2016 Lexus NX 300h: Luxurious, efficient, pricey

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Now it its second model year, the 2016 Lexus NX 300h continues from its debut last year without major changes. The luxury compact crossover is rare in its segment. Its only competition is the Audi Q5 hybrid.

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

A gasoline-electric hybrid, the 2016 Lexus NX 300h features a 2.5-liter, 16-valve, four-cylinder gasoline engine matched with two electric motors supplied with a nickel-metal hydride battery pack. The marriage produces 194 horsepower.

Like all Lexus vehicles throughout the high-end lineup, the Lexus NX has a substantial standard technology and safety equipment list equaled by a similarly sized list of options. Standard features include: Satellite radio, HD Radio, an eight-speaker audio system, a USB port, Siri Eyes Free, a 7-inch display screen operated by a joystick controller on the console, and a rearview camera.

Available top optional features include: wireless phone charging, navigation with a touchpad controller (Remote Touch), voice recognition, the Lexus Enform App suite, a 10-speaker audio system, leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning and front and rear parking sensors.

The 2016 Lexus NX 300h is a luxury compact SUV.
The 2016 Lexus NX 300h is a luxury compact SUV. All images © Gretchen Gaither/2016.

 

There’s also adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, the Lexus Enform Remote, which allows activation if certain vehicle functions from your smartphone.

2016 Lexus NX 300h: Expensive options

None of the optional equipment is cheap, and it’s the main reason potential buyers seeking a luxury vehicle with a fair price might hesitate. The total option packages and one-off options pushes the MSRP from just under $40,000 to just under $50,000. The Luxury Package, for example, features more than a dozen items — a heated leather steering wheel to a power tilt and slide moon roof. But it’s a $4,505 consideration.

Regardless, potential Lexus owners should know what current Lexus owners already understand. Lexus and luxury are synonymous. The NX in the SUV’s named means “Nimble Crossover” and the initials are accurate.

Immensely comfortable, spacious and manufactured with high-end material, the NX has responsive steering and an overall smooth drive. But its horsepower is limiting and combined with its heavy hybrid load advanced with only adequate acceleration. Since the rest of the car’s attributes are so strong, the hybrid’s lackluster acceleration seems further pronounced.

Like many smaller sedans and compact SUVs, the NX Lexus 300h is rated as a five-passenger vehicle. But it’s better suited for only two adult backseat passengers, who can ride with plenty of headroom and legroom and substantial “elbow room,” too.

2016 Lexus NX 300h: Impressive cargo space

The NX Lexus 300h provided one surprising moment in a utilitarian SUV role. With the back seats down and the front seats moved to their most forward position, a boxed shelling unit 77 inches long, 24 inches wide and 6 inches deep barely fit positioned flat in the rear cargo area. But it fit. That’s an impressive storage capacity for a compact SUV.

Likes:

Excellent fuel economy.
Spacious rear seats.
Surprisingly spacious cargo space.
Good overall vision.

Dislikes:

Mediocre acceleration.
Blue Vortez Metallic exterior color (too bright).

Facts & Figures, 2016 Lexus NX 300h

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 8.4 seconds.
Airbags: 8
Fuel economy: 35 mpg (city), 31 mpg (highway), 33 mpg (combined), continuously variable transmission.
Horsepower: 194.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $39,720.00.
Manufacturer’s Web site: www.lexus.com.
Price As Tested: $48,945.00.
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 4 years/50,000 miles; Powertrain, 6 years/70,000 miles; Hybrid system, 8 years/100,000; Corrosion: 8 years/70,000 miles.

What Others Say:

“If you’re single or a couple without kids, the 2015 Lexus NX 300h is a new compelling entry in a segment admittedly filled with other compelling entries. If your priority is to find the most fuel-efficient of those, though, your choice might have become a lot easier.” — Edmunds.com.

“The 2016 Lexus NX is a comfortable, high-tech and sophisticated compact-luxury-crossover SUV, combined with the legendary reliability that made Lexus famous, and all wrapped in cutting-edge styling.” — Kelley Blue Book.

“While the NX 300h supplies instant torque and smooth response when driving in the city, it often felt out of breath on the highway, where foot-down passing maneuvers were noisy and unrefined affairs.” — New York Daily News.

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“Handsome, well-appointed, comfortable and spacious, the 2016 Lexus NX 300h does a lot right. Its one shortcoming is a common concern in the hybrid segment — mediocre acceleration.”

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