2015 Lexus NX 200t SUV

Susan Frissell
womenwithwheels.com

A Lexus first, the NX 200t front-wheel-drive SUV is a new generation of vehicle which may not appeal to just every driver. With an updated interior, LED lights in front and available moonroof, the NX version of the RX SUV is a performance vehicle a tad different than its RX stablemate.

Available in November of 2014, the NX 200t offers the latest in available technology, as well, including Lexus’ new and not so coveted (by this writer), Remote touch to operate all things technical: Navigation, radio, Bluetooth, etc. We found this ‘new and improved’ feature extremely annoying, longing for the other Lexus remote mouse-like controller introduced a couple of years back. Which by the way, also took some getting used to.

A car that seems to be widely popular with the AARP set (of which I am a member-but haven’t given up the much-preferred performance sedans), the RX luxury SUV explores new territory with the NX. Much sportier, more of the performance ilk, the NX also comes in the IS sedan version. We drove the sedan last week and found it a very pleasing offering. The RAV4-based NX 200t seems more youthful, dominated by Lexus’ sharp edgy new styling and our favorite: Recaro-like seats. These are a dream and we’d prefer to have them in every automobile, thank you.

Categorized by Lexus as its new entry-level luxury crossover, the NX will really confuse buyers now. Isn’t it he RX their entry-level SUV? It surely is a best seller-at least around Chicago’s North Shore; and in fact, sells better than the BMW 3-Series across the country. To the tune of more than 100,999 units a year.

The NX 200t we drove, equipped with the new 2.0-liter turbo four and six-speed automatic transmission is the standard faire. The new large, large front grille (like other manufacturer vehicles, these days), sport-tuned suspension choices and paddle-shifters, are standard. One can also opt for a hybrid version (300h). Of course.

A compact SUV, the NX offers Lexus’ first-ever turbocharged vehicle; our test NX was the F Sport version, which we prefer. Keeping good company, the NX will go up against stiff competitors BMW Xi, Audi Q3 and Mercedes-Benz GLA.

Smaller than the RX (5.5 inches shorter and 3.2 inches shorter wheelbase), and costing somewhat less, the new NX is aimed at the Audi Q5, another best-selling CUV. The NX, well-equipped will still cost you over $40,000. We bet.

The NX’s 2.0-liter turbo engine has big job carrying of 2,000-some pounds of the Crossover. It utilizes two injectors per cylinder and an integrated four-into-two exhaust manifold which reduces lag. Teamed with the six-speed automatic transmission, the NX kicks it up with the F Sport trim: stiffer steering, sport-tuned suspension (we went between sport and ECO), challenging the BMW X3 and Audi Q5.

Other reviewers have track-tested the NX 200t and found it a little wanting: something like zero to 60 mph in 6.9 seconds. We did not put the NX to the test however, did notice a louder than normal (for Lexus) engine noise. Obviously, the turbo is not the most refined engine, but then driving a Lexus ones expects total quiet. This writer did not find the 2.0-liter turbo engine quieter than a hybrid. When activating the “active sound control” system in Sport mode, the car makes a sporty sound.

The NX takes the turns and bends well, feels stable and confident with the F Sport suspension. One can’t expect an SUV to behave the way a sedan would when pushed a little. Due to weight and height, even the crossovers wash out a little. But then, they aren’t to be driven for racing or speed. Utility, I guess.

Lexus’ new styling is also reflected in the NX CUV and our F Sport version has a distinctive black mesh-filled spindle-shaped grille, a handful of LED lighting elements, both front and rear, black mirrors, and 18-inch wheels. The liftgate works by remote, and second row seating is adequate. We like the NX’s side view more than head on. It still is a Lexus, that cannot be denied, but at least they have attempted to put some new styling cues into the 2015 Lexus; a somewhat dull bunch, they’ve been getting to be.

The NX 200t interior is busy and compact. The sport seats are divine, everything is pretty much in reach, although again, we did not resonate with the Remote Touch feature. The other annoying thing was the screen, at one point, kept flitting around in nav mode. Couldn’t bring up a menu to change to radio, media or anything else. We suspect that was a quirk either in the software or brought on by the cold weather? It seemed to right itself after the a few hours.

It took a while to get the driver’s seat just right, but once we did, it was great. Exiting and entering proved a little cumbersome for this writer, at only 5’6 inches tall. Seating is high and a good thing for shorter drivers, but once the seat was in position, it hard not to bump my head when exiting the vehicle.

Aluminum pedals grace the floor in the F-Sport version, a highly contoured yet small steering wheel was just right in this performance-like SUV. Gauges, scuff plates, the dashboard and accents on the door all spoke of sport.large-1

This is a small cabin in the NX so things are for the most part, all reachable. The center stack is easily reached as is the generous center console where one can store all manners of stuff. The nav screen stand up out of the dash so it is easily seen and watched without making it too dangerous (eyes off road). All controls are at hand. Don’t expect to have a lot of extra space for goodies though. Two cupholders take up the center console area and there isn’t any place to store glasses, gum, keys, etc.

The base price for the NX CUV is $38,905 for the all-wheel-drive model. Our NX 200t with F Sport had an MSRP of $44,375 (which included a Premium package, parking assist, a sunroof, and blind-spot monitors in addition to the aforementioned navigation system). Different audiences will elect for one model over the other; probably not as many for the F Sport. At this writing, I am not sure what the estimated figures are from Lexus for each version.

SPECS

MSRP: $37,000-$41,000
Engine: 2.0-liter in-line 4, VVT-iW, 235 hp., 258 lb.ft. torque, 2.0-liter turbocharged, FWD
Transmission: six-speed automatic, Electronically-controlled with ECT-i
Wheelbase: 104.7 in.
Length: 182.3 in.
Width: 73.6 in.
Height: 64.8 in.
Tires: 225/54R17 all-season; available 225/60R18
Wheels: 17×7, 10-spoke alloy; available 18×7.5 in-split 5-spoke alloy
Weight: 3,940 lbs.
EPA Fuel economy:22/28 mpg.
Warranty: 4 yr./50,000-mile basic

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