Lexus NX Review
The Lexus NX is a SUV with a striking design, great equipment levels and a hybrid drivetrain. However, it’s quite expensive and doesn’t quite have the breadth of talents of an Audi Q5.
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What's not so good
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The Lexus NX hybrid looks neat, is built to withstand a meteor hit and has some seriously cutting-edge drivetrain tech.
Nevertheless, it’s something of an outsider in the world of posh SUVs. You want cool chic and in-car tech? The Audi Q5 has those. You want an SUV that looks and drives like a sports car? Try the Jaguar F-Pace. Or how about a smooth auto and relaxed driving experience. Mercedes GLC anyone?
Inside, the look isn’t as polarising as the exterior and more-traditional Lexus values such as build quality and expensive material choice are at play here. Whether it’s the soft leather-wrapped dashboard or the satisfyingly expensive feel of the buttons, you’re sure to enjoy your time in the Lexus NX.
Space for passengers is quite good, especially in the back, where the lack of a hump in the floor means three adults have just about equal amounts of room back there – there’s acres of legroom and decent amounts of headroom, too. Up front, the seats are arguably the best in class, providing better support as well as being more comfortable than just about any similarly-priced alternative.
The Lexus NX is a good leftfield SUV but you owe it to yourself to at least test drive the alternatives
Now that you’ve read about the good stuff, it’s time for the not so good – the engines and the way it drives. Well, it’s only not so good when you drive it back to back with alternatives such as the Q5, F-Pace and GLC; in isolation, the Lexus NX has low running costs thanks to its hybrid-only option, while motorway cruising is as relaxed as you expect a Lexus to be.
However, next to alternative models, the Lexus NX hybrid feels too firm on potholed roads to be comfortable, too soft on twisty tarmac to be enjoyable and every time you want to accelerate on the motorway, the otherwise quiet cabin is filled with the sort of noise that sounds like a dying cow’s last moo.
Another area that sets the Lexus NX behind the competition is the limited engine range – there’s just one, a hybrid. There are no beefy diesel engines so heavy towing is off the table. The actual engine is far from bad – it is powerful enough and has some impressive on-paper fuel economy figures. The problem comes when you ask it to move this spacious SUV along with its substantial amount of standard equipment resulting in real-world fuel economy values that are far from those advertised but still pretty impressive for the size of the car.
In terms of equipment, the Lexus NX hybrid shoots back near the top because like-for-like it ends up cheaper than comparable German alternatives – as standard, you get a seven-inch infotainment screen with reversing camera, DAB digital radio, adaptive cruise control, climate control, blind-spot monitoring as well as a lane-keep assist. An Audi Q5 with a comparable amount of kit is at least a couple of thousand pounds more.
To see what offers you can get on a Lexus NX, check out our deals page.
The Lexus NX scores pretty well for space and practicality, with room for four adults inside and a good boot, but the narrow centre rear seat means it’s not so good if you want to carry three in the rear.
The RAV4 upon which the Lexus NX hybrid is based is a very roomy car, so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that there is loads of space for four adults inside the NX. The middle rear seat is narrow, so a fifth occupant will have to be reasonably close friends with the others.
Interior cubby spaces are pretty decent in the Lexus NX. Those upfront get a couple of cupholders, large door bins and an air-conditioned glovebox. Passengers in the back get an armrest with two cupholders and decently sized doorbins.
There’s a reasonable boot, at 475 litres. With the rear seats folded down – which, with the electric folding seat option, you can do from the driver’s seat – there’s 1,520 litres on offer.
There’s not a lot of praise for the way the Lexus NX drives on any front – those expecting a Lexus-like wafting experience will be particularly disappointed.
Lexus won’t offer a diesel with the NX, so if you’re after efficiency you can opt for the NX300h hybrid, a 2.5-litre petrol with an electric motor attached. You’ll have seen this combination before in other Lexus models – the IS and GS have both used it – but in the Lexus NX a second motor is attached to the rear axle to provide four-wheel-drive.
You’ll probably dislike the CVT automatic in the Hybrid because it’s quite droney and not a lot of fun when you want to accelerate, but it is remarkably hushed at steady speeds. It will also run for about a mile on electric mode alone, but you’ll probably not see the claimed fuel economy figures easily.
The ride is always on the harsh side of firm, but better on motorways than it is around town, where it will clatter along poorly maintained roads in a most unhappy fashion.
It doesn’t equal a decent trade for a sporty cross-country driver’s car either. The Lexus NX stays relatively flat and composed in corners and the light steering doesn’t give you much confidence on very twisty roads.
You’re better off avoiding the higher-specification models with adaptive dampers and leaving Sport Mode well alone. This seems to be the way to make sure the ride is acceptably firm rather than unpleasantly so.
The Lexus NX’s interior feels quite premium, with impressive build quality, but the technology on offer lags behind that in alternative SUVs.