Lexus wades into the compact-luxury-utility waters just as the segment reaches flood stage. Its new offering—sized and priced below the mid-size RX crossover—is the dramatically styled NX, in NX200t (turbocharged four-cylinder–powered) and NX300h (hybridized) versions. Of the two, the NX300h is the least thrilling, but it’s also the sole hybrid among compact luxe-UVs, boasting EPA ratings of 35 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. As such, the NX300h is the only contender to specifically target ardent greeniacs.
So what exactly are those contenders? The NX scales in close to the Audi Q5, although its wheelbase, shared with the Toyota RAV4 platform, is much shorter. Lexus cites the Audi, the BMW X3, and the Mercedes-Benz GLK as direct bogeys, but a closer match is the Lincoln MKC. The real question is, beyond blowing the top off the segment fuel-economy curve, does this hybrid measure up as a Lexus?
The NX300h’s Atkinson-cycle 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine assisted by an electric motor is essentially the Lexus ES300h powertrain (unless you opt for all-wheel drive, which adds a second motor for the rear axle). Strapping our test gear to a front-wheel-drive NX300h, we received relatively good news at the track. It beat Lexus’s performance estimate by 0.8 second, hitting 60 mph in 8.3 ticks.
Even so, taking more than eight seconds to get to freeway speeds is demure for this class. Customers dropping more than 40 grand for an ostensibly luxurious vehicle expect better. Or maybe not: If Lexus added grunt, the NX300h probably wouldn’t see the aforementioned fuel-economy figures. It’s efficient in the real world, at least, with our leadfoot drivers averaging 30 mpg, not too far from the 33-mpg EPA combined rating. Bragging on your high fuel economy is the whole point of getting the hybrid over the more powerful NX200t, right? Complete review on www.caranddriver.com, by STEVE SILER
This review is about nx h.