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2018 lexus NX

Lexus, known since the debut of the RX as a luxury crossover leader, aimed to disrupt the compact luxury crossover segment with its NX model.

Recent changes
For the latest model year, the NX receives more safety features and minor design tweaks inside and out. The base NX 200t model becomes the NX 300.

Overview
The NX represents a first for Lexus in many ways. The NX 300's standard engine, a four-cylinder, was the company's first to offer turbocharging. The NX 300h's hybrid system was also the first in the Lexus hybrid lineup to come with a "kick-down" switch for maximum acceleration on-demand. Both powertrains also feature a pre-load front differential to minimize torque steer on front-wheel-drive models and help with yaw control on all-wheel-drive models, another first for the brand.

Diverse powertrains
The NX 300's turbocharged four-cylinder engine is a 2.0L unit that produces 235hp between 4,800 and 5,600 RPM and 258lb-ft of torque between 1,650 and 4,000 RPM. This is enough to move the small SUV from 0 to 60 in 7.0 seconds in all-wheel-drive equipped models (7.2 for front-wheel-drive). Top speed is electronically limited to 124 mph. Front-drive models get 22 mpg city, 28 mpg highway and 24 combined. The optional all-wheel-drive system reduces the city rating by 1 mpg, but the highway and combined ratings remain the same.

Turbocharged models are available with Dynamic Torque Control AWD, which operates in front-wheel-drive only mode when not needed to conserve fuel. The system is capable of diverting up to 50% of available torque to the rear wheels when necessary, and can vector torque to control understeer.

Under the hood of the NX 300h is a next-generation Lexus hybrid system. With only 194hp on tap, it's not quite as potent as the 200t's turbo-four, but at 35 mpg city, 31 mpg highway and 33 mpg combined, it makes up in efficiency what it lacks in performance. 0-60 comes in 9.1 seconds.

Hybrid models are available with E-Four AWD, which uses an electric motor to drive the rear axle rather than diverting main engine power to do the job. Like the DTC AWD system, it operates only when needed to conserve system power.

The looks
Like the RC Coupe, the NX carries the bold styling of the IS and GS sedans. The brand's signature double-trapezoid grille (a blacked-out mesh design on F Sport models) is framed by two-peace front headlamps. The side profile stands out with aggressive, flared box fenders and a sharp crease running along the base of the doors and swooping up to the rear. 17", 10-spoke aluminum alloy wheels round out the standard look. F Sport models receive either 18" wheels with all-season tires or 19" wheels with summer performance rubber.

The comfort
The NX's interior is sleek, sporty and tech-centric, following in the footsteps of the recently redesigned IS and GS sedans and the RC Coupe. An elegant, clean dash sits over a flowing, uncluttered center stack topped with an available pop-up screen controlled by Lexus' new touchpad-controlled Remote-Touch Interface (RTI).

The interior is available in five combinations. Base model cars along with the Comfort and Premium packages feature perforated Crème, Flaxen or Black NuLuxe inserts with smooth bolsters and Dark Umber trim. F Sport models are available in perforated black or red NuLuxe with metallic trim and black accent stitching on the sport seats. Buyers who opt for the Luxury package get crème or black leather and wood trim.

F Sport
Lexus uses F to denote its performance sub-brand. The F Sport package is akin to the BMW' M-Sport package—a collection of upgrades geared toward the enthusiast buyer who isn't quite willing to part with the money required for a full-on performance model.

Outside, F Sport models receive larger wheels and have optional summer performance tires. The grille, front bumper and mirror caps are also unique.

F Sport models receive upgraded, sport-oriented seats, non-slip aluminum pedals, active sound control (to amplify engine volume if desired) and a custom performance display that shows real-time data so drivers can extract the maximum performance available from the NX 300.

Standard and optional equipment
The standard equipment list for the NX is extensive. The base interior features NuLuxe leatherette aluminum. All NX models feature an analog clock mounted on the center stack and Drive Mode Select. Automatic, dual-zone climate control is also standard, along with a 10-way power driver's seat and an 8-way passenger seat.

Elsewhere in the interior, you'll find an 8-speaker, AM/FM/CD/MP3/WMA/SiriusXM/HD Radio audio system with integrated Bluetooth and USB/iPod support (with iTunes tagging) and voice recognition. The pop-up screen incorporates a back-up monitor with dynamic grid lines.

All NX models also include Lexus Enform Remote, a network system which allows owners to interact with certain on-board features via smartphone applications. Use of this system requires activation and subscription.

Siri Eyes Free is also standard, along with a HomeLink programmable garage door opener.

Lexus also offers several packages and a-la-carte options for the RC 350. Individual options include a power moonroof, heated/ventilated front seats, park assist, LED foglamps and navigation.

Buyers can also add on various a-la-carte options and packages. A-la-carte options includes a heated steering wheel, intuitive park assist, lane departure alert, a power moonroof, power rear liftgate, a pre-collision system, and LED headlamps. 18" wheels with all-season tires can be ordered separately from the F Sport package if desired.

Lexus offers four packages in addition to the F Sport suite. The Navigation Package includes a full GPS navigation system with Lexus Enform subscription apps, two additional speakers, advanced language recognition and Lexus Insider. The Comfort Package adds HomeLink garage door connectivity, driver seat memory (3 positions), steering wheel memory, side mirror memory and a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel. The Premium Package includes all Comfort Package Features and adds 18-inch wheels and tires, electrochromic outside mirrors, heated/ventilated front seats, a power moonroof, and upgraded DRLs and turn signals.

The Luxury Package is for those buyers looking for every available option. In addition to all features available in the Comfort and Premium Packages, this trim adds a heated steering wheel, leather-trimmed seats, wood trim, a power rear liftgate, rain-sensing wipers and a tow package (good for 2,000 lbs).

Occupant safety
Standard on the NX are LED daytime running lights; front, side, side curtain and side torso airbags, ABS, tire pressure monitoring, traction control, three-point belts for all seating positions, speed-sensitive automatic door locks and vehicle dynamic management (stability control) with a shut-off switch.

Key competitors
The Lexus NX competes directly with other compact luxury crossovers, including the BMW X1, Infiniti QX50, Audi Q3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC.