• Larry Weitzman

Review - Lexus NX300h


2020 Lexus NX300h, All Lexus, Still the Same

Words and Pictures by Larry Weitzman


This is my third go around with the NX300h. My last review was about 27 months ago and not

much has changed. It seems for almost every Toyota, there is a Lexus. With the Lexus NX300h that

impression might had some merit. The new NX series, originally introduced for the 2015 model year has

some relationship with the Toyota RAV4 (which happens to be the biggest selling compact SUV), did

share some structure, wheelbase and a few internal components. But with the new RAV4, that has

changed and the NX is still related to the past gen RAV4, but with the hybrid NX, it no longer shares the

RAV4 updated drivetrain. So now the NX’s body, most of its suspension components and the engines are

either completely unique or only bear a small resemblance.

Of course, there is absolutely no resemblance in the looks department. NX is sleek and edgy,

with its familiar Lexus trademark grille. From the side, the front end stands out, having and almost “nose

cone” look. Stand back and check it out. Those edgy character lines add a clever sharpness and purpose

making the NX a standout looker. Only the prominent grille detracts, but only slightly as its headlight

assemblies make up for what the grille overpowers.

Size wise, the NX is a compact SUV with a wheelbase of 105 inches while stretching out to 182

inches. Part of its muscle cones from its broad shoulders with a beam of 74 inches. Track is a wide 62

inches front and rear.

Powering up the NX300h is a 2.5L Atkinson cycle inline DOHC 16 valve four pumping out 154 hp

@ 5,700 rpm and 152 pounds of twist at 4,400 rpm. In addition are three motor generators, one acting

as an engine starter and generator for both the main systems and the nickel metal hydride battery

energy cell. There are two other motor/generators, one with a max hp of 141 hp driving the front

wheels and a second, a 67 hp unit m/g driving the rear wheels. But the reality is that the battery’s max

output is 40 hp which means total output from all sources is 194 hp. The engine drives the front wheels

via a CVT. The new fifth gen RAV4 Hybrid with its newer powertrain has a total combined hp of 219, with

the gas engine making 176 hp.

One of the beauties of this hybrid system is that the rear wheels are only powered by the

electric motor, so there is no drive shaft or other mechanical connection from the front engine creating

simplicity and saving weight.

Performance is virtually identical to my last go-round with the NX300h. It knocks of 0-60 mph in

a satisfying 7.53 seconds and a level 50-70 mph simulated pass takes just 4.22 seconds and the same run

up a 6-7 percent grade requires 6.48 seconds, all times from a high-performance SUV. Two years ago,

the NX300h posted numbers of 7.56/4.12/6.46 seconds respectively. The throttle is very responsive and

mid-range is strong. Interestingly Lexus in its press materials lists 0-60 mph at 9.1 seconds. Maybe they

need to recalibrate their stop watch as it runs a bit slow or maybe they were towing its maximum

allowable load of 1,500 pounds.

Fuel economy benefits from its hybrid powertrain are demonstrable, having an EPA rating of

33/30/31 mpg city/highway/combined. However, the NX does a bit better with a highway mileage of

36.6 in actual testing at 70 mph. The engine spins a low 1,700 rpm at that speed. Overall the NX

averaged about 28 mpg in country, rural driving where there is little stopping and brake regen. It will run

pure electric under very light throttle at speeds below 45 mph. That is a 3-5 mpg improvement over its

conventional counterpart with more performance. Fuel capacity is only 14.8 gallons a little over a gallon

less than its conventional counterpart. Bigger would be better.

NX is sporty as is the handling. It has all the ingredients, state of the art suspension, including

double wishbones in the rear. Steering is a quick electric power rack at 2.68 turns lock to lock. Its

18X7.5-inch alloys are shod with 225/60 series rubber allow for a reasonably quick turn in. It’s only

debilitating number is its considerable mass of 4,180 pounds making it more difficult to change

directions. But it does change directions with agility quite well when pushed in the twisties and you will

enjoy driving the NX when the road begins to bend.

Because it’s a hybrid it should be smooth and quiet, adding very to both adjectives. It will run as

an EV for up to a couple of miles at speeds below 45 mph with a feather foot. Ride quality is on the

firmer side, but it certainly won’t cause additional bathroom breaks. It handles bumps and other road

imperfections like a Lexus.

Safety is basically as good as the operator, but Lexus has installed every safety system one can

think of. All the acronyms are present. The lane keep assist was to me a bit intrusive, so I turned it off,

but NX hybrid is a very nice drive with strong brakes and excellent, optional triple beam headlights.

Inside is a quality Lexus interior of NuLuxe faux leather, soft touch and switchgear, including an

electronic tach when using the sport driving mode, switchable on the console. But also, on the console is

the touchpad radio controls which need to go away. It is most difficult to operate and distracting.

Price of admission for this near luxo CUV/SUV begins at a reasonable $39,070 plus $1,025 for

the boat from Tahara, Aichi Japan. Options including the Triple-Beam LED headlights with AFS (meaning

they turn with the vehicle) adds another $1,515 and the NAV system is another $1,860. Other options

brought the total Monroney to $49,902. You will want most of the options on my tester so figure a price

approaching $50 large.

Specifications

Price $34,480 to about $45,000 plus $925 for destination

Engine:

2.5L DOHC 16 Valve inline four 154 hp @ 5,700 rpm

152 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm

Permanent magnet electric motor (2)

Nickel Metal hydride battery output 67 hp

Maximum combined output 194 hp

Transmission: CVT

Configuration: Transverse front engine/ FWD/AWD


Dimensions:

Wheelbase 104.7 inches

Length 182.3 inches

Width 73.6 inches

Height 64.8 inches

Track (f/r) 62.2/62.2 inches

Ground Clearance 6.9 inches

Weight (fwd/awd) 4,055/4,180 pounds

GVWR (fwd/awd) 5,090/5,200 pounds

Tow capacity 1,500 pounds

Fuel Capacity 14.8 gallons

Cargo capacity (second row up/down) 16.8/53.7 cubic feet

Wheels (std/opt) 17X7/18X7.5 inches

Tires (std/opt) 225/65X17; 225/60X18

Steering lock to lock 2.68 turns

Turning circle 37.4 feet

Co-efficient of drag 0.34


Performance:

0-60 mph 7.53 seconds

50-70 mph 4.22 seconds

50-70 mph uphill 6.48 seconds

Fuel economy EPA rated 35/31/33 mpg city/highway/combined. Expect 36 mpg on the highway at legal

speeds and 28 mpg in aggressive suburban driving.