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2016 Lexus NX vs. 2016 Lexus RX: What's the Difference?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro June 2016

If you're looking for a comfortable, high-tech luxury SUV, your shopping list probably includes the 2016 Lexus NX and the 2016 Lexus RX, both of which are capable, dependable and recently updated luxury crossovers. But what exactly separates the NX and the RX, aside from the fact that the RX is a little bigger? And more importantly, which one should you get? We've created a close comparison of the NX and the RX to help you answer exactly those questions.

2016 Lexus NX2016 Lexus RX

Exterior

On the outside, both the NX and the RX showcase Lexus' latest design philosophy, which looks a lot different from previous models you might be familiar with. But the RX takes things even further, with an even sportier look (especially in F SPORT models) and a unique black-painted D-pillar that gives the roof a floating style.

Of course, the RX is longer than the NX, too: The NX stands at about 182.3 inches in length, while the RX is 192.5 inches. Still, neither model touts 3-row seating, despite the fact that the RX's platform mate, the more traditionally styled Toyota Highlander, comes standard with a third row.

2016 Lexus NX2016 Lexus RX

Interior

Inside, the NX and RX share a general design and a lot of materials and switches. They also share Lexus' Remote Touch interface, which offers love-it-or-hate-it control over the brand's Enform infotainment system. But there are a few differences between the NX and the RX, including the fact that the RX offers a wider dashboard and center control stack, giving it more of a traditional luxury-car look.

Of course, this wider design is made possible by the fact that the RX simply offers more interior room, whether it's hip room for rear passengers or legroom in front. The RX also offers a little more cargo volume than the NX, touting 56.3 cu ft. with the rear seats folded compared to 53.7 cu ft. in the NX.

2016 Lexus NX2016 Lexus RX

Mechanicals

Both the NX and the RX offer two engines: one gasoline and one hybrid. The major difference is that the NX uses 4-cylinder engines, while the RX uses V6s.

The standard 4-cylinder in the NX 200t is a 235-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, which offers up to 22 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. Opt for the hybrid-powered NX 300h, and you'll get a 194-hp 2.5-liter hybrid 4-cylinder that boasts up to 35 mpg city/31 mpg hwy.

Meanwhile, the RX's standard engine is a 295-hp 3.5-liter V6 in the RX 350 mated to an 8-speed automatic to return up to 20 mpg city/28 mpg hwy. The hybrid-powered RX 450h uses a hybrid version of the same V6, which boasts 308 hp and up to 31 mpg city/30 mpg hwy.

In other words, the RX offers more power while the NX touts better fuel economy, but that's to be expected given the cars' difference in size.

2016 Lexus NX2016 Lexus RX

Features & Technology

When it comes to equipment, both models offer mostly the same features and options, including a wide array of high-end tech gadgets such as adaptive cruise control, wireless device charging, Siri Eyes Free phone connectivity, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and more.

With that said, the RX has a surprising number of advantages over its NX sibling that will entice shoppers interested in the latest gadgets and features. Specifically, the RX offers a rear-seat DVD player, a panoramic sunroof and heated rear seats, all of which the NX doesn't have. The RX also boasts more available stereo speakers and a larger center screen.

The result? While the NX likely offers everything you need, technophiles might want some of the available equipment unique to the larger RX.

2016 Lexus NX2016 Lexus RX

Driving Experience

On the road, the NX and RX offer surprisingly different driving feels. To us, the NX feels a little dull and numb, as its 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder is low on power, especially compared to rivals. Steering also isn't as sporty as it could be, especially given the NX's positioning as a versatile crossover for active shoppers interested in a spry luxury model.

The RX, on the other hand, touts surprisingly strong acceleration and even more impressive steering and handling, especially in the exciting F SPORT trim. The SUV's formerly numb steering is now fairly direct, and engine power has increased to the point that acceleration is comparable to some sporty rivals.

Of course, both models still offer Lexus' typical smoothness and welcome lack of road noise. Visibility is just fine in the NX, though it's predictably bad in the RX thanks to a low roofline and a steeply raked rear end.

2016 Lexus NX2016 Lexus RX

Safety

In government crash-testing carried out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the NX earned a perfect 5-star overall rating. Though the RX has not yet been tested, we suspect it'll fare well, as it earned a coveted Top Safety Pick+ designation from the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a rating it shares with the smaller NX.

As for safety features, the RX and NX come standard with everything you might expect, including a backup camera, side-curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes and traction control. Options in both models include forward-collision alert, automatic braking, a blind spot monitoring system and rear cross-traffic alert, though the RX takes things a little further by also offering lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist.

Conclusions

The 2016 Lexus RX and the 2016 Lexus NX are both competent, well-built luxury crossovers with a penchant for comfort over pizzazz. But to us, the RX is better, as it touts a more engaging driving experience, a larger interior with more cargo space, additional safety equipment and more gadgets.

We only recommend the NX over the RX if your budget simply doesn't allow you to move up in Lexus' lineup. Otherwise, we think the RX is a better choice for most shoppers.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 Lexus NX vs. 2016 Lexus RX: What's the Difference? - Autotrader