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Lexus makes mark with NX 300 SUV
Crossover scores with interior, performance
 
Published Sunday, March 31, 2019
by Winfred Cross | For The Charlotte Post

Lexus NX 300 SUV has a remade design and improved performance.

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Lexus has learned, like all manufacturers, that SUVs and crossovers are the ticket. This is going to pay the bills from now on.


People like trucks, even small trucks. The NX 300 is the company’s latest truck – a small truck.


The NX is probably more crossover than truck, but it is listed as an SUV on Lexus’s website. It’s quite the looker. The spindle grille looks good a vehicle this small, which is surprising. The body has sharp creases and bulges that give it an athletic stance. The roofline drops off dramatically in the rear, which is good-looking but intrudes on rear storage.


Step into the NX 300 and you will find a very well laid out interior, something for which Lexus is known. There is a liberal use of leather, wood and soft touch surfaces. The design is pleasant and you really get the feeling you are in a luxury vehicle.


The dash houses a very easy to read touch screen with controls many of the vehicle’s functions. It does not include Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, which is a shame. The screen is on the smallish side, but anything larger would look out of proportion. It reacts quickly to input and is fairly easy to use.
What Lexus needs to learn is how to make the console touch pad more user-friendly. It can be a bit confusing and I suggest you only use it once you are stopped. It can also be distracting.


The rest of the interior is pleasant and tastefully done. I love the two-tone color scheme and the light and dark surfaces. There is a surprising amount of space for occupants, especially in the rear. Something this compact usually sacrifices comfort for style, Not so. All seating areas are comfortable with the proper amount of head and legroom. This is especially true for the rear. It’s surprisingly roomy there.


Storage room was compromised a bit. There is only 17.7 cubic feet of space with the rear seat up. This improves greatly once the rear seat is folded, but the sloped rear window can limit how bulky an item can be stored.


You will forget about these few problems once you drive the NX. It’s powered by a 235-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbo charged four-cylinder engine with 256 pounds-feet of torque. Lexus claims 0-to-60 miles per hour in 7.2 seconds, all while achieving 28 miles per gallon.


That doesn’t sound as impressive on paper as it feels in real time. The NX feels much quicker. It also accelerates quickly at speed. Slicing in and out of traffic is not only easy, it’s fun. The car has a very precise feel in its handling. Put it in sport drive mode and you will feel a difference without sacrificing excellent ride quality. The suspension is tuned for a very comfortable ride but the little crossover’s handling chops are nothing to complain about.


Taking the NX on the highway was a satisfying experience. The car tracks down the road serenely. There are no surprises. The car handles very neutral. A little more road feedback would be good but it’s not really missed. If you opt for the F Sport version, there is a Sport + setting that could give you more feel.


Like most Lexus cars, the NX is exceptionally quiet on the open road or in traffic. Not much of the outside will get in with the windows closed.


At $36,485, The 300 NX comes nicely equipped with simulated leather seats and power adjustment for front passengers, LED head and taillights, six-speed automatic transmission, auto climate control, auto high beam headlamps, forward collision mitigation, lane departure warning and intervention, power first seats, built-in Wi-fi and power folding mirrors.


Options included upgraded stereo, moon roof, heated and ventilated front seats, blind spot warning, heated steering wheel, leather seats, 10.3-inch touch screen and navigation.


The as-tested version of my vehicle was near $50,000. That’s a lot, but it really feels like you’re driving something crafted like the best expensive jewelry, which is a great feeling. This is something you ought to put on your list if you are in the market.

Email Winfred Cross at cross@alldaytech.com.

Pros:

• Strong engine

• Impeccable build quality

• More room than expected

Cons:

• Not much cargo room

• No Android Auto or Apple CarPlay

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