Used 2015 Lexus NX 200t SUV Review
Our sun's corona. Beyonce's career. The molten interior of a freshly microwaved Hot Pocket. Beyond that, we can't really think of many things hotter than the wildly popular and rapidly growing compact luxury crossover SUV segment. Car shoppers clearly find these models' size, ride height, fuel economy and premium cabins to be a just-right recipe. Lexus already has a shopper favorite in the midsize RX 350 and it isn't too far north of the segment's average size and price range, but the company felt there was room for another, more directly aimed contender. Its name is the 2015 Lexus NX 200t.
On the outside, the NX has a distinctive look that takes inspiration from the company's recently redesigned IS sport sedan. Clever interior packaging has led to an impressive amount of rear seat legroom that betters what's available from most competitors. Cargo room is lacking, however, both with the rear seats raised and lowered, so those who are looking for the "U" from their SUV should probably consider one of those otherwise similar competitors or the bigger RX.
Size isn't the only difference between the NX and the RX. In terms of style, performance and overall personality, there is as similar a relationship between these two SUVs as there is between Lexus' IS sport sedan and bigger ES luxury sedan. Still, a key difference can be found in the engine bay, as the NX stakes out new ground from the predominantly V6-powered Lexus lineup with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Smooth, powerful and surprisingly quiet, it should please those accustomed to six cylinders thrumming under the hood. A fuel-efficient hybrid version, the NX 300h (reviewed separately), is also available.
As expected in this day and age, the NX is packed full of available high-tech safety and infotainment features. The latter are likely to be controlled with Lexus' optional Remote Touch interface, revised for 2015 to use a new laptop-like touchpad to control various vehicle functions. We still found it a bit distracting to use, but it's one of the few demerits in what is otherwise an attractive and impeccably constructed cabin.
As a pick for family transport, you'll probably be better off with the Acura RDX or Volvo XC60, as both offer far more luggage space. Also, many competitors can be had with more powerful engine upgrades, such as the Audi Q5 and BMW X3. Overall, though, we think pretty highly of this new Lexus that is certainly bound to heat up the compact luxury crossover segment even more.
performance & mpg
The 2015 Lexus NX 200t is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 235 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are standard. All-wheel drive is optional.
In Edmunds performance testing, a front-wheel-drive NX 200t went from zero to 60 mph in 7 seconds, which is average for the segment. According to Lexus, the all-wheel-drive model should be a few ticks quicker.
The EPA estimates fuel economy for the 2015 Lexus NX 200t at 24 mpg combined (22 city/28 highway) with all-wheel drive. Front-wheel models push slightly to 25 mpg combined. On the Edmunds mixed-driving evaluation route, a front-drive NX 200t returned 25.7 mpg.
Every 2015 Lexus NX 200t comes standard with antilock brakes, traction and stability control, front side airbags, full-length side-curtain airbags, a driver knee airbag and a front passenger cushion airbag that prevents occupants from submarining under the seatbelt and off the seat. A rearview camera is also standard, along with Lexus Enform Safety Connect telematics that include automatic crash notification, stolen vehicle location and an emergency assist button. Optional features include a blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert, as well as a lane-departure warning system and a frontal pre-collision system (included with adaptive cruise control) that warns of a possible collision and can automatically apply the brakes in the event of driver inaction.
In Edmunds brake testing, an NX 200t with summer tires came to a stop from 60 mph in 118 feet, which is several feet better than average.
The government has yet to test the NX 200t's crash-test performance, but in Insurance Institute for Highway safety crash testing, the 2015 Lexus NX 200t was awarded the highest possible rating of "Good" in the agency's small-overlap and moderate-overlap frontal crash tests, as well as for side-impact and roof-strength tests.
If you're expecting the 2015 Lexus NX 200t to drive like a smaller version of the RX, you're either going to be disappointed or pleasantly surprised. The ride is a bit firmer, the steering is more responsive and body motions are more controlled when driving around turns or going over bumps and dips. There is a sense of connection between the car and driver that is not present in Lexus' other SUVs as well as some rival crossovers. Even more engagement can be found in the F Sport model, courtesy of its more sharply tuned suspension, paddle shifters, extra gauges and admittedly extraneous Active Sound Control that pumps artificial engine noise into the cabin.
One of the reasons the F Sport has to use artificial noise is because of how impressively quiet the NX's cabin is. The engine, in particular, is surprisingly hushed, especially when compared with the turbocharged four-cylinders in the Audi Q5 and Volvo XC60. It's also very smooth and respectably powerful. Current luxury SUV owners used to V6 engines are unlikely to complain about the fact that there are two fewer cylinders under the hood (if they notice at all).
The NX's cabin isn't quite as radical as the exterior is, but it nevertheless exudes a cool, modern vibe that won't be mistaken for anything else in the segment. Construction is absolutely top-notch, with materials that look and feel rich. Soft leather lines the seats and passenger-side dash, as well as the padded areas that thoughtfully cushion the center console to keep your legs from whacking against a hard surface. Details like contrast stitching, wood trim and a modern analog clock are tastefully applied.
The high-mounted climate controls are easy to reach and see, while other secondary controls are intuitive. The infotainment controls are less so, however. The standard Display Audio system utilizes a knob-and-screen system similar to Mercedes' COMAND system. We haven't had a chance to try the NX 200t with Display Audio, but most NX models are likely to leave the dealer lot with navigation and thus will be fitted with the latest iteration of Lexus' Remote Touch interface. With Remote Touch, various menus and icons are selected with a new console-mounted touchpad (like a laptop's). There is haptic feedback through that pad when you click something, but in general, we find that using Remote Touch draws too much of your attention from the road.
Rear passengers in the NX should find a generous amount of space, at least compared with most other compact luxury crossovers. Cargo space is tight, however. The NX's 54.6 cubic feet of total volume may be equal to the similarly constricted Mercedes GLK's and just a few cubes shy of an Audi Q5's, but its raked liftgate seems to make the space less versatile than even its modest volume number would suggest. That's driven home by the fact that it offers just 17.7 cubic feet of cargo room with the seats raised, making it less spacious than its compact crossover rivals.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.