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2018 Lexus NX

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2018 Lexus NX Expert Review

By

KBB Expert Rating: 8.9

Lexus’ smallest luxury-crossover SUV is also one of its most popular, making the 2018 Lexus NX a resounding sales success. Not wanting to mess with a good thing, the NX gets a mild mid-cycle freshening this year, but all the elements from the original vehicle are still in place, including the turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and hybrid model. Although it shares its platform with the RAV4, the two have little else in common. The NX makes a bold visual statement, touting Lexus’ somewhat polarizing spindle grille design. Inside, the NX displays a futuristic dash and instrument panel, luxurious seating options and a roomy rear seat. And while the Infiniti QX30 and Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 cost a bit less, neither offers the option of a hybrid engine.

You'll Like This Car If...

The 2018 Lexus NX 300 serves up the luxury brand’s most desirable features in a compact-luxury-crossover SUV as efficient as it is fun to drive. The NX 300h hybrid’s 31-mpg combined fuel-economy figure places it at the top of its class.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you regularly carry four adults, or need a luxury SUV with a large cargo area, an RX 350 is probably a better choice. You’ll find more conservative styling in an Audi Q3 or even the new Jaguar E-Pace, although neither has the NX’s strong resale and reliability record.

KBB Expert Ratings

  • 8.9
  • 8.6
  • 8.9
  • 8.8
  • 9.2
  • N/A
How It Ranks

#4

out of 17

Fuel Economy

#11

out of 19

Horsepower
View all rankings
What's New for 2018

For 2018, the Lexus NX 200t is renamed the Lexus NX 300. A more aggressive front end and suspension and interior updates mark the major changes, with new optional equipment including a foot-activated rear liftgate, 10.3-inch center dash display and adaptive dampers. The Lexus Safety System + (forward-collision warning, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and auto high beams) is now standard.

Driving the NX
Driving Impressions

Many cars tempt buyers with sporty good looks only to let them down with an engine and suspension that don’t live up to the visual hype. Thankfully, this description does...

... not apply to the 2018 Lexus NX 300. The NX’s turbocharged 2.0-liter engine loves to run, delivering its power in a smooth, linear fashion that makes this nearly 4,000-pound crossover SUV feel like a much lighter, more nimble vehicle. The available adaptive suspension is a modified version of the system used in the LC 500 coupe, helping improve cornering and stability and putting this little Lexus in the same league as its German rivals. Less thrilling but every bit as reliable is the NX 300h hybrid. With a less powerful drivetrain and the added weight of standard all-wheel drive, the NX 300h can’t quite keep pace with its gasoline-only counterpart, but its excellent mileage and equally impressive ride and handling are definitely something to consider.

2.0-LITER TURBOCHARGED 4-CYLINDER ENGINE
Although Lexus doesn’t have a long history in the world of turbocharging, they nailed it with the NX 300’s 2.0-liter turbo. Advanced engineering ideas, such an exhaust manifold-mounted turbocharger, reduce turbo lag while improving responsiveness and fuel economy.

DESIGN
Certain people prefer their vehicles be subtle, while others like them to make a statement. The 2018 NX 300 is anything but subtle, and its aggressive spindle grille gets even more pronounced this year. Still, it’s a look we like, and it certainly won’t be mistaken for one of the NX’s more generic-looking competitors.

2018 Lexus NX Details
Interior

It's no surprise that the cutting-edge exterior of a car looking like the 2018 NX has a cutting-edge interior. And we do mean edge, as the multiple levels, cutlines, materials and finishes could distract some drivers. Schizophrenic design choices aside, there's no mistaking the quality. From the stitched material on the dash to the many soft and padded surfaces, the Lexus NX exudes the sophistication of a higher class of vehicle than what you're actually driving. The improved touch-pad interface for the Remote Touch is clever, but still not as intuitive as touch-screen or knob-based systems.

Exterior

It used to be that Lexus vehicles were so understated they were boring. Not anymore. From its dramatically gaping grille, to the intricately detailed LED headlights, to the 3-dimensional sculpting of the taillights that you have to touch to really understand, the 2018 Lexus NX 300 takes everything you thought you knew about Lexus styling, folds it up into a crazy shape, and throws it back in your face. It doesn't always work -- the nose, for example, protrudes Durante-like in profile -- but overall it's nicely executed and at the very least is a welcome break from previous humdrum Lexus vehicles.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The compact 2018 NX 300 luxury-crossover SUV is as feature-packed and nicely equipped as the Lexus badge on the nose suggests. There are things you'd expect, like power seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, and leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. And a few others, such as the standard Lexus Display Audio with its 7-inch screen, voice recognition and the ability to divide the screen into three sections. There's LED interior lighting, plus LED taillights and low-beam headlights. Standard driver assists include forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning, auto high beams and adaptive cruise control.

Optional Equipment

Options extend beyond all-wheel drive for the NX 300 or a hybrid powertrain in the AWD NX 300h hybrid. A Navigation Package includes the Lexus Enform system, which adds Bing, Yelp, iHeartRadio and other apps, including maintenance reminders. The Remote Touch Interface uses a touch-pad controller that's slightly less fiddly than the mouse-like shuttle in other Lexus vehicles. The Leather package includes the Comfort and Premium packages, which add driver's-seat memory, and heated and ventilated front seats. The sporty set will like the aluminum pedals and sport-tuned suspension that come with the F Sport.

Under the Hood

The standard engine in the 2018 Lexus NX 300 is a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder with 235 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. If you measure performance by the infrequency of your visits to the gas pump, the NX 300h hybrid may be more your speed, with its combination of 2.5-liter 4-cylinder and electric motor putting out a total of 194 horsepower. This runs through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), but with a twist: Floor the throttle, and it activates a kick-down switch, immediately giving you full power. The NX 300 is available in front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive (FWD, AWD), while the hybrid is offered only in AWD. Note that the turbo requires premium fuel, while the hybrid is happy with regular unleaded.

2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
235 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm
258 lb-ft of torque @ 1,650-4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/28 mpg, 22/27 mpg (F Sport)

2.5-liter inline-4 engine + electric motor
Engine:
154 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm
152 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
Front Electric Motor:
141 horsepower
Rear Electric Motor: 67 horsepower
Net output: 194 horsepower
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 33/30 mpg (AWD)

The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) on a front-wheel-drive 2018 Lexus NX 300 starts at about $37,000 when you include the $975 destination charge. If you want all-wheel drive, bring an extra $1,400. The hybrid starts notably higher, at nearly $41,000. Note that the NX is priced higher than competitors like the Audi Q3, Infiniti QX30 and BMW X1, all of which start closer to $31,000; it's even about $1,000 higher than the Mercedes-Benz GLA 250, but $2,500 less than the new Jaguar E-Pace. Be sure to check out KBB.com's Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area paid for their new Lexus NX. Over the long haul, the Lexus NX has a clear resale value advantage over all of its rivals except the Mercedes-Benz GLA.

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