Lexus NX 300h SUV (2017 - ) review
The NX is a premium hybrid SUV designed to compete with cars like the Audi Q5, BMX X3 and Volvo XC60.
The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 3.7
The NX is a striking car to look at, and it’s comfortable and well-made inside with plenty of features and equipment. It scores well for safety too. But it’s not all that practical and no great shakes to drive either. For many, the fact that it’s a hybrid will overcome those niggles, with the particular potential to keep company car tax low. If those strengths match your priorities than it’s worth a look.
- Striking looks
- Good quality interior
- Hybrid will appeal to many
- Only one engine choice
- Unintuitive infotainment system
- Disappointing to drive
Interested in buying a Lexus NX 300h?
How good does it look?
The styling of the NX is distinctive, with big arches at the back and high sides, although with the passage of time it’s not quite as in-your-face now as it appeared when first launched in 2015.
All models get alloy wheels and electric folding door mirrors, with the standard car riding on 18-inch wheels and the F Sport model getting a different design to go with a sportier bodykit for sharper looks. The F Sport also has brighter LED headlights and the Takumi model has a panoramic sunroof.
What's the interior like?
The interior is of a pretty good quality, with some really nice materials, but every now and again you’ll stumble across a piece of plastic that doesn’t quite have that premium feel. It all feels very well assembled though, with no creaks or rattles. The Lexus infotainment system can take some getting used to, and uses a laptop-like touchpad controller that we found rather unintuitive. It’s all displayed on a 10.3-inch screen, and you also get a CD player. Remember them? The seats are nicely comfortable and adjust in plenty of directions to help you get your preferred driving position.
How practical is it?
There’s plenty of room inside the NX for four tall adults, with good legroom in the back and enough headroom unless you’re particularly tall. The middle seat is a bit small for adults for longer journeys. The boot is a good, if not cavernous size, and you’ll have to hoik luggage over quite a high lip to get it in. It’s not bad, but there are cars in this range that have larger boots.
What's it like to drive?
Considering that the NX is trying to be a luxurious, premium offering, it’s disappointingly jarring when it comes to the ride, with road lumps and bumps making their way into the cabin more than you’d want from a car of this price and image. This is particularly true of the sportier (and stiffer) F Sport models.
It’s not that involving to drive either. The steering feels quite distant from the front wheels, and it lacks sharpness. Overall, while it’s not bone-shakingly terrible, it’s not really the refined, quiet and capable experience that you’d hope for from a Lexus, and it's not very sporty either.
How powerful is it?
There’s only one engine option in the NX, and it’s a 2.5-litre petrol engine attached to an electric motor. All versions have all-wheel drive, and that makes for decent progress when you put your foot down, but don’t expect to have your eyes widened by the acceleration. The CVT automatic gearbox isn’t the sharpest in the world, and can be a bit slow to react to demands for more pace, but it does the job. It is a bit noisy though, holding high revs for quite a while.
This isn’t a plug-in hybrid, meaning you can’t plug it in to the mains to recharge the battery. Instead, it’s recharged by storing energy used in braking or while cruising, and the petrol engine will often recharge the battery too so that you have full zero-emitting electric power available when, say, you’re in town or a traffic jam. It actually works pretty seamlessly, and while the electric-only range isn’t huge, it can make quite a bit difference to fuel economy.
How much will it cost me?
Although it has a hybrid system, the NX isn’t particularly frugal on fuel, and is likely to consume more than some of its diesel-powered rivals, such as the Volvo XC60, BMW X3 and Audi Q5. However, the Lexus has a lower CO2 emissions figure, which could save you money on company car tax. It most other areas though, it’s not that different to those rivals, with similar resale values and slightly lower insurance costs. Service, maintenance and repair is likely to be slightly more than for the Volvo, but better than the two German cars. Overall running costs aren’t likely to be bad by any stretch, but they’re maybe not as stellar as you might hope for.
How reliable is it?
Lexus shares an excellent reliability record with its sister company Toyota, with which it also shares much of its technology. The 2017 JD Power vehicle Dependability Study puts Toyota in sixth place overall, and Warranty Direct’s Reliability Index places Lexus towards the top of the manufacturer rankings. Should anything go wrong with your CT 200h, Lexus offers fairly standard three-year, 60,000-mile warranty.
How safe is it?
The NX was given the maximum five stars in crash tests by safety organisation Euro NCAP. Standard features across the range is impressive and includes automatic emergency braking, traffic sign recognition and lane keep assist. The Takumi model adds a blind spot warning system and rear cross traffic alert, which helps avoid collisions when reversing out of parking spaces. There are two Isofix child seat mounting points on the outer rear seats, and front, side, head and knee airbags.
How much equipment do I get?
All models of NX come with a very decent amount of kit, including heated seats, adaptive cruise control and dual-zone air conditioning. The F Sport model adds a larger screen, sports seats with leather upholstery, paddle shifters behind the steering wheel and a wireless phone charger, as well as an electric boot lid. The top-of-the-range Takumi model has an upgraded Mark Levinson sound system with 14 speakers, heated and ventilated front seats and a panoramic sunroof, as well as head-up display in front of the driver.
You’ll buy the NX because you’re attracted by a hybrid, as well as its sharp looks, excellent safety features and impressive list of standard equipment. It’s not one for the driving enthusiasts, but if you’re considering one of the German rivals, like the BMW X3 or Audi Q5, don’t buy until you’ve at least had a look at the Lexus.