The Lexus NX 300 is a proven reliable Lexus SUV. As the price has swelled for the wildly popular RX series (which now offers three rows of seating), the NX is about the size of the original RX, which could easily swallow a family of four and all their belongings. If you don’t need the room, the NX could be just the ticket and keep the bill under $40K with all of the prestige and accoutrements of a Lexus.
Let’s get it out of the way first: There is only one thing that drives automotive journalists crazy with Lexus vehicles, and that’s the infotainment system navigation. Entering destinations is not intuitive. It uses a touch pad just in front of the center console. However, for the new 2020 vehicle, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay will be standard on vehicles with the Lexus Multimedia System. If you are the type of person who prefers to use the functions of your smartphone on the dashboard rather than fight with the infotainment system, the Lexus now becomes a viable choice. Additionally, if you have an older Lexus (or other) vehicle with an infotainment screen, talk to your local mobile electronics specialist. They may have the ability to add Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to your current vehicle’s screen, keeping your vehicle current for the new decade!
I enjoyed the NX 300’s raised driving position and surrounding cockpit. The NX 300’s 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine produces 235 hp and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. The D4-S injection system, which uses a combination of direct fuel injection and additional port fuel injectors, helps ensure ample power and responsiveness at all engine speeds. A similar system is employed on the racy Toyota 86, which shares the same engineering and engine as the Subaru BRZ, but this engine has the addition of a turbocharger. A sequential six-speed automatic transmission uses Torque-Demand control logic to calculate required engine torque to deliver quick responses. As with other Lexus models, the driver can choose preferred driving responses using the Drive Mode Select dial on the center console. The system adjusts parameters for multiple systems, including throttle response and the power steering assist curve. The default setting is Normal. Sport mode sharpens responses, and Eco mode helps enhance fuel-efficient driving.
The Lexus cabin is a nice place to spend time. The NX cabin is offered in five variations and we really dig the names. The Base model, along with the Comfort and Premium packages, features perforated Crème, Glazed Caramel, Rioja Red or Black NuLuxe inserts with smooth bolsters and Dark Umber (dark wood) trim. There are even storage areas hidden below the cargo floor. The rear seat has an available power-folding option. There are switches on the seats, cargo area, and even the dashboard to actuate the folding rear seats.
As Lexus wants to elevate the dealership experience and get customers on their way quicker, they have moved to an app called Lexus Enform Remote. The owner can view and control the vehicle from their smartphone. You can lock/unlock, remote start and even keep an eye on how the kids are driving if they borrow the car. Coupled with Lexus Enform Service Connect, the NX alerts you and the dealership if maintenance is needed. The vehicle should already be logged into the system, speeding the service process.
The Lexus infotainment system uses a 10.3-inch screen so it makes Android Auto and CarPlay look really good. My tester featured the Lexus Premium Audio system. It comes standard and uses an eight-channel amplifier with a digital signal processor to restore high notes lost through compression. It plays through eight speakers and sounds decent, considering it is not the high-end option. The Navigation system model adds two more speakers with a center dash mid/high speaker and a subwoofer mounted in the liftgate. My tester did not have it, but for 2020, a Mark Levinson 14-speaker audio system is optional on Premium, Luxury and F SPORT models.
Fuel economy is good, and I got 25 mpg over the course of a week of mixed driving. For an SUV with Toyota build quality, the NX 300 is worth a look. If you’ve tried the Lexus infotainment system in the past and did not like it, the addition of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay make the NX 300 a contender for your driveway for years to come.