Photography by Rosemary DePear
Lexus debuts their first ever turbocharged gasoline engine in the NX. It’s an impressive 2.0 L four cylinder six-speed engine that whips out 235 horsepower and 258 lb-ft. of torque. The transmission is “Super Electronically Controlled” and uses a Luck Up Torque Converter.
Given that the weight is just over 4,000 pounds, there’s plenty of strength beneath your right foot to get you up to highway speeds with ease.
The first time I saw the NX 200t in person was last year when I was going to the Mandarin for dinner with my friend Mike. Sure, it looked attractive in pictures but up close, it was absolutely beautiful.
Whether you love/hate that massive spindle grill (I love it) it certainly stands out and those sharpened taillights bookend the car beautifully. The “L” shaped lights along with the diamond shaped body truly give this compact luxury SUV a notable step up from its competitors.
Seeing as Lexus was late to the party, they’ve made up for it by crafting a beautiful interior.
The 8” LCD screen is tilted away from the driver which makes it easier to glance at while keeping your eyes at road-level. There’s just enough buttons and dials to keep the clean look that luxury vehicles should have.
What I don’t care for is that touch pad Lexus calls a “Remote Touch Interface”, which is quite the sour spot on an otherwise gorgeous, well designed and comfortable interior. Instead of a dial or joystick, this system mirrors a trackpad on a laptop. My issue with it is it’s very sensitive and there were several missteps and wrong selections made that I didn’t want. Perhaps if I had this as my full time car I’d get used to it and figure a way to make it work but for 7 days, it was only slightly cooperative.
On a happier note, the available leather seats are filled with liquid foam (opposed to having leather stitched around solid foam) and this allows even distribution of the foam for a more comfortable seat with maximum luxury. The F Sport seats are worth the upgrade as the thigh and side bolsters are close to best in class.
Even though the steering wheel looks big and bulky, it does have a strong “nice to hold” factor.
On the road
Even though it’s new, the NX 200t apple doesn’t fall far from the Lexus tree. The ride quality is smooth and surefooted and while I wouldn’t quite call it “nimble” I would say that its strongest on the road point is that of the terrific road feel. Yes, it takes corners well and there’s very little interior noise and it jumps up to speed quickly but perhaps that’s to be expected in the luxury segment.
For me, I look for how comfortable the car is, how easy steering motions are and a higher line of sight, all of which the NX 200t does very well.
Eco, Normal, Sport and Sport+ are available drive modes and for most of us, we’ll live in Eco or Normal because, well, it’s practical for city driving.
As far as compact luxury SUV’s go, this one has provided one of the more enjoyable drives. It just feels good when you’re in motion. Sure, I could throw in a handful of adjectives but simply put, Lexus has given the red-hot market a car that handles well, gives the driver confidence behind the wheel and ample power to get from A to B.
There’s no traditional “trim” levels for this “Nimble Crossover” which is what NX stands for.
Instead, there are package options.
The first batch consists of a Premium Package, Luxury Package and Executive Package, which include bigger wheels, active safety features, leather seats, upgraded audio, auto-levelling headlights and other nifty features, depending on where your tastes lie.
The F Sport Series 1, 2 and 3 include “F” badging, active safety, unique wheels, paddle shifters and a few other goodies.
My week long tester was decked out with the F Sport 3 package for a cool $12,250 where the most relevant feature for me was the wireless charging and suite of active safety features.
Out of the box, the NX 200t is sans the popular active safety features. However, in the coming years, Lexus will make standard their Lexus Safety System+, which include pre-collision braking, lane departure alert, auto high beam and active cruise control. Until then, all these plus blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alerts, clearance and backup sensors and a few others are obtained through some of the above mentioned package options.
Enjoy the full gallery below: