Lexus NX review

Category: Family SUV

The NX family SUV is a great all-rounder and the best car Lexus has launched for years

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  • Lexus NX interior dashboard
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  • Lexus NX interior infotainment
  • Silver Lexus NX right driving
  • Silver Lexus NX front cornering
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  • Silver Lexus NX left static boot open
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  • Lexus NX interior back seats
  • Lexus NX interior steering wheel detail
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Introduction

What Car? says...

Despite Lexus being a trailblazer for ‘self-charging’ hybrid technology in the mid-Noughties, this latest Lexus NX is actually the first model in the Japanese car maker’s history to be available as both a regular hybrid and a plug-in hybrid. 

The regular hybrid is called the 350h and should appeal to those who simply can’t charge their car and/or want a cheaper entry point into the NX range.

Meanwhile, the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version – the 450h – has an official electric-only range of more than 40 miles. That puts this family SUV in a lower company car tax bracket than the equivalent Audi Q5 and BMW X3 (although the PHEV Mercedes GLC is in an even lower bracket).

While numbers are undoubtedly very important, the Lexus NX needs to be a good car in other respects too. Among other things, it needs to offer good performance, and be comfortable, refined, practical and well built.

This review will tell you how successfully the NX manages that – and how well it compares with the best family SUVs – as we rate it in all the important areas.

Overview

The Lexus NX 450h has a plush interior, impressive refinement, good electric range, low CO2 emissions and low company car tax rate. If you can't easily plug in your car, the NX 350h is a good compromise. It's not as frugal or hushed as the 450h, but it’s competitively priced, more efficient than non-hybrid rivals and should benefit from Lexus’s legendary reliability.

  • Strong performance
  • Promise of stellar reliability
  • PHEV has an impressive electric range
  • Petrol engine isn’t the smoothest
  • Choppy high-speed ride on F Sport versions
  • Takumi versions are pricey
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Our Pick

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Lexus Nx 450h+ 2.5 5dr E-CVT [Premium Pack] review
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox

When the Lexus NX 350h’s electric motor and 2.5-litre petrol engine work in unison, acceleration isn’t too shabby.

In four-wheel-drive form, the official 0-62mph time is just 7.7 seconds, which is significantly quicker than a petrol BMW X3 xDrive20i. If you opt for the entry-level front-wheel-drive version, that time increase to 8.7 seconds, and the engine generally needs working harder to get up to speed. 

The NX 450h plug-in hybrid pairs the same 2.5-litre petrol engine with a more powerful electric motor for a combined power output of 305bhp. That’s a pretty punchy combination – enough for a 0-60mph time of 5.8 seconds in our tests, beating the Mercedes GLC 300e by half a second and the Honda CR-V by more than two and a half seconds. 

When its battery is charged up, the 450h operates like an electric car. That means smooth, quiet and fairly nippy acceleration up to motorway speeds.

Officially, it can do up to 45 electric-only miles (it varies slightly depending on trim level), but on our real-world test route the engine triggered into life after 36.8 miles. That’s similar to what you’ll see from a CR-V or a Volvo XC60 T6 Recharge, but much less than the 57 miles we achieved in a GLC 300e.

Suspension and ride comfort

Entry-level versions of the NX have 18in wheels, and they give you the most forgiving ride both around town and at higher speeds.

Lexus NX image
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The larger 20in wheels that are standard on F-Sport and Takumi models still ride comfortably at low speeds, and even over potholes they don’t cause the car to lose composure and send nasty jolts through your backside.

They're less impressive at motorway speeds, though – the NX jostles you around, almost as though you're sitting on a washing machine on a slow spin cycle. The experience is gentle and stops short of being irritating, but the Audi Q5 TFSIe is more settled at faster speeds.

The F-Sport gets adaptive sports suspension to tighten up the handling. Even with this firmer set-up, the NX is forgiving over ripples, expansion joints and potholes, being no worse than the GLC 300e.

Silver Lexus NX rear cornering

Handling

The NX's cornering abilities are more than good enough. This isn’t a fun and sporty family SUV but it does grip the road well and there's not much body lean through corners. Its steering is precise and the weighting is natural and consistent enough to give you confidence on a winding road. 

The heavier 450h PHEV feels a little less agile than the 350h, but the adaptive suspension on F-Sport models allows you to improve body control by firming it up at the touch of a button.

Overall, the NX is closer to the XC60, feeling composed and more nimble than the GLC 300e, but not as sharp as an X3 or CR-V.

Noise and vibration

When the 450h’s battery is charged up and it's running like an electric car, there's just a hint of motor whine. If the battery runs flat (on both the 350h and 450h), the 2.5-litre petrol engine fires into life. You can hear it happening and you’ll notice a small amount of vibration through the steering wheel and seat, mainly because of the contrast with full electric mode.

When you put your foot down harder, it becomes a bit raucous due to the CVT automatic gearbox – the engine sounds rather coarse and channels vibrations up through the floor. At a cruise, the engine fades into the background.

There’s a hint of wind noise by the door mirrors on a motorway, while road noise could be quieter, even on the smaller tyres of the entry-level model. The Q5, the GLC 300e and the XC60 do a better job of filtering this out.

By hybrid car standards, the brakes are fairly predictable. There's some grabbiness, but you'll find the same on many hybrid rivals and quite a few fully electric cars.

"Because of the way the NX's CVT automatic gearbox works, it holds the revs high during hearty acceleration, and this makes it somewhat noisy when you try to build speed in a hurry," Will Nightingale, Reviews Editor 

Driving overview

Strengths PHEV has a decent electric range; punchy performance; comfortable ride

Weaknesses Plenty of body lean; petrol engine in PHEV could be smoother

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Driving position and dashboard

The front seats in the Lexus NX are some of the best you’ll find in a family SUV. They’re heavily bolstered and have a wide range of adjustments. On the 350h, they’re electrically adjustable from Premium Plus Pack and up, while all 450h models get electric adjustment for the seat and steering wheel.

The driving position itself isn’t perfect, though. Some of our taller testers noted that they felt slightly hunched over the steering wheel, wishing that the dashboard and steering wheel were mounted a bit higher (or the seat dropped lower). A Land Rover Discovery Sport or Volvo XC60 offers a more natural, commanding driving position.

The dashboard has been designed to wrap around the driver and puts everything in your eye line. It works well, with the raised centre console bringing many of the major controls to hand height – for example, you don’t need to use the touchscreen to adjust the interior temperature because Lexus has fitted some good old-fashioned dials.

The vertical touchscreen doesn’t quite fall to hand as easily as the angled screen in the Mercedes GLC though.

Visibility, parking sensors and cameras

The NX isn't quite as easy to see out of as the Audi Q5 or the Honda CR-V because its wide windscreen pillars tend to get in the way more at junctions and roundabouts. The low dashboard gives a clear view ahead though.

However, you shouldn’t have any trouble parking because all models come with front and rear parking sensors.

The 450h gets a 360-degree camera and LED headlights with self-dipping technology as standard. To get them on the 350h you need to opt for the Premium Plus Pack.

Lexus NX interior dashboard

Sat nav and infotainment

We’ve given Lexus some flack in the past for its overly complicated infotainment systems. Thankfully, the NX has a much more intuitive system that won’t leave you tearing your hair out.

It's a touchscreen – measuring 9.8in on entry-level NX and Premium Pack models and 14in on other trims – so it's a bit more distracting than the rotary controller interface in the X3.

The smaller screen is slow to respond and struggles to load menus smoothly, which is frustrating and distracting. The larger 14in screen is far better, with larger icons that are well spaced out, and the screen responds quickly to prods. It’s certainly better than the XC60's system.

All models come with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring. You also get a four-year subscription to Lexus online services.

Takumi versions have a 17-speaker Mark Levinson stereo – worth considering if you're a music lover.

Quality

The NX doesn't feel quite as solid inside as the Audi Q5 or the Volvo XC60, but then few cars do. Lexus gives you some suitably upmarket fixtures and fittings, with a choice of a cream, black, red or tan for the leather bits. They arguably give the car a more special look.

Everything also feels well screwed together, and pretty much everything you touch feels ready to stand the test of time and the rigours of daily family use.

"The NX has physical air conditioning controls and its dials are easy to use on the move. However, the touch-sensitive pads on the steering wheel deal with multiple functions and take a while to figure out," Neil Winn, Deputy Reviews Editor

Interior overview

Strengths Decent infotainment system; great seats; nice use of materials

Weaknesses Slightly odd driving position

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Front space

As the Lexus NX is a big car, you probably wouldn’t expect to struggle to fit in the front. And you won’t, even if you’re really tall, although the optional sunroof (standard on Takumi models) does reduce head room slightly.

Storage space is respectable, with decent-sized door bins, a cubby under the centre armrest and a couple of cupholders between the front seats.

Rear space

Rear space in the NX is slightly better than in the rival Audi Q5 but if you want limo-like leg room, take a look at the Mercedes GLC and the Volvo XC60.

Three adults in the back of the NX will find it a bit of a squeeze – the same is true in most family SUVs – but you can recline the seatbacks for a more laid-back seating position and the central tunnel is reasonably compact. In the BMW X3 xDrive30e, a central passenger is left with virtually no foot room.

The NX is not available as a seven-seater (neither are the Q5, X3, GLC or the XC60). If you want to carry more than five people, look at the Land Rover Discovery Sport or the Mercedes GLB. Of course, there are non-premium seven-seat SUVs too, including the excellent Hyundai Santa Fe.

Lexus NX boot open

Seat folding and flexibility

You can adjust the rake of the rear seatbacks in the NX, but they don’t slide back and forth on their runners like the seats in the Q5. We love this feature in the Q5 because it allows you to easily prioritise rear passenger space or boot space.

The NX rear seats fold down when you need extra space for luggage, splitting 60/40. Some rivals, including the Q5, the X3, the GLC and the XC60, split in a more flexible 40/20/40 arrangement. Lexus does at least give you a powered tailgate as standard on all trim levels.

Boot space

The NX has 520 litres of boot space, which is average for the family SUV class. That allows it to swallow seven carry-on suitcases with the parcel shelf and rear seats in place – one more than the Mercedes GLC 300e and matching the Audi Q5 50 TFSIe, the BMW X3 xDrive30e and the Volvo XC60 T6 Recharge.

The NX also has underfloor storage for the charging cables and load cover, which you won’t find in most rivals.

If you want a really big boot and are not fussed about a premium badge, there are better options, including plug-in hybrid versions of the Hyundai Santa Fe and the Kia Sorento.

"A pair of tall adults can sit comfortably in the back of the NX, but three abreast will feel rather cooped up," Dan Jones, Reviewer

Practicality overview

Strengths Decent rear head and leg room; reasonably sized boot

Weaknesses Rear-seat flexibility isn’t great

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2

The Lexus NX 350h certainly isn’t the cheapest family SUV you can buy, but it undercuts premium rivals such as the Audi Q5 40 TDI, the BMW X3 xDrive20i and the Volvo XC60 by a healthy margin.

The same can be said for the 450h – in entry-level specification, it's cheaper than the Q5 TFSIe, the X3 xDrive30e, the Mercedes GLC 300e and the XC60 T6 Recharge. Check the latest prices on our New Car Deals pages.

The NX is a compelling choice as a company car. The 350h produces less CO2 than the Q5 and X3, so you'll have lower company car tax payments. The 450h's low CO2 emissions good electric range means you’ll pay just 8%.

That’s more than the 2% an electric car attracts or the 5% you’ll pay for the GLC 300e, but the NX is still a strong choice, costing much less than the 12-14% you'll pay for a Q5 TFSIe or X3 xDrive30e.

If you opt for the PHEV, you could potentially save a lot on fuel costs. You probably won't get close to its official 314mpg figure, but if you keep the battery topped up and make mainly short journeys it should be very frugal.

When the battery runs down, you can expect up to 35-40mpg with careful driving. The battery has a maximum charging rate of 6.6kW so a 0-100% charge takes around 2hrs 45min, a lot less time than the plug-in X3 or XC60, which are limited to 3.7kW.

Equipment, options and extras

The NX's specification structure isn’t very straightforward, but whichever model you go for, the standard kit list is impressive. The base spec, called NX, is only available on the 350h and comes with 18in wheels, heated faux-leather front seats and the 9.8in infotainment system.

Premium Pack (which is the entry-level trim for the 450h) adds keyless entry, privacy glass and wireless phone-charging. We recommend ticking the options box for Lexus Link Pro, which introduces built-in sat-nav and a larger touchscreen system. That combination is our pick of the range, but we wouldn't deter you from stepping up to F-Sport if you want adaptive LED headlights, ventilated front seats, a head-up display and 20in wheels.

We don't recommend the range-topping Takumi trim. It comes with loads of luxuries, including some more upmarket interior finishes and a digital rear-view mirror, but it pushes the price too close to that of altogether larger PHEV SUVs, including the Volvo XC90 (which is a seven-seater).

Lexus NX interior infotainment

Reliability

Reliability is arguably one of the biggest reasons to choose a Lexus. The brand finish top out of 32 manufacturers rated in our 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey and the NX itself finished at the top of the family SUV class.

That survey didn’t include this latest-generation NX, but there’s no reason to expect a dip in form. The brand has never finished below second in the car makers table.

Safety and security

The NX was awarded five stars out of five for safety by Euro NCAP and it certainly gets lots of kit to help you avoid an accident.

Automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane-keeping assistance and traffic-sign recognition are standard across the range, with increasingly more safety aids, including blind-spot monitoring, fitted to F-Sport and Takumi versions.

"According to our data, the NX should have excellent residual values, thanks in part to Lexus’s reputation for build quality and reliability," Darren Moss, Deputy Digital Editor

Costs overview

Strengths Fantastic reliability; reasonably frugal; PHEV is a competitive company car choice

Weaknesses Mercedes GLC 300e is cheaper as a company car

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FAQs

  • It's not available as an electric car but it is available in hybrid and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) forms. The regular hybrid, the NX 350h, gets an electric motor and 2.5-litre petrol engine, and can travel short distances using just the motor. The PHEV NX 450h can officially travel up to 45 miles on electricity alone.

  • We think most buyers will be served best by the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version, the NX 450h. Team that with Premium Pack trim (plus the optional Lexus Link Pro infotainment system), and you’ll have all the equipment you could want.

  • The main difference is how much kit you’re getting for your money. F Sport adds a slightly sportier look with plenty of luxury. Range-topping Takumi models come with even more kit, including more upmarket interior finishes and a digital rear-view mirror, but also costs substantially more.

At a glance
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RRP price range £44,440 - £65,695
Number of trims (see all)7
Number of engines (see all)5
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)hybrid, petrol parallel phev
MPG range across all versions 256.8 - 49.5
Available doors options 5
Warranty 3 years / 60000 miles
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £769 / £3,977
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £1,537 / £7,953
Available colours