What's the used Lexus NX estate like?
There's no getting around the fact the Lexus NX is the left-field choice in the typically German-led, premium large SUV market. It certainly stands out, though, not to mention this first-generation 2014-2021 model has a few tricks up its sleeve – one of which is its incredible dependability.
In contrast to most contemporary SUVs, there’s no diesel version available, Lexus elected instead to offer a hybrid model in the form of the NX 300h. In fact, there were only ever two engine options available, the other being the turbocharged, petrol-powered NX 200t, although even this was phased out in 2016 due to poor sales.
The short-lived S model, which was the cheapest in the range before it was axed at the same time as the NX 200t, gets dual-zone climate control and sat-nav, but it is only available with two-wheel drive; SE adds four-wheel drive and heated front seats. Luxury trim gives you leather seats and parking sensors, while F Sport features a more aggressive mesh grille and LED headlights. F Sport Premier brings a head-up display and an upgraded sound system, and the range tops out – slightly confusingly – with Premier, which gives you extra safety equipment, a heated steering wheel and ventilated front seats.
The petrol NX is certainly potent, but it's marred by a sluggish six-speed automatic gearbox. Mind you, the chances are you’ll be choosing the hybrid version since there are far more of them around. It, too, feels rapid away from the line, but any sort of aggressive accelerator use results in a scream from the engine, due to the CVT gearbox. In fairness, treated more gently, this does result in seamless acceleration with no gearchanges and, if you drive like a saint, the NX spends some of its time in electric-only mode, in which it's pleasingly quiet.
The NX's ride, too, can be smooth and usually feels relaxed when cruising along at high speed. Around town, though, it can be upset by smaller, sharper ruts, which send a shudder through the body. Expansion gaps on concrete sections of motorway have a similar effect.
Fancy a more spirited drive? Well, unfortunately, the NX’s uninspiring handling will dampen your fun. It feels very nose-heavy and tries to push on ahead if you corner too quickly. Then, when you can get it turned in, you’ll find the body leans over quite a bit, and if you’re trying to make sense of it all, you’ll get little help from the remote and uncommunicative steering. A BMW X3, or even an Audi Q5, is much more enjoyable to drive.
Inside, there are problems, too. The infotainment screen‘s controls are a nightmare to use and the menu system is intricate and complex, so you’ll soon find yourself avoiding them unless you absolutely have to. Some of the buttons used to control the heating and ventilation are a little fiddly, too. At least the seats are comfy.
The NX’s narrowness means interior space isn’t as good as its best rivals. Up front, you don’t feel too cramped, but in the rear seats, squeezing three adults abreast will result in plenty of shoulder-rubbing. Mind you, if you only have to carry two in the back, the flat floor means they’ll each get plenty of leg room, while the reclining seats are a nice touch.
In the boot, things are better, with a decent-sized space that’s sensibly shaped, and with a raised floor that means you can slide things in easily.
Advice for buyers
What should I look for in a used Lexus NX estate?
The NX’s narrow body makes it easier to manoeuvre than most SUVs of this size, but its extremities can still be difficult to place, so take a look at the corners for scuffs and make sure there are no signs of kerbing on the wheels. And, as with any family-sized SUV, it’s worth checking the interior carefully to make sure it hasn’t been used and abused by young family members.
What are the most common problems with a used Lexus NX estate?
The NX suffers very few issues, with owners generally being a happy bunch. We have but one recall that's worth mentioning...
Parking brake may not activate correctly
This recall, which has affected 9113 vehicles, relates to the possibility that the parking brake might not be set automatically when the brake hold or hill assist system is deactivated by certain conditions (for example, the unfastening of the driver’s seat belt while the system is enabled). This is caused by incorrect programming of the brake control module. By contacting your local Lexus/Toyota dealer, this fault can be fixed at no cost to you (if your vehicle is affected).
Is a used Lexus NX estate reliable?
Incredibly so. In our most recent reliability survey, the NX finished in first place out of 34 cars in the family SUV category, with an amazing score of 99.8%.
Reliability rating 99.8%
What went wrong? Non-engine electrics 2%
If you want a dependable family SUV, there’s one brand that should be at the top of your shopping list. The hybrid 2014-2021 Lexus NX takes the top two places here, with almost perfect reliability credentials. Just 2% of the previous-generation NXs reported on suffered any hiccups, and all issues were resolved in a day or less by dealerships at no cost to owners.
Owner’s view: “It’s so dependable, I wouldn’t consider another brand.”
Lexus as a brand also performed exceptionally, coming first out of 32 manufacturers featured.
What used Lexus NX estate will I get for my budget?
There are quite a few high-mileage hybrid examples around, thanks in no small part to their appeal as a company car when new. These will now set you back at least £15,000 and are worth a look if you want the cheapest option, as long as they’ve been well maintained.
However, if you’re after an early NX 300h with less than 80,000 miles on the clock and a full history, you’ll need to spend around £17,000. If only a non-hybrid petrol model will do, that figure will be closer to £18,000, though keep in mind that NX 200t models are thin on the ground.
Spend at least £18,000 on 2016 and 2017 models, while between £19,000 and £24,000 will get you a 2018 or 2019 car. For a 2020 or 2021 example, of which most are low mileage cars in excellent condition, you'll need to have at least £25,000 at the ready.
Check the value of a used Lexus NX with What Car? Valuations
Find a used Lexus NX for sale here
How much does it cost to run a Lexus NX estate?
Go for the pure petrol model and it’ll be quite costly. On paper, the NX 200t does 35.8mpg, under the old NEDC tests – a figure that doesn’t compare too favourably with petrol-powered rivals.
The hybrid model is better. In official lab tests, it achieved an average 55.8mpg under the old NEDC tests, and 37.1mpg under the newer, more realistic WLTP tests, placing it on a par with rivals. But keep in mind that, like many other hybrids, the NX is very economical in town but far less so on the motorway; so, while it makes sense if most of your mileage is urban, a diesel-powered rival will likely cost you less to fuel if you do lots of long-distance trips.
If you’re buying an NX registered after 1 April 2017, when the tax laws changed, you’ll need to choose carefully. That's because if it cost over £40,000 when it was new, you’ll be stung for the new higher-rate tax of £390 per year for years two to five of the car's life. If it cost less than that, though, you’ll pay a flat rate of £180 per year if you own a petrol car, or £170 if you own a hybrid one. Buy an NX registered before that date and you can expect to pay either £30 a year for the hybrid or £250 a year for the petrol. Find out more about current road tax costs here.
Insurance and servicing
Insurance groups are middle of the road, and so will be insurance costs. Lexus dealers’ service pricing is clear and transparent, making it easy to budget for your car’s next service. However, Lexus doesn’t offer a special fixed-price service scheme for older cars like those offered by Audi and BMW; that’s particularly salient because the NX’s services tend to cost more as its mileage increases, so make sure you’re aware of the costs involved later in the car’s life so you don’t get a nasty shock down the line.
Which used Lexus NX estate should I buy?
Finding an NX 200t is a job in itself, and it’s thirsty and costly to tax, so we’d avoid it in any case. The NX 300h is the only other option and, since it’s more efficient and much easier to find, it’s the one we’d choose.
Bearing in mind the impressive amount of equipment NXs get, we see no reason to go for one of the more expensive trims. SE should be all you need – and there’s less chance of incurring a big tax bill if you buy one registered after April 2017.
Our favourite Lexus NX 300h SE
What alternatives should I consider to a used Lexus NX estate?
If it’s a contemporary hybrid you’re after, there are actually very few alternatives. You can downgrade to the less upmarket Toyota RAV4 Hybrid or the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV – both of which are a little underwhelming.
However, if you can live with a diesel, then we’d point you in the direction of the BMW X3. It’s great value, excellent to drive, comfortable and economical – so while you’ll blend in with the crowd a little more, you’ll save money and have more driving fun.
But if you don’t want a diesel, you could try the Mazda CX-5. Sure, it doesn’t quite have Lexus’s premium cachet, but its smart interior feels surprisingly upmarket and it’s also more pleasing to drive. The petrol version is remarkably efficient, too – in some circumstances, more so than the Lexus hybrid.