2018 NX 300h New Car Test Drive
Expressive design melds with comfortable accommodations in the Lexus NX compact luxury crossover. Introduced for the 2015 model year, NX is the smallest member of the Lexus crossover family.
All 2018 Lexus NX models received a mild facelift. The spindle grille has been modified, and front/rear lights redesigned. The Lexus Safety System Plus package is now standard, and the contents of Comfort and Luxury option packages have been revised.
For the 2018 model year, Lexus has renamed the model previously known as NX 200t to NX 300.
The 2018 Lexus NX comes in three versions, with a choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive: NX 300, NX 300 F Sport, and NX 300h hybrid.
The NX 300 uses a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 235 horsepower. Its 6-speed automatic transmission mates with either front-drive or all-wheel drive.
The F Sport, boasting sporty styling touches, gains a bigger imitation air intake for 2018. Amply bolstered sport seats feature black or red upholstery, with accent piping. Pedals are drilled aluminum.
All-wheel drive is standard on the NX 300h hybrid. A specially tuned 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine works with twin motor-generators. Combined output from Toyota's hybrid drive system is 194 horsepower. The hybrid uses a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
An electric-only mode is included in the NX300h, along with the usual Normal, Sport, and Eco choices. Acceleration to 60 mph with the hybrid takes a leisurely 9.1 seconds.
Launching the NX gave Lexus a new design language, led by an exaggerated, oversize grille and extroverted body details. More recently, other small crossovers have adopted comparable styling themes, so the NX has lost some shock value since its 2015 debut. Similar in overall length to likely competitors, the NX rides a wheelbase that's up to 9 inches shorter.
Crash-test results have been good, but not perfect. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the 2017 NX a Top Safety Pick Plus designation. All tests earned Good ratings. Frontal crash protection was rated Acceptable, but only if equipped with a specific option package.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2018 NX five stars overall and for side-impact, but only four stars in the frontal-crash test.
Lexus has made more safety technology standard for 2018, including adaptive cruise control, lane-departure alert, forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, and automatic high beams. Like some rivals, visibility is somewhat impaired by thick rear pillars.
NX 300 FWD ($35,985) comes with the 2.0-liter turbo engine, front-wheel drive, 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, power front seats, an 8.0-inch touchscreen, steering-wheel controls, automatic headlights, Bluetooth connectivity, rearview camera, and suite of active-safety features. The NX 300 AWD adds all-wheel drive ($37,385).
NX 300 F Sport ($38,375) gets visual enhancements including a black mesh grille, tuned suspension, and tunable noise-enhancement. Expanded instrumentation includes a G-Force meter. All-wheel drive comes on the NX 300 F Sport AWD ($39,775).
Options include a new power tailgate with a kick sensor, 18-inch wheels, and navigation with a new 10.3-inch touchscreen. (Prices are MSRP and do not include $995 destination charge.)
NX 300h AWD ($38,335) has the hybrid powertrain with 2.5-liter engine, all-wheel drive, power-folding mirrors, 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, power front seats, 8-speaker audio, dual-zone climate control, Scout GPS Link, and 8.0-inch screen.