2018 Lexus NX 300h

2018 Lexus NX 300h SUV Review

Great fuel economy and a quiet, well-trimmed cabin make this the Lexus of compact luxury SUVs.
3.5 star edmunds overall rating
author
by Jason Kavanagh
Edmunds Editor

Despite its aggressive styling, this hybrid is an even more sensible-shoes compact SUV than the NX 300 upon which it is based. It retains the visual attitude of its stablemate while delivering even better fuel economy.

Entering its fourth model year, the Lexus NX 300h compact SUV receives only minor changes for 2018. You can expect a quiet, pleasant driving experience even if the outside world thinks you're making a shouty statement.

With less power and slightly more weight to haul around than the regular NX 300, the hybrid NX won't pin you to the seat with authority. But the thrust of the NX hybrid is perfectly adequate around town, moving it away from stoplights on a bump of electrically augmented torque. Plus, that aforementioned seat is a well-padded and comfortable place from which to spend long stints behind the wheel.

Hybrid versions of conventional vehicles often suffer reduced cargo volume resulting from the need to package the large hybrid battery. In the case of the NX hybrid, this penalty is modest. However, the NX doesn't have a large cargo area to begin with. It's one of just two notable downsides to the NX 300h. The other is its infotainment interface, which can be distracting to use.

Overall, though, we like the NX 300h and think it's a smart choice for luxury crossover SUV shoppers wanting a pleasing mix of luxury, fuel economy and style.



what's new

This compact luxury SUV hybrid rolls into 2018 with only minor changes. It gets a modest face-lift that includes a revised rear bumper, a new grille, and updated headlights and taillights. Many advanced driver safety systems, including forward collision mitigation, are now standard on every NX 300h. New features include power-folding mirrors, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and a larger infotainment touchpad and screen.

we recommend

There's only one trim level of the NX 300h, but there is a handful of option packages from which to choose. We recommend the Comfort package at a minimum for the heated and ventilated front seats. Otherwise, for more creature comforts, get an NX with the Luxury package. It includes the contents of the Comfort and Premium packages (plus perforated leather trim, automatic wipers and a heated steering wheel) for a bit less money.

trim levels & features

The 2018 Lexus NX 300h is a five-seat compact hybrid SUV, available in just one version. Its 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and hybrid system deliver a combined power of 194 hp. It is available only with all-wheel drive and a continuously variable automatic transmission.

Standard equipment includes 17-inch wheels, LED headlights, LED foglights and running lights, keyless ignition and entry, automatic dual-zone climate control, power-adjustable front seats, simulated-leather upholstery (Lexus' NuLuxe), a 60/40-split folding and reclining back seat, a 8-inch infotainment display with a touchpad interface, and an eight-speaker sound system.

Also included is adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and mitigation, lane departure warning and intervention, and automatic high beams.

Available option packages help buyers get the most out of their NX. The Navigation package, for example, comes with a larger 10.3-inch display, Enform Destination Assist, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a 10-speaker audio system. A Comfort package includes heated and ventilated front seats, blind-spot monitoring and auto-dimming side mirrors. The Premium package includes the items from the Comfort package and adds a sunroof, driver-seat memory settings, 18-inch wheels, a power-adjustable steering wheel, and enhanced LED daytime running lights with integrated turn signals. Finally, a Luxury package combines what you get from the Premium package and adds leather seating surfaces, wood interior pieces, automatic wipers and a heated leather steering wheel.

Stand-alone options include a hands-free liftgate, parking sensors, adaptive headlights and even power-folding rear seats.

trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2015 Lexus NX 300h (2.5L inline-4 hybrid | AWD).

NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current NX 300h has received some revisions, including a revised infotainment interface and the addition of various driver assistance features. Our findings remain broadly applicable to this year's NX 300h.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall3.5 / 5.0

Driving

3.0 / 5.0

Acceleration3.0 / 5.0
Braking2.0 / 5.0
Steering3.5 / 5.0
Handling3.0 / 5.0
Drivability2.0 / 5.0

Comfort

3.5 / 5.0

Seat comfort4.5 / 5.0
Ride comfort3.0 / 5.0
Noise & vibration4.0 / 5.0

Interior

3.5 / 5.0

Ease of use2.0 / 5.0
Getting in/getting out3.5 / 5.0
Roominess4.0 / 5.0
Visibility3.5 / 5.0
Quality4.0 / 5.0

Utility

3.0 / 5.0

Small-item storage3.5 / 5.0
Cargo space3.0 / 5.0

driving

edmunds rating
There's nothing overly noteworthy in terms of the NX 300h's performance. It's far from quick, but also not turtle-slow. Around-town braking action can be annoying, but the steering and handling are predictable and at least somewhat entertaining.

acceleration

edmunds rating
A 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine combined with electric motors spins up a total of 194 horsepower. Acceleration at our test facility wasn't impressive — expect a 0-60 mph time of 8.4 seconds — but the NX 300h feels reasonably peppy out on the road.

braking

edmunds rating
The NX 300h stopped from 60 mph in just 118 feet at our test track, which is decent. Stability was excellent. But around town, the pedal felt spongy, and the regenerative braking action makes it difficult to properly modulate for smooth stops.

steering

edmunds rating
The steering weight is on the heavier side, but it tracks perfectly straight down the highway. There's reasonable precision, and it offers at least some feedback on mountain roads. Understeer doesn't set in as quickly as you'd expect.

handling

edmunds rating
The NX 300h is actually a halfway-fun SUV to drive around turns. Body lean through corners is pretty noticeable, but that's to be expected of a vehicle like this. It's easy to control.

drivability

edmunds rating
The CVT keeps the engine at a constant, high rpm when you're driving up long uphill grades. It can get annoying, as can the terribly inconsistent braking action.

comfort

edmunds rating
The NX 300h has supple, well-padded front seats and soft armrests all around. It's also quiet, although the CVT will sometimes wind the engine out. The ride is comfy on the highway and country two-lanes, but it can be harsh around town.

seat comfort

edmunds rating
The front seats are superb with plush cushions for all-day comfort, plus well-padded armrests. The rear seats are perched up high and you sit more on them than in them. The rear seatbacks, however, do recline.

ride comfort

edmunds rating
The NX 300h absorbs big bumps well but struggles to damp out the smaller ripples that come all at once. The comfy seats help with cushioning things, but only to a point.

noise & vibration

edmunds rating
It's pretty quiet inside the NX 300h. You hear some regenerative braking whine, and the large side mirrors give some wind whistling, but the tires are extremely silent on the highway. Almost no engine noise at cruising speeds.

interior

edmunds rating
The interior styling is a bit funky, but it's nothing objectionable. Entry and exit and outward visibility are all pretty good, and most controls have a nice feel. But the finger-controlled Remote Touch system is irksome.

ease of use

edmunds rating
The controls have a nice heft and fluidity to them; the steering wheel isn't cluttered with buttons. The optional Remote Touch trace pad is hard to use while driving.

getting in/getting out

edmunds rating
The large front doors open wide. The seats have rather large bolsters, but they don't get in the way. Near-perfect step-in height. The rear doors don't open wide, and the high-perched seat forces you to duck to avoid hitting your head on the roof.

roominess

edmunds rating
Excellent front headroom. Rear headroom is decent considering the high seats. It should be comfortable for two adults.

visibility

edmunds rating
The windshield and side roof pillars are slender, but the rear pillars are thick. The roof also slopes dramatically, resulting in a small rear window. The large side mirrors help.

quality

edmunds rating
We were impressed with the overall quality of the NX 300h. You'll find lots of soft leather all around; the steering wheel and shifter feel good; and the armrests are well-padded. Interesting textures. There's little in the way of cheap plastics.

utility

edmunds rating
The cargo area is easily accessible and has a wide opening, but the volume itself is rather small. Things are a bit better in the cabin, where there are a few options for stashing the items you use every day.

small-item storage

edmunds rating
No front bin but decent-size armrest bin with twin USB ports. Long door pockets with bottle holder. The center console cupholders have anti-tip design.

cargo space

edmunds rating
The cargo space behind the rear seats holds just 16.8 cubic feet. Folding down the seats gives you a total of 53.7 cubic feet. This is subpar for a luxury crossover in this class. With the seats up, it's 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.