a 4.2-in TFT driver display, Bluetooth, a 7-in central display screen, Siri-based voice controls for drivers with iPhones, an 8-speaker audio system, HD Radio, satellite radio, an auxiliary input and a USB/iPod interface.
The NX 200t F Sport ($38,160) brings 18-in alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, sport seats, paddle shifters, aluminum pedals, a black headliner and door mirrors, plus various other cosmetic additions.
All-wheel drive is an extra $1,400.
Aside from its hybrid drivetrain, the NX 300h ($40,695) offers the same equipment as the NX 200t, along with a power-adjustable steering wheel.
There's a wide array of options, ranging from 18-in alloy wheels and a power sunroof to heated/ventilated front seats, leather upholstery, automatic wipers, a power lift gate, power-folding rear seats, a heated steering wheel, navigation, wireless smartphone charging, parking sensors/assistance and adaptive cruise control.
There's no F Sport variant of the NX 300h.
Cargo space behind the NX 200t's rear seats is 17.7 cu ft., with 54.6 cu ft. when they're folded down. Naturally, the NX 300h has to accommodate some hybrid hardware, so it offers 16.8 and 53.7 cu ft., respectively. Neither model's space is that great, and the sloped roof compromises practicality a little further.
Standard safety features include a comprehensive array of airbags, traction/stability control and a rearview camera. Options range from adaptive cruise control to blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning and a frontal precollision warning system with automatic braking.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has awarded the NX an overall score of the maximum five stars, along with four stars for front impacts and five for side impacts. And the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) named the NX a "Top Safety Pick+" after it aced every category.
Behind the Wheel
Although Lexus is pitching the NX as a sporty alternative to its other luxury crossovers, it doesn't quite convince. The basic 4-cylinder offers tepid acceleration (standstill to 60 mph in 7.0 seconds), and there's no option for a more muscular engine. The hybrid is even slower (standstill to 60 mph in 9.1 seconds). Handling is taut and together, but it's hardly in the realm of sporty crossovers like the Audi SQ5, Porsche Macan or BMW X3.
However, the NX should be praised for its interior comfort, both in the front and back. Strip away the sporty branding and this is yet another luxurious, comfortable Lexus SUV. Rear passengers come in for special treatment, as Lexus has managed to incorporate more rear legroom than most rivals.
Other Cars to Consider
2017 Acura RDX -- A popular rival with excellent technology and strong V6 power.
2017 BMW X3 -- Accomplished and desirable. A pleasure to drive and use.
2017 Lincoln MKC -- Combines excellent technology with a smooth, comfortable ride.
2017 Jaguar F-PACE -- New, elegant, talented, roomy and well-equipped.
2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC -- Based on the C-Class and an extremely well-executed package.
Used Lexus RX -- Those who need a little more space than the NX offers should look at a used RX, which offers plenty of amenities, including an optional hybrid powertrain.
If it has to be a hybrid, we won't deter you. But before pulling the trigger, consider the other possibility of going for the NX 200t and then adding a few options like a power tailgate and blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.