Used 2016 Lexus NX 300h Review

Edmunds expert review

The 2016 Lexus NX 300h hybrid is a distinctive entry in the compact luxury crossover segment, boasting excellent fuel economy, impeccable cabin quality, eye-catching styling and a surprisingly sporty driving experience.




What's new for 2016

The NX 300h offers broader smartphone connectivity through Lexus' Enform products, but is otherwise unchanged.

Vehicle overview

If you're looking for a compact luxury crossover that's also a hybrid, you're almost out of luck. In fact, the 2016 Lexus NX 300h is practically the only game in town. There's exactly one other vehicle in this class with a hybrid powertrain, and that's the Audi Q5 Hybrid. We hope you like Lexus or Audi products; otherwise, you'll have to settle for a hybrid in a different body style or size class, at least for this year.

Fortunately, there's a lot to be said in the 2016 NX 300h's favor, starting with its class-leading fuel economy and unmistakable styling. On second thought, you might find the styling unmistakably bizarre, so that's not necessarily a strong suit. But without a doubt, the NX 300h is one of the most distinctive vehicles ever to wear a Lexus badge, and in the luxury realm, distinctiveness tends to be desirable. You can also expect Lexus' customary levels of comfort, technology and build quality, though it's worth noting the NX 300h is considerably slower than its conventionally powered sibling, the NX 200t.

As noted, the only other hybrid in the compact segment is the Audi Q5, which offers more cargo space and superior acceleration (it's actually even quicker than the regular NX 200t) but comes up 6-7 mpg short of the NX 300h in mixed driving, according to the EPA. Otherwise, as a consumption-conscious consumer, you're looking at either fuel-efficient diesel engines (the Q5 and the BMW X3 offer good ones) or generally less frugal four-cylinder gasoline engines like the one in the NX 200t. You might also consider the larger and more expensive Lexus RX 450h, which benefits from a full redesign for 2016. But if you fancy the idea of proven hybrid technology in a tidy and upscale crossover package, the Edmunds "B"-rated 2016 Lexus NX 300h will likely satisfy.




Trim levels & features

The 2016 Lexus NX 300h is a five-passenger compact luxury crossover SUV. It is available in a single trim level. The non-hybrid NX 200t is reviewed separately.

Standard equipment includes 17-inch wheels, automatic LED headlights, LED foglights/running lights/taillights, rear privacy glass, heated mirrors, keyless ignition and entry, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, eight-way power front seats (with two-way driver lumbar), 60/40-split-folding and reclining rear seats, "NuLuxe" premium vinyl upholstery, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, rear climate vents, a cargo cover and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Standard electronic features include a 7-inch central display screen, a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, Siri Eyes Free voice control for iPhones and an eight-speaker sound system with HD and satellite radio, a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack and a USB port. Also standard is Enform Service Connect, a service that provides remote vehicle status checks and maintenance alerts through a website or your smartphone.

Other packages are also available, though availability can vary by region, so you'll want to check with your local dealer. The Premium package adds 18-inch wheels, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, a sunroof, heated and ventilated front seats and driver memory settings. The Luxury package includes those items plus a power liftgate, automatic wipers, leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel and wood trim. A power-folding rear seat can be added to the Luxury package.

The Navigation package includes a navigation system as well as the Remote Touch electronics interface, two additional speakers, voice controls and various Lexus Enform smartphone-integrated apps.

Stand-alone options include some of the above bundled items plus front and rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control (includes a forward collision mitigation system), upgraded LED headlights and a wireless charging tray for Qi-compatible phones.



Performance & mpg

The 2016 Lexus NX 300h features a gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain that combines a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with a pair of electric motors supplied by a nickel-metal hydride battery pack. Together, they produce a maximum output of 194 horsepower. Opting for all-wheel drive adds a third electric motor that sends power to the rear wheels for added all-weather traction and energy recuperation under braking.

In Edmunds performance testing, an all-wheel-drive NX 300h went from zero to 60 mph in 8.4 seconds. That's a decent time for a hybrid, but pretty slow compared to regular luxury crossovers. Still, our Edmunds consumer reviews suggest that in the real world, many owners are satisfied with the NX 300h's acceleration.

On the other hand, fuel economy is the best in the segment. EPA testing rates the NX 300h at 33 mpg combined (35 city/31 highway) with front-wheel drive and 32 mpg combined (33 city/30 highway) with all-wheel drive.

Safety

Every 2016 Lexus NX 300h 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 includes 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 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, the NX 300h came to a stop from 60 mph in 118 feet, which is about average for this kind of vehicle, but laudable for a hybrid with efficiency-minded tires.

In crash tests performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the NX 300h earned a five-star rating overall, including four stars for total frontal protection and five stars for total side protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway awarded the 2016 Lexus NX a Top Safety Pick+, meaning it earned the highest possible rating of "Good" in each test and received an "Advanced" (three out of five) rating for front crash prevention.

Driving

The NX 300h retains the pleasing driving behavior of its turbocharged NX 200t stablemate, with responsive steering and good body control through corners and over bumps. But from there, the two diverge. While the 300h may be more fuel-efficient, its hybrid system also produces less power and weighs more, hampering acceleration.

Instead of the NX 200t's punchy and smooth turbocharged torque, the NX 300h features the sort of hybrid driving experience that current owners of Toyota or Lexus hybrids should find familiar. That includes quiet, all-electric propulsion when accelerating gently from a stop or coasting, with the gasoline engine engaging seamlessly as more power is demanded. Hard acceleration produces loud droning noises and adequate pace, although most rival SUVs pack a bigger punch. But given the hybrid NX's superior fuel efficiency, it's a trade-off you may be happy to live with.

Interior

The NX's cabin isn't as polarizing as the exterior, but it nevertheless exudes a cool, modern vibe that ensures it won't be mistaken for anything else. Construction is absolutely top-notch, with materials that look and feel rich, especially in the available two-tone color schemes. Soft leather lines the seats and passenger-side dash, and we appreciate the padded areas that 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 interface similar to Mercedes' COMAND system. We haven't had a chance to try the NX 300h with Display Audio, but most NX models are likely to leave the dealer lot with navigation and thus a more elaborate control system called Remote Touch. Various menus and icons are selected with a console-mounted touchpad, much 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.

Moreover, tech-savvy users might be disappointed by the absence of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support. Instead, Lexus offers smartphone integration on models equipped with navigation though an app called Enform. Owners must download the app to their phone to allow the NX access to other apps.

Rear passengers in the NX should find a generous amount of space, at least compared with most other compact luxury crossovers. Cargo space is skimpy, however, even if the NX 300h avoids the typical hybrid problem of significantly reduced cargo capacity relative to the traditionally powered version. Its 53.7 cubic feet of total volume falls short of all competitors, and the raked liftgate seems to make it even less versatile than this modest number suggests. That's driven home by its 16.8 cubic feet with the seats raised, making it less spacious than even some subcompact crossovers.

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.