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2021 Lexus NX Review

The 2021 Lexus NX 300 ranks in the lower half of the luxury compact SUV class. The NX offers a high-end and comfortable interior, lots of standard safety features, and a great predicted reliability rating, but it also has middling performance and a frustrating infotainment system.

Pros & Cons

  • Roomy seating
  • Smooth, quiet ride
  • Many standard safety features
  • Great predicted reliability rating
  • Frustrating infotainment controls
  • Relatively small cargo area

7.6

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 6.7
Performance: 6.7
Interior: 6.1
Safety:
This rating isn’t available yet for the current model year. In the meantime, last year’s rating of 9.5 for safety is being used to calculate this vehicle’s overall score.
TBD
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

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Is the Lexus NX a Good SUV?

Yes, the 2021 Lexus NX 300 is a good luxury compact SUV. The two-row NX indulges passengers with its comfy seats, roomy and quiet cabin, premium materials, and gentle ride. Its turbocharged engine zips the SUV around town and on the highway with respectable verve. Lexus packs the NX with loads of active safety features. That said, the NX’s distracting touchpad infotainment controls may frustrate you.

We review the Lexus NX Hybrid separately.

Why You Can Trust Us: 31 Reviews Analyzed

We’ve analyzed 31 Lexus NX reviews, as well as data points like reliability ratings and fuel economy estimates, to help you make the best car-buying decision possible.

This 2021 NX review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which launched for 2015.

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking and reviewing vehicles since 2007, and our staff has more than 75 years of combined experience in the auto industry. To ensure our objectivity, we never accept expensive gifts from carmakers, and an outside firm manages the ads on our site.

Should I Buy the Lexus NX?

The 2021 Lexus NX 300 is definitely worth a look if you’re shopping for a small luxury SUV. It’s refined and comfortable, and it has a strong predicted reliability rating. Its relatively low price point makes it a good value in this class as well. This segment has changed considerably since the NX debuted though, and in that time the NX has been outshined by freshly redesigned rivals like the BMW X3 and Audi Q5, especially in terms of infotainment ease of use. You may want to consider those SUVs first.

Compare the NX, X3, and Q5 »

2020 vs. 2021 Lexus NX: What's the Difference?

The main difference between the 2020 and 2021 Lexus NX is that the previously optional blind spot monitoring system is now standard in 2021 models.

Compare the 2020 and 2021 NX »

Here are the key changes for the Lexus NX over the last few years:

  • 2015: all-new vehicle
  • 2016: no major changes
  • 2017: no major changes
  • 2018: name changed from NX 200t to NX 300; gained larger standard infotainment display (8 inches, up from 7); forward collision warning with brake assist, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and lane keep assist added to standard features list
  • 2019: gained Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa compatibility
  • 2020: added Android Auto compatibility
  • 2021: blind spot monitoring now standard

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2018 NX, 2019 NX, and 2020 NX reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Best New Car Deals and Best New Car Lease Deals pages to learn about savings and discounts you can find on new vehicles.

How Much Does the Lexus NX Cost?

The 2021 Lexus NX 300 has a $37,510 starting price, which is at the lower end of the luxury compact SUV class alongside rivals like the Acura RDX and Infiniti QX50. The NX’s highest trim level carries a $45,360 price tag.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Lexus dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Lexus deals page.

Lexus NX Versus the Competition

Lexus NX vs. Lexus RX

The Lexus RX 350 is the brand’s luxury midsize SUV, though it still has a lot in common with the compact NX 300. Both of these SUVs offer upscale and quiet interiors, well-cushioned seats, a comfortable ride, many standard safety features, and great predicted reliability ratings. Both are similarly styled inside and out as well. The RX 350 is a few thousand dollars pricier than the NX, and its V6 engine isn’t as thrifty at the gas pump. If you can live with that though, the RX may be the better option. It’s more practical for growing families, thanks to its roomier cabin and optional third-row seats. Its touch-screen infotainment system is a bit easier to use as well.

Compare the NX and RX »

Lexus NX vs. Lexus UX

The Lexus UX 200 is a luxury subcompact SUV. Like the NX, the UX has a strong reputation for reliability, loads of active safety features, and an easygoing ride on uneven roads. The base model UX is about $5,000 less expensive than the NX, and it returns much better fuel economy of 29/37 mpg. On the other hand, the UX accelerates very slowly, and its rear seats aren’t adult-friendly. Test-drive both of these Lexus SUVs to see which you prefer.

Compare the NX and UX »

Compare the NX, RX, and UX »

NX Interior: Posh, Roomy, Frustrating

NX Cargo Space

The NX 300 has 17.7 cubic feet of cargo space with its rear seats upright and 54.6 cubic feet with those seats folded. That’s a bit below average for a luxury compact SUV. The Infiniti QX50 and Volvo XC60 offer the most cargo capacity in this class.

How Many People Does the NX Seat?

The Lexus NX 300 is a two-row SUV with five seats. The front seats are supple, and there’s ample head- and legroom, even for taller occupants. The rear seats are similarly plush, and they can comfortably fit two adults or three kids for short trips around town. The cabin filters out most road and wind noise, resulting in a quiet and relaxing ride. Outward visibility is good to the front and sides of the SUV, but the thick roof pillars limit rear visibility.

NuLuxe synthetic leather upholstery and 10-way power-adjustable front seats are standard. Available upgrades include genuine leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, bolstered F Sport front seats, power-folding rear seats, and a heated steering wheel with shift paddles.

NX and Child Car Seats

The NX 300 has two complete sets of LATCH connectors for the rear outboard seats and a tether anchor for the rear middle seat.

NX Interior Quality

The Lexus NX boasts an upscale interior with clean lines, high-end materials, and excellent build quality. Most frequently touched surfaces are wrapped in padded upholstery or soft-touch plastic. A variety of metal accents give the cabin a fresh and modern look.

NX Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The NX 300’s biggest drawback is easily its Remote Touch infotainment system, which is paired with a standard 8-inch display or an optional 10.3-inch widescreen display. These displays are controlled using a touchpad, similar to the one on a laptop computer. It has a sleek appearance, but it’s quite distracting to use while driving. On the plus side, there are physical buttons for the main audio and climate controls, so you don’t have to use the touchpad to adjust every function. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard, allowing users to integrate their iPhone and Android apps on the screen.

  • Standard infotainment features: an 8-inch display, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, Bluetooth, a USB port, a Wi-Fi hot spot, HD Radio, and eight speakers
  • Available infotainment features: a 10.3-inch display, a navigation system, and 10- and 14-speaker sound systems
  • Additional standard features: keyless entry, push-button start, and dual-zone automatic climate control
  • Other available features: a panoramic moonroof, a power liftgate, and a hands-free power liftgate

Read more about interior »

NX Performance: Reserved, Not Racy

NX Engine

The Lexus NX 300 is equipped with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 235 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are standard; all-wheel drive is available.

This turbo-four engine feels punchy and eager in everyday driving. It scoots the NX up to speed briskly – going from zero to 60 mph takes about seven seconds – and it supplies decent passing power at highway speeds. The transmission provides smooth and relatively prompt shifts. If there is a downside, it’s that the engine can sound gruff at higher rpm during hard acceleration.

NX Gas Mileage

The Lexus NX 300 gets an EPA-rated 22 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. This rating dips to 22/27 mpg city/highway for the F Sport model. These fuel economy estimates are above average for the luxury compact SUV class. Consider the Lexus NX 300h if you’re aiming for even better fuel economy. This hybrid variant nets an excellent 33/30 mpg city/highway.

NX Ride and Handling

The Lexus NX 300 has agreeable driving dynamics. It glides smoothly over bumps and dips in the road, it feels stable and composed around turns, and it’s easy to park and maneuver in tight spots. The brakes provide fine stopping power as well. That said, the NX isn’t particularly sporty or fun to drive, even in its F Sport trim. The steering is quick, but it’s lightly weighted, and it doesn’t provide much feedback. Give the Audi Q5 or BMW X3 a look if you want a performance-oriented luxury compact SUV.

Read more about performance »

NX Reliability

Is the Lexus NX Reliable?

The 2021 Lexus NX has a great predicted reliability rating of five out of five.

Lexus NX Warranty

Lexus covers the NX 300 with a four-year/50,000-mile limited warranty and a six-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Read more about reliability »

NX Safety

NX Crash Test Results

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2021 Lexus NX an overall safety rating of five out of five stars. The NX received five stars in the side crash test, as well as four stars in the frontal crash and rollover tests.

At the time of writing, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not crash tested the 2021 NX, but the organization gave the 2020 model excellent ratings across the board. Both models are very similar.

NX Safety Features

Standard advanced safety features:

  • Rearview camera
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Rear cross traffic alert
  • Forward collision warning with pedestrian detection
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Lane departure warning with lane keep assist
  • Automatic high-beam headlights
  • Traffic sign recognition

Available advanced safety features:

  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Surround-view parking camera system
  • Adaptive headlights

Read more about safety »

NX Dimensions and Weight

The NX 300 is 15.2 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 3,940 to 4,050 pounds.

Where Is the 2021 Lexus NX Built?

Lexus builds the 2021 NX 300 in Japan.

Which Lexus NX Model Is Right for Me?

The 2021 Lexus NX 300 comes in three trim levels: base, F Sport, and Luxury. The base model is a good choice for most shoppers. It comes packed with advanced safety features, and it shares the same 235-horsepower engine as the upper trims, but it is a bit stingy on convenience features. You’ll have to pay extra for heated seats, a heated steering wheel, genuine leather upholstery, a power liftgate, and even a navigation system, features that are standard in many competing vehicles.

Lexus also makes the NX Hybrid, which we review separately.

Lexus NX 300

The entry-level NX 300 starts at $37,510, and it’s outfitted with a 235-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a six-speed automatic transmission, and front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is a $1,400 option.

Standard features include an 8-inch infotainment display, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, Bluetooth, a USB port, eight speakers, HD Radio, a Wi-Fi hot spot, keyless entry, push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, synthetic leather upholstery, 10-way power-adjustable front seats, LED headlights, heated side mirrors, and 17-inch wheels. The NX also includes Lexus Safety System+ 2.0, which bundles forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, traffic sign recognition, and automatic high-beam headlights. A rearview camera, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert are also standard.

A few option packages are available. The Premium package is priced at $2,630, and it adds heated and ventilated front seats, a moonroof, and 18-inch wheels. The Navigation package costs $1,985, and it adds a navigation system, a 10.3-inch infotainment display, and a 10-speaker stereo. Individual options include front and rear parking sensors, a surround-view parking camera system, adaptive headlights, a heated steering wheel, a 14-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, a power liftgate, and a hands-free power liftgate. These options range in price from a few hundred dollars to around $1,500.

Lexus NX 300 F Sport

The midrange NX 300 F Sport starts at $39,610 for front-wheel-drive models and $41,010 for all-wheel-drive models. This trim adds F Sport-specific front and rear bumpers, a mesh grille, black side mirrors, 18-inch wheels, a stiffer F Sport suspension, F Sport front seats with additional padding, a heated steering wheel with shift paddles, a G-force display, and a turbocharger boost pressure display. Most options carry over from the base model. You can also add an adaptive suspension system for $770.

Lexus NX 300 Luxury

The NX 300 Luxury trim starts at $43,960 for front-wheel-drive models and $45,360 for all-wheel-drive models. This trim adds a 10.3-inch infotainment display, navigation, leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a moonroof, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. Most options carry over. However, $400 power-folding rear seats are exclusive to this trim.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Lexus dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Lexus deals page.

See 2021 Lexus NX specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2021 Lexus NX does many things well. It’s comfortable and relaxing to drive, the interior is roomy and well-trimmed, and it’s jam-packed with advanced safety features. A sterling reputation for reliability doesn’t hurt either. Ultimately though, the NX is dogged by the one thing it doesn’t do well: Its Remote Touch infotainment system is among the least intuitive on the market. The NX is worth a look, but it’s not a top pick in the luxury compact SUV class.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "The 2021 Lexus NX 300 and NX 300h luxury compact SUV/crossovers each have a long list of standard features, decent interior space, competitive pricing, an impeccable reputation for reliability and strong resale values. That’s a compelling combination of qualities. So if the NX doesn’t make a driving enthusiast’s heart beat a little faster, that’s a pretty insignificant downside. Anyway, although the Acura RDX and BMW X3 both have more power, the NX still has more than enough turbocharged punch to make the drive satisfying." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Styling, both inside and out, may present a love-it-or-hate-it proposition. The many high-tech features should appeal to early adopters, but the heavily flawed touchpad interface will temper their impression. While the NX 300 lags behind others in its class in driver engagement and performance, it will prove more than adequate for most drivers. It's not particularly entertaining or stimulating, but it is predictable and controllable. It's easy to drive in nearly all conditions and places very few demands on the driver." -- Edmunds (2020)
  • "Besides its size and fuel economy, the NX offers an appealing blend of a comfortable ride, an agreeable driving experience and a quiet cabin that's meticulously crafted. Safety equipment and ratings are also exceptional, as is its reputation for reliability. The standard Remote Touch tech interface is less well-received, though, and can constantly frustrate." -- Autotrader (2019)

Buying

Expert Advice

Last Updated: October 23, 2020

Strong, but Cooling Sales: The Lexus NX is currently the third-best selling luxury compact SUV, close behind the Acura RDX and BMW X3. However, like much of the auto industry, the NX is in a sales slump right now. Dealerships have moved 10.3 percent fewer NX SUVs so far this year compared to the same period in 2019.

Research more buying advice »
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