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2020 Lexus NX Hybrid Review

The 2020 Lexus NX Hybrid boasts lots of standard features, outstanding fuel economy, and an excellent predicted reliability rating. However, its distracting infotainment system and lackluster performance push it toward the back of the luxury hybrid and electric SUV class.

Pros & Cons

  • Superb predicted reliability rating
  • Outstanding gas mileage
  • Spacious, relaxing front seats
  • Lots of standard features
  • Small cargo area
  • Distracting infotainment controller
  • Slow to reach highway speeds
  • So-so driving dynamics

7.4

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 7.1
Performance: 6.5
Interior: 5.3
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

Is the Lexus NX Hybrid a Good SUV?

The two-row NX Hybrid is an OK choice in the segment, and it's certainly not without its merits. Its fuel economy rating is superb for luxury SUV of its size. It has an outstanding predicted reliability rating, a history of excellent crash test scores, and an impressive list of standard safety features. On city streets you'll appreciate its light steering and comfortable ride.

That being said, the NX 300h’s sleepy driving dynamics on the highway and its distracting infotainment trackpad are major drawbacks. The NX Hybrid also has a small cargo area for a vehicle of its size. For these reasons, the NX 300h places near the bottom of our luxury hybrid and electric SUV rankings.

Should I Buy the Lexus NX Hybrid?

The NX Hybrid is a great choice if you value fuel economy, dependability, and safety, and also plan to stay mostly within city limits. For more animated performance, test drive the nonhybrid Lexus NX, which we review separately. Those who want a fuel-sipping vehicle and don't need lots of rear-seat or cargo space should consider this SUV's smaller sibling, the Lexus UX Hybrid. The Lexus RX Hybrid is a midsize luxury crossover SUV that gives you much more cabin space in exchange for an annual fuel bill that averages about $350 more than that of the NX Hybrid, according to the EPA.

Compare the NX Hybrid, UX Hybrid, and RX Hybrid »

Should I Buy a New or Used Lexus NX Hybrid?

The 2020 NX Hybrid gains a few tech upgrades worth paying attention to. First, its safety suite is upgraded to Lexus Safety System+ 2.0, which now has features that keep the SUV centered in its lane, in addition to providing information on road signs. A power tilt-and-telescopic steering column is also now standard.

You can likely save money by shopping for a used model instead, though you won’t find a used NX equipped with the Lexus Safety System +2.0. If you decide to shop used as well, we recommend looking at the 2018 NX Hybrid. It comes with more standard safety features than the 2017 model, and it likely costs less than the nearly identical 2019 model.

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2018 NX Hybrid and 2019 NX Hybrid reviews to help make your decision. Also check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts you can find on used cars.

Compare the 2018, 2019, and 2020 NX Hybrid »

We Did the Research for You: 31 Reviews Analyzed

Our Lexus NX Hybrid review includes far more than just one person's opinion. We collected professional evaluations from more than 30 sources and combined them with concrete data like fuel economy estimates, safety scores, and performance specs to help you make an informed buying decision.

This 2020 Lexus NX Hybrid review incorporates applicable research for all model years in this generation, which runs from 2015 to 2020.

Why You Can Trust Us

The Best Cars team – a division of U.S. News & World Report – has been reviewing cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007. With more than 75 years of combined automotive experience, our editors, writers, and analysts rank a wide variety of new and used cars and issue three annual awards: Best Cars for the Money, Best Cars for Families, and Best Vehicle Brands. To keep our recommendations unbiased, we decline expensive gifts from carmakers, and a third party handles our advertising.

 

How Much Does the Lexus NX Hybrid Cost?

The base price of the NX 300h is $39,070. That's below average, whether you are shopping for a luxury hybrid SUV or a nonhybrid luxury compact SUV. For more information on pricing and standard features, see our Which Lexus NX Hybrid Model Is Right for Me? section below.

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

Lexus NX Hybrid Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Lexus NX Hybrid or Mercedes-Benz GLC?

The Mercedes-Benz GLC may miss out on the NX Hybrid's class-leading fuel efficiency, but it delivers a higher level of luxury and refinement. The Mercedes provides a few more cubes of cargo space and comes standard with heated front seats that are exceptionally comfortable. Its selection of available powertrains is lively, and it even offers a plug-in-hybrid model. However, the GLC in any form isn’t as efficient as the NX Hybrid. If you can live with a lower gas mileage rating, go with the GLC.

Which Is Better: Lexus NX Hybrid or BMW X3?

The BMW X3 is better equipped to tote your things, and it has a higher tow rating and a larger cargo area than the NX Hybrid. It's also more fun to drive, thanks in part to its responsive handling. Shoppers can choose between 248-horsepower four-cylinder and 355-horsepower six-cylinder engines. Go with the smaller engine, and in addition to its animated performance, you'll also get one of the most fuel-efficient luxury compact SUVs. Though the X3 still can't match the fuel economy of the NX Hybrid, it outdoes the Lexus in most other regards.

Compare the NX Hybrid, GLC, and X3 »

NX Hybrid Interior

How Many People Does the NX Hybrid Seat?

The NX is a two-row luxury SUV with five seats. Its front seats are incredibly spacious for a small crossover, and it's easy to find a comfortable driving position with the power-adjustable front seats and steering column. Rear-seat legroom is on the small side for the class, though adults can still ride back there in relative comfort.  

Synthetic leather upholstery is standard. Seating upgrades include genuine leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, and power-folding rear seats that recline.

NX Hybrid and Child Car Seats

The LATCH hardware in the NX is easy to find and use, and it earns the highest rating of Good from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Each of the rear outboard seats has a full set of upper and lower anchors, and the rear middle seat has an upper tether anchor.

NX Hybrid Interior Quality

The build quality is superb inside the NX Hybrid, and it slots in nicely alongside other entry-level luxury SUVs when it comes to interior materials. The cabin showcases a mix of upscale materials that includes a high-grade synthetic leather in the base trim and genuine perforated leather in the 300h Luxury trim. There are also a few cost-saving plastics standing in for real carbon fiber and aluminum.

NX Hybrid Cargo Space

The NX Hybrid isn't very competitive when it comes to cargo space. It has 16.8 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 53.7 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down. Those figures are below average for an SUV of this size, and they're smaller than the nonhybrid NX's respective measurements of 17.7 and 54.6 cubic feet.

In addition to the optional power liftgate, a hands-free version is available with a kick sensor, so you can open the rear hatch even when your hands are full. 

NX Hybrid Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The majority of professional reviewers label the NX's infotainment system as one of the most challenging to use. The problem isn't the interface or the display, as the menus are laid out in a fairly clear-cut manner and the screen is bright and easy to read. The real issue here is the controller. Its Remote Touchpad is designed to mimic smartphonelike gestures, but in reality, making selections is too tricky. The entire process is frustrating for people of any tech level, and it's especially distracting for the driver. 

Standard features include an 8-inch display, Amazon Alexa, Apple CarPlay, and a Wi-Fi hot spot. Options include a navigation system with a 10.3-inch split-screen display and a 14-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound system.

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto?

Read more about interior »

NX Hybrid Performance

NX Hybrid Engine: Best for City Driving

The hybrid power system in the NX 300h consists of a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, three electric motors, a nickel-metal hydride battery pack, and a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). This 194-horsepower setup has enough punch to make urban exploring pleasant. It’s less enjoyable on the highway, where it takes an excessive amount of time to get up to speed.

NX Hybrid Gas Mileage: Top of the Class

The NX 300h gets 33 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. This is a class-leading fuel economy rating among luxury-branded compact SUVs with a gasoline engine. Compared with the Infiniti QX50 – one of the most fuel-efficient nonhybrids in the class – the NX Hybrid saves the average driver $550 in annual fuel costs.

NX Hybrid Ride and Handling: Easygoing

Like its power system, the handling of the all-wheel-drive NX Hybrid is best suited for city environments. Its light steering makes easy work of maneuvering through cramped parking lots. On the highway, however, expect some body roll when you go around corners. The ride quality is excellent on a variety of surfaces. Stopping power is strong, but those new to driving a hybrid may be taken aback by the grabby feel of this SUV's regenerative brakes.

NX Hybrid Towing Capacity

The NX Hybrid can tow up to 1,500 pounds, which is 500 pounds less than the nonhybrid version.

Read more about performance »

NX Hybrid Reliability

Is the Lexus NX Hybrid Reliable?

The 2020 Lexus NX Hybrid has a perfect predicted reliability rating of five out of five from J.D. Power.

Lexus NX Hybrid Warranty

Coverage for this SUV includes a four-year/50,000-mile limited warranty, a six-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty, and an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty for hybrid-related components.

Read more about reliability »

NX Hybrid Safety

NX Hybrid Crash Test Results

The 2020 NX 300h has an overall safety rating of five out of five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It received a five-star side crash test rating and got four stars in both the frontal crash and rollover tests. At the time of writing, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not crash tested this SUV.

NX Hybrid Safety Features

The NX comes standard with a rearview camera and Lexus Safety System+ 2.0. This suite of safety systems now includes lane centering technologies and road sign assist – two new features for 2020 – in addition to forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, all-speed adaptive cruise control, and automatic high-beam headlights.

Optional safety features include rain-sensing windshield wipers, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, a surround-view parking camera system, and active park assist.

Read more about safety »

NX Hybrid Dimensions and Weight

The NX Hybrid is 15.2 long. It has a base curb weight of 4,180 pounds.

Where Is the 2020 Lexus NX Hybrid Built?

Lexus builds the NX Hybrid in Japan.

Which Lexus NX Hybrid Model Is Right for Me?

The 2020 Lexus NX Hybrid comes in two trim levels: 300h and 300h Luxury. Every NX Hybrid has a gas engine and three electric motors that combined to produce 194 horsepower. A continuously variable transmission and all-wheel drive are also standard.

If you want genuine leather upholstery, you'll have to go with the 300h Luxury trim, as the base model comes only with synthetic leather.

Shoppers who are fine with the NuLuxe synthetic leather can save money by sticking with the base model, which offers the most value. In addition to a lengthy set of standard features, Lexus offers a nice array of upgrades and packages for the base trim. These let you easily customize your hybrid SUV without overspending by adding the safety or interior enhancements that mean the most to you.

The nonhybrid Lexus NX 300 has a turbocharged 235-horsepower four-cylinder engine, and it can be equipped with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. In addition to the base model, it comes as the leather-trimmed NX 300 Luxury and the spirited NX F Sport. For more details on this SUV, see our separate review of the nonhybrid Lexus NX.

Lexus NX 300h

Key features that come standard in the Lexus NX 300h include dual-zone automatic climate control, proximity keyless entry, push-button start, a rearview camera, and the Lexus Safety System+ 2.0 suite of advanced safety features. The infotainment system includes an 8-inch display, Bluetooth, a Wi-Fi hot spot, HD Radio, and eight speakers. It also has Amazon Alexa and Apple CarPlay capability. The base price of the NX 300h is $39,070.

Lexus NX 300h Luxury

The NX 300h Luxury gets perforated leather-trimmed seats, Linear Black Shadow wood trim, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and a heated steering wheel. Prices start at $46,160.

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 2020 Lexus NX Hybrid specs and trims »

The Final Call

In many ways, the NX 300h is a smart buy. This well-built SUV has a long history of earning top-notch predicted reliability and safety ratings, and you simply can’t find a compact luxury SUV that beats its fuel economy ratings. A lengthy list of standard safety and tech features further add to its value.

Those who travel mostly in urban areas will find its performance to be decent. Venture beyond 35-mph zones, and you may find its languid acceleration and handling to be irritating. In any setting, you're sure to find the trackpad for the infotainment system difficult at best, and exasperating at worst. These drawbacks are weighty enough to pull the NX Hybrid's overall score toward the bottom of our luxury hybrid and electric SUV rankings

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

  • The Lexus NX 300h is a comfortable and quiet hybrid that provides a significant boost in fuel economy without much of a price premium over its conventionally powered counterpart. That said, its frustrating infotainment system, limited cargo space and mediocre performance hamper an otherwise enjoyable driving experience." -- Edmunds
  • "The Lexus recipe for success: Hide the Toyota mass-market roots under the Lexus logo by filling a car with amenities and luxury trappings, a more supple ride, and a quiet, soothing cabin. … But with the new, compact NX, the souffle falls. The car doesn't coddle you like the wildly successful Lexus RX – the midsized crossover vehicle that started the whole craze. Nor does it thrill you with BMW-like handling. It just feels like an upmarket Toyota RAV4." -- Consumer Reports (2018)
  • The verdict: With very good gas mileage for its class, a roomy interior and good driving manners, the 2017 Lexus NX 300h hybrid is a sensible small luxury SUV, but its optional multimedia interface is maddening. Versus the competition … the 2017 NX 300h is the most efficient compact luxury SUV you can buy, but competitors offer richer cabin materials and easier-to-use multimedia systems." -- Cars.com (2017)
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