$31,311 - $34,380

2018 Lexus NX Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 8.0

The 2018 Lexus NX 300 is not exactly a sporty SUV, but it is nimble and sure-footed. Its tuning blends some elements of athleticism with comfort, and fuel economy is respectable. Above all else, this is a polished luxury compact SUV.

  • "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
  • The crossover's steering is lively and holds the road well, giving it confident handling. Both variants of the NX, however, are a bit heavy, so regardless of the engine choice, neither will be a rocket in a straight line compared to the competition." -- Motor Trend
  • "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 (2016)

Acceleration and Power

The NX is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The powertrain is refined, quiet, and shifts smoothly. For some, the 235-horsepower setup doesn't feel a sporty as the NX's exterior implies, and no upgraded engines are available if you want to add more muscle. Fuel economy is just north of average, at 22 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. We cover the NX 300h hybrid version in a separate review.

  • "The 300 comes with Lexus's first four-cylinder turbo – a well-integrated 245-hp, 2.0-liter engine that delivers a linear power delivery that's for the most part, smooth and refined. It does an admirable job, so long as you don't expect a lush and creamy V6 experience. We measured a commendable 24 mpg overall." -- Consumer Reports
  • "Many cars tempt buyers with sporty good looks only to let them down with an engine and suspension that don't live up to the visual hype. Thankfully, this description does not apply to the 2018 Lexus NX 300. The NX's turbocharged 2.0-liter engine loves to run, delivering its power in a smooth, linear fashion that makes this nearly 4,000-pound crossover SUV feel like a much lighter, more nimble vehicle." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Although Lexus is pitching the NX as a sporty alternative to its other luxury crossovers, it doesn't quite convince. The basic 4-cylinder offers tepid acceleration (standstill to 60 mph in 7.0 seconds), and there's no option for a more muscular engine." -- Autotrader (2017)

Handling and Braking

The NX 300 comes standard with front-wheel drive – even with the F Sport package. Lexus offers all-wheel drive for $1,400. A drive mode switch is also included, giving you the option to select between Normal, Eco, and Sport modes. On the highway, the NX is smooth and predictable. The suspension keeps the ride pretty smooth and comfortable, though it’s also a bit firm.

  • 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
  • Handling is taut and together, but it's hardly in the realm of sporty crossovers like the Audi SQ5, Porsche Macan or BMW X3." -- Autotrader (2017)
  • "Much like the latest RX, the NX … represents a renewed focus on driving enjoyment from Lexus. Particularly on the F Sport version, the NX's body motions are nicely controlled when you're driving around turns and over bumps and dips. Still, this Lexus is still largely about getting you through the daily grind. The … suspension smooths over road imperfections with ease. Where rivals feel busy and nervous, the Lexus seems to glide unaffected." -- Edmunds (2017)

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