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Lexus NX Review

Find out more about the Lexus NX in the latest Motors.co.uk Review

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6
Out of 10
Average Price £32,178
Model Review

After it was first unveiled at the Beijing Auto Show in earl 2014, the Lexus NX came in as a stylish option to the premium mid-size crossover market.

Fitted with a petrol-hybrid powertrain, the NX can return some excellent efficiency figures of more than 50mpg and that can be paired with Lexus’s E-FOUR all-wheel drive system for more confidence in treacherous conditions.

But the main appeal of any Lexus model is its luxury feel, being alternative option to the German monopoly on the premium market, especially with its great looks and premium finish.

With a wide variety of trims available, you can find the NX you want, especially when all come with an excellent level of equipment and interior feel.

Value for money

With the NX, customers get a premium finish that few mid-size crossover SUVs can match and you also get a fair amount of equipment from the base specification You may not get some of the top features, such as sport steering and all-wheel drive, but you do get plenty to tickle your fancy.

For example, the S trim comes with driving mode selection, six-speed CVT transmission, dual zone climate control, adjustable leather steering wheel, fabric upholstery, 60/40 split folding rear seats, seven-inch display with rotary control and Lexus media system, reversing camera, AUX/USB and Bluetooth connectivity, LED daytime running lights, electric windows and heated folding wing mirrors.

That’s a fair bit of kit, but it’s something you might expect when the starting price is £31,145. That is cheaper than many of its rivals, with only the Range Rover Evoque starting at a lower price.

As it has been out for a while now, there are used options that are on the higher end of the scale that can be found at a similar, if not lower, price than a new S-trimmed NX.

For example, a 2015 version of the Premier model is priced at £31,244 and it comes with a leather heated steering wheel, leather upholstery, privacy glass, premium navigation system, DAB radio, 14-speaker sound system, touch pad control for media system, adaptive cruise control, head-up display, cornering light function and a range of top end safety assistance systems.

That is just the highlights of the extras you get, as there is plenty more on offer with the Premium model than with the S. Also, as there has been no update since its release, both look and drive the same, and both have the same 2.5-litre petrol engine with hybrid setup. This example does have 36,175 miles on the clock, but due to the excellent reliability of the Lexus brand and its vehicles, it will still feel good.

 

Looks and image

Lexus designs its vehicles so they stand out from the crowd, and the NX is no different. Its sharp exterior looks are much more appealing than some of the bloated German offerings and is on par with the Range Rove Evoque for thinking outside of the normal crossover box. Its sharp distinctive line gives it a more dynamic nature – even if the drive doesn’t feel that way – and fits in with Lexus’s recent styling ethos.

The interior look is very Lexus, in the way that it is quite complex but characterful and although you may not find your way around at first, you’ll learn the NX and work it in your own way.

 

If you’re after something that isn’t particularly sporty, is reasonable to drive and quite sturdy then this could be the crossover for you. It offers good feedback from the handling and is composed enough on normal roads to keep you happy. But it doesn’t feel as nice to drive as some of its rivals and that can turn some people away.

The hybrid powertrain and the delivery of power can be a problem though, as at slower speeds it feels fine but at higher speeds can feel sluggish and the transmission can allow it to rev far too highly before eventually changing gear, which creates too much noise and makes the NX feel less refined.

 

Comfort and refinement is great factor of the NX, as it is both quiet and comfortable at low speeds. However, if you really go for it with the engine, and then it’s quite noisy indeed. The body is well insulated so exterior noise is minimal at worst and for the majority of the time, the suspension is pliant and very comfortable, but at slower speeds it can feel very firm – especially with the sport suspension.

 

Space and practicality

Here is another area where the NX performs well, as there is a large amount of interior space for both passengers and storage. It has lots of passenger space and taller people will find lots of headroom to spare.

Thankfully the transmission tunnel doesn’t encroach on legroom much you can squeeze a fifth person on the middle seat without much trouble. Boot space is also pretty good as well, but is down on its rivals due to its space-saving spare wheel. You still get 475 litres, which can be extended with the split rear seats. You also get plenty of cubby holes, a good sized glovebox and door pockets.

 

Safety-wise it is as you were with Lexus models, as it scores five stars with testers Euro NCAP and comes with great ratings in their four main categories. It scores 82 per cent for both adult and child occupants, 69 per cent for pedestrians and 71 per cent for safety assistance systems, which is pretty good across the board.

You get seven airbags, Isofix fixture points and brake assist, as well as the standard safety features you would expect. Optional extras include lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, active cruise control and pre-crash safety.

 

For families the NX could be a smart choice, as it has decent fuel economy, a great safety rating and a lot of storage space. It also is quite comfortable so could be very accommodating in most circumstances. The premium finish is another good point for the NX in this case.

Engines

After formerly coming with two powertrains, the NX now only comes in the guise of the 300h that has a 2.5-litre petrol engine combined with an electric powertrain to produce 194bhp. At a constant motorway speed it is smooth and performs well, but can sound quite stressed when the CVT transmission fails to change gear at the right time. Also it isn’t the most responsive and when using solely electric power, it only last for a mile so isn’t much use compared to other modern hybrids.

 

Running costs

Depending on whether you have two or four-wheel-drive, you can get upwards of 54mpg, with the two-wheel-drive variant performing closer to 56mpg. Emissions are also pretty good for the hybrid, where you can expect levels as low as 116g/km CO2 – meaning road tax costs of £160 for the first year and £140 every year after. Insurance groups are also pretty close together with the lowest set at group 29 and only going up to group 38 for the higher spec models.

 

Things to look out for

Thanks to their excellent reliability record and build quality, the Lexus brand doesn’t get many problems and the NX is no different. The only major issue was with the parking brake not working correctly and that affected 9,336 vehicles and that required a minor software update to resolve. But the main thing with Lexus models is that they are very reliable and they are usually very highly ranked in customer surveys because of that.

Rivals

In terms of premium rivals, the NX has to come up against the Audi Q5, BMW’s X3, the Mercedes-Benz GLC, the XC60 from Volvo and the more comparable Range Rover Evoque – in terms of pricing anyway. The NX is the second cheapest out of the bunch but has the same feel as its more premium rivals, although some of the others will drive better than the NX.

 

Depreciation warning

The resale value of most Lexus models are strong, and this shouldn’t change with the NX. But some large SUVs can struggle with depreciation, so it is worth keeping an eye out for the model’s demand – although rivals such as the X3 and Q5 will perform better due to their brand appeal.

Which NX to Pick

Trims Explained

Something that will never be lacking in the NX is good quality equipment and throughout the range you will find something that suits your style and taste. With S, SE, Sport, Luxury, F Sport and Premier models, there is plenty of you to get your teeth into.

S

With S models you get 17-inch alloys, dual zone climate control, leather steering wheel, fabric interior trim, seven-inch media display with eight-speaker sound system and rotary control, CD player, DAB radio, Bluetooth, USB/AUX connectivity, 60/40 split rear seats, LED daytime running lights and brake lights, electric windows and heated folding wing mirrors.

Prices for S start from £31,145 and is the only one in the range with two-wheel drive.

SE

There isn’t much change in SE spec, but with it you get four-wheel-drive, heated front seats, 18-inch alloy wheels, LED indicators, rain sensing wipers, roof rails and LED interior lights.

Most of the cost difference is due to the addition of the all-wheel drive and prices for SE models start from £33,145.

Sport

In Sport guise, the NX has a more dynamic exterior look with black 18-inch alloy wheels and the sport exterior styling pack, while coming with black inlays, tahara upholstery and Lexus’s navigation system.

This equates to a £1,000 increase on the SE model, up to £34,145.

Luxury

For the Luxury model, the NX comes with leather upholstery, black inlays, aluminium detailing, privacy glass, parking sensors, LED fog and cornering lights, electrically adjustable seats and auto-dimming rear view mirror. Also the black alloys and sport styling kit are removed to return to a cleaner exterior style.

Prices start from £36,145.

F Sport

F Sport models are the sportiest of the NX lineup and they come with sports suspension, sport steering, F Sport specific extras – such as leather steering wheel, sports pedals and leather upholstery – and an exterior styling pack. You also get a wireless smartphone charger, carbon inlays, LED headlights and headlight cleaners.

For the F Sport, Lexus charge £38,395.

Premier

The range-topping Premier comes with lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, heated leather steering wheel, wood inlays, heated and ventilated leather seats, premium navigation, 360-degree monitor, 14-speaker sound system, head-up display, 18-inch alloys and LED headlights with auto high beam.

In Summary

  1. Great exterior design
  2. Good trim options, but it can get expensive
  3. Not the best to drive
  4. Is mostly comfortable
  5. Both safe and reliable
  6. Reasonable running costs
  7. Only one engine choice
  8. One of the cheapest against its rivals
  9. Quite spacious and practical
  10. All-wheel drive on all bar base spec