One has to wonder why it took so long for Lexus to enter the hotly contested compact premium crossover market. The brand itself projects some 36,000 sales for its brand-new NX, which is set to go on sale in the US in November. Add that potential to the 100,000-plus RX crossovers it sells annually in the States and Lexus looks poised to put some hurt on German rivals like Audi, BMW and Mercedes.
The vast majority of Lexus NX models imported to the States will be powered by a new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that pumps 235 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque to either the front or all four wheels. Just 10 percent or so of NX models will get the 194-horsepower hybrid powertrain wrapped in NX 300h trim. Though not yet rated by the EPA, Lexus projects mileage ratings of 22 city, 28 highway and 24 combined for the turbo and 35/31/33 for front-wheel-drive hybrids (expect a one-mpg combined hit for AWD models with either engine).
In terms of sizing, the Lexus NX is dimensionally very similar to the Audi Q5, which starts at $37,300. Lexus hasn't yet released pricing information for its NX, but promises to be in the same range as its competitors. We note with interest that the larger Lexus RX starts at $40,795 – a little over $3,000 more than the Audi its NX will compete against – and wonder out loud if the Japanese automaker can undercut its German competitors in pricing with the NX. Expect official pricing info from Lexus closer to its on-sale date later this year.
Bill Camp, Dealer Education Administrator for Lexus College, tells Autoblog that the brand doesn't expect the new NX to cannibalize many sales from the larger RX, saying that around 50 percent of NX buyers will likely be new to the brand, with an equal amount moving into their first luxury-branded vehicle, continuing a trend set by its recently renewed IS sedan. Also of note are suggestions from Lexus that NX buyers will be 5 to 12 years younger than is typical for the brand.
We can't yet share any driving impressions of the 2015 Lexus NX, but we can tell you that the automaker says the turbo engine and all-wheel-drive setup of the NX 200t can sprint its way to 60 miles per hour in 7.0 seconds, and that the available F Sport model does indeed include some performance-minded enhancements for your driving pleasure. Stay tuned for driving impressions coming soon, and in the meantime, have a look at the live image galleries of the 2015 NX 200t F Sport above, along with the NX 200t and NX 300h below.