Lexus NX 300H (2015)

Lexus NX 300H (2015)

Test Drive Notes Library
  • Pros

  • Very sharp styling.  This is a small to mid-sized crossover that stands out in the Whole Foods parking lot.  Almost everybody we asked thought the NX looked great.  The body has as many creases as Keith Richards’ face, and a sharp snout.  But overall, the design works, and the NX looks good.
  • The hybrid version of the NX, the 300h, got excellent mileage.  We did even a little better than the EPA estimated 33 mpg overall in our front-wheel-drive version.  We actually got 33.5 mpg in mixed city and highway driving (more city than highway).  That’s pretty awesome mileage for an SUV, even a small one.  The non-hybrid 200t, with a more powerful, more fun four-cylinder engine and all wheel drive, is EPA rated at 24 mpg combined.
  • The interior is den like.  It’s cozy, with black leather-like materials, and lots of stitching everywhere.  Lots of soft touch materials that make it a pleasant place to be.  
  • It’s an easy car to drive every day.  It’s very reasonably sized — it doesn’t feel bloated or big butted.  You can drive it without having to worry where your starboard and port edges are.  It’s easy to live with, maneuver, and park in an urban or suburban environment.
  • It’s a great highway cruiser.  
  • In our loaded up test version, the engine noise was very muted.  On many hybrids, you really hear the engine revving when you call for extra power, but the sound insulation in the NX — at least from the engine bay — was quite good.
  • Handling is sportier than you’d expect from a Lexus.  It stays flat in corners and changes direction easily.  
  • Front seats are very comfortable.
  • Cons

  • The ride is not as soft and pliant as we’re used to from Lexus.  If you’re the princess, from The Princess and the Pea, you’re going to feel a lot of peas.  It’s not a punishing ride by any means, but it’s firm enough that you feel the imperfections in the road.  Traditionally, Lexus has gone for the down-pillow-ride.  Not here.  

  • Power in the hybrid is adequate, but not exciting from the combined 194 horsepower motor and engine.  While we love to be environmentally friendly, the 245 hp turbo four cylinder non-hybrid version is a lot quicker and a lot more fun to drive.
  • While there are individual buttons for many climate and the basic audio controls, the infotainment screen is operated by a point and click system.  Lexus has switched from a mouse to a touchpad, where you slide your finger to move the curser, and push down to select what you want.  It’s awkward, and requires many looks at the screen.   
  • This is a comment for all built-in navigation systems, not just Lexus’.  But there’s an increasing discrepancy between how easy it is to enter a destination in, say Google Maps, and how hard it is to enter a destination in a built-in nav system.  On your phone, you speak, or quickly thumb type a destination with two hands, and it takes five or ten seconds.  In the car you still have hunt and peck your way through each letter of the… C.i.t.y.… S.t.r.e.e.t.… S.t.r.e.e.t. N.u.m.b.e.r.….    Something’s got to give, especially with the high price of built in navigations systems.
  • The cabin is a little tight feeling.  Cozy is the good way to look at it.  The wider-butted and shouldered amongst us may find the width confining.  
  • Visibility is not great to the sides, or rear thanks to a high belt-line.  Definitely opt for the blind spot monitoring.  The back up camera works well and quickly, and is standard.
  • Cargo space in the back is limited and a bit on the skimpy side.  But if you don’t want to haul around a huge vehicle, you’re going to have to compromise on interior room.  
  • Our hybrid edition test car hybrid was $49,000, loaded. MSRP of the 300h hybrid starts at $39,720. Base price of the 200t version is $36,820.
  • Ray tried the NX Turbo, loaded, and had this to say about that engine option: "Except for the $43,000 price tag there was not much to dislike. Phenomenal power for passing and no noticeable turbo lag."
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