The 2020 Lexus NX 300h is a hybrid compact crossover that hasn’t changed much since its launch five years ago but it checks all the right boxes in the hotly contested premium compact crossover class. The front seats are supportive and comfortable, there’s plenty of cargo room, the power-train is smooth and efficient and the ride quality is Lexus quiet….what more could you want? It’s not perfect though, I’ll get to that later and after 5 years a makeover is definitely due.
Visually the NX is still holding its own, the angular design looks as fresh as it ever did and the headlights and taillights look sinister and that huge grill still reminds me of Darth Vader. My 2020 Premium tester came with a Nebula Gray Pearl exterior, black leather interior and triple beam LED headlamps.
Buying the most expensive NX doesn’t get you the best engine, that one is the 300t which gets a 235-hp turbocharged I-4 with 258 lb-ft of torque. It’s good for a 0-60 dash in 6.9 seconds and is the one to get if you need some get up and go. In the all-wheel-drive NX 300h, however, the front wheels are powered by a 2.5-liter gasoline four-cylinder engine and a 67-hp electric motor added to the rear axle, yielding a total output of 194 horsepower and a relatively pedestrian 0-60 time of 8.3 seconds.
The ride is pretty good and the suspension soaks up all but the worst potholes San Diego can throw at it, it’s firm yet comfortable. Body roll is controlled to a degree but the extra weight of the electric motor and battery definitely blunt the car’s ability, you could never be fooled into thinking the NX is either a sports car or even a sporty crossover. Driving it in Sport mode simply isn’t worth it since the 4 cylinder spins up but doesn’t offer and additional forward thrust. Keep it on Normal and Eco mode though and it’s a very relaxed cruiser on the highway, remember the NX 300 h is built for comfort and economy, not speed.
The NX has an EV mode the downside is it only works under 25 mph, so it’s not particularly useful and if you put your foot down too much, the engine kicks in and no more EV mode. I used it on a couple of occasions but the battery really doesn’t last long enough.
The Lexus is very comfortable inside and cabin materials are of the premium quality you would expect. The NX Premium get a host of goodies including Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa functionality. I found the advanced driver assistance systems such as automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control work well, but the steering wheel, which feels great in your hands, somewhat cluttered with controls.
The center console is where it all goes wrong, it’s a mess and has Lexus’ frustrating track-pad, which are usually fine just not while I’m driving, and it’s not even easy to use while parked. I found it best to simply set everything up while parked.
Track-pad aside there’s a decent room in the rear for both passengers and cargo, but strangely no rear USB ports or at least I couldn’t find them.
The NX 300h excels at being a Lexus, it’s a smooth, quiet, very fuel-efficient premium crossover, that you can drive serenely from A to B . It’s not exciting to drive because it’s not supposed to be, get the 300 t if you want some speed. The Premium spec is a bit pricey, my tester came out just short of $50K, which gets you the 18 inch wheels, Ventilated Front Seats, A Power Moonroof, Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
2020 Lexus NX 300h Numbers
BASE PRICE: $39,070
PRICE AS TESTED: $49,592
VEHICLE LAYOUT: Front-engine, AWD, 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback
ENGINE: DOHC 16-valve Atkinson-cycle 2.5-liter inline-4
ELECTRIC MOTOR: Permanent-magnet AC synchronous motors with EV mode
COMBINED POWER: 194 hp
TRANSMISSION: Electronically controlled Continuously Variable
0-60 MPH: 8.3 sec
CURB WEIGHT: 4,183 lb
CARGO CAPACITY: 17.7 ft³, 54.6 ft³ with rear seats folded
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON: 33/30/31 mpg
OUR OBSERVED: 25.1 mpg
PROS: Quite and refined, solid build quality, beautiful interior
CONS: Needs a makeover, needs more power