2017 Lexus NX300h – Test Drive, Review, Ratings, Specs

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Sporty, stylish and economical are all core factors that make the “do it all” cross-over SUV so attractive in today’s market. But why stop there? Lexus aims to elevate the expectations of a cross-over SUV to new heights with the 5-passenger NX series. Its sharp polygonal looks, smooth handling and quality finishing paves a new road for what a cross-over SUV can really become. The 2017 Lexus NX is offered in two powertrain variation, namely the NX 200t, which is a 4 cylinder turbo, or the all new NX300h hybrid variation.

The Germans tend to take the main spotlight when it comes to luxury brands. With that said, the Lexus NX stacks up against Mercedes GLA, BMW X1, Audi Q3. But as the only lone wolf manufacturer of luxury vehicles in the overseas, the Lexus NX does provide an opportunity to break out of the conventional German luxury trend and opt for something more unique and refreshing for its buyers.

The Magic Behind Smooth Sailing

It all started with a 4-cylinder turbo NX200t variation to offer a small but light-weight and capable engine to establish a performance-oriented driving experience. New this year is the introduction of the NX300h that offers a 4-cylinder hybrid variation that aims to further reduce fuel emissions while upping points on efficiency. Compared to the NX200t that achieves a combined city and highway mileage of 9.9L/100km, the NX300h hybrid variation scores an impressive 7.4L/100km. But that’s in the expense of a reduced horsepower output rating of 194hp as opposed to 235hp for the NX200t 4-cylinder turbo. You’re also stuck with a continuous variable transmission in the NX300h, but it’s not a lost cause. Its ability to mimic a conventional automatic transmission along with sequential paddle shift mode helps preserve some of that engaging driving experience.

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In terms of options, the NX 4-cylinder turbo is offered in either FWD and AWD while its NX300h hybrid variation is only available in AWD.

An Interior that Doesn’t Disappoint

Lexus continues to embrace its spirit for quality and ergonomics with the NX. Seating arrangements are plenty comfortable with decent lateral support, and its leather quality and feel reigns supreme compared to its German competitors; namely the Mercedes GLA250, and the BMW X1. And although a homogeneous black interior color scheme, there is still enough detailing and sculpting happening inside the cabin space that rightfully places the NX name in the luxury category.

To keep things tight and compact, the center console is slanted, and its buttons are shrunken. This doesn’t also save space, but also looks cool in a sense that inspires a fighter jet cockpit design. Overall driving position feels compact; but still comfortable. Ofcourse, there’s also the repeating complaint of the sluggish infotainment touchpad/joystick control that’s Lexus seems to refuse to alter. But other than that, the amenity controls are fairly accessible, and its voice-navigation system seems to steadily improve year after year.

Hopeful Thoughts for Tight Driving

Despite ts sporty image the NX tries so hard to portray, there’s not much opportunity for a grip-tight steering wheel driving experience. The NX300h also packs an additional 130 pounds as opposed to the NX200t. Combined with a less responsive continuous-variable transmission, the NX300h behaves less lively than its 200T. Acceleration from stand-still in the NX300h is smooth and helped by the instantaneous torque from the electric motor before peak power from the 4-cylidner Atkinson cycle engine kicks in. Steering precision is also bit loose around corners, and body roll can be felt under harsh cornering in the NX300h.

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Under normal city and highway driving however; the NX300h is smooth and relatively composed with its whisper quiet electric motor working in tandem with its 4-cylinder engine. The option for putting the NX completely in EV mode is rewarded if you’ve achieved enough regenerative braking during your drive to reach full battery capacity. But unfortunately, that’s limited to low speed driving.

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The base MSRP for the NX300h is at $54,150. Opting in for the executive package gets you heated and power-tilt steering wheel, unique 18″ alloy rims, 10-speaker audio system, heated and ventilated front seats with heated seats in the back, as well as the full Lexus safety tech features including blind spot monitoring, cross-traffic detection and rear view camera. That’s in the expense of an additional $6,650.

It seems like its German competitors; namely the Mercedes GLA250 and BMW X1 are thriving for a more engaging driving experience within a cross-over SUV shell while the Lexus NX is diverging to a different path that aims for a more subtle, smooth and practical driving experience, and its better appraised EPA ratings compared to its German competitors show. Nevertheless, a death-defying driving experience is not all there is to live for. There’s something enticing and brilliant about the Lexus NX, and to me, that’s the modern and unique Zen styling inside out and its ability to deliver a calm and tranquil driving experience.

Specifications

  • Vehicle : 2017 Lexus NX300h
  • Model : NX300h
  • Vehicle Type : Cross-over SUV
  • Seating Capacity : 2+3
  • Engine : 2.5L 4 Cylinder Engine + Electric Motor Hybrid
  • Horsepower: 194 hp
  • Transmission :  CVT Transmission
  • Price as tested: $62,971

Pros

  • Exceptional and modern styling
  • Beautiful and quality interior
  • Exceptional fuel economy
  • Comfortable driving

Cons

  • Lack of driving enthusiasm
  • No options for powertrain upgrade for more performance
  • Sloppy infotainment user interface