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2021 Lexus NX Hybrid Performance Review


Performance: 6.1

The 2021 Lexus NX Hybrid is comfortable, fuel-efficient, and able to get around town without issue, but its ho-hum passing power holds it back on the highway. Handling is OK, but there can be body roll when cornering, which keeps it from feeling fun to drive.

  • "With the hybrid, things are less pleasant. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and electric motor … [feel] strained in this heavier AWD SUV. The CVT makes climbing hills a noisy, unpleasant affair. Acceleration from 0-60 mph is a leisurely 9 seconds – somewhat at odds with the NX's sporty styling and ride – and steep price tag. That said, as long as there are no inclines the hybrid can drive on electric power alone at speeds up to around 35 mph. But the 300h's trump card is its fuel consumption – at 29 mpg overall it is the most fuel efficient luxury SUV we've ever tested." -- Consumer Reports (2018)
  • "With a less powerful drivetrain and the added weight of standard all-wheel drive, the NX 300h can't quite keep pace with its gasoline-only counterpart, but its excellent mileage and equally impressive ride and handling are definitely something to consider." -- Kelley Blue Book (2018)
  • "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 (2016)

Engine Options, Horsepower, and Acceleration

  • Powertrain: three electric motors and a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with a combined 194 horsepower
  • Drivetrain: all-wheel drive
  • Transmission: continuously variable automatic (CVT)

If you do most of your driving in the city, you’ll probably find this Lexus to have sufficient power. Its electric motors help it launch quickly from a stop. However, acceleration is sluggish when it comes to reaching highway speed, and it takes around nine seconds to go from zero to 60 mph. Additionally, the transitions between gas and electric power can be jarring.

  • "The 300h's power won't impress you, but low-end torque from the electric motor helps it scoot around the city rather quickly. In Edmunds testing, 0-60 mph took 8.8 seconds, which is a bit slow in this class." -- Edmunds (2020)
  • "The hybrid, on the other hand, is one of the thriftiest vehicles in the segment and a great way to save some dough at the pump. However, it's even slower than the turbo, reaching 60 mph from a standstill in a glacial nine seconds." -- Autotrader (2020)
  • "Total power output is 194 horsepower, and at highway speeds or under heavy acceleration, the NX 300h just feels out of breath. There's hardly any passing power when you really need it." -- New York Daily News (2017)

MPG Estimates

The NX Hybrid gets fuel economy estimates of 33 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. Those are good figures for a hybrid, and they’re great figures for a small upscale SUV.

Handling and Braking

The NX Hybrid rides comfortably, and its suspension smooths over most bumps in the road. It’s also easy to maneuver, with light steering but little steering feedback. Handling is competent, but heavy body roll keeps this Lexus from feeling sporty.

  • "At low speeds, the steering is light and helps you get into tight parking spaces with ease. The 300h, despite its lack of sportiness or steering feel, handles competently on curvy mountain roads." -- Edmunds (2020)
  • "Turn to the twisties, though, and you're likely to be disappointed. Body roll is extremely prominent, with the extra 200 pounds of the hybrid system taxing the NX's otherwise capable suspension further when pushed. The steering rack is light on center, too, but firms up a bit in the corners." -- New York Daily News (2017)
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2021 Lexus NX Hybrid

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