2021 Lexus NX

By January 27, 2021

The 2021 Lexus NX is a smart-sized crossover that rewards drivers with calm, quiet, and composed luxury.

For 2021, Lexus adds blind-spot monitors and power-folding mirrors to the list of standard features. A slight name change sees the NX200t model rebranded as the NX300.

The NX200t opens the range with a 2.0-liter turbo-4 that makes 235 hp. That power is fed to the front wheels via a 6-speed automatic. All-wheel drive is optional, which reduces gas mileage from 22 mpg city, 28 highway, 25 combined to 22/28/24 mpg. The available F Sport trim reduces highway mileage to 22/27/24 mpg.

A hybrid model is on the books as well. Known as the 300h, it pairs a 2.5-liter inline-4 with a small battery pack and two electric motors. The combo makes 176 hp which gets channeled through a continuously variable automatic transmission. The net result of all this wizardry is 33/30/31 mpg.

The NX gets plentiful standard safety equipment, including automatic emergency braking, active lane control, adaptive cruise control, and now for 2021 the aforementioned blind-spot monitors. Optional gear includes a surround-view camera system.

Crash-tests results have been all positive. The NHTSA gave the NX a five-star overall rating, while the IIHS named it a Top Safety Pick Plus for acing its crash tests and having satisfyingly bright headlights.

Model Lineup

The base NX300 begins at $38,535 and includes standard features such as an 8.0-inch infotainment display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, dual-zone climate control, synthetic leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, 17-inch wheels, and keyless start. The hybrid 300h is similarly equipped and starts at $41,085.

The $40,635 NX300 F Sport is exclusively offered with the gas powertrain. It boasts a firmer, handling-focused suspension with adaptive dampers, paddle shifters, aluminum pedals, 18-inch wheels, and front seats with enhanced bolstering.

The Luxury model costs $44,985 for an NX300 or $47,535 for an NX300h. Either way, standard features include leather upholstery, a 10.3-inch infotainment display, heated and cooled front seats, a heated steering wheel, and a power liftgate.

Exterior

The NX typifies the current Lexus design language. A busy profile has onlookers switching their gaze between the various creases and cuts, including a rather abrupt cut that runs diagonally upwards from the bottom corner of the front door to about a quarter of the way up the rear door.

The front sports the usual hourglass grille that was once so polarizing but is now just familiar. Narrow LED whiskers underscore the high-set headlights; below these whiskers are big air scoops. The distinctive front end makes the NX recognizable in a crowd.

Interior

The NX bucks the trend of strongly horizontal dashboards with a minimalist bent. Instead, the NX keeps to more familiar practices, with a defined vertical center stack neatly dividing the cabin into a driver side and passenger side. As always with Lexus, fit and finish is exemplary.

The infotainment system is housed in an 8.0-inch display that skips on haptic capability for a console-mounted touchpad. Using this touchpad for this display or the optional 10.3-inch display on the Luxury trim can be confusing and distracting—especially for a generation raised on the tap and swipe inputs of tablet devices.

The ordinary seats are comfortable enough, but the more bolstered thrones in the F Sport really won us over. The extra lateral support is nice enough when hustling the NX, but even during ordinary driving they shine, proving the sort of long-distance comfort to make a road trip bearable.

Cargo space stands at 17 cubic feet behind the rear seat, and 54 cubic feet behind the front seats.

Driving Impressions

Comfort is the objective with the 2021 NX, not sport. The NX rides with a soft, unruffled confidence, and the noises of the outside world are hardly heard at any speed. Handling is about average for the class—with the exception of the F Sport, which has some surprising verve in the corners—and the same goes for the steering.

With the base NX300 model, 0-60 mph takes about seven seconds. The 6-speed automatic could use more gears to boost efficiency, and it’s tuned for slower and more relaxed shifts.

The hybrid 300h isn’t as powerful as the base model but does a better job at providing a more luxurious, smoother performance. The CVT acts nearly invisibly, and we like the ability to putter around on all-electric power for very limited distances.

Final Word

The 2021 Lexus NX remains a compelling choice for those less interested in speed and more enthused with a composed, relaxed driving experience. The hybrid model best exemplifies these traits, making it the winner in our books.

 

—by Anthony Sophinos, with driving impressions from The Car Connection

You must be logged in to post a comment Login