The Lexus NX is a small sport utility vehicle, a Model that slots between the tiny UX and the popular RX. Following an extensive overhaul in 2022, the NX returns unchanged for 2023. Like the RX, the NX comes in gas, turbo, and two hybrid configurations. Even so, this Lexus finds itself outmatched by some of its competitors.
The 2023 Lexus NX 250 comes standard with front-wheel drive, though an all-wheel drive option is available and comes standard on other models. It boasts 18-inch 15-spoke alloy wheels with a dark gray and machined finish, lending it a distinctive appeal.
As you explore higher trim levels or select package upgrades, you will find a variety of additional wheel choices. These include the gloss black-finished 20-inch wheels exclusive to the F Sport Handling model.
Speaking of the F Sport model, this one comes with a unique front fascia and mesh grille insert, rain-sensing wipers, and aluminum door trim.
When you step inside the Lexus NX 250, you’ll notice a leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob. For comfort, the vehicle has 10-way power-adjustable front seats for the driver and 8-way adjustable seats for the passenger. Heated front seats and a dual-zone automatic climate control system with an interior air filter come standard.
Package and trim upgrades add ventilated front seats, a moonroof, a hands-free power rear door with a kick sensor, and a power-adjustable steering column. Also available is perforated leather upholstery, a driver’s seat with 4-way lumbar support, wood trim accents, and a heated steering wheel.
The standard Lexus Safety System+ 3.0 features an array of safety technologies including risk avoidance emergency steer assist, left turn oncoming vehicle detection/braking, right/left turn oncoming pedestrian detection/braking, and dynamic radar cruise control with curve speed management. It also has road sign assist, a pre-collision system, lane departure alert with steering assist, intelligent high beam, and dynamic radar cruise control. These features are often “extra” on competing models, often bundled with pricey upgrades.
In terms of tech, the NX 250 doesn’t disappoint. The Lexus Interface, which includes a 9.8-inch touchscreen display, takes center stage. There’s wireless integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, providing connectivity options for most smartphone users. Sound-wise, there’s a 10-speaker Lexus Premium Audio System, and the vehicle has four USB ports for your devices. Also, the NX 250 has Drive Connect, which offers features like Cloud Navigation, Intelligent Assistant (Hey Lexus), and Destination Assist. Opting for the Drive Connect subscription will set you back $16 each month. However, if your vehicle comes with a more sizeable 14-inch display, you’ll enjoy three years of complimentary access. Unfortunately, those with the smaller 9.8-inch screen aren’t offered a trial period.
Other upgrades include a 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio package, a head-up display, and a panoramic view monitor. The available Advanced Park feature assists with parallel parking and is useful for negotiating backing into tight spaces. In essence, the system manages the car’s steering, brakes, and transmission for a hands-free driving experience.
The Lexus NX 250 has a 2.5-liter in-line four-cylinder engine. It delivers 203 horsepower at 6,600 rpm and 184 pound-feet of torque at 5,000 rpm. This engine pairs with a smooth-shifting, 8-speed automatic transmission.
Choose the NX 350 and this model has a 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 275 horsepower and 316 pound-feet of torque. This engine also works with an 8-speed automatic transmission.
The NX also offers a pair of hybrid choices. Both the standard (350h) and plug-in hybrid (450h+) models utilize the same engine as the NX 250, running it on the efficient Atkinson cycle. The standard hybrid outputs 240 total system horsepower, while the PHEV puts out up to 304 horsepower.
Fuel efficiency is a strong suit for the NX, especially with the hybrids. The conventional model delivers 41 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway for a combined 39 mpg. Select the PHEV and those numbers are similar. Moreover, this model has a 37-mile all-electric range, further enhancing fuel efficiency.
Behind the Wheel
Our test model was the NX 350 F Sport Handling model. Besides the previously mentioned upgrades, this version has front and rear performance dampers well as an adaptive variable suspension system. Even so, we found that certain models such as the Mercedes-Benz GLC Class and the BMW X3 offer superior handling. Furthermore, even the new Genesis GV70 delivers a more car-like driving experience. All three have a rear-wheel-drive bias and that becomes evident in more spirited driving and we believe that’s the difference maker.
All in all, we found that our test model offered a leisurely sprint from a dead stop to highway speeds. Its handling is good, not great, and ride comfort is decent. Happily, body roll is not a significant issue. Braking is firm and if you need to tow, this model pulls up to 2,000 pounds when properly equipped.
Lexus NX Takeaways
Lexus’s renowned quality and reliability make the NX a solid contender in a crowded segment. Unfortunately, the 450h model doesn’t qualify for a federal tax credit as this model is built in Japan.
2023 Lexus NX 350 Specifications
|Lexus||2023 NX 350|
|Segment||Compact Luxury SUV|
|Price Range||$43,965 to $50,105|
|Engine||2.4-liter, I-4, turbocharged|
|Horsepower||275 @ 6,000 rpm|
|Torque (lb.-ft.)||317 @ 1,700-3,600 rpm|
|Bore x Stroke (inches)||3.44 x 3.92|
|Headroom (f,r…inches)||38.3, 38.5|
|Legroom (f,r…inches)||41.0, 36.1|
|Shoulder room (f,r…inches)||56.3, 54.0|
|Hip room (f,r…inches)||56.3, 52.5|
|Pax Volume (cu. ft.)||N/A|
|Cargo Storage (cu. ft.)||22.7, 46.9|
|Curb Weight (pounds)||4,035|
|Gross vehicle weight (pounds)||5,225|
|Fuel Tank (gallons)||14.53|
|EPA Fuel MPG (city/highway/combined)||22/29/25|
|Manufacturing Plant||Ontario, Canada|
Specifications supplied by the manufacturer. Statistics assembled by Tom Keegan.
See Also — The Lexus ES Lives on in a Dramatically Smaller Segment
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