Being about a decade late to the entry-level luxury crossover market, Lexus has had a lot of time to look at the competition, pick the best features from each brand, and figure out how to package them so the price undercuts their European competition convincingly. Is their newest creation – the 2015 Lexus NX – strong enough to take on rivals?
|STATS||Starting Retail Price||As Tested Price||HP|
|2015 Lexus NX 200t F Sport||Not Announced: On-sale Q4 2014||$45k (est.)||235 HP|
|EPA Rating MPG City/Hwy||As Tested MPG||0-60 MPH|
|Rating: Buy It!||22/28 Combined 24||Combined 23||7.2 seconds|
Outside, the front and rear fascias receive lower, swoopy styling, along with a mesh spindle grill. The CUV stays planted with a firmer, sport-tuned suspension, front and rear performance rods, summer tires and 18-inch wheels. LED fog lamps help light the way while clicking off paddle shifts in one of three driving modes: gas-sipping Eco, standard Comfort, or somewhat throaty Sport. The heavily bolstered, sport front seats do a great job of keeping occupants firmly perched, while the NuLuxe (imitation leather) seating surface doesn’t make your back sweat like vinyl interiors of yore. The perforated leather-wrapped steering wheel and six-speed automatic shifter feel of high quality in hand. Someone really cared how this interior would look, and it is evident in the yards of hand stitching throughout the NuLuxe-covered dashboard and door cards.
In order to get the optional easy-to-use navigation system, I’m told you’ll need to opt for the Premium Package, which gets you heated/ventilated front seats, moon roof, 18-inch wheels/tires and dimming outside mirrors.
This tester came with all of the above, in addition to a pre-collision system, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, parking assistant, power tailgate, and even a wireless charger for phones (Lexus’ new “Qi” charging system is adaptable to most phones with accessory charging sleeves for purchase).
The 2.0-liter turbocharged port and direct injection engine “uses an advanced valve control system to switch between Atkinson cycle and Otto cycle operation” according to Lexus. Their first-ever turbo engine, the four cylinder felt extremely smooth, and was pretty much inaudible at idle from inside due to the strategically utilized acoustic glass and sound deadening material throughout the vehicle, a trademark Lexus characteristic. The twin scroll turbo helps the small displacement engine churn our 235-horsepower and 258-lb.-ft of torque.
Shifts from the standard six-speed automatic gearbox are smooth and pretty much unnoticeable, though it doesn’t shift as sublimely as the 7-speed box available in Mercedes’ GLK. Power is delivered with very little turbo lag, however torque steer is quite apparent in the front wheel drive model when you give it the full beans from a standstill—which results in a 7.2-second 0-60-MPH time with the FWD model I tested. I’m told you can shave two tenths of a second off in the AWD model.
The firmer sport suspension absorbed the urban potholes of downtown Nashville quite well. Deep ruts in the road where taken in with more of a muffled, “thud” than an unsettling “bonk!” found in the competing BMW X3 M Sport I long-term tested. However, sharp turns at speed did not feel as confident when compared to its Bavarian rival. Of course, that’s basically a complement, as pretty much no one knows sporty suspensions for everyday use like BMW.
The NX’s infotainment system allows you to pinch and zoom just like on your iPad, via a haptic interface. Coupled with lifetime traffic and weather updates, the system is intuitive and easy to view. It played well with all of my favorite streaming audio sites and even Facebook.
Aimed at couples without kids and well-to-do singletons, the NX has the smallest stowage area compared to its lux competition. With the rear seats up, the cargo area provides 17.7-cubic feet of space. Down, the area can swallow 54.6-cubic feet.
A cool feature, the passive charging system located beneath the front armrest, allows you to juice up your Android phone (some models). iPhone users will need to purchase a sleeve to take advantage of the wireless charging station.
Being that Toyota owns Lexus, and both brands share parts from the same bin, it was only a matter of time before the world’s second largest car manufacturer traded in its jeans and t-shirt of a CUV platform (yeah, the RAV4’s) for an upmarket suit. The all-new 2015 Lexus NX hits dealerships late this Fall, using a similar packaging and sales formula employed in the highly successful IS sedan. Hey, second generation offerings from Mercedes-Benz (GLK), BMW (X3) and Audi (Q5): You’ve been put on notice.
Watch this fun and informative TFLcar first drive review of the 2015 Lexus NX as Nathan Adlen takes it for a spin.
Ryan’s passion for automobiles began at age eight when his father brought home the quintessential sports car: A Guards Red, 1974 Porsche 911 Targa. Ever since, his free time has been consumed with following the latest developments of the automotive industry.