2017 Lexus NX Review

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2015 Lexus NX300h F-Sport

Overall Rating


3.5 out of 5 stars

Rating breakdown
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Safety, value & features

3 out of 5 stars

Comfort & space

3 out of 5 stars

Engine & gearbox

4 out of 5 stars

Ride & handling

3 out of 5 stars


4 out of 5 stars

Pros & Cons

  1. ProSumptuous interior; smooth turbo-petrol engine; hybrid option.

  2. ConCosy cabin; no diesel.

  3. The Pick: 2017 Lexus NX200t F Sport (AWD) 4D Wagon

What stands out?

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The Lexus NX is a distinctive looking medium SUV with a richly appointed interior, a great reputation for reliability, and a four-year warranty. You can have a powerful, fuel-efficient turbo-petrol engine, or an even more frugal petrol-electric hybrid. Most versions drive all four wheels, and auto braking is available.

What might bug me?

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Driving under 80km/h on the space-saver spare tyre, until you can fix your full-sized flat.

What body styles are there?

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The Lexus NX drives either the front wheels or all four wheels, depending on the version. It is classed as a medium SUV, higher priced.

What features does every Lexus NX have?

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Cruise control, and satellite navigation. Windscreen wipers that operate automatically when it rains. Keyless entry and start (which lets you unlock the car and drive away without removing the key from your pocket or bag).

A reversing camera, and parking sensors front and rear (these help you judge how far the bumpers are from obstacles).

Power adjustment for the front seats, which also have heaters.

A 10-speaker audio system with dual USB inputs, a digital radio, and Bluetooth for phone calls and audio streaming. A Remote Touch controller on the centre console, which lets you navigate phone, audio, navigation and other functions.

A drive mode select system with eco, comfort and sports settings, which lets you adjust how eagerly the engine and gearbox respond to your right foot.

A tyre pressure monitor, which warns you if a tyre has lost air (this can give you extra time to get a slow puncture seen to).

Bright, long-lasting LED headlights and fog lights, and a power operated rear tailgate.

Eighteen-inch wheels made from an alloy of aluminium, usually lighter and better looking than the steel wheels with plastic covers found on some lower priced cars. A space-saver spare wheel and tyre.

Eight airbags: two directly in front of the driver and front passenger; one alongside each front occupant to protect the upper body; a curtain airbag down each side protecting the heads of front and rear occupants; a knee protection airbag for the driver; and a cushion airbag in the base of the front passenger’s seat near the front of the cushion, to help hold you in position during a crash.

Electronic stability control, which can help you control a skidding car. All new cars must have this feature.

Every Lexus NX carries a four-year, 100,000 kilometre warranty. The battery driving the electric motor in the Lexus NX300h is warrantied for eight years.

Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?

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The 2.5-litre, four-cylinder, petrol-electric hybrid in the NX300h uses least fuel on the official test, consuming about 5.7L/100km (city and country combined).

One reason you might not choose the hybrid is that you plan to use your Lexus mainly on long drives in the country. The NX300h relies on deceleration to charge the battery that powers its electric motor, and it gets much more of that around town. In steady cruising, its fuel use will approach that of similar non-hybrid cars.

Another is that you would rather pay less for your Lexus NX, while getting more power. The less costly NX200t uses the alternative engine, a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder. It offers about 20 percent more power than the NX300h when you work it hard – say, when overtaking. But it will use a lot more fuel around town (although the combined test figure is still less than 8.0 litres/100km).

The NX300h has a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which does away with fixed gear ratios and responds steplessly to the driving conditions. The NX200t has a conventional six-speed automatic.

What key features do I get if I spend more?

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The NX300h and NX200t each come in three versions: Luxury, F-Sport and Sports Luxury. The least costly is Luxury, which has the equipment found in any Lexus NX. You can have front-drive only, or all-wheel drive. The more expensive F-Sport and Sports Luxury versions are AWD.

Paying more for an F-Sport also gets you adaptive suspension, which automatically softens the car’s ride for bumpy roads (and firms it up in corners to prevent the body from leaning). An additional Sports+ drive mode stiffens the ride to improve control in fast cornering. Paddles allow you to control the automatic gearbox from the steering column. Interior cosmetic touches include aluminium alloy control-pedal covers and door-sill scuff plates, while outside you get sportier looking bumper bars, front grille and wheels.

The power-adjusted front seats can be cooled (as well as heated), and the driver’s seat can remember your adjustments, which makes it easy to restore your setting after a companion has driven the car.

And you pick up some active safety aids: a blind-spot monitor warns when changing lanes that a vehicle is alongside, and a rear cross-traffic alert warns, when reversing, if something is crossing your path. The reversing camera is enhanced with a 360-degree panoramic view monitor, which gives you a bird’s eye view of the car to help you park in tight spaces.

Paying more again for a Sports Luxury gets you leather-accented interior trim (other versions have leather-like synthetic trim), and a power-operated sunroof. Headlamps dip automatically for oncoming drivers. There is a better sound system, and the cabin trim substitutes woodgrain highlights for the F-Sport’s metallic look.

It also brings an active safety package that includes auto emergency braking, lane-departure warning, active cruise control, and a head-up display (which projects a speedo and other instruments into your line of sight). This is also available, with the sound system and auto-dipping headlamps, as an option pack in F Sport versions. (For more on these systems, please open the Safety section below.)

Does any upgrade have a down side?

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Choosing the hybrid NX300h brings some unusual driving traits. In particular, its brakes feel unresponsive when you first press the pedal, then become more powerful quite sharply as you press harder. This is a symptom of the hybrid’s brake energy regeneration system, which uses energy from your slowing the car to help charge the battery that drives the electric motor.

Of 10 colours available only one, Onyx (black), comes without extra cost. Any other colour costs about $1500.

How comfortable is the Lexus NX?

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The sumptuous NX interior pampers you, and while it is smaller than most alternatives that lends a cosy and cossetting – rather than claustrophobic – feel to the cabin. (The relatively compact proportions do mean less space to stretch out for those in the back, however).

The stitching and trim on the dashboard, door trims and the seats themselves (whether or not they’re the real leather versions) is beautiful to behold and lovely to touch. The steering wheel is nicely sculpted, and the front seats are supportive and comfortable.

The layout of the buttons, such as for the climate control and driver aids, seems fussy and disorganised at first but familiarity breeds ease. Nevertheless, WhichCar testers find the ‘remote touch’ infotainment interface on the centre console difficult to use.

The NX shuts out tyre, suspension and wind noise well. Its ride may feel a bit firm and sharp around town but on the highway it is quite good.

The adaptive suspension on the NX F-Sport and Sports Luxury isolates you more effectively from road roughness than the mechanically controlled suspension of the NX Luxury. However the ride remains less comfortable than in alternatives such as the Audi Q5 and Land Rover Discovery Sport.

What about safety in a Lexus NX?

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A reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, tyre pressure monitors, the mandatory stability control and eight airbags contribute to an impressive standard safety package in the Lexus NX.

On the F-Sport, a blind-spot monitor makes it safer for you to rely on your exterior mirror when changing lanes, while a rear cross-traffic alert helps you avoid embarrassing (and sometimes dangerous) crashes when backing out of parking spaces and driveways.

For autonomous emergency braking, you need to option the F-Sport with Enhancement Pack 2, which brings the Pre-Collision Safety System including Pre-Collision Braking. This detects obstacles in front of the car – typically a slowing vehicle – and will prepare and subsequently apply the brakes automatically if you do not react to a warning. The system works at city and highway speeds.

The pack also gets you active cruise control, which maintains a safe distance to vehicles ahead. And it has Lane Departure Warning with Steering Assist, which alerts you if you begin to stray distractedly into a neighbouring lane – and can even start to steer you back onto your own part of the road. This option pack, with its accompanying head-up speedo, auto-dipping headlamps, better sound system, and sunroof, is standard on the NX Sports Luxury.

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) awarded the Lexus NX its maximum five stars for safety, in March 2015.

I like driving - will I enjoy this car?

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With its angular headlights and tail lights and an hourglass front grille, the NX looks sporty and even avant-garde alongside its reserved European alternatives.

Climb into the cabin and that impression stays with you. Like the others it is a luxury car, but its personality feels slightly different, and more extroverted.

The NX300h has hybrid quirks that may endear it to some but will irritate others. The first – perhaps equally a peculiarity of its CVT auto – is the appearance of a delayed response to the accelerator pedal. You hear a faint whine from the electric motor and a rising note from the petrol engine before the car builds much speed. Similarly, the brakes do not seem to slow you much at first but they get more powerful quickly as you depress the brake pedal further (a characteristic connected with their role in charging the hybrid drive system).

The flip side is that driving the NX300h smoothly, and allowing the regenerative system to capture kinetic energy by planning your acceleration and braking, brings a satisfying feeling that you are making progress efficiently.

The NX200t offers more traditional driver appeal. It’s more powerful, and lighter. The conventional six-speed automatic makes it easier to take control of the engine, which also sounds nicer and spins freely. Paddle gear shifters on the steering column and the Sport+ driving mode in the more expensive versions add the enjoyment.

However, even the NX200t isn’t as much fun to drive as alternatives such as the Audi Q5 and Land Rover Discovery Sport. In corners, its attitude is not easily adjusted with the steering, throttle or brakes, and the steering wheel doesn’t deliver a great sense of connection with the road. And if you drive any NX version enthusiastically, the electronic stability control system is quick to curtail the adventure.

While the Lexus NX looks like the money’s worth, and largely is in the way it looks after its occupants, it comes up short on dynamic polish. Ultimately it is not sporty enough to match its image.

The all-wheel drive system fitted to most NX versions aids stability on wet or otherwise slippery roads and helps you make progress in muddy or snowy conditions. However the NX is not built to tackle rough tracks or other challenging terrain off-road – and if you were to get a puncture you would have only the skinny space-saver spare tyre.

How is life in the rear seats?

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Not as spacious as it is in most alternatives. For a medium SUV the Lexus is narrow with a short wheelbase, which means its rear passengers have less shoulder and leg room. Space aside, however, the Lexus looks after occupants quite well.

There are dedicated air-conditioning vents, and a fold down armrest. The seatback angle is well judged, and there’s good under thigh support. Foot room and headroom are pretty good also. And just as it is in front, it’s quiet in the rear compartment.

How is it for carrying stuff?

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The Lexus NX can squeeze in as much cargo as some alternatives but significantly less than others, such as the BMX X3. The luggage bay expands to 1545 litres with the rear seatbacks folded, and they split 60-40. Tie-down points and metal scuff plate on the loading lip are nice touches.

The standard powered tailgate opens when you press a button on the key fob or on the tailgate. It can be programmed to open to a specified height – so that it does not foul a low roof, for example.

Where does Lexus make the NX?

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The Lexus NX is made in Japan.

What might I miss that similar cars have?

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If you will do a lot of long-distance driving, perhaps a turbo-diesel engine. Many medium SUV alternatives have a diesel option. A turbo-diesel in a similar package will give a longer highway range between refills.

The ability to integrate your smartphone with the car’s touchscreen, via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, so that you can display and control phone apps with the screen. This is available in some less costly medium SUVs, such as the Ford Escape.

Among other cars worth considering are the Mercedes GLC-Class, Land Rover Discovery Sport, Audi Q5, and BMW X3.

Are there plans to update the Lexus NX soon?

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The Lexus NX300h arrived in October 2014, and the NX200t in early 2015.

In April 2017, Lexus exhibited a mildly revised and subtly restyled NX at the Shanghai motor show. The facelifted car is expected in Australia in 2018.

The NX is derived from the Toyota RAV4, and given the RAV4’s age we expect a short model cycle and an all-new NX before the turn of the decade.

I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?

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We like the NX200t F-Sport. The NX200t is a more enjoyable drive than the NX300h, and it costs less. The F-Sport’s athletic focus helps it lives up more nearly to the model’s sports-luxury billing. And it brings you the option of adding auto braking and other active safety aids.