2018 Lexus NX

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MSRP: $35,985 - 39,775

2018 Lexus NX Review

The 2018 Lexus NX’s bold styling, long list of standard features, and spacious cabin may appeal to some shoppers. However, its hard-to-use infotainment system and small cargo hold contribute to its place in the bottom third of our rankings. 

7.9

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 8.2
Performance: 8.0
Interior: 7.6
Safety: 9.3
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Pros & Cons

  • Lengthy list of standard tech and safety features
  • Ample legroom in both rows of seats

 

  • Frustrating infotainment controls
  • Small, restricted cargo space

 

New for 2018

  • NX 300 replaces the NX 200t
  • Lexus Safety System+ (suite of advanced safety tech) now standard
  • 8-inch infotainment screen replaces standard 7-inch display
  • Power-folding exterior mirrors now standard
  • Interior and exterior refresh

 

Is the Lexus NX a Good SUV?

The Lexus NX is an OK SUV. Newly standard for 2018 is a full suite of advanced safety equipment that further bolsters its reputation for safety. However, while the amount of passenger room is decent, the SUV's cargo hold is small for the class. The NX also has mediocre performance: the engine is adequate but not overly powerful, and handling is more composed than sporty. One of the NX's biggest drawbacks is its infotainment controller, which is so distracting for the driver that it makes changing the settings while driving nearly impossible.

Should I Buy the Lexus NX?

Despite being just an OK SUV, the NX is a great value. It has a lower sticker price than many other luxury compact SUVs, yet it still provides an extensive list of standard features. The NX’s great safety scores should give you more confidence in your purchase.

That said, this is a class full of all-around excellent vehicles, and the NX doesn't really beat out its rivals in any areas. While it has a stylish appearance and polished handling, it falls short of the athletic performance that the BMW X3 and Audi Q5 deliver. You may also want to check out the Mercedes-Benz GLC if you want to sit in the lap of luxury, or the Acura RDX if space and value are at the top of your list.

Compare the NX, X3, and Q5 »

Should I Buy a New or Used Lexus NX?

For 2018, the Lexus NX sees an interior and exterior design refresh. An 8-inch infotainment screen replaces the formerly standard 7-inch display, and there are some new standard features, including power-folding exterior mirrors and the Lexus Safety System+ suite of advanced safety technology. With these improvements, the NX's sole trim level – formerly the NX 200t – has been renamed the NX 300.

If you don't care about the altered design and can live without the added features, consider shopping for a used Lexus NX. The NX debuted for the 2015 model year and saw few notable changes until 2018; therefore, you may want to consider a similar, older model to save money.

To do more research on used NX models, check out our reviews of the 2015, 2016, and 2017 Lexus NX. If you decide an older model is right for you, check out our Used Car Deals page for savings and incentives on used vehicles.

Compare the 2016, 2017, and 2018 Lexus NX »

We Did the Research for You: 34 Reviews Analyzed

Our Lexus NX review includes far more than just one person's opinion. We collected professional evaluations from 34 sources and combined them with concrete data like fuel economy estimates, safety features, and performance specs to help you make an informed buying decision. This 2018 Lexus NX review incorporates applicable research for all model years in this generation, which spans the 2015 through 2018 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

At U.S. News & World Report, we rank the Best Jobs, Best Hospitals, and Best Colleges to guide readers through some of life’s most complicated decisions. We've been ranking and reviewing the Best Cars since 2007, backed by a team with more than 75 years of combined automotive experience. To keep favoritism out of the picture, we maintain a separate advertising team and decline expensive gifts and trips from car companies.

How Much Does the Lexus NX Cost?

The 2018 NX 300’s MSRP is $35,985. You can add all-wheel drive for $1,400 and the performance-oriented F Sport package for $2,390. The NX 300h – a $38,335 hybrid version – is reviewed separately. Keep in mind these are only suggested retail prices. For great savings at your local Lexus dealer, check out our U.S. News Best Price Program. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Lexus deals page.

Lexus NX Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Lexus NX or BMW X3?

If you want something with punchy engine power that's also fun to drive, check out the BMW X3. It comes with a standard turbocharged engine, but you may still want to upgrade to one of the available powertrains (like a 300-horsepower six-cylinder). That great performance will cost you, though: the X3's starting price is almost $6,500 higher than that of the NX.

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

The Mercedes-Benz GLC earns its high place in our rankings thanks to its elegant and spacious interior. It offers more second-row legroom than the NX, as well as a serene ride quality and more cargo space. Overall, this is one of the finest interiors in the class. It also makes the GLC a great day-to-day companion, but it'll cost you a lot more than the NX.

Which Is Better: Lexus NX or Acura RDX?

The Acura RDX and Lexus NX have a lot of similarities. Both have relatively low prices for the class and excellent crash test ratings, but their infotainment systems are difficult to use. Still, the RDX is a superior vehicle. The Acura features more overall passenger space and a sizable cargo hold, which is handy if you fill up the whole vehicle often. The RDX also has a higher predicted reliability rating and more horsepower in its standard V6 engine. You will find more standard safety features in the NX, though.

Compare the NX, X3, and GLC »

NX Interior

How Many People Does the NX Seat?

The NX 300 is a five-seat SUV with two rows. Its front seat is quite spacious for a compact SUV, and while its rear-seat legroom won't make headlines, there's enough space in the back to accommodate three adults on a short ride. The aggressive exterior styling results in a closed-in cabin with poor visibility, though this isn't a deal breaker for everyone. 

NX and Car Seats

Installing child safety seats in the NX can be a bit of a hassle. One of its three tether anchors is hard to find, and the two sets of lower anchors are mounted deep in the seat cushions and are difficult to reach.

NX Interior Quality

Most agree that the NX 300 feels more opulent inside than its entry-level standing suggests, but not everyone is delighted by the design. Styling is edgier than many of Lexus' other super-indulgent interiors, and a fair share of high-grade materials are present.

NX Cargo Space

Though it’s a compact SUV, the NX 300’s cargo area looks more like what you'd find in a subcompact. It measures 17.7 cubic feet with the rear seats in use and 54.6 cubic feet with the seats folded. The aggressive exterior design adds to the cargo hold's inconvenience.

NX Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

On paper, everything about the NX 300's infotainment system checks out. It comes with an 8-inch screen, navigation (through a smartphone-based app), a Wi-Fi hot spot, and Siri Eyes Free with enhanced voice commands. Though the layout of the interface is respectable, the method to control the settings is not. Between the inconvenient buttons and the cumbersome touchpad controller, the system requires an excessive amount of the driver's attention.

Read more about interior »

NX Performance

NX Engine: Refined Turbo  

The 235-horsepower NX 300 comes with a refined powertrain, consisting of a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a six-speed automatic transmission. This engine isn't a powerhouse, but it's peppy enough for urban errands and highway travel.

NX Gas Mileage: Slightly Ahead of the Rest

The NX 300 gets 22 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. That fuel economy is a shade above average for a luxury compact SUV. To further lower your annual gasoline costs, pick the fuel-efficient NX 300h hybrid, which is rated at 33 mpg city/30 mpg highway.

NX Ride and Handling: Agile and Smooth

Similar to its powertrain, the NX 300’s handling is smooth and polished. The ride is reasonably comfortable (though not as silky as the Lexus RX’s). Though this isn't truly a sporty SUV, it is fairly nimble and composed.

Read more about performance »

NX Reliability

Is the Lexus NX Reliable?

The 2018 NX 300 has a predicted reliability rating of three out of five from J.D. Power. This is an average rating.

Lexus NX Warranty

The 2018 NX 300 comes with a four-year/50,000-mile limited warranty and a six-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty. That's pretty typical coverage for this class (crossover SUVs like the Buick Envision have the same warranty), but its better coverage than the BMW X3's warranty (which doesn't come with a separate powertrain warranty).

Read more about reliability »

NX Safety

NX Crash Test Results

The 2018 NX 300 has an overall safety rating of five out of five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The NX was also named a 2018 Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It missed out on a higher Top Safety Pick+ designation because it didn't undergo the passenger-side small overlap crash test. Still, it aced all five major crash tests, earned the best rating of Superior for front crash prevention features, and received a top score of Good for headlight performance.

NX Safety Features

For 2018, the NX 300 comes standard with Lexus Safety System+, a bundle that contains a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high beams. A rearview camera is also standard. Available safety options include a bird's-eye-view camera system, parking sensors with automatic braking, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.

Read more about safety »

Which Lexus NX Model Is Right for Me?

It won't take you long to narrow down which NX trim level is best for you, as there's only one. For 2018, the NX 300 replaces last year's Lexus NX 200t. It has the same powertrain (a four-cylinder engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission), but it comes with a slightly different list of standard features. For example, Lexus Safety System+ is now standard. This bundle of advanced safety technology consists of a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high beams. Lexus also added a larger 8-inch infotainment display and power-folding exterior mirrors for 2018.

These features join an already lengthy list of standard amenities. Luxurious goodies such as dual-zone automatic climate control, a power-adjustable driver's seat, synthetic leather seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, proximity key entry, and push-button start are standard. The infotainment system consists of an eight-speaker audio system, smartphone app navigation, Siri Eyes Free, a Wi-Fi hot spot, smartphone integration with the Enform App Suite, Bluetooth, a USB port, HD Radio, satellite radio, and a rearview camera.

Pricing for the NX 300 starts at $35,985. Lexus offers all-wheel drive for $1,400, and the F Sport package costs $2,390. The NX F Sport has select upgraded components to enhance handling, such as an F Sport-tuned suspension and added Sport S and Sport S+ drive modes. Checking this box doesn't grant any extra horsepower, however. Other features added with this package include paddle shifters, aluminum pedals, special body panels and badges, and front sport seats with enhanced bolsters.

Among the other options is the Navigation package. Along with a navigation system, it adds a 10-speaker premium sound system. Heated and ventilated front seats, a moonroof, and perforated leather upholstery are also available.

For more details on the hybrid-powered Lexus NX 300h, see our separate review.

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 2018 Lexus NX specs and trims »

The Final Call

The Lexus NX 300 has outstanding safety scores and plenty of standard safety technology. It’s a great value. However, it lands in the middle of the pack when it comes to most other attributes. Its turbocharged four-cylinder delivers a suitable amount of power, and the NX is relatively athletic, making this compact SUV easy to live with. Chances are you won't find its infotainment system as charming; we recommend spending extra time checking out the interface and its controller before you buy.

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

  • "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. Even a pro can't sniff out the Camry beneath an ES sedan. 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
  • "You'll Like This Car If... The 2018 Lexus NX 300 serves up the luxury brand's most desirable features in a compact-luxury-crossover SUV as efficient as it is fun to drive. … You May Not Like This Car If... If you regularly carry four adults, or need a luxury SUV with a large cargo area, an RX 350 is probably a better choice. You'll find more conservative styling in an Audi Q3 or even the new Jaguar E-Pace, although neither has the NX's strong resale and reliability record." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Buyers looking for more satisfying cargo capacity and infotainment controls would do well to check the Audi Q5 and BMW X3, both of which also offer a wider range of engines and specifications. The new Mercedes-Benz GLC looks promising, too, while the Acura RDX is a conservatively styled counterpoint to the NX that matches its promise of Japanese reliability. The Edmunds 'B'-rated 2016 Lexus NX 200t remains a solid choice, though, especially if the dramatic design language speaks to you." -- Edmunds (2016)
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