2019 Lexus NX
2019 Lexus NX
The 2019 Lexus NX is the brand’s second-smallest crossover SUV, one with angular style and outgoing performance. For the new model year, it adds Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa service to its touchscreen interface.
If an RX or GX is too big, the 2019 NX may be the perfect size. It’s 183 inches long, with a wheelbase of about 106 inches, a bit larger than the new Lexus UX small utility vehicle.
The NX 300 uses a 2.0-liter turbo-4 that makes 235 horsepower. It’s mated to a 6-speed automatic, with either front- or all-wheel drive. The 300h has a larger 2.5-liter inline-4 paired with an electric motor for a total of 194 hp; it delivers power to all four wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).
An F Sport package with all-wheel drive adopts a firmer suspension, a more aggressive grille, sport seats, bigger wheels, and an additional driving mode, Sport+, which quickens the throttle response.
The front-wheel-drive NX 300 is rated by the EPA at 22 mpg city, 28 highway, 25 combined. The AWD version gets 1 mpg less. The NX 300h hybrid is EPA-rated at 33/30/31 mpg. Both take premium fuel.
The NX is an IIHS Top Safety Pick+, while the NHTSA gives it five stars overall, with four stars in the frontal crash test. Standard safety equipment includes automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors, and automatic high-beam headlights. A head-up display is optional.
Starting at about $36,000, the NX 300 comes with synthetic leather upholstery, 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, power-adjustable front seats, an 8.0-inch screen, automatic headlights, and Bluetooth. It’s easy to raise that by $10,000 or more by adding the F Sport package, all-wheel drive, real leather, navigation, and an upgraded sound system.
The NX is an extrovert, with a pronounced spindle grille on a sharp nose with a long overhang. The short headlights are mounted high, while mere slits of running lights are mounted low. Flared wheel wells make it look ready to pounce.
The sheetmetal elsewhere is sharply defined. The fast roofline leads back to a relatively tame rear end. The F Sport wears an even larger grille and bigger wheels that give it a lower stance.
The NX cabin is cozy and quite reserved compared to the exterior, with a rich mix of materials that exude high quality. There is a soothing palette of muted silvers, grays, black, and wood trim. The F Sport package brings intrigue with its dark red and black upholstery.
The optional navigation brings a 10.3-inch infotainment screen; it’s run through a touch interface that can take some time to operate smoothly.
The comfortable power front seats with supportive cushions have a slightly lower position than most, probably a result of the low roof. The F Sport brings seats with bolstering that cinch in around the waist for support.
The NX rides on a relatively short wheelbase. Rear-seat room can be slim for adults, but the back seats recline for road-trip comfort.
Cargo space amounts to 54.6 cubic feet with the rear seat folded down, and 17.7 cubic feet behind the rear seat.
The 2019 NX delivers comfort and quietness. Its 235-hp turbo-4 feels fluid weaving in and out of traffic, with careful shifts and an emphasis on smooth delivery.
The NX 300h hybrid emits more powertrain noise, but it returns 31 miles per gallon. To reach that mileage, below 30 mph the hybrid can be switched into an electric drive mode that keeps the gas engine off until the battery charge is used up.
The F Sport injects some more energy into the NX 300, although no more speed. Its added Sport+ mode quickens throttle response and keeps engine revs higher for longer, while it pumps in more engine sounds into the cabin. The sporty suspension tune and 18-inch wheels improve the cornering and reduce body lean.
The 2019 Lexus NX 300 offers a choice to compact-SUV buyers: Hybrid economy, or entertaining F Sport performance. It’s an engaging small crossover that looks like no other, no matter which one you choose.