2016 Lexus NX Hybrid Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 Lexus NX Hybrid was new.

Scorecard

Performance: 7.6

Most critics think the 2016 Lexus NX Hybrid does not feel very powerful, and some add it's too noisy under hard acceleration. Some test drivers note it has composed steering and handling, but others say the driving experience isn't very sporty. They note that the NX Hybrid does have a smooth transition from electric to gasoline power, and it gets terrific fuel economy for the class.

  • "One of the best things we can say about the styling on the 2016 Lexus NX 200t and NX 300h is that the driving experience matches the aggressive lines. The steering is sharp, and an adjustable suspension includes a Sport mode, giving this compact-luxury-crossover SUV agility not normally associated with Lexus SUVs." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The 194-hp NX 300h (which doesn't come in an F Sport version) cedes more of the fun factor. There's plenty of droning, rubber-band responsiveness from its continuously variable automatic transmission, along with a slow climb up the revs when you floor it; even at full bore, power feels adequate but never energetic, and the regenerative brakes have a degree of pedal vagueness that evokes earlier hybrids." -- Cars.com (2015)
  • "Besides the reduction in outright accelerative performance and a corresponding increase in fuel efficiency, the NX 300h driver isn't asked to give up much of the full NX experience." -- Autoblog (2015)

Acceleration and Power

The Lexus NX 300h features a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motors that combine to produce 194 horsepower. A continuously variable transmission, which is a type of automatic, is standard. The NX 300h gets an EPA-estimated 35/31 mpg city/highway, which is outstanding for the class.

Most auto journalists agree that the NX Hybrid does not feel powerful, but a few think it is quick off the line. Test drivers praise the smooth transition from electric to gasoline power, though some complain that the NX Hybrid is noisy when accelerating.

  • "The crossovers from electric to full-gas operation and back are practically seamless." -- Consumer Guide (2015)
  • "Should you call for more energetic acceleration, expect loud droning noises and not a lot of thrust to back it up. The 300h may be fuel-efficient, but it certainly isn't quick, and indeed most rival SUVs -- even alternatively powered ones -- accelerate with more gusto." -- Edmunds (2015)
  • "Kick-down or not, nobody is going to mistake the 2015 NX 300h for its turbocharged sibling when it comes to all-out acceleration. Whereas Lexus claims a 0-60 run of 7.0 seconds for the AWD 200t, the same task takes the 300h about 9.0 seconds. In other words, the hybrid is very much tuned for efficiency over maximum performance." -- Autoblog (2015)
  • "Although the NX 300h's 194 hp may seem uninspired, its hybrid system makes it feel just as quick off the line as the more muscular NX 200t." -- AutoTrader (2015)

Handling and Braking

Front-wheel drive is standard with the 2016 NX Hybrid and all-wheel drive is available. The ride is comfortable, though some test drivers find it firmer than other Lexus vehicles. Some critics argue that the steering and handling lack responsiveness, but others think the NX's handling is poised and the steering is sharp. A few note that the regenerative brakes feel clumsy at times, which is a common complaint of brakes in hybrid vehicles.

  • "If you're expecting the NX 300h to drive like a smaller version of the RX, you're either going to be disappointed or pleasantly surprised. The ride is a bit firmer, the steering is more responsive, and body motions are more controlled when driving around turns or going over bumps and dips. There is a sense of connection between the car and driver that is not present in Lexus' other SUVs." -- Edmunds (2015)
  • "The biggest hybrid-related gripe is the brakes, which feel awkward in certain stopping situations due to the fight between regen and the standard disc brakes." -- Autoblog (2015)
  • "Bragging on your high fuel economy is the whole point of getting the hybrid over the more powerful NX200t, right? It's certainly not to have fun. Even with this example's optional 18-inch wheels, handling feels limp. The shocks, springs, and tires conspire to deliver a comfortable ride over most surfaces-but at the expense of body control, turn-in sharpness, and grip." -- Car and Driver (2015)

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