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In the automotive world, customer’s tastes are fickle. What’s hot today will be shunned tomorrow. Currently, it’s the premium compact crossover that’s all the rage. Consumers are snatching these high-riding five-door hatchbacks up as if they are free iPads. Every luxury auto manufacturer wants a piece of the profitable pie and this year has already seen the introduction of the Lincoln MKC and the Mercedes-Benz GLA.
But one brand was oddly absent from this segment until now: Lexus. Finally arriving late to the party, it’s a bit of a head scratcher why Toyota’s premium brand waited so long to introduce the NX compact crossover since the company’s mid-size RX crossover absolutely dominates its segment.
Based on a modified version of the Toyota RAV4 platform, the NX is 104.7 inches long and 73.6 inches wide. That is a few inches longer than the compact Toyota crossover but exactly the same width. For the North American market, the NX will be available as the 200t and the 300h hybrid.
New Turbo for Lexus
The 200t will use an all-new 2.0-liter turbocharged direct injection four-cylinder gasoline engine, a first for Lexus. Using a twin-scroll turbocharger designed in-house by Toyota, the new engine produces 235 hp and 258 lb-ft in the NX. That is more power than the boosted 2.0-liter found in the Audi Q5, but less power than the turbos found in the BMW X3 and Lincoln MKC. We have a feeling that this engine will make more power when it’s adopted for future applications within the Lexus family.
Even with its modest output, Lexus claims the roughly 4,000-lb NX will accelerate from 0-60 in seven seconds flat with the optional all-wheel drive (AWD) system or slightly slower when equipped with front-wheel drive (FWD). This seems optimistic as the vehicle doesn’t feel that swift. The engine goes about its business with no drama, but feels merely adequate. Those looking for a little more visceral feedback will want to opt for the F Sport model. The engine doesn’t make any more power, but there is a turbo noise knob by the driver’s right knee that can be adjusted to fill the cabin with turbocharged engine sound effects. Sadly though, the sounds are synthesized.
Engine: 2.0T 4-cylinder makes 235 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. Hybrid powertrain offers 194 total hp.
Transmission: Six-speed automatic or CVT.
Fuel economy: 300h FWD get 35 MPG city, 31 MPG highway. 200t FWD get 22 MPG city and 28 MPG highway.