What it is: The NX is the second smallest of the five-member Lexus SUV family, and for all intents and purposes the Lexus version of the Toyota RAV4. The vehicle dimensions are almost identical, but the Lexus is 1 inch wider and 3 inches shorter. This is not simply a new badge thrown on an existing car, in fact the NX was released a few years before the new RAV4 came out. The NX was first introduced as a 2015 model and it comes with two engine choices: a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 235 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque and a 2.5-liter hybrid that gets 31 MPG combined driving.
Priced from the upper $30s, it starts a firm $10,000 above the RAV4 while offering more power and many more niceties. My test model was the sport trim, designated “F SPORT” which for an extra $2,300, provides a more aggressive exterior, sport seats, and an optional adaptive variable suspension ($770). It’s certainly more fun to drive than 95% of the compact crossovers that I’ve reviewed with it’s torque-y turbocharged engine, but it really doesn’t feel as luxurious as most Lexus vehicles that I’ve ridden in. The Lexus ES sedan is comfier, has more power, and does just about everything better for an extra $3,000, but it’s a car and not an SUV so America has decided to shun it like it has some car-based form of leprosy.
My test model came with nearly every order box checked, from AWD ($1,400) to a special Cadmium Orange paint job ($395) to triple-beam LED headlights ($1,515) to a panoramic view backup monitor ($800). You would be hard-pressed to get an NX above my test model’s MSRP of $53,073 with destination, and that’s really getting up there for a car that doesn’t particularly ride smoothly on bumps.
I do think that the NX is stylish, particularly with the Cadmium Orange paint and the aggressive F SPORT front bumper, but it’s hard to get excited about with a more blasé color. The stereo system, a Mark Levinson 14-speaker unit, is excellent, but the navigation/infotainment system is pretty lacking. It uses a touchpad adjacent to the center cupholders that I can imagine the non-tech savvy having problems with. Fortunately, the NX at least supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity.
MPG: 24 combined/22 city/27 highway
Price: $36,870 base price. $53,073 as-tested with destination.
Upsides: Affordable Lexus SUV.
Downsides: Not good at any one thing.
Wrap-up: I think we all are aware that Lexus NX buyers are not going to be traversing any mountainous trails and will mostly be traversing speed bumps in the grocery store parking lot. For that, it’s fine, it just doesn’t deliver the feel of a traditional Lexus luxurious vehicle. I do love that it delivers a sporty experience, especially in F SPORT form, but even aggressive driving feels forgettable. If you want the premium dealership experience and a luxury badge on your hood, then the NX is a fine choice, for everyone else there is a whole lot of competition out there to choose from.