2020 Lexus NX: An overlooked luxury SUV

2020 Lexus NX: An overlooked luxury SUV
2020 Lexus NX 300 F-Sport (Photo by Jill Ciminillo)

Sales for the Lexus NX aren’t stellar, which is a bit of a surprise considering it’s a nice SUV with luxurious styling and amenities at a base price of $38K.

Then again, upon closer inspection, it has a weird position squished between the UX and RX. Its size is incredibly similar to the UX, but costs $4K more, and if you add any options, you’ll quickly top the base trims of the RX in pricing. By a lot.

So, while I liked the NX a lot, I have to wonder if it’s really necessary in the Lexus lineup.

The Hits

I really like the styling on the 2020 Lexus NX. It has a lot of sharp edges that make it immediately recognizable when you see it in your rear-view mirror. I know the Lexus grille is a polarizing topic of conversation, but I for one really like it in general and on the NX specifically.

I also really like the ride and handling of the NX. It’s right-sized for the city, which makes it easy to maneuver through alleys and garages as well as parallel park. The ride is fairly smooth (not really that sporty like the F Sport badging might lead you to believe) and comfortable.

2020 Lexus NX 300 F-Sport

2020 Lexus NX 300 F-Sport interior (photo by Jill Ciminillo)

The interior also gets huge marks in the plus column. From the large infotainment screen to the analog clock on the dash, the interior manages to be modern and elegant at the same time. 

Another big hit: Standard safety. It has standard features such as automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane trace assist and automatic high beams. It’s also worth noting that the NX is on the exclusive Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick+ list. Neither the UX nor RX made that list.  

The Misses

Pricing is a bit of a miss here. The test vehicle was an NX F-Sport and topped $50k. That’s a tough pill to swallow when you consider that the RX has a base price of $44k.

The cup holders are also a miss. They were tiny in the NX, and my glass water bottle landed on the floor every time I stopped fast or turned a corner. It was annoying because I always carry a water bottle of this size with me. The door holders aren’t any larger. 

I thought about setting it on the seat beside me and belting it in, but then I thought if I had an accident, broken glass in my side might be a problem. So, more often than not, I set it on top of the cup holder and then put my hand on top of it to hold it in place. Also annoying.

2020 Lexus NX 300 F-Sport

2020 Lexus NX 300 F-Sport cup holders are too small to fit a larger water bottle. (Photo by Jill Ciminillo)

Also a miss: The trackpad. This is the flat pad in front of the armrest that you must use to control the feature son the touch screen. It does operate like a trackpad on a computer, so there is familiarity with feature. Plus, there’s haptic feedback when you scroll over icons on the screen — which is helpful. But the pad itself is ill placed and very sensitive. It doesn’t always work the way you want it to, and I often found myself scrolling too far and needing to backtrack.  

I recently drove the Lexus GS and it had the old “mouse” joystick, and I preferred that a lot to the trackpad.

Though it wasn’t a huge miss, it’s also worth nothing that some of the buttons that activate certain features are nowhere near the feature they activate. For example, the button for the heated steering wheel and the panoramic-view monitor are located on the dash panel to the left of the steering wheel. 

2020 Lexus NX 300 F-Sport

2020 Lexus NX 300 F-Sport (photo by Jill Ciminillo)

The Trims

The NX has five basic trims, including two hybrid versions (300h). All the gasoline variants are available with both all-wheel drive and front-wheel drive. The hybrid is all-wheel-drive only.

  • NX 300: $37,895
  • NX 300 F Sport: $40,135
  • NX 300 Luxury: $44,985
  • NX 300h: $40,295
  • NX 300h Luxury: $47,385

If you add AWD, it adds $1,400 to the price.

The Chicago Factor

Even though I think the NX has an awkward position in the Lexus lineup, it is a right-sized vehicle for the city. 

The list of “misses” may seem long, but I’m not sure any of them are dealbreakers — except maybe the price tag. But if you’re already looking at Lexus, the fact the NX makes the IIHS TSP+ could help it win out over it’s RX and UX brothers. 

Plus, It has standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which means Waze integration. So, no need to add the pricey navigation option if you don’t want to. 

2020 Lexus NX 300 F-Sport

2020 Lexus NX 300 F-Sport (Photo by Jill Ciminillo)

 

The Specs
Engine: 2.0L, turbo I-4 (300), 2.5L I-4 + 2 electric motors (300h)
Horsepower: 235 (300), 194 (300h)
Torque: 258 (300)
Fuel economy (combined): 25 mpg (300 FWD), 24 mpg (300, AWD), 31 mpg (300h)
Drivetrain: FWD, AWD
Length: 182.3 inches
Width: 73.6 inches
Wheelbase: 104.7 inches
Seating capacity: 5
Cargo capacity: 17.7 cu ft (behind second row), 54.6 cu ft (rear seats folded)
Base price: $37,895
Price as tested: $51,910

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