Lexus NX — Meeting demand in compact luxury segment

By David Finkelstein

Lexus is now offering a totally new, well-crafted  premium utility crossover referred to as its NX models. Its like a scaled down version of it's big brother, the midsize popular RX crossover, which by the way, was first introduced to consumers back in 1998.  

The all-new 2015 NX is  positioned in the growing compact SUV/Crossover premium  segment as it competes with the  likes of the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and the Lincoln  MKC. Among things,  it features one of the companies  boldest interpretation  of the signature Lexus spindle front grille DNA and  an overall attractive  outer timeless body design.

The stunning, heart throb looking NX was engineered by a talented team that includes skilled/active professional racers who gave plenty of  input  on many aspects of the  vehicle in general.  From its dramatic body design, there is no mistaking the 2015 Lexus NX for anything else in its class, part of which is highlighted with its extensive use of bright, LED lighting.  It’s a look that conveys the functionality and performance of  an upmarket, compact performance vehicle.

The NX is manufactured  in two styles that includes a  hybrid version. The factory also offers it with a choice of nine exterior colors.  With the spotlight on the gasoline version, its badged as there  NX 200t and sold with their  turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder   engine.  The NX 300h hybrid version brings the brand’s number  of hybrid offerings to a total of six. That in itself is quite an accomplishment.

The vehicle's quiet and comfortable interior cabin  s flanked with new, onboard, standard and  available technologies. This includes a Lexus-first wireless charging  compartment for some of the newer compatible iPhone's and related  devices. Their  new touch interface system (similar to an electronic touch pad) helps with many  of the personal vehicle settings as  well as with the navigation, audio and  heating and A/C  commands. It's all linked with their  comprehensive  multi-information  “in-dash” display screen. 

It's also sold with their F SPORT badging which translates to a more aggressive body design coupled  with an  enhanced driving experience overall. The F SPORT NX basically  helps to give the  driver the best of both ”racing inspired dynamics" coupled with a ”street version crossover” — all in one convenient package. 

To focus a bit further on the  powertrains, the all-new  2.0-liter turbo charged engine is rated at  235-horsepower. Its  nicely matched with a six-speed automatic transmission with  advanced electronic artificial  intelligence for smooth and seamless shifting.  The hybrid model uses  a  2.5-liter, fuel efficient Atkinson-cycle engine which is linked  with an  automatic transmission as well. Both powertrains are available  within  the NX  line-up in either front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive,  or as Lexus suggests,  “all-weather-drive” for maximum traction, all year.  The  NX hybrid employs  Lexus’ electronically  controlled regenerative braking for assisting in charging the hybrid "on-board" battery pack.

With the NX 300h hybrid,  the driver can  help optimize fuel economy by using Eco or Normal  drive modes with the use of a  convenient selector rotary knob. The hybrid  battery pack is split into two sections, each  weighing  44 lbs.  It's located on each side of the rear seat, improving interior  space. 

Part of the foundation  for the vehicle’s  blend of handling  agility and  ride comfort  is a highly rigid body structure that  makes extensive use of  hot-stamped,  high tensile steel along  with light weight aluminum components used  throughout.  With the turbo mode, the Drive  Mode Select  Dial positioned on the center console lets  the NX driver tailor the vehicle’s  responses and driving feel  to  suit numerous driving conditions. For instance, you can adjust parameters which include overall  throttle response, transmission  settings and even the  feel of the  power steering.

Stepping into the Lexus NX is a real treat! It feels like being in a sports  car. The cabin design combines many structural elements with luxurious  yet functional materials and textures. The center console is the  undeniable focal point, framed by bold silver-colored architectural  elements and featuring kneepads on both sides. The NX  dashboard and console assembly continues forward with the Lexus modern theme. Interior trim is also available in five choices.

The power operated rear lift gate and folding forward second row seats add to the cargo carrying capabilities. The premium audio system helps to make those long drives, that much more pleasurable.  Plenty of included safety breakthroughs  give peace of mind to the driver and all occupants.

The NX 300h hybrid has a base price of $39,720 (with FWD) and gets 33 mpg with city driving and around 31 mpg on the highway. The standard NX 200t has a base MSRP of  $34,480 (FWD) and achieves about 22 mpg in city driving, and around 28 mpg on the open highway. Shipping and destination charges are $925.