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2019 Lexus NX Hybrid Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 7.5

The 2019 Lexus NX Hybrid leads the class when it comes to mpg ratings, but it otherwise lags behind the competition. Its hybrid powertrain doesn't have the muscle for some high-stress maneuvers, and while handling isn't bad, you won't feel confident driving aggressively on winding roads.

  • Less thrilling but every bit as reliable is the NX 300h hybrid. 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)
  • The NX handles quite nimbly. It's willing and able to change directions eagerly, and turn-in response is prompt. Through all maneuvers, the body stays rather flat and unperturbed. But that doesn't make the Lexus as rewarding to drive as a BMW X3 or Audi Q5. Those German competitors have more controlled suspensions and sharper steering." -- Consumer Reports (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 (2015)

Acceleration and Power

The Lexus NX 300h features a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor that combine to put out 194 horsepower. A continuously variable transmission, which is a type of automatic, comes standard. The nonhybrid Lexus NX is covered in a separate review.

This Lexus behaves fairly typically for a hybrid crossover, but compared to gasoline-powered competitors, it feels slow and plodding. The engine gets noisy at higher rpms, and the NX Hybrid struggles when climbing hills or merging and passing on the highway.

While its performance fails to impress, the NX Hybrid does get good gas mileage. It earns an EPA-estimated 33 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. Those are among the highest ratings in the class.

  • 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)
  • "Instead of the NX 200t's punchy and impressively smooth turbocharged performance, the 2017 NX 300h has the sort of languid, droning hybrid driving experience that current owners of Toyota or Lexus hybrids should find familiar. Quick it's not." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • "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)

Handling and Braking

The NX Hybrid handles fairly well and gets plenty of road grip from its standard all-wheel drive, but this SUV does lean a fair bit around turns. As for ride quality, the NX Hybrid feels smooth over well-maintained roads, but it will jar you around a bit over rougher pavement. For some reviewers, the hybrid SUV’s regenerative brakes feel grabbier than expected.

  • The NX 300h is actually a halfway-fun SUV to drive around turns. Body lean through corners is pretty noticeable, but that's to be expected of a vehicle like this. It's easy to control." -- Edmunds
  • The NX's ride is firm, but not over-the-top punishing. Ride motions tend to be short and quick, and impacts are fairly pronounced but not to the point of being overly stiff. Ride comfort is roughly on par with the NX's German competitors. But don't expect Lexus RX levels of plushness." -- Consumer Reports (2018)
  • "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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