This is my second go with the Lexus NX, and that’s important because we can show how far the small Lexus small SUV has come. Or not come, depending on how things go. The first go-around was in a similarly spec’d NX F-Sport back in 2015. So what has three years brought us? Let’s find out.
I’ve owned everything from a Mazda Miata to a Suburban, and just when I think something is too small, or too large, my perspectives on vehicle size continue to evolve. Actually, my taste in vehicles and houses has changed; the 4-door Jeep Wrangler that I daily drive feels like it has plenty of room inside and I now live in a house that’s half the size of the one I lived in back in 2015. This means that, while last time it felt a bit small, this time around the NX felt like it was just about the right size.
Built on the “New MC” Toyota platform with it shares (or shared) with a bunch of other Toyota models like the Alphard, Avensis, Auris, Corolla, Harrier, Mark X ZiO, Previa, Prius, Prius V, RAV4, Verso, Sai, tC, xB, as well as the Lexus CT and HS. Did you get all that? So that gives you a general sense of how large it is. Interestingly this is not built on the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA), like the new RAV4, so expect the next NX to have an updated platform!
The rational part of your brain that makes car buying decisions (the one that I misplace from time to time) should tell you that, while the cargo space in the NX is a bit smaller than some of the competitors, it’s adequate for most buyer’s needs. While space behind the rear seats in the cargo area is a bit limited, made a bit worse by the sloping rear, the places that humans will spend their time are particularly useful. Front and rear seat occupants are given plenty of room and sit in typical Lexus comfort.
The NX isn’t cheap, if you want something less expensive the new smaller UX starts at $32,000. Our 2018 tester, with AWD and the F Sport kit started at just under $40,000. That gets you a lot of stuff.
- DRIVE MODE SELECT
- DUAL-ZONE CLIMATE CONTROL
- NULUXE INTERIOR TRIM
- LEATHER-TRIMMED STEERING WHEEL AND SHIFT KNOB
- HIGH-RESOLUTION COLOR LCD MULTIMEDIA DISPLAY
- SCOUT® GPS LINK*
- REMOTE TOUCHPAD*
- EIGHT-SPEAKER LEXUS PREMIUM SOUND SYSTEM
- BACKUP CAMERA* WITH DYNAMIC GRIDLINES
- ROOF RAILS*
- SUBSCRIPTION-FREE TRAFFIC AND WEATHER*
- SIRI® EYES FREE*
- LEXUS SAFETY SYSTEM+*
- EIGHT-AIRBAG SYSTEM*
- VEHICLE STABILITY CONTROL*
- LEXUS ENFORM SAFETY CONNECT*
- LEXUS ENFORM WI-FI™*
- LEXUS ENFORM REMOTE*
- LEXUS ENFORM SERVICE CONNECT
F Sport Features
- F SPORT-TUNED SUSPENSION
- F SPORT PERFORATED LEATHER–TRIMMED STEERING WHEEL AND SHIFT KNOB
- BOLSTERED F SPORT SEATS
- METALLIC SPORT INTERIOR TRIM
- PADDLE SHIFTERS
- G-FORCE AND TURBO-BOOST DISPLAYS
- F SPORT EXTERIOR STYLING
- 18-INCH SPLIT-FIVE-SPOKE ALLOY WHEELS* WITH SUMMER TIRES (235/55R18) AND SUPERCHROME FINISH
- ALUMINUM PEDALS
- BLACK HEADLINER
The NX is pretty practical, I found that after a week of living with one that it’s just about the right size. Some have criticized the rear hatch area, but it did what I needed it to do hauling around people and their stuff. It is true that the coupe-like rear means you do lose some cubic feet of space.
The extra F Sport Premium package adds the following for $2,865. It;s written in all CAPS because that’s how Lexus does it on their website and I couldn’t be bothered to retype it.
- POWER MOONROOF
- HEATED AND VENTILATED FRONT SEATS
- LEXUS MEMORY SYSTEM
- BLIND SPOT MONITOR* WITH REAR CROSS-TRAFFIC ALERT*
- ELECTROCHROMIC (AUTO-DIMMING) OUTSIDE MIRRORS WITH AUTO TILT-DOWN IN REVERSE
- 18-INCH FIVE-SPOKE ALLOY WHEELS*
- ENHANCED LED DAYTIME RUNNING LIGHTS (DRL) WITH INTEGRATED TURN INDICATORS
- POWER TILT-AND-TELESCOPIC STEERING WHEEL
The F Sport package is both a blessing and a curse. Personally, I think all Lexus vehicles should come standard looking like this, but I’m not the average buyer. A non F car looks a bit too pedestrian at this price point, and I think that the F package is worth the money in all instances.
I’ll say this up front, I know that Lexus is piping in fake engine noises through the speakers and I don’t care. That may make me less of an enthusiast, but it’s just entertaining. I’ve never walked out of a gentleman’s club saying “I would have had fun if it was all a bit more real”. No, in usual bland crossoverville, you take what you can get when it comes to vroom vroom sounds. The NX, particularly in Sport mode makes some excellent noises and I found myself giggling with delight. Not quite RC F or LC 500 level of course, but it was still entertaining.
The AWD system keeps things generally in check, but keeps with the tradition of a bit too much understeer under hard cornering. The NX continued to feel like it was the perfect size though, big enough to hold people and stuff, but easy to park and navigate tight streets.
So the question is, should you buy one? The answer is a pretty solid “yes”, but as usual that depends on your wants and needs. If you are looking for a premium small SUV that’s pretty fun to drive and fairly practical, it’s a solid choice. Our other favorite from the segment would be the Acura RDX, particularly in A-Spec form. There are a lot of other candidates from Germany like the Audi Q5, BMW X3, and Mercedes GLC and even the Swedes have a good thing going with the Volvo XC60. But the NX fairs well against most of the competition and gives pretty good value for money. Our test car rang in at pricey, but reasonable $48,160 with delivery, processing, and handling. Pretty much all of the competition mentioned above starts at a higher base MSRP, which means that the as-optioned prices are likely higher as well. So go check out the NX, in a world of “too small” and too big” it feels “just right”.
I can’t believe I used that analogy.