Driving the Tour of California in a Lexus SUV, #2

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Navigation systems vary greatly. During 10 years of writing The Weekly Driver column, the best I’ve used is the system Hyundai vehicles called BlueLink. The overriding reason is its simplicity.

The navigation system utilized by Lexus is also commendable. Lexus calls its navigation and technology integration package EnForm. It’s the system installed in my 2015 Lexus NX 200t F Sport, my vehicle during the Amgen Tour of California.

The navigation has kept my good company since last Sunday. I’ve driven more than 650 miles so far and my appreciation for a GPS companion literally came into sharp focus last night. After stage 5 end in Santa Clarita, the media hotel was in Ontario. It’s  only about 70 miles, but in the maze of the Southern California freeway system and in heavy rain, I had to rely in the navigation system directions and also the side mirror traffic indicators. The trio took 1 hour and 45 minutes and plenty of patience.

The navigation on Lexus vehicles looks like it should fold into the dash. It doesn’t. It’s permanently positioned open. I had to adjust the volume of the female voice to nearly the loudest setting to hear the directions on a loud freeway, particularly in the  heavy rain.

The navigation system in the 2015 Lexus NX 200t Sport.
The navigation system in the 2015 Lexus NX 200t Sport. Images © James Raia/215

Since the navigation system is a good distance from from the driver’s seat, the time and miles left to arrival destinations are hard to see — at least for me. The split screen is easy to read and upcoming exits are announced about a mile in advance.

Destinations and other technology features are controlled with a directional pad on the console between the front seats. There’s a slight learning curve involved and the system is sensitive and scrolling past a designated number or letter has occurred frequently. The system also offers multiple driving options in shortest, quickest and alternate routes. In a few instances, notification of pending traffic delays never materialized as traffic delays. On a few other occasions, alternative route directions were given when remaining on the freeway was the best option.

After six days, I also filled the tank for the second time. On this stop, I had traveled 334 miles and refueled with 12.75 gallons at $4.29 per gallon. The cost was $54.75 and I averaged 26.1 mpg. My first fill-up was 12.1 gallons at $3.89 per gallon, a $47.25 total and a 24.52 mpg average. I’ve used the air conditioner frequently and have primarily driven freeway miles.

The EPA mpg estimates for the Lexus NX 200t F Sport are 22 mpg in city driving and 28 mpg on the freeway.

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