MSRP
$36,870
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2020 Lexus NX Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 7.0

The 2020 Lexus NX 300 won't wow you with its performance, but it won't disappoint either. It gets good gas mileage, and its turbocharged four-cylinder engine delivers ample power. The NX prioritizes ride quality over handling, which gives it a serene driving demeanor. That also leaves the NX trailing class rivals in terms of driver engagement.

  • 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 (2019)
  • "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 and 258 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. This engine doesn't deliver jaw-dropping power, but it has enough juice for all driving situations. Still, some rivals accelerate more eagerly.

According to EPA estimates, the NX gets 22 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. Those are above-average ratings in this class.

There is also a Lexus NX Hybrid, which we cover in a separate review.

  • 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 (2019)
  • "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 small SUV's main goal is to keep its passengers comfortable, and it does so by delivering a smooth ride even over rough roads. However, that focus on comfort comes at the expense of handling. The NX feels composed on winding roads, but there's a fair amount of body lean when taking turns. Many class rivals are more athletic overall.

You can choose between three driving modes that tailor the NX's dynamics to your liking. Front-wheel drive comes standard, and all-wheel drive is available.

  • Steering effort is appropriate and precise, but there's little feedback for the driver. When cornering, there's a good amount of body roll, but the NX is still reasonably predictable and poised." -- Edmunds
  • With the 2020 Lexus NX 300, the focus is more on driving comfort than driving excitement. Even the racy F-Sport with its firmer suspension and sport bucket seats doesn't quite do the trick. That's not to say the NX handles poorly or lacks credible feedback from the steering and brakes, it's just a more relaxed SUV, one we think most luxury buyers will appreciate." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • 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)
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2020 Lexus NX

MSRP: $36,870 - $45,360

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