2017 Lexus NX 200t F-SportPosted on April 19th, 2017
Right-size crossover for active urbanites
By Nina Russin
The compact NX is the smallest of Lexus’ crossover vehicles, positioned below the midsize RX. Buyers can choose between the 200t, powered by a two-liter turbocharged engine or 300h gasoline/electric hybrid. A F-Sport package available on the 200t adds a unique grille and exterior badging, 18-inch wheels and unique interior trim. Base price is $37,185.
Options on the test car include the F-Sport package, heated front seats, LED headlamps, navigation, 10-speaker premium sound system, power liftgate, power sunroof, mudguards and cargo mat, bringing the final MSRP to $45,718.
Test drive in Phoenix, Arizona
This week I drove the NX along the Bush Highway through the foothills of the Superstition Mountains east of town and sections of the Gila River Indian Community to the southeast. The test drive also included freeways and surface streets in central Phoenix, Tempe and Chandler, Arizona.
While the Lexus RX is the perfect fit for growing families, the smaller NX is a better choice for singles or young couples: especially those living in large urban areas where parking is at a premium. The NX provides plenty of room for five passengers with a spacious cargo bay. Folding second-row seats enable owners to extend the cargo floor, making the car bicycle friendly.
The two-liter turbocharged direct injection engine delivers ample power: 235 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of peak torque as low as 1650 rpm. A six-speed automatic transmission comes standard. Using a rotary dial on the center console, the driver can switch between fuel-saving eco and sport modes. The sport mode delivers significantly quicker throttle response and somewhat faster steering response, although on-center performance is still on the soft side.
The six-speed automatic transmission progresses smoothly through the gears with no obvious shift shock under normal driving conditions. When the driver opens-up the throttle, the transmission downshifts quickly for excellent acceleration off the line and in the 20-to-50 mile-per-hour range drivers use merging into high speed traffic.
A four-wheel independent suspension consists of MacPherson struts up front and compact double wishbone setup in the rear that allowed engineers to maximize the vehicle’s cargo area.
Although the eco mode yields the best gas mileage, the sport mode makes the 200t a completely different machine. Granted, the car requires premium unleaded gasoline, but buyers who are opting for the F-Sport package owe it to themselves to pay for the extra gasoline and enjoy the performance benefits.
With its stiffer suspension settings and quicker throttle in the sport driving mode, the NX becomes a ballerina: prancing through corners and up hills, feeling quite a bit like a sport sedan. Zero-to-sixty acceleration is 7.2-seconds.
Visibility around the car’s perimeter is fairly-good, although its thick rear pillars produce some blind spots in the back corners. Since this is the case, it would be nice to see blind spot monitoring as standard equipment. A rearview camera gives the driver a clear view to the back when he shifts into reverse by projecting a wide-angle view to the rear of the vehicle displayed on the center stack screen.
Four-wheel disc brakes stop the NX in firm, linear fashion.
Standard daytime running lamps make the car more visible in low light conditions, while LED headlamps deliver long, bright beams of light for excellent visibility at night. Cornering headlamps and fog lamps come with the F-Sport package, better illuminating dark suburban intersections where pedestrians may be waiting to cross.
Lexus is known for its quiet interior, the NX being no exception. But in the interest of performance, engineers allowed a bit of exhaust note to enter the car via the premium audio system. If you’re going to dig into the throttle, it’s nice to hear the car roar.
The F-Sport comfort package on the test car adds driver’s seat memory, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 10-way power driver’s seat and reverse tilting side mirrors for monitoring the curb when parking on the street. F-Sport Nu-Luxe seats make the NX interior provide ample bolstering for longer drives.
Keyless entry and start enhances access and egress. Once inside, both rows of occupants should find plenty of head, hip and legroom. Rear vents keep passengers in the second row comfortable in temperature extremes.
I found both the gauge cluster and center stack screen easy to read in bright daylight and after dark. Simple knobs make it easy to adjust dual-zone climate control and audio functions. A touchpad enables the driver to control other infotainment functions without a bunch of additional buttons on the instrument panel.
The car’s relatively low lift-over height makes it easy to load large cargo in back.
The Lexus NX comes with eight airbags, daytime running lamps, LED headlamps, rear backup camera, hill start assist, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, whiplash lessening from seatbacks and tire pressure monitoring.
The Lexus NX received a five-star overall crash test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Like: Stylish and luxurious compact crossover with the versatility to meet the needs of buyers with active lifestyles.
Dislike: Blind spot monitoring is not a standard safety feature.
Model: NX 200t F-Sport
Base price: $37,185
As tested: $45,718
Horsepower: 235 HP @ 4800 rpm
Torque: 258 lbs.-ft. @ 1650 rpm
Zero-to-sixty: 7.2 seconds
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 22/28 mpg city/highway
Comment: The manufacturer requires the use of premium unleaded gasoline.2017, Luxury 2017, Active Lifestyle Vehicles, auto review, F Sport, Lexus, NX 200t, performance, pricing, standard safety