Style Over Function: 2018 Lexus NX300h Hybrid
THE GOOD: Stylish Refresh | Updated Tech | Comfortable Ride
THE BAD: Too Slow | Too Heavy | Too Expensive
There has been a lot of news worthy coverage coming out of Lexus over the past year with the all-new LC500 and LS500 making headlines over every magazine and online publication. The latest news came with the ES350 and its promiscuous luring physique. These are examples of the new Lexus ways, breaking the boundaries of what traditional Lexus was. But let us also not forget where it stems from.
The Lexus NX was the first small size crossover introduced to the Lexus lineup back in 2014. It was one of the first trend setting crossovers that started Lexus’ dramatic awareness and direction into a very polarizing scheme that not everyone loved. Now, four years into production, it’s time to powder the nose and apply some lip gloss to revivify some of the NX’s glorification. The NX had two names – it was easy to identify what was what. We had the NX200t for their 2.0-liter turbo-four and the NX300h to symbolize their hybrid powertrain. Now, taking something already so simple, and simplified it with just one name, NX300, and if opting for the hybrid, it follows with an ‘h’ to identity its source of oomph.
Despite this unnecessary change, neither one received any performance enhancements as it proceeds into the 2018 model year. The turbo variant continues to chug out 235-horsepower through a six-speed auto transmission while the hybrid, seen here in our test sees only 194-combined horsepower from the 2.5-liter four cylinder gas and electric motor. Spun through a CVT transmission the hybrid is sourced as the fuel efficient sibling that’s too lazy to do anything.
It’s unfortunate that in this day-n-age, we’ve seen so much advancement in the hybrid technology and capability that, seen here in the NX300h it’s a sluggish mule rather than a power hungry work horse. Weighing over 4200lbs, it takes the NX300h a lackadaisical 10-seconds to sixty miles-per-hour from a standstill. And with using a CVT transmission, it drones and howls so much at high revs, we nearly choked when we saw that this NX cost nearly fifty-grand.
One of the things that makes this hybrid so heavy, is the fact that it comes with all-wheel drive – there’s no front-wheel drive option with the hybrid. But unlike a traditional all-wheel drive system, there is no driveshaft that connects to the rear wheels. Instead, we have the traditional four-cylinder engine up front that sends power to the front wheels and then there is an electric motor working alongside the gas engine, then there are two electric motors in the back to power the rear wheels. This helps provide an equal balance of consistent power, but because there are so many electric components in play, it takes a lot of work to recharge the batteries. Even with in EV Mode, that can allow us to operate under electric only for up to 25 miles per hour, our batteries always seemed to be too depleted in order to function properly.
With its weight and performance being a disadvantage to the NX hybrid, it at least drives like a modern Lexus. The cabin is well insulated and isolates a lot of the outside noises and roads imperfections. The ride quality is subtle, yet provides an awareness of our surroundings. The interior is supremely comfortable and suitable for long distance travels. And even though the steering is perhaps a little too heavy for our taste, it provides a sense of control through the thick leather wrapped wheel. Like a traditional hybrid however, the brakes do come off springy with a lot of travel distance to be applied and doesn’t stop as quickly as the turbo sister.
Modifications to the NX300 for 2018 brought in new LED triple beam headlights to mimic the sexy LC500, a slightly modified front bumper and grille treatment add more of a dramatic-esc to the NX – though it is more prevalent on the F SPORT rather than the hybrid seen here. Minor interior upgrades centers mostly around the new 10.3-inch infotainment system with a larger touch control pad and smoother operations. The climate control surroundings have been updated to a more premium metal control function to feel more like its superior price tag. Safety has also been incorporated into this latest addition featuring Lexus Safety Sense + as a standard feature across all Lexus NX’s. This operation incorporates Lane Departure Warning & Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning with Brake Assist, and Automatic High beams.
Unfortunately, our hybrid tester here came with quite a hefty price tag, because well, all this beauty doesn’t come on the base $38,335 model. We dropped $800 into the Panoramic all-around view camera, another $1515 for those sexy Triple-Beam LED Headlights, $1800 into that 10.3-inch screen and Navigation, another $3270 for the Premium Package (18-inch Wheels, Heated and Ventilated Front Seats, Moonroof, Power Steering Wheel, Blind Spot Monitoring, and few more extras,) plus another $1600 in additional little extra’s like the leather key fob accessory and carpeted floor mats brought our closing price to $48,308.
The Lexus NX has always appealed to us as a good-looking compact premium crossover with the right amount of pizazz to sizzle up Lexus’ consumers lifestyle. These minor updates have added more characteristics to the NX that we believe bring more drama to its personality. We’ve always favored the interior’s angular flair with everything covered in leather and soft touch materials and seen here it feels just as good as the last time we tested one.
After 300 miles, our NX hybrid failed to achieve the rated 31 mpg combined fuel consumption. We only managed to average 28 mpg – granted as it has been getting to over 110-degrees in Arizona, this plays heavily on fuel economy. But as we see it, if the NX has peaked your interest, forego the Hybrid and spring for the turbo-four; it’s cheaper, quicker, and darn near as fuel efficient.
|2018 Lexus NX300h||$38,335|
|As Tested (including Options & Destination):||$48,308|
|2.5-liter Four-Cylinder & Electric Motor – 194- Combined Horsepower, CVT Automatic Transmission – 0-60MPH: ±9.5 seconds|
|EPA MPG: 33/30/31 (City/Highway/Combined) – SSB Average: 27.9 MPG’s – Fuel Range: ±360 Miles|
A sluggish mule for $50k! No thanks. I’ll forever associate the Lexus NX with Bugles in the backseat.
It’s one of my favorite memories. My Bugles where everywhere. Oy vey.