Lexus NX 300h: A compact SUV worth a closer look

Lexus NX 300h: A compact SUV worth a closer look

You can read the auto manufacturer’s literature and the car magazines. You can take the test drives. But for long-term insight, go to those with experience.

So I recently spoke with an individual who owned a Lexus NX 300h, not just for their thoughts, but for a comparison to the Lexus RX 350 that they had previously owned. The preference was clearly for the RX and they were switching back ASAP.

While I nodded my head on the outside, on the inside I thought this:

“Really?”

Now, don’t get me wrong. The RX is hard to beat in the luxury midsize sport-utility vehicle category for quality and price. But the 2017 NX is loaded with reasons to favor it.

Lexus’ smallest crossover enters its third model year. The 300h gas-electric version is the only hybrid offered in the luxury compact class. It is complemented in the lineup by the NX 200t and its turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. The 300h is where our focus is today, and our week of testing drew positive responses from some discriminating friends – even those riding in the back seat, who had not considered this vehicle before.

The powerplant is a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and two electric motors that pair with a continuously variable transmission to turn out 194 horsepower. There are Normal, Sport and Eco drive modes and electric-only capability for short, low-impact trips. EPA mileage ratings – let’s face it, this should be the key consideration for hybrid buyers – are 33 mpg/city and 30 mpg/highway.

While the sharp-edged looking NX is 10 inches shorter, nearly three inches shorter and an inch narrower than the RX, many of the driving traits are the same, from the composed handling, to sedan-like road covering. Available only with all-wheel drive this year, the NX is going to provide that extra bit of winter-condition confidence.

Inside, there is no scrimping on materials with look and feel exceeding even this $40K price point. Lexus’ NuLuxe leather-like upholstery is as good as the real thing, which can be added as an option. The seats are both plush and supportive and the passengers in back have good room all around.

Where the NX comes up short is in cargo area with 16.8 cubic feet of space behind the back seats and 53.7 cubic feet when those seats are folded.

Of course, if you want to haul more stuff in a Lexus, you will probably go for an RX. As it is, the NX 300h stands nicely on its own. You can look it up, or see for yourself.

2017 LEXUS NX 300h

  • Price/As-tested price………………… $39,720/$47,053
  • Mileage…………………………………… 33 mpg/city; 30 mpg/hwy
  • Engine……………………………………… 2.5-liter 4-cylinder/electric
  • Horsepower…………………………… 194 hp
  • Drive wheels……………………………………… All-wheel drive
  • Final assembly point……………………………………… Miyawaka, Fukuoka, Japan

Weather and Traffic