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2021 Lexus NX vs. 2021 Volvo XC40: Which Is Better?


The 2021 Lexus NX offers a mix of luxury and space aged looks while the 2021 Volvo XC40 is known for safety and Scandinavian styling.  Which is better?

Quick Facts

  • Lexus NX: Reliability meets high resale value in one space-aged looking package.
  • Volvo XC40: In addition to its gas-powered version, there’s a new EV model.

2021 Lexus NX

2021 Lexus NX2021 Lexus NX starting price: $39,560 / Read our 2021 Lexus NX Review

What we like: Luxury, safety and reliability in one good-looking package; excellent dealer experience; great resale value; NX 300 F-Sport and NX 300h hybrid also available; AWD is optional

What we would change: Improve driving experience to match European competitors; Boost tepid acceleration for each powertrain choice

Overview: Good-looking with a sense of purpose, the 2021 Lexus NX luxury compact crossover SUV features the latest design language from Toyota’s luxury division. The NX is delivered with a long list of standard features, competitive pricing and a well thought out interior. The brand’s impeccable reputation for strong sales and great reliability, make it easy to consider.

What’s new for 2021: Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert are now standard, along with power-folding side mirrors, and wipers that are newly redesigned. New Black Line Special Edition joins the family.

Features and technology: Following the brand’s cues for luxury and reliability, the Lexus NX includes plenty of technology and style to boot. Both NX and NX F-Sport are powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 producing 235 hp mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. NX 300h features a hybrid 2.5-liter inline-4 engine with electric motor-generator that combines to provide 194 net hp. Power delivery to the AWD system occurs with continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) with step-down mode.

Inside, build quality is flawless. Technology includes an 835-watt Mark Levinson audio system with 14 speakers and Harman/Kardon Clari-fi technology to restore audio quality from compressed digital music files.

What does the future hold: According to Japanese auto magazines, rumors suggest the 2022 model will be all-new with a choice of three powertrains. Find a 2021 Lexus NX for sale near you

2021 Volvo XC40

2021 Volvo XC402021 Volvo XC40 starting price: $34,695 / Read our 2021 Volvo XC40 Review

What we like:  Two gas-engine choices – new EV version makes three; stylish exterior; roomy interior; Volvo’s standard active-safety features

What we would change: Improve fuel-economy on base gas engine and range on EV version; less touchscreen, more physical control; redesign electronic gearshift

Overview: The family resemblance is apparent with the Volvo XC40. Small, but well thought out, it features the brand’s Scandinavian sensibilities for modern, thoughtful styling and space utilization. Two flavors of the 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 gasoline engines, depending on your drivetrain: T4 FWD gets a 184-hp version while the T5 AWD model includes 248 hp and tows up to 3,500 pounds. Both engines mate to an 8-speed automatic transmission.

The new-for-2021 battery-powered XC40 Recharge P8 AWD offers a 402 horsepower motor-generator, but merely so-so mileage range of 208 miles.

What’s new for 2021: The big news here is the XC40 Recharge P8 AWD electric model. Gas-powered Momentum model trim level adds blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, LED headlights with automatic high-beams and active curve illumination and other features. Additionally, all new Volvos can alert other new Volvos to slippery road conditions or vehicles with active hazard lights.

Features and technology: The XC40 T4 and T5 are offered in a choice of base Momentum, R Design, and Inscription trim levels. All models include a full slate of active-safety features. Momentum buyers will find leather, a power driver’s seat, a digital instrument cluster, and a 9-inch vertical touchscreen. The R Design steps it up a bit with a sport-tuned suspension, 19-inch wheels, Nappa leather/Nubuck upholstery, navigation, and more.

High-line Inscription model has standard suspension, wood trim, and a crystal shift knob. Available options include adaptive cruise with assisted steering, a 360-degree-view monitor, wireless charging, and self-parking. The Recharge P8 AWD comes in a single trim level. As in other Volvos, a vertical touchscreen is featured, but not so intuitive. More buttons and knobs would be welcome!

What the future holds: The addition of the Recharge P8 AWD rounds out the XC40 lineup. We expect it will receive only minor changes in the next few years. Find a 2021 Volvo XC40 for sale near you

NX vs XC40: Strengths comparison

Lexus NX benefits: The Lexus NX is not too big, or not too small; easy to live with, easy to park.

Volvo XC40 benefits: Luxury looks; two-but-soon three engine choices; up-to-date technology.

2021 Lexus NX vs. 2021 Volvo XC40: Which is better?

The Lexus NX is loaded with reliability and good resales but merely so-so acceleration. Still it is quite the looker. The Volvo XC40 offers more capability in a nearly like-size package. If your styling tastes skew more conservatively, we think you will like the XC40 better. Find a 2021 Lexus NX for sale or Find a 2021 Volvo XC40 for sale

2021 Lexus NX 2021 Volvo XC40
Popular Powertrains
Engine 2.0-liter turbo inline-4 2.0-liter turbo inline-4
Horsepower 235 hp @ 4,800 rpm 187 hp @ 4,700 rpm
Torque 258 lb-ft @ 1,650 rpm 221 lb-ft @ 1,400 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic 8-speed automatic
Fuel Economy 25 mpg (22 city/28 highway) 26 mpg (23 city/32 highway)
Also Available  AWD; hybrid model; luxury trim levels 2.0-liter with 248 HP, AWD, Recharge EV model
Specs
Warranty 4 years/50,000 miles 4 years/ 50,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty 6 years/70,000 miles 4 years/ 50,000 miles
NHTSA Safety Rating 5 star 5 star
Max Seating Capacity 5 5
Wheelbase 104.7 inches 106.4 inches
Overall Length 182.7 inches 174.2 inches
Width 73.6 inches 73.3 inches
Height 64.8 inches 65.3 inches
Turning Diameter 37.4 feet 37.4 feet
Headroom, Front 38.2 inches 39.0 inches
Headroom, Rear 38.1 inches 39.1 inches
Legroom, Front 42.8 inches 40.9 inches
Legroom, Rear 36.1 inches 36.1 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 57.3 inches 56.7 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 55.3 inches 56.3 inches
EPA Passenger Volume 71.6 cubic feet 98 cubic feet
Cargo Volume 17.7/54.6 cubic feet 20.7/47.2 cubic feet

Mark Elias
Mark Elias is a writer and photographer specializing in automotive topics ranging from new and used cars to classics and motorsports. His first car was a Matchbox Jaguar D-Type. From there, things have only become larger. During his professional career, he has been a staff photographer for the Associated Press, a contract photographer for Bloomberg News, and a contributor to automotive outlets... Read More about Mark Elias

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