Lexus NX 300h
Luxury in a Small Package
By Ron Amadon
DAMASCUS, MD. – One thing is very obvious when you first enter the Lexus NX 300h – this is a very luxurious hybrid crossover.
Lots of soft touches, leather and wood, excellent fit and finish and some thoughtful additions put this one far apart from the bare bones trim one might expect in a smaller people mover.
Items such as heated and cooled seats – that cooling was most welcome on a string of very humid, upper 90 degree days. The hushed interior emphasized the excellent build quality of the NX, no small thing when you have had a crazy day at the office. Or perhaps you want to blast your mind still further with the superb sounds from the upgraded 10-speaker audio system.
Those “thoughtful additions” included some soft padding along the driver’s side of the center console where your right leg comes in contact with it – beats hard plastic any day. Second was some actual padding in the door and center console arm rests. Such things are rare these days, but they make long drives much more pleasant.
Mrs. Auto Evaluator liked the centrally located analog clock.
Power comes from a 154 hp four with 152 lb-ft of torque. Then the hybrid stuff kicks in – three electric motors that bring total system power to 194 horsepower in the all-wheel drive version.
But it is not enough mainly due to the CVT that produces a lot off revs when pushed, but rather slow forward progress. Lexus puts the 0-60 at 9.1 seconds and that feels about right. There is a Sport driving mode, but it didn’t feel much different than the normal setting. Other choices are Eco, and EV.
The EPA rates all this at an excellent 33 mpg city, 30 highway for an overall mpg of 32 mpg. I came out at 31.6 mpg. The NX is happy with 87 octane petrol.
Some other inside notes: A six-foot tall passenger, in fact two of them, will find more than adequate head, foot and knee room in the second row seats that also recline.
Small item storage was sparse with the wireless charging tray taking up a chunk of space in the center console bin. A tall stack of operator manuals chews up much of the glove box capacity.
While the 60/40 rear seats are easy to fold, you end up with 53.7 cubic feet of storage – and that is less than competitors offer. Put the seats up, and that reduces storage to 16.8 cubes.
But the biggest bugaboo was the Remote Touch Interface, more recognizable as a laptop touch pad. It was way too sensitive and distracting to operate while driving. It controls what pops up on the 7” center dash screen such as navi and audio sources.
Our extensively optioned NX came with the Premium Package that added 18” inch wheels, heated and ventilated front seats, LED daytime running lights, moonroof, and powered 10-way driver’s seat with lumbar support. $2,670.
One other major addition was the Navigation Package at $1,875 that brings the obvious, plus the Remote Touch Interface, and the upgraded audio system.
There was also a powered rear hatch, parking assist with clearance and back sonar and the expected safety equipment.
Looking back at a week at the wheel, it was easy to fall in love with the high quality interior, excellent gas mileage, and serene highway cruising. Should things go to grief, the NX has excellent crash test ratings.
With that long list of options, the hybrid carried a hefty MSRP of $48,160 but that is in line with the only other luxury compact hybrid on the market, the Audi Q5.
The NX would make a dandy and economical runabout for a new family looking for a stylish crossover that is sized just right for an urban environment.
At just 182.3 inches long, it easily fits into parking spaces that would be off limits to your neighbor’s full size SUV. And let us not forget Lexus excellent reliability record and reputation for long years of service.