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2019 Lexus NX Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 7.6

The 2019 Lexus NX 300 delivers a composed driving experience, though it doesn't have the athleticism of many of its rivals. The engine has ample power, handling is poised, and the ride is generally smooth. The NX's most notable performance-related bright spot is its above-average fuel economy.

  • In terms of performance and driver engagement, the Lexus NX 300 is merely average among the current crop of luxury crossover SUVs. But odds are that most shoppers are just looking for an easy-to-drive vehicle. On that front, the NX satisfies." -- Edmunds
  • "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)
  • 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 (2018)

Acceleration and Power

The NX features a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 235 horsepower. It's paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. The engine has ample power for most driving situations, but it lacks the eager acceleration you get in some other luxury midsize SUVs.

The NX 300 earns an EPA-estimated 22 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. Those are good ratings for the class; only a few rivals get better gas mileage. The Lexus NX Hybrid is reviewed separately.

  • The Lexus NX accelerates to 60 mph in 7.0 seconds, which is marginally slower than rivals. But acceleration should prove more than adequate for the majority of drivers. Gear changes are on the slow side, but they are smooth." -- Edmunds
  • "The 300 comes with Lexus's first four-cylinder turbo – a well-integrated … 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 (2018)
  • "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

This Lexus doesn't match the athletic driving dynamics you can find in some rivals. Handling is composed, for the most part, though there is noticeable body roll around turns. The NX's ride is on the firm side, but it's not uncomfortable. Front-wheel drive comes standard, and all-wheel drive is available. You can also choose between three driving modes that tailor performance to your preferred style.

  • The NX leans a lot when cornering, but it's predictable and poised. Those who value better handling may want to investigate the F Sport model, especially with its adaptive damper option." -- 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)
  • 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)
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