2017 Lexus NX Review

Introduction

Looking as much like a piece of modern architecture as an SUV, the Lexus NX is a cluster of angles and creases. It makes rivals such as the Audi Q5 and BMW X3 look highly conventional. Being a Lexus, there is a hybrid powertrain with an electric motor (and a second motor, giving four-wheel drive, in higher-spec models), but the Japanese car maker has also created a petrol-only, front-wheel drive model. Inside, the NX offers a high-quality sanctuary with seating for five. There is no shortage of technology in the cabin, including a wireless charging pad for your smartphone. Add to that a large boot, and reasonably low running costs in the case of the hybrid versions, and the Lexus compact SUV makes a good case for itself.

 

Body Style: SUV Seats: 5  MRP from £30,995 - £44,245 

 

Did you know? The NX was the first Lexus production model to feature a turbocharged engine.

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Verdict: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

You won’t find a more striking-looking SUV in the segment than the Lexus NX. It might look as if it has arrived from the future, but behind that taut sheet metal is a car focused on comfort and refinement, the likes of which many of its rivals would be envious. The option of a turbocharged petrol engine will appeal to some, but it is the well-established Lexus hybrid technology that is the bigger draw. On the move, it delivers smooth, if a little less than ideal, power, but it's well-suited to a life in town.

Design & Exterior

★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

Interior & Comfort

★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

Technology & Connectivity

★★★★★★☆☆☆☆ (6/10)

Performance & Handling

★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

Safety Features

★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

Specs & Trims

★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

Running Costs & Fuel Economy

★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

Pricing

★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

 

2017 Lexus NX

We Like

Striking exterior design

Interior quality

Good range of model specifications

 We Don't Like

Lack of a diesel engine option

Hybrid transmission could be more refined

Infotainment system

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Design & Exterior: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

2017 Lexus NX

Much like the rest of the current Lexus range, the NX is full of sharp angles, which makes it one of the most distinctive looking SUVs in the segment. The F Sport mesh grille makes a big difference to improving the look of the NX further, while thin LED daytime running lights add to its futuristic image and, overall, once chosen in the right exterior colour, the NX looks very striking indeed. It stands out from the crowd, and you have to hope that any crowd gazing at it isn't frightened off by that vast, jagged front grille.

There are also some nice touches that you begin to notice in the design, the more you look at it. For example, as you approach the car at night, the proximity sensor detects the key and illuminates a thin sliver of light along the top edge of the door handle for convenience. The black plastic moulding around the wheel arches reminds you of its SUV roots, but this is a car you won’t want to get muddy.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Interior & Comfort: ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

2017 Lexus NX

The style and finish of the interior are among the NX's most appealing features, and Lexus fit and finish are among the best. Even if some of the buttons do look and feel a bit too plasticky, they all seem solid and should last a long time. There are a lot of them, though, and it stops just short of looking too busy. Elsewhere, the cabin is brightened up by metal-look inserts around the centre console, dashboard and steering wheel. On higher grade models the electrically-moved seats offer lots of adjustability, and once you get settled the driving position feels comfortable. Other details, such as the contrasting stitching, are finished to a very high quality.

In the back, the passenger space is good provided the driver isn’t too tall. Headroom is fine for those of average height, and the rear windows are large enough to add to the spacious feeling. Comfort over longer journeys is good thanks to the supportive seats. Hybrid models can add to the refined interior ambience as they drive partially under battery power in near silence. Even when the petrol engine does kick in, it does so almost imperceptibly.

Practicality

Boot capacity is 475 litres in all NX models, increasing to 1520 litres when the rear seats are folded forward. The electrically operated tailgate opens to reveal a good-sized aperture, but the load height is a little high.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Technology & Connectivity: ★★★★★☆☆☆☆ (6/10)

2017 Lexus NX

Even though the cabin of the NX gets a large infotainment screen it is let down by very basic graphics, especially in the satellite navigation, while controlling the system via its console-mounted, mouse-like controller requires a delicate touch which isn’t always easy when driving. Among the other tech features available in the NX is a wireless charging pad for compatible smartphones, meaning you can just place the phone on top and it will recharge without the need to plug it in – provided it's the right kind of phone, of course. The Bluetooth interface is quick and easy to set up, and works well.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Performance & Handling: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

2017 Lexus NX

Which Lexus NX model you choose has quite an impact on the driving experience. The turbocharged, petrol-engined NX 200t suggests the promise of a sportier drive, but it is still tuned more towards refinement than outright pace. This 238hp engine is smooth, and with a 0-62mph time of just 7.1 seconds it feels brisker than its hybrid counterpart. Its six-speed automatic transmission feels better than the hybrid’s CVT system too.

When you drive the hybrid at a more leisurely pace and don’t hurry the CVT, it's a relaxing and refined drive. Lexus has added a ‘kick down’ feature to the transmission’s software that is designed to give it improved acceleration and make it feel more responsive, but in practice the difference is negligible. If you do decide to give it some beans, you are met with prolonged and high engine revs as the needle slowly makes its way around the speedometer. The F Sport model gets a Sport+ mode and different suspension dampers, making an already fidgety ride on bumpy roads a bit more restless, but it still isn’t really about outright performance. Any NX is designed primarily to offer good fuel economy and engine refinement, and when you approach the NX with that in mind it mostly feels like a well-polished machine – on a smooth road, at least.

All versions of the NX 300h have an electric motor in unit with the engine and front-wheel drive transmission, but higher specification levels come with a second motor to drive the rear wheels to give four-wheel drive. When the NX senses that the front wheels are losing grip, it progressively reduces the front motor's output and correspondingly brings the rear motor into play instead.

Recommended engine: NX 300h  

0-62mph

9.2 seconds

Fuel economy

54.3mpg

Emissions

121g/km

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Safety Features: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

2017 Lexus NX

As is typical of this segment of the market, the Lexus NX comes with many safety systems as standard, and most of these are available on all models. Helping to keep the vehicle stable are a traction control system, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD). Hill-start Assist Control (HAC) ensures smooth getaways on inclines, and on the move the Adaptive Cruise Control with Pre-Crash Safety can take the burden out of long motorway journeys. Higher-grade models also get advanced systems such as Lane Keeping Assist and Blind Spot Monitor system with Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

The Lexus NX scored highly in the Euro NCAP test in 2014, achieving a full five-star safety rating. In the area of adult and child occupant protection it scored 82 percent in each, while pedestrian protection was rated at 69 percent. The numerous safety systems earned it a 71 percent rating in the safety assist section of the test.   

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Specs & Trim Levels:★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

2017 Lexus NX

Colours

In keeping with the premium feel of the NX, Lexus offers a range of colours which isn't quite what you’d call vibrant. There is just one standard non-metallic colour, Velvet Black, while the metallic hues are Sonic White, Mercury Grey, Satin Silver, Sonic Titanium, Graphite Black, Mesa Red, Copper Brown and Sky Blue, the last two exclusive to the XX300h. The NX 200t counters with model-specific F Sport White, Azure Blue and Solar Flare as well as the main range listed above.

Trim Levels

On the NX 200t, Lexus offers just the F Sport specification. This grade features an L-mesh design for the so-called 'spindle grille' on the outside, while inside there are F Sport seats and leather upholstery plus an F Sport steering wheel with paddle shifters. A wireless smartphone charger is in the centre console, at the rear is an electrically-operated tailgate.

For the NX 300h there are six grades to choose from, starting with the entry-level ’S’ model. This features 17-inch alloy wheels and a more basic design for that in-your-face front grille. Inside, both front seats have six-way adjustability but it's all achieved manually.

An additional £2000 is the cost to move up to the SE grade. With this, there are 18-inch alloy wheels with a five-split-spoke design. The big plus is four-wheel drive and a towing capacity of 1500kg. SE also adds roof rails and rain-sensing wipers.

The 300h Sport gets an all-black exterior styling pack consisting of the grille, door mirror covers, the rear lower bumper and black alloy wheels. This also has four-wheel drive. Inside there is Tahara upholstery, heated front seats and Lexus Navigation with full European map capability.

Priced towards the middle of the NX range is the Luxury model. This four-wheel-drive variant gets 18-inch alloy wheels, LED front fog lights, front and rear parking assist sensors and smart entry.

The more performance-themed F Sport features that mesh grille and other subtle exterior styling details to differentiate it from the rest of the range. Inside is F Sport leather upholstery and an electrically-adjustable steering wheel.

Top of the tree is the NX 300h Premier. This model gets chunky-looking 18-inch alloy wheels but keeps the regular front grille. Interior equipment includes Lexus Premium Navigation and a high-quality Mark Levinson sound system with 14 speakers.

Size and Dimensions

Even though the Lexus has plenty of presence on the road, it takes up a relatively compact space for an SUV of this type. It is slightly shorter and narrower than the BMW X3, for comparison.

Length

4630mm

Width

1845mm (including door mirrors)

Height

1645mm

Max towing weight with brake

1500kg (except NX 300h S, which can't be used for towing)

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Running Costs & Fuel Economy: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

2017 Lexus NX

There is, as you might expect, a noticeable difference in fuel economy depending on whether you choose the turbocharged petrol engine or go for the hybrid model. According to official figures, the NX 200t will return 35.8mpg on the combined cycle which is not very impressive nowadays, even for a car of its size. As you would expect the hybrid performs better, with an official 55.4mpg, but if you want to get close to that you will have to drive with a light right foot.

Reliability and Servicing

All Lexus NX models are covered by the company's usual three-year/60,000-mile manufacturer warranty. Hybrid models get a five-year/60,000-mile component warranty as well. Servicing is dependent on use, and Lexus applies intermediate and full service intervals. If you make shorter journeys with lots of cold starts the suggested interval is every 10,000 miles, whereas if you typically have long distance commutes at a constant speed, the interval stretches to 12,500 miles. In both cases it's an annual event, if the year is up before you reach the mileage limit. Following that there are Full +60 and Full +100 intervals that replace longer interval items at 60,000 and 100,000 miles respectively.    

Lexus lists menu pricing for its services according to each model, and it's also possible to buy a Lexus Care package which covers the costs of maintenance in one monthly payment.   

Intermediate

12 months or 10,000 miles

Full

24 months or 20,000 miles

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Pricing: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

2017 Lexus NX

Pricing for the NX starts at just over £30,000 and peaks at over £44,000, with six different hybrid models spanning that price range. Somewhat surprisingly, the cheapest version of the purely-petrol NX 200t is almost £10,000 more expensive than the cheapest hybrid NX.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Recommendations

Trend Setter

Want to look seriously cool in your Lexus NX? Then the 300h Sport with its all-black theme is the one to go for.

Car Enthusiast

If you’re less worried about your green credentials, then the NX 200t is the model the buy, and why not choose one of the more vibrant colours?

Luxury Seeker

The NX Premier adds the highest quality interior including a top line audio system.

Rivals

Audi Q5

New model has sharper looks and adds refinement, but it doesn't tinker with the successful Q5 formula.

BMW X3

Due for replacement soon, the X3’s most recent updates see it looking more like the larger X5.

Mercedes-Benz GLC

Now one of the more stylish SUVs in the segment, its strong engine line-up and smooth nine-speed automatic transmission also make it one of the best.

Toyota RAV4

Offers a similar hybrid system, and isn't far behind the Lexus when it comes to interior quality.

Volkswagen Tiguan

Not always the traditional premium rival, the current model has been significantly improved and now challenges the established players.

What others say

Auto Express

“The Lexus NX has distinctive styling and a classy, well built cabin, although the driving experience could be better.”

Car Buyer

The Lexus NX is an intriguing alternative to the mainstream. Distinctive looks and a plush cabin mark it out, but a harsh ride and lack of a diesel engine may well put you off.”

 

Read full reviewView less