2015 Lexus NX First Drive: More Than Just a Face
This past week I got an opportunity to drive Lexus' new baby crossover, the NX. Leading off Lexus' crossover lineup, the NX is smaller and nimbler than the RX, and definitely the more striking. For Lexus, this new design language is either love it or hate it. And if you hate it, too bad, because Lexus is sticking with the spindle grille for a while. The spindle design really works well on the NX. It's aggressive yes, but along with the rest of the Lexus lineup, it’s a breath of fresh air to see an automaker actually designing cars for a change. You hear that, Audi? PHOTOS: See More of the 2015 Lexus NX 200t F Sport
In F Sport spec (pictured here), it features an even more aggressive trim on top of the spindle grille. The front end gets a little sharper, the wheels bigger and more eye-catching, and the interior gets a slight makeover with sportier seats. But F Sport isn't just skin deep. The suspension gets tweaked for better cornering, the revs are higher to handle straight line speed, and it feels much more composed around twisty roads. It doesn’t feel like there’s a bulky SUV on top of that frame.
As for engine choices there are two. The 200t has a 2.0-liter turbo four that puts down 235 horsepower and returns about 24 mpg combined. Or you can opt for a hybrid 300h, which has a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder hybrid engine, and puts down a little less power, but offers an improved 33 mpg overall (32 mpg AWD). As with any vehicle, it's a matter of preference between the two. Opt for the F Sport and you get more spirited driving. Opt for the 300h, though, and you’re sacrificing some driving dynamics for improved economy.
PHOTOS: See More of the 2015 Lexus NX 300h
The major selling point here is going to be the design. And that's sort of unfortunate, because the NX is much more than just a radical design. It's fun to drive, relatively efficient, and really well built. But buyers will either be sold on the aggressive look over competitors like the BMW X3 or Audi Q5, or hate that it’s trying to eat every other car on the road and return to a blasé and bland German alternative.
Take some time to see it in person — drive it, touch it, hell, even taste it if you feel so inclined. It's much more than you'd expect from a small Lexus SUV, and it's more than just a pretty(?) face. The NX will go on sale later this year for a starting price of under $40K.
PHOTOS: See More of the 2015 Lexus RC 350 F Sport
PHOTOS: See More of the 2015 Lexus RC F Coupe
Engine: 2.0L 4-Cylinder Turbo (F Sport) / 2.5L 4-Cylinder Hybrid (300h)
MPG: 24 / 33
Fun to drive
Cheap Toyota plastics inside
Unrefined power in hybrid