The smart and luxurious Lexus NX300h
By Christopher A. Randazzo
As the compact luxury SUV market gains in popularity, so too has the Lexus NX. First out in 2015 as the NX200t (and later changed to the NX300 in 2018) and its hybrid version, the NX300h, Lexus is proving you can get luxury and style on a budget.
The NX shares its platform with the popular Toyota RAV4, yet looks nothing like it. Instead, the bold exterior of the NX is highly sculpted with sharp creases and sinister-looking headlights. As with all Lexus vehicles, the NX is easily identified by the brand’s signature huge spindle grille.
Differentiating the NX300h from a regular NX300 is a 2.5 liter four-cylinder engine along with a pair of electric motors that charge via the gas engine and regenerative braking. Combined, the powerplant makes 194 horsepower and 152 lb-ft of torque. Every NX300h is all-wheel drive and uses a CVT automatic transmission. This setup gives the NX300h a rating of 33 mpg city and 30 mpg highway. In contrast, an all-wheel drive NX300, with its turbocharged 2.0 liter four-cylinder engine (making 235 hp) gets 22 mpg city and 28 mpg highway.
Inside, the NX300h emits a modern vibe with an expensive look and feel. It’s cozy and comfortable and as you would expect in a Lexus, build-quality is top-notch and all the materials feel rich and with substance. The seats are comfortable and there is easily enough room for four adults – five if you must. For cargo space, there is 53.7 cubic feet available if you fold the back seats down (unfortunately, they don’t fold flat). With the seats up, you’re looking at almost 17 cubic feet of room to play with.
The NX’s center console and upper dash can be controversial. First, it’s huge – acting as a divider between driver and passenger. Second, it’s loaded with buttons, knobs and switches – and, as can be found in other Lexus vehicles, a touch-pad controller. The pad is a square grid that you move your finger around on (as you watch the cursor move on the 10.3 inch display), pushing it to select a function. Oh – and don’t forget, you’re doing that while you’re driving. Thankfully, most of the functions can be achieved by using the old-fashion physical buttons that are scattered on the center console.
As with most hybrids, there aren’t a lot of thrills behind the wheel of the NX. Remember – the task at hand in the 300h is to sip fuel. The powertrain is quiet, though, and if the boredom really gets to you, you can turn a knob to engage sport mode to inject a little life into the drive.
For 2020, the NX, both the NX300h and the NX300 benefit from a new Lexus Safety System+ 2.0. Also, the Mark Levinson premium sound system is now offered – and sounds amazing.
The NX300 starts at just $36,720, while the NX300h starts at $39,070, which is in the low end of the luxury SUV market and is not too far off from what the average new car costs. With the NX300h, you get an attractive small luxury SUV that just so happens to get excellent fuel economy. No, it’s not exciting to drive, but it makes up for it in other ways.
By The Numbers:
2020 Lexus NX300h
Base Price: $ 39,070.00
Price as Tested: $ 50,822.00
Layout: front-engine / all-wheel drive
Engine: 2.5 liter inline 4- cylinder with electric motor
Transmission: CVT automatic
Horsepower (total): 194 hp
Torque: 152 lb-ft
EPA Fuel Economy: 33 city / 30 highway mpg
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