What's the used Lexus NX estate like?
There's no getting around the Lexus NX being the left-field choice in the typically German-led, premium large SUV market. It certainly stands out, though, not to mention the model has a few tricks up its sleeve – one of which being incredible dependability. However, fear not, for its tricks are not made of witch craft, rather some clever engineering.
In contrast to most SUVs, there’s no diesel version available, Lexus electing instead to offer a hybrid model in the form of the NX 300h. In fact, there were only ever two engines options available, the other being the turbocharged, petrol-powered NX 200t, although even this was phased out in 2016 due to poor sales.
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.