Goldilocks and the Lexus NX

The Lexus NX is the medium sized SUV in the Lexus model line-up sitting above the UX and below the RX making it a bit like the Goldilocks model of the range. Not too big, not too small, but just right for an SUV that will comfortably carry a family of four and their gear.

Styling of course is a personal taste, but I like the sharp exterior design lines of the NX, especially in the premium Mercury Grey paint on my SUV. The NX 300 AWD F Sport model I drove also came with F Sport Unique 18″ Smoke-finish alloy wheels to finish off the dark look nicely.

Driving in the Lexus NX feels solid and it has a good ride quality, it’s what you would expect from a Lexus, although I thought there could have been a bit more sound proofing in the cabin from road noise. The NX in F Sport guise has five drive modes including Eco, Normal/Custom and Sport/Sport +. In Custom mode you can adjust the power train, chassis and climate to suit your exact liking. Even though it has ‘Sport’ in its name and F Sport Unique Suspension Tuning, this is not a performance SUV as there is no more power than what you get in the other non-hybrid NX models.

These are all powered by a 2.0 litre, 4-cylinder, turbocharged petrol engine that produces 175kW of power and 350Nm of torque. The NX all-wheel drive (AWD) system is only part time, meaning for the majority of time it is 2WD and this reduces fuel use, and the AWD is only engaged when the system detects that more grip is needed. The official combined fuel consumption is 7.9L/100km and for my week I used 10.0L/100km. If you are after a more fuel efficient NX SUV then consider the hybrid variant, which has an official fuel consumption figure of 5.7L/100km for the AWD version.

Exclusive F Sport interior features include the leather accented uniquely bolstered front seats with adjustable headrests. When you find that ‘just right’ driver’s seat position, thanks to the 8-way power adjustment including lumbar support; you can save it on one of the three memory positions available. The passenger misses out on lumbar adjustment and memory positions, but both seats are heated and cooled as standard. Being it’s winter I used the heated seats every day and the feature I liked most about them was if you left them on and turned the NX off and came back in the morning the seats would be turned on as soon as you started the SUV up and started heating immediately. I tried the cooled seats just to check them out and would say they ae on par with others I have sampled.

I had a bit of love hate relationship with the interior of the Lexus NX. The F Sport seats and leather accented interior trim are lovely and I liked the arm rest, which has wireless charging for compatible devices underneath it and if you lift up that there is a deeper storage cubby with two USB ports, one 12V outlet and an AUX inlet. Then as you move forward between the arm rest and the palm rest for the Lexus touchpad there is a little removable mirror. I am not a woman who wears lipstick, but I imagine those who do would really like this feature.

What I didn’t like about the interior was the way the dash protrudes out into the cabin; I think it would have looked more stylish if this was flatter. I also do not like navigating the infotainment system using the Lexus touch pad; even on the least sensitive setting I still found myself over shooting the selection I was after.

The 10.3-inch multimedia screen can be set up to have two screens displayed, so you can have the map on one side and on the smaller right hand screen climate or trip info for example. Media sources available on the NX include AM/FM radio, DAB, CD, USB, AUX, Bluetooth and Miracast or you can connect to Apple CarPlay/Android Auto or the Lexus App Suite.

The driver’s dash is a combination of analogue dials and a central digital colour display that can be controlled using controls on the steering wheel. My NX had the easy access steering wheel and seat that moves back to make it easier for me to get into the SUV. However once I was in the seat did not come forward until I hit the start button, but because it is back I had to reach forward to do this. A small detail I know, but an annoying one in my mind. There were a few other things I didn’t like about the steering wheel including that the cruise control stalk was located behind the wheel rather than as a control on the front of the wheel. Also the voice control button had a man’s face on it, like many other car marques, but more importantly the voice control in this Lexus was a bit hit and miss to use.

In the back, the rear seats have enough head and leg room for two adults to comfortably fit and the seats can also recline. The centre seat can be folded down as an arm rest with two drink bottle holders at the front and there is easy to access drink bottle storage in the door cubby as well. Rear passengers get central air vents with speed control only and there are no USB or 12V outlets located in the back. On the upside the floor mat completely covers the rear foot well and the transmission tunnel only slightly protrudes into the cabin.

There are two ISOFIX/three rear tether child seat restraint points, with the centre rear tether point located in the roof. But this is actually a waste of time as you would not fit three car seats across the rear seat anyway. Also if the centre seat was to be used the seat belt is located where the left hand passenger is sits, so it would be very uncomfortable for them if it were used.

I found the boot door to be slow to respond when I pressed the boot opening button on the outside. I found myself double touching the button and then it would stop completely. The boot is a reasonable size though and would fit a stroller and the weekly shop. There are tie down points, which are oddly placed, one 12V outlet and a temporary spare tyre under the boot floor. If you need more boot space the rear seats are 60/40 split folding.

Driver safety aids that come on every NX include the Lexus Safety System+, which features a Pre-Collision System, Lane Tracing Assist, Radar Active Cruise Control, Road Sign Assist, and Automatic High Beam plus blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert. My NX had a 360o reversing camera with reversing guidelines and front and rear sensors. One thing that I noticed and liked on this SUV also was that the camera automatically activated when an object, in this case my dog, walked close to the car while I was sitting in the driveway in Park with the car running.

Passive safety features include eight air bags in total with dual frontal, side chest, side head-protecting (curtain) and driver’s knee airbags fitted as standard. All variants of the Lexus NX range come with a 5-star ANCAP (2017) safety rating.

All new Lexus models come with a four year/100,000km warranty and membership to the Encore program for three years. Encore includes roadside assistance, service loan cars and Capped Price Servicing throughout your Encore membership period. This applies to standard scheduled logbook servicing (normal operating conditions) for up to three years or 60,000km, whichever occurs first and only for up to a maximum of six services. Through the Encore program Lexus owners can enjoy a range of exclusive benefits at some of Australia’s leading high-end hotels and access to exclusive lifestyle events and opportunities to connect with other Lexus owners.

The Lexus NX 300 AWD F Sport starts at $66,152 plus on-road costs and as tested with premium paint my NX was $67,652 plus on-roads. I have now driven three of the four Lexus SUVs and the NX is my favourite. The size is just right, it is good looking from the outside at least, and comes standard with heaps of safety tech. Visit your preferred Lexus dealer to try one out for yourself.

ProsCons
Feels solid and is comfortable to driveThe Lexus touch pad
The heated front seatsSlow opening boot
Lots of safety tech comes as standardThe voice control didn’t work well enough

Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.