- 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.
Price $34,480 to about $45,000 plus $925 for destination
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
Configuration: Transverse front engine/ FWD/AWD
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
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.