2017 Lexus NX 300h Review
A soft and efficient version of a good crossoverNo Comments
Whereas the NX F Sport has fairly taut suspension, the hybrid model goes almost completely the other way. While we can see how this would appeal to some buyers, we wonder if Lexus went a little too far. The CUV balks whenever you try to push it, and it's only really happy cruising around at speeds that would hardly excite your grandma.
Ride Quality: The NX Hybrid soaks up bumps, cracks and waves in the road easily. Only the biggest of imperfections disrupt the driver and passengers in the CUV. This is due to a mixture of the way the suspension is tuned and the somewhat large all-season tires.
Acceleration: With reported 0-60 times well over eight and a half seconds, we certainly wouldn't say the NX 300h is fast. Step hard on the accelerator and the engine makes a lot of noise, but the vehicle doesn't shoot forward with gusto.
Braking: The brakes are pretty strong, but they don't really grab until you've pressed the pedal down at least a quarter of the way to the floor. You can feel when the regenerative braking kicks in, but it doesn't do much at all to slow the car. When the brakes do grab the nose of the vehicle dives more than you'd expect. Lexus could make the NX 300h a lot more enjoyable by improving the progressiveness of the brake pedal.
Steering: The electric power steering doesn't offer much feel, but it is reasonably precise and weighted.
Handling: The NX 300h has a lot of body roll in the corners and there's significant understeer when you try to push it much at all. This is a vehicle that's built for comfortable cruising, not canyon carving.
Lexus is sticking with its weird infotainment system controls, and we don't care much for them. It doesn't make for smooth operation, and even if the operating system itself was exceptionally smooth (it isn't), we're not sure we could learn to love it. All of the NX's technology requires too much focus to allow you to pay attention to the road.
Infotainment System: The 7-inch infotainment screen features Lexus' Entune navigation system, the company's app suite and much more. The screen is small for a Lexus. The graphics are fine, but several of the apps and features loaded slowly. In a vehicle at this price point, the system should function more smoothly.
Controls: The trackpad-like mouse controller for the infotainment system doesn't work well on the fly. You have to devote more attention than you should. It takes a lot of getting used to, and even after we did, we found ourselves using the buttons on the dash or steering wheel whenever possible.
Bluetooth Pairing: We experienced no issues pairing our phone and re-pairing was seamless.
Voice Call Quality: Call quality was clear on both sides of the call. We experienced no issues.
Due to the fact that the NX is basically a gussied up RAV4, it has the same overall shape. However, Lexus added a number of features to the exterior of the CUV to make it fit in with the rest of the brand's lineup. The cabin of the vehicle has also gone through a transformation, resembling nothing like the weird Toyota interior in the vehicle from which it gets its bones.
Front: The front has the brand's signature grille, LED low beam headlights, halogen high beam headlights and interesting Nike-swoosh-like LED running lights. There are some weird creases in the lower part of the bumper where the fog lamps are. Overall, it's not a bad face, and it helps distinguish the CUV from its RAV4 relative.
Rear: The rear of the vehicle fits in with the rest of the NX's styling although it doesn't have quite as many interesting elements. The taillights wrap around the back corners with an odd black-framed portion. The small rear glass and the gray lower portion make the rear appear high on the rest of the body.
Profile: From the side, the NX 300h differentiates itself from some of its competitors like the Acura RDX and the BMW X3 by utilizing a more tapered nose, a sleeker roofline and a unique chrome accent around the window frame. The vehicle almost looks sexy from the side, and it's the crossover's best angle.
Cabin: The interior is typical for Lexus. There's a lot of soft touch, leather or NuLux throughout the cabin, an attractive analog clock sits in the middle of the dash, and the infotainment screen is separated from the rest of the buttons and controls. It's an attractive setup, and it's worthy of a luxury car badge.
If there's one thing that Lexus does well, it's make a vehicle that you can truly enjoy sitting in. The ergonomics are on-point, the materials are high quality, and the seats provide plenty of room, support and bolstering no matter where you're at in the vehicle.
Front Seats: The front seats are clad in NuLux material, offer power adjustment (including lumbar) and good support. Bolstering is good too, but you end up not needing it much in this CUV because it hates to be pushed at all.
Rear Seats: The rear seats offer good support, the same materials and decent bolstering. Leg room is good but not excellent and headroom is fine for people of average or slightly above average height. Three people in the rear seat may be a little tight, but it is doable.
NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): Quiet and solidly built. The only negative from an NVH standpoint is the engine's droning under heavy acceleration.
Visibility: Seeing out the front and sides of the NX isn't an issue at all. The rear view is another matter. The rear window is small and the C-pillars are thick, obscuring your view. The backup camera is needed in almost any reverse maneuver.
Climate: The automatic dual-zone climate control does an excellent job heating or cooling off the cabin. The heated and ventilated seats included on our tester helped make things even easier.
The Lexus NX 300h is a very safe CUV. It received top honors from the NHTSA and the IIHS. For the NHTSA, it scored four stars in the frontal crash test and rollover test and five stars in the side crash test. If you're looking for something that can keep your family safe, this is an excellent choice.
IIHS Rating: The IIHS awarded the Lexus NX a Top Safety Pick+. The model received good ratings in all crashworthiness categories as well as an advanced rating in crash avoidance technology. The headlights achieved an acceptable rating, and the child seat ease of use rating was rated marginal.
Standard Tech: The NX comes with a lot of standard safety equipment, including location specific tire-pressure monitoring, airbags, ABS with electronic brakeforce distribution and automatic brake assist, Lexus Safety Connect system with automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle location, an emergency assist button and enhanced roadside assistance. The NX also comes with a backup camera standard.
Optional Tech: Out tester was equipped with a pre-collision system and adaptive cruise control as optional safety features.
Lexus generally does an adequate job with storage. The NX is no exception. Its center console isn't quite as storage-friendly as the RAV4 on which it's based, but the model does provide you with enough spaces to stow everyday items. Other models out there offer a bit more in this department, but the NX isn't necessarily insufficient.
Storage Space: The two best places to put things are the space beneath the armrest and the weird little pocket in front of the armrest that has a lid that comes all the way off (see the photos) revealing a mirror on its underside. The cup holders are of adequate size, and when we weren't using them for liquid containers, we tossed what everyday items we had into them.
Cargo Room: The Lexus NX features about 17 cubic feet of cargo space with the seats up and about 54 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. That's a decent amount of space, but some of the German-bred competition beats it.
When it comes to fuel economy, the NX Hybrid beats non-hybrid crossovers. However, when it comes to other hybrid CUVs, of which there aren't many, you find that it doesn't set itself apart much. In fact, the bigger Lexus RX Hybrid offers almost the same EPA estimates as the smaller NX.
Observed: We saw an average of 31 mpg in during our week with the vehicle. This is right on par with the EPA estimates.
Driving Factors: We drove a good mix of highway and city miles. Our city driving was at pretty low speeds in stop and go traffic, and our highway miles consisted of setting the cruise control near the speed limit and leaving it there.
The 10-speaker premium audio system with HD Radio, Sirius XM satellite radio and Bluetooth connectivity does an excellent job providing clear and robust sound to the cabin. It's part of the Navigation Package that was included on our tester.
Final Thoughts The Lexus NX 300h is a luxurious, soft and comfortable crossover with a practical cargo space, acceptable technology and seating for five. Its strong points are the level of comfort and the radical styling. If that sounds good to you, then you'll love this vehicle. However, if you want something that's a little sportier or interesting to drive, there are plenty of other luxurious crossovers out there that also happen to get pretty good gas mileage without hybridization.