LEXUS DRIVES INTO COMPACT LUXERY MARKET WITH NEW NX
By Tom Crosby
The compact luxury crossover market has become one of the hottest in the automotive industry, fueled by a good economy with cheap gas and a desire for performance with style by those who can afford it.
Lexus took notice and created two all-new 2015 NX crossovers (or small SUV’s) to squeeze into the niche. One is the NX 200t turbo, the first turbo ever used by Lexus, and the other is the NX 300h hybrid. Both are luxuriously outfitted inside with white contrast stitching highlighting soft leather on seats, doors, dashboard, steering wheel and a center console with silver-colored accents.
Jutting cantilevered controls with analog clock sit beneath the dashboard’s elevated multi-media Technicolor nine-inch screen manipulated by a center console knob. It all creates an elegant cockpit ambiance that is typical of Lexus and matched the smooth performance of our test-drive 200t F-Sport.
The all-new sequential six-speed automatic transmission never missed a beat when shifting, whether in Normal, ECO (to preserve fuel) or Sport driving mode for a more powerful reaction with a G-force monitor meter and controllable engine growl to fill a normally quiet cabin. A MacPherson strut front suspension and trailing arm double wishbone rear suspension in our all-wheel-drive version provided a firm but cushioned ride sitting in comfortable quilted seats with ample room.
Handling befitted the Sport version, with composed reaction in turns. (The trademark F on Lexus vehicles denotes a high-performance vehicle tested on Fuji Speedway in Japan.)
Missing in our test drive were the navigation and adaptive cruise control options needed to complement the name cachet of a Lexus. They would boost the price roughly $2,775 and several available technology packages can upgrade the NX’s average base offerings.
Our key options were the F Sport package ($2,045), $660 that included blind spot monitoring and rear camera cross traffic alert and a $220 for wireless charging tray.
The outside look is sporty but not unique. It resembles its smaller automotive cousin, the Toyota RAV4. The NX profile includes the iconic huge spindle honeycomb chrome grill, LED headlights and lightning bolt shaped fog lights above a low front bumper, sport-like sloped hood and raked windshield with a rising beltline. Nice touches include a spare tire beneath a hidden trunk tray, a first aid kit, and at night car handles and puddle lights illuminate. The NX received top safety crash ratings.
LIKES: Interior plushness, handling, occupant space, sport mode, quiet
DISLIKES: Needs safety/navigation options, pricey
BOTTOM LINE: Plush, comfortable and destined to be strong competitor
- Base price w/destination fee $38,905 ($43,138 as tested)
- Curb weight 4,506.9 lbs.
- Wheelbase 104.7 inches
- Length 182.3 inches
- Width 73.6 inches
- Engine specs 2.0 liter, DOHC, inline 4 cylinders
- Horsepower 235 hp at 4,800 rpm
- Torque 258 lbs.-ft. at 1,650 rpm
- Transmission 6-speed automatic w/paddle shifters
- EPA Rating 22 mpg city, 27 highway
- Range 15.9 gallons, premium required
- Performance 0-60 6.9 seconds