Happy Holidays from Right Foot Down! Today we review the Lexus NX and find out if it has a chance at filling in for Santa’s sleigh. Well, it’s red at least. The emergence of large, multi-brand automakers isn’t new. Toyota has been one of the biggest for some time and has been sharing platforms and components across its various brand for years. So when they decided to take the diminutive RAV-4 and put a Lexus badge on it, I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. Take a look at the video to find out.
This isn’t our first Lexus, or our first F-Sport. We actually reviewed the IS-350 F-Sport recently, and found it a great alternative to the typical German sports sedan. The IS is built with some sporting purpose on the front end though, so adding the F goodies is like adding icing to cake. Sounds delicious, and it was. My initial concern about this F-version of a more pedestrian vehicle was, as you can naturally assume, that it would be like putting icing on an onion. It just doesn’t make sense and may taste like crap. I can say up front, that’s thankfully not the case. This compact, AWD crossover isn’t fast, but it’s fairly entertaining as a daily driver, which will be it’s main lot in life. At 235hp, the 2.0L turbo in-line 4-cylinder isn’t breaking any records. It weighs one of those really big dog food bags more than 4000 pounds, so you can do your own maths and see that it’s not going to win a lot of races.
But the folks behind Lexus’ F models (remember, F is to M as F-Sport is to M-Sport) focus on bigger things than horsepower. All NXs feature MacPherson struts in the front and a “uniquely designed” double-wishbone suspension in the rear while the F-Sport adds front and rear performance dampers and a “suspension tuned by the same team that was behind the LFA supercar”. True! This was no LFA, but it could change direction fairly well. On mixed driving through back roads, the highway, and even some unpaved farm roads, the NX did everything admirably. Lexus figures this “200t” model will reach 60 mph in 7.2 seconds. Now, back in my early car days, that was pretty quick. Probably similar to what my 2001 Honda Prelude reached 60 in, and that wasn’t a terribly slow car. Of course, a decade and a half later, we live in a world of 700hp cars that can be purchased under $100,000, so we are most certainly becoming jaded about what “fast” is. For a daily driver SUV, it’ll help you merge onto the highway without getting nailed, and that’s about all most NX drivers will use the turbocharged engine for.
Inside, the NX felt consistent with the F-Sport equipped IS. The fit and finish, as well as the materials and overall look of the interior, was quite comparable. I love seeing consistency across various models, however that means that some of the bits we didn’t like about the IS are also in the NX. The tacked on screen sits high on the dash, which is great for keeping your eyes on the road, but it’s (still) not a touch screen. So you have to be cool with the Lexus mouse. It’s still pretty easy to use, but takes a little getting used to. By far the strangest part of the interior was the removable mirror from the center console area. It covers a small compartment to keep…something…in and is likely targeted to someone who puts their makeup on while driving. It most certainly felt like a last minute decision that the interior designers shrugged their shoulders and just went with. The tiered dash works pretty well, and I really liked the cascading materials coming down the right side. Going from a nice double-stitched leather, to some sort of carbon fibre pattern, to a more nice leather looks pretty impressive and befits the price-tag of the NX. Ah right, how much is it? Well, you’re looking at $40,000 for something similar to what we had, ours actually hit $43,138 when all was said and done. Is that a lot to pay for a RAV-4 based compact SUV? We’ll address that in a bit. For now, we need to finish out the interior. The back seats are generous, likely a result of the fact that all small cars become medium sized cars and the RAV-4 platform is no exception. The NX is a true 5-person car, if a touch narrow, so shoulders may be close to shoulders in the back. The way-back can actually hold some stuff, more on that below.
Welcome to “below”. After many press car reviews, most where I have used this same methodology of hauling people, hauling stuff and hauling ass, I finally hauled some stuff! Sort of ironic that it wasn’t in a bigass truck, or a bigass SUV, but a small crossover. I did it though, I filled this sucker full of wood for our fireplace and even tossed a Christmas tree on top. Stuff has been hauled! The NX did pretty well, and while what you saw in the video wasn’t a full cord of wood or anything, it was what we came there to get. It also did well on 4-hour road trip to PA for Thanksgiving, swallowing several says worth of family stuff. I could even see out the back window, which was a bonus. So box checked, the Lexus NX can haul stuff.
Now for the big question, is a RAV-4 based Lexus worth $40K? The answer is, “probably” and, as usual, has some dependencies. Do you live in the city, need to haul some stuff (or people) occasionally, and have limited space to park? Than a smaller crossover like this makes sense, that is, if you are looking for the luxury features and more aggressive interior. If not, buy a RAV-4. Lots of people buy those, like 283,546 through the first 11 months of this year. So it’s understandable if you want something a little different. Lexus has done well with the NX, moving almost 39,000 this year. Not bad, but not quite as many RDXs as Acura has sold, or Q5s sold over at Audi (it’s quite a bit better than Mercedes has done with the GLA though). Time will tell with regard to long-term sales, but that’s a pretty solid start for a new crossover. So back to the original question, should you buy it? Basically, it’s a (likely) reliable, compact crossover, that still has a good amount of space. So if you are looking to spend mid-$30K monies on something similar, go check out the NX. We prefer the more aggressive look of the F-Sport, but we would equip all F-cars at Lexus with the LFA’s V10, so we’re not exactly sane.
Trim: 200t F-Sport
Trans: 6-Speed Auto
Engine: 235hp 2.0 in-line 4-cylinder Turbo
Exterior: Matodor Red Mica
Interior: Black NuLuxe with Metallic Sport trim
Delivery, Processing, & Handling Fee: $925
Packages & Options
Premium Package $2,045
- Outer-sliding moonroof
- Heated and ventilated front seats
- Enhanced LED daytime running lights (DRL) with integrated turn indicators
- Electrochromic Heated Outside Mirrors
Qi-Comparible Wireless Charger $220
Electrochromatic (Auto-Dimming) Outer Mirrors with Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Reverse Tilt, and Heated/Memory $660
Intuitive Parking Assist -$500
Power Back Door $400
Heated Steering Wheel $150
Trunk Mat, Cargo Net, Wheel Locks, and Key Gloves $258
Total MSRP: $43,138