lexnx200Susan Frissell
womenwithwheels.com

Wearing the new Lexus design, the 2016 NX 200t F Sport is a head-turner. Edgy and modern, the NX is a much more relaxed drive than the Lexus RX; at least for this writer. Over all these years the ever-popular RX has gotten ever more larger, almost too much for some. While there is little to criticize when in a Lexus vehicle, one has to admit the styling needed updating. Dull and square, the new look is high-tech and appealing.

As expected in every Lexus product, the cabin is as up-to-date as would allow, construction is top-notch and there is generous room in the back seat. The cabin is quiet on the road, and the engine quiet and smooth, for the most part. We did experience once, that lag in the turbo.
Don’t plan on carrying several passengers or cargo in the NX. Capacity is smaller than some CUV’s in this category. We couldn’t warm up to the Remote Touch interface, and discovered trying to navigate radio stations isn’t the easiest task while driving.

For 2016, the NX 200t offers broader smartphone connectivity through Lexus’ Enform products, but otherwise remains unchanged since its introduction.

Lexus NX interior

Lexus NX interior

The NX model is an all-new compact luxury crossover, which while it joins a fairly crowded category, seems to be gaining popularity. Competing with such CUV’s as Mercedes-Benz GLK, BMW X3, Audi Q5, Acura RDX and Volvo XC60, the Lexus NX features even bolder styling than its competition. Loaded with all kinds of tech equipment, the NX is a sexy, sporty CUV.

As always, our test vehicles generally come in the top of the line configuration. Nice for us, but boy, it spoils! Our test NX 200t came equipped in the F Sport trim level. The sportiest of the NX lineup, the F Sport rides a little harder and feels performance-oriented with its tuned suspension. The Premium F Sport package includes heated front seats, power tilt/slide moonroof, memory power/tile/telescoping steering column, power 10-2ay driver’s seat, w/lumbar support, leather-trimmed steering wheel with paddle shifters.

One would assume any driver could find a comfortable nitch in the Lexus 10-way power adjustable seat, but this driver couldn’t seem to get it just right. When the seat back kept me close enough to the steering wheel, I felt the back of the seat hitting my head.

We played around with the various Eco/Normal/Sport choices for ride level. We didn’t notice much difference, and defaulted back to Eco. Fuel economy hovers around 22-24 mpg in town, with 28 mpg on highway driving. Should buyers need better numbers, they can opt for the hybrid version, NXN 300h.
The other options on our $46,000 NX 200t F Sport included Qi Compatible Wireless Charger, $220, Electrochromatic inside rear view mirror, Lexus Homelink Garage Door Opener, $125, LED headlamps w/o auto high beams, $1,160, Navigation Package (Remote Touch Interface, Lexus Enform Remote/Destination/App Suite, 10-speaker Lexus Premium Sound System, $1,875, Electronic outer mirrors with Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Reverse Tilt, Heated memory, $660, Pre-Collision System w/Speed Cruise Control, $900, Premium F Sport Package, $2,045, Heated Perforated Leather Trimmed Steering Wheel with paddle shifters, $150. Over $7,000 of options on this baby!

Sharing a few parts from the Toyota bin, the NX is all new with some RAV4 borrowed items. Lexus’ first attempt at competing in the CUV market segment, the NX has been well received. Five inches shorter than the RX SUV, the NX falls into the compact, rather than the midsize category.

Lexus offers two engines in the NX, including the 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, 235 horse power, and the 2.5-liter gas/electric hybrid, 4-cylinder with 194 hp. (NX 300h). Lexus has gone out on a design limb to attempt to attract a younger buyer to the NX CUV. Much more bold than Lexus designs have ever dared to be, the NX does stand out.

One would assume the NX, particularly in the F Sport version is a “sporty” CUV, but the 2.0-liter Turbocharged 4-cylinder isn’t the sportiest of engines. The least powerful engine in its class, the 2.0-liter falls short of any sporty feeling or power. Consider its competition: the Mercedes GLK 350’s 6-cylinder, 302-horsepower, the V6, 273 hp. Acura RDX, Volvo XC60 T6’s turbocharged 6-cylinder with 302 horse, and Audi Q5’s supercharged V6 engine with 272 hp.

The 6-speed automatic transmission in the NX doesn’t have a sporty dual clutch, either which makes the NX less of a sporty offering than its competitors. Fuel economy was most likely a consideration, and the NX is the leader here, at 22/28 mpg. We suspect, too, that Lexus loyalists will opt for the NX, not for its sportiness, or lack thereof, but rather, because it is a Lexus.

The NX 300h has an issue that may send shoppers elsewhere: pricing. Lexus announced that the split between gas and hybrid models will be 90 percent gas and 10 percent hybrids, and while the automaker hasn’t yet announced pricing, the Lexus officials that we spoke to explained that the primary reason for the huge imbalance is the hybrid model’s relatively high MSRP.

No question Lexus excels at interior design and quality of materials, comfort, resale, generous legroom, and high technology. Most auto enthusiasts know you can’t go wrong with a Lexus product. Base and F Sport versions are available, and the hybrid.

While all Lexus infotainment systems are top notch, we weren’t crazy about the remote touch controller. Difficult to use, and operates with just a light tap, made changing channels and sources not much fun. We prefer the joystick to the touchpad. Perhaps it’s just familiarity with one system or another. Some drivers, I’m sure, would prefer the touchscreen.

SPECS

MSRP: $38,365; total vehicle price $46,440, delivery $940
Engine: 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder, 16 valve, DOHC, Dual VVT, 235 hp., 258 lb.ft. torque
Transmission: 6-speed automatic, Dynamic Torque Control All-Wheel-Drive
Wheelbase: 104 in.
Height: 64.8 in.
Weight: Curb, 4,050 lbs.
Length: 182.3 in.
Fuel Tank Capacity: 15.9 gal.
Width: 73.6 in.
Tires: 235/60R18
Wheels: 18×7.5 in. split 5-spoke alloy w/machined finish
Warranty: 7 yrs/70,000-miles drivetrain, 4 yr/50,000-miles base