Monday, July 9, 2018

IN THE DRIVEWAY: 2018 Lexus NX300

It's another week and there is another Lexus in the driveway. Last week it was the mid-level GS300 sedan. This week, it's the NX300 F Sport - the brands smallest luxury crossover SUV.

Out since 2014, the NX shares its platform with the popular Toyota RAV4, yet looks nothing like it. Instead, the exterior of the NX is highly sculpted and is quite edgy.  As with all new Lexus vehicles, the NX sports the brand's signature huge spindle grille.

This model year's biggest change isn't with the vehicle itself but rather it's name. Referred to before as the NX200t (for it's 2.0 liter turbochaged engine), for 2018 it now goes by as the NX300 - although the engine is basically the same. Other changes include slight revisions to both the front and rear fascias, as well as the headlights.

Inside, the Lexus reminds me quite of bit like last week's GS. The design emits a modern vibe with an expensive look and feel. In typical Lexus fashion, build-quality is top-notch and all the materials feel rich and with substance. Being that the NX is a small vehicle the interior doesn't feel as spacious as other Lexus vehicles, but that luxurious feel is there nonetheless.

The NX300 was the first Lexus to be powered by a turbocharged engine, although other models, such the GS300 and IS300 have since followed suit. As before, the engine in the NX300 is a 2.0 liter turbo four-cylinder capable of making 235 hp and 258 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is optional.

As with other Lexus models, the NX is available with an F Sport trim package. Going this route equips the NX with a more pronounced grille with jet black plating, unique machined-finished black wheels and a cabin decked out in Metallic Sport trim.

The NX drives with plenty of authority thanks to the boosted four banger. Turn the drive selector to Sport mode and the shifts get a little more aggressive and the suspension tightens up. Most NX buyers will be content to keep it in normal mode, as the NX delivers a comfortable ride while still bringing in 22 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway.

It's easy to look at the NX300 as a mini-RX350, although you do give up interior room due to it's size and rear cargo space is limited due to the steeply sloped rear window. Overall though, for those wanting a refined ans stylish small luxury crossover, they should have no problem with the NX300.

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