The Lexus NX is a mid-sized SUV and is the biggest choice in the segment. Therefore, Lexus clearly distinguishes itself with a distinctively Japanese design that combines warm organic forms with modern technology. It’s more than just a line, as details like the grille pattern, the quality of the finish and the materials used make the difference between an SUV and the luxury brand Lexus. And that’s a good thing, because at half the price, the average brand offers just as many cars (including the RAV4 from parent company Toyota).
Space and equipment
Also inside, the Lexus convinces with luxury and even excess. The seats are nice and big, the dashboard is built firmly around the driver and co-driver and the decor is absolutely sumptuous. It also shows that this SUV is by no means intended as an off-road vehicle; everything is too smooth and subtle for that. The space in the front and back is average, as the design or decor is hardly changeable in absolute dimensions.
Equipment largely depends on the version chosen. Two specimens were used for this test, which together represent the two extremes. The car in the picture is a luxury one “Executive Line” and the equipment is even richer and more modern than Lexus’ biggest SUV: the RX. That’s because the NX is a much newer generation. This can be seen from the dashboard design with a large screen that appears to extend from behind the steering wheel to the center of the dashboard. It is equipped with a “heads-up display” that shows information in the driver’s field of view.
Functions are no longer controlled by the mouse, which has been criticized by Autozine and other media for years. From now on, Lexus uses a touchscreen (“touchscreen”), spoken commands (without a smart assistant), and buttons on the steering wheel. The latter was the most used during testing because of its selectability of functions and because it was very easy to reach.
The audio, communication and navigation system functionality is not much to be desired. That’s great because Toyota/Lexus have been years behind in this regard. The new generation stands out positively with its nice big screen, quick response to commands, and logical operations. If this “infotainment” system isn’t to your liking, drivers can also choose their own smartphone via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
“Regardless of the version chosen, the NX convinces with the refinement and attention to detail that the “premium” brand has”
As usual, Lexus called on specialist Mark Levison for the audio system. Also as usual, it delivers clear, rich and dynamic sound. However, the sound on the NX is a little cooler than usual with this brand.
Lexus is also making progress in the area of safety. It starts with small things. Doorknobs are now electrically operated. This takes some getting used to because when locking the car, no confirmation click is heard. Also when unlocking, the mechanical sound associated with the proper function is lost. The advantage of electric locking is that the doors automatically lock if they can hit a passing cyclist or car while unlocking.
Optionally, the interior mirror has a camera function, which was used intensively and gratefully during the test. The advantage of the camera is that it cannot be blinded and therefore provides a quieter image than a mirror (which is still available). In addition to these innovations, the NX now offers all the common systems to assist the driver in braking, steering and acceleration.
Despite the fact that all functions work fine in practice, there is still a point of criticism: NX warns about anything and everything and always does it with the same voice. Therefore, the driver does not know what is wrong, only something is wrong. In addition, it appears that the navigation system regularly warns of impending disasters such as accidents, debris and traffic jams which all turn out to be non-existent (and are also not reported by Google Maps, Waze or Apple Maps).
Lexus states that hybrid drive lowers the barriers to green driving, which is why the NX is not available as a fully electric car and only as a hybrid. For the Netherlands, this means the NX is relatively expensive, both to buy and to use. When looking at the global market, however, there’s no denying that Lexus’ low-threshold approach has allowed it to sell so many hybrids that it has saved more CO2 than its small fleet of fully electric cars (it still is).
However, Lexus is taking a slightly different direction from the NX, as from now on there is a choice of hybrid with or without a plug. Both are powered by petrol and electric motors. And both restore energy during braking and gliding. Therefore, the standard hybrid can cover short distances (1 to 2 km) at low speed (max. 30 km/h) completely electrically. More importantly, the electric motor supports the petrol engine, making the NX more powerful, smoother, and more fuel efficient than similar petrol-only cars. A test drive of more than 600 km resulted in a consumption of 1 in 15.
Plug-in hybrid (“PHEV” for “plug-in hybrid electric vehicles”) have a larger battery that can be plugged in (at home or public charging stations). Thanks to a larger battery, the share of the electric motor is much larger. According to the brochure, 75 km can be covered electrically on a full battery. During testing, it was 67 km. In electric mode, the NX is even more flexible, so that the car automatically experiences higher quality and more modern products. At the same time, it is seen that the electric motor builds up its power faster, making the car smoother and more lively. Thanks to lower CO2 emissions, additional costs for the PHEV are minimal and are recovered after 10 refuelings.
How to drive NX depends not only on the selected drive, but also on the equipment. As standard, the NX has good handling, with the balance shifting towards comfort at the expense of dynamics. Nonetheless, it handles well and is barely visible from high centers of gravity or tall buildings. The steering is light, but at the same time precise.
From “F-Sports” has a shorter suspension travel, so the car reacts more quickly to commands from the driver. This makes the car feel a little lighter and smaller than it really is, without losing its dignity of course.
Who is the Lexus NX aimed at? For those who are interested in typical Japanese designs that combine natural shapes with modern technology. Those who prefer classic luxury will feel comfortable with a luxury version like the one shown here “Executive Line”. From “F-Sports” gives it a slightly more sporty character.
Also, the NX is aimed at people who aren’t interested in electric drive and are willing to pay the price (since comparable electric cars are cheaper to buy and reach). While the NX is available as a plug-in hybrid, the former is by far the favorite. The plug-in hybrid NX is far superior in terms of convenience, performance and consumption at minimal additional cost. In addition, this version offers some of the advantages of electric propulsion, without worrying about reach or limiting the weight of the trailer.
Regardless of the version chosen, the NX convinces with the refinement and attention to detail that the “premium” brand hasAnd that’s a great achievement, because usually only the bigger models give that special feeling. In short: The Lexus NX is a mid-sized SUV of above average quality.
- Good handling
- Warm and inviting atmosphere
- Rich modern equipment
- Lots of unclear warnings
- It is more expensive to buy and then use an electric car