Lexus’ resurgence is now in full swing, and their confidence is evident in vehicles like the new NX crossovers. In particular, the 2015 Lexus NX300h.
Both the gasoline and hybrid model-tested here-sacrifice some stance and proportion on the altar of aggressive styling impact. However, what the NX300h may lack in physical presence, it makes up in bold styling. Details like the vivid, flowing lighting graphics—and not just in the main lamps-look at the cool LED lighting in the door handles—push all the right aesthetic buttons for many people.
READ MORE: 2015 Lexus NX - Review | RideApart
Playing Its Own Game
The NX's inside is equally audacious- and built from suitably high-grade materials. Even the standard faux leather seats aren’t overly objectionable. Room is decent for the vehicle’s footprint, and the driving position is great. However, the infotainment screen’s resolution, graphics and mouse-like controller still aren’t as good as those in the German crossovers.
It can be hard to know exactly what to compare this NX300h model to, as there are few similarly sized luxury crossovers that can achieve its rated or real-world fuel economy of over 30mpg. Only the diesel Audi Q5 and BMW X3 can match or beat it on the highway, and it clobbers both in urban environments. And driven with restraint the Lexus feels almost as torquey and refined as those two.
Push the pedal to the floor though and the downside of hybridization shows (and sounds) its face, with strained, bovine-like noises from the engine and continuously variable transmission and nonlinear, poorly modulated throttle response. Much better to back off and drive like you care about the environment. This lack of straight-line urge would be better if coupled with a more compliant chassis, though.
As it is, the NX300h is too stiff to ever provide the kind of cosseting, luxurious ride such low-impact driving deserves. It does do corners well, with low roll angles and accurate steering, but this chassis deserves the performance you get only in the turbocharged NX200t. However,for those interested in sporty looks, solid build, and AWD hatchback practicality and economy, the hybrid NX300h is it.
EPA ratings: 33/30mpg; 32mpg combined
0-60mph: 8.5 seconds (est)
Price as tested: $51,113