2015 Lexus NX 200t Review
Curvaceous and heavily sculpted, the 2015 Lexus NX 200t offers a new entry point to the Lexus SUV/CUV lineup. The vehicle’s flared wheel arches and bold spindle grille, flanked by narrow LED headlamps, gives it an aggressive first impression – particularly in F Sport trim, as tested.
THE PROS & CONS
WHAT’S BEST: Sculpted styling, an agile performer
WHAT’S WORST: Remote touch interface a challenge to operate
WHAT’S INTERESTING: Wireless charging tray
2015 Lexus NX 200t at a glance
BODY STYLE: Compact luxury CUV
DRIVE METHOD: front-engine, all-wheel-drive, six-speed automatic with manual shift mode
ENGINE: 2.0-litre twin scroll turbocharged inline four-cylinder (235 hp, 258 lb/ft)
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 10.6/8.4 L/100 km (city/hwy); 10.8/8.8 L/100 km in F Sport trim (Premium recommended)
CARGO: 500 litres behind second row, 1,545 litres behind first row
SEATING CAPACITY: Five passengers
TOWING CAPACITY: 907 kg (2,000 lb)
PRICE: Base $41,340, Premium $44,900, Luxury $50,450, Executive $53,250, F Sport Series 1 (as tested) $50,850, F Sport Series 2 $53,550
Agile 2015 Lexus NX 200t offers new entry point to Lexus CUV lineup.
Lexus sure took its time introducing a luxury compact SUV.
Toyota did this – minus the “luxury” – roughly two decades ago, and kudos to Lexus for not blinging up and rebadging a cheaper RAV4, which is similar in size to the all-new NX.
The swoopy, heavily sculpted NX, with its flared wheel arches and aggressive spindle grille, flanked by narrow LED headlamps, is an athletic newcomer to a segment that, globally, has grown seven-fold in the past seven years.
But Lexus hasn’t really been asleep at the switch. My colleague Jim Robinson rightly pointed out that the company’s first small luxury crossover was actually the $51K-plus Lexus RX, “which arguably remains the benchmark for the segment.”
So to give this some perspective, at least in relation to the more affordable Toyota lineup, the RX slots in somewhere between the RAV4 and mid-size Highlander, leaving room for a little brother.
Putting the Lexus NX in a sweet spot, not only in terms of size, but also in price.
The turbo four-powered NX 200t starts nearly $10,000 less than the RX 350, and its much pricier stablemate, the NX 300h hybrid ($59,450), is thousands less than the larger hybrid RX.
The NX 300h powertrain is a 2.5-Litre Atkinson cycle four cylinder with electric motor that produces 194 net system hp and 152 lb/ft of torque. Fuel economy is rated at a thrifty 7.1/7.7 L/100 km (city/hwy).
My tester was the livelier NX 200t, with its more potent 2.0-litre Atkinson cycle four cylinder with twin-scroll turbo that delivers 235 hp and 258 lb/ft of torque. It is mated to a six-speed automatic with lock-up torque converter and all-wheel-drive.
Fuel economy is rated at a still reasonable 10.6/8.4 L/100 km (city/hwy) or slightly higher 10.8/8.8 in F Sport trim, which was how they equipped my ride.
Lexus has been rolling out F Sport models across much of its range, providing buyers not only with appearance upgrades, but performance and handling tweaks that do make a difference.
Compare to: 2015 Lexus CT 200h F-Sport Review
These packages don’t come cheap, with my particular vehicle getting $9,400 in extras, bringing the price to a lofty $50,850 for the F Sport Series 1.
Exterior features include power liftgate, parking sensors, power moonroof, auto-levelling LED headlamps, and a set of F Sport 18″ alloys.
Other F Sport-specific upgrades are the unique mesh grille insert, logoed scuff plates, and on the inside, grippy aluminum sport pedals, unique steering wheel, shift knob, and F-Sport seats with big side bolsters that really grab you in the corners.
There’s still more: power tilt/telescopic (and heated) steering, driver seat memory, and 10-speaker audio and navigation controlled by a remote-touch interface.
This is a cutting-edge tool for managing infotainment, operated by gliding your finger along its touch-sensitive pad to select various apps. There’s an audible and tactile ‘click’ when the cursor hovers over an app – just press the pad’s midpoint to select.
Sounds easy enough, but hitting dead centre of a palm-sized square without looking takes practice, and more often than not, I found myself choosing climate instead of navigation.
Call me old fashioned, but I prefer a mouse-style joystick, or better yet, old-school buttons and knobs. Which is still what is used for all HVAC controls, including the seat heating buttons that are logically grouped in the upper stack. This is all topped by a nifty analog clock, trimmed in brushed metal with beveled edges and looking very high-end.
Reclinable 60/40 rear seating is spacious, with ample room for head and legs. Seats are supportive, with the middle position providing a drop-down armrest with cupholders.
Cargo room behind them is 500 litres, 1,545 when folded flat. The hybrid loses 25 litres to accommodate its battery pack.
That’s less room for boxes and hockey bags than the compact RAV4, which provides a maximum cargo capacity of 2,080 litres. The steeply raked tailgate and tapered roofline that makes the NX more fetching also makes it less commodious.
This Lexus is also quieter, thanks to laser screw welding, more adhesives and spot welding, along with other measures to make it more rigid – and with a perceptively solid feel.
The suspension too is both taut and stable, able to carve corners without noticeable lean. Which isn’t always the case in this kind of vehicle. At the same time, its sport tuning doesn’t sacrifice ride comfort, as the NX was forgiving on our late-winter roads, which now serve up no shortage of potholes and frost heave.
There’s been a move among luxury marques to replace six cylinders with four, and compact CUVs are ideal candidates. The NX’s power figures aren’t top of segment, but no matter, it’s plenty quick.
Plant the pedal and there’s some turbo lag, but not much with its 258 lb/ft coming in at a low 1,650 rpm. Acceleration builds rapidly whether in automatic or in manual mode where you can row through the gears using the stick or available paddle shifters.
I had the drive mode selector in ‘sport’ mode much of the time, which blacks out the Eco meter within the multi-info display. No surprise, as we’d be at cross purposes here.
Indeed, this more aggressive program, which provides a quicker throttle and later gear changes than ‘normal’ or ‘eco’ modes, increases the NX’s fun factor, and at the same time can be credited for my less than stellar 12.9 L/100 km combined fuel economy.
My NX came with driver aids like blind spot monitor and cross-traffic alert, but there are plenty more if you pony up for the top-trim F Sport Series 2 ($53,550). This package includes heads-up display, lane keeping assist, radar cruise control, pre-collision system, adaptive variable suspension, and a wireless charging tray that allows you to simply lay down your Qi-supported smart phone and recharge.
Competitors like Acura RDX, BMW X3 and Mercedes GLK are also fine vehicles, with even smaller compact crossovers like the X1 and GLA gaining in popularity.
Suggesting that size does matter, particularly when the payoff is better fuel economy, more agile handling and smaller hit on your wallet – making the NX a shrewd addition to the Lexus lineup.