Class: Premium Compact Crossover
Miles Driven: 445
Fuel Used: 13.2 gallons
Real-world fuel economy: 33.7 mpg
Driving mix: 60% city, 40% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 33/30/32 (city, highway, combined)
Base price: $41,310 (not including $925 destination charge)
Options on test car: Wireless cell-phone charger ($220), auto-dimming rear-view mirror ($125), Luxury Package ($4665), Navigation Package ($2140), park assist ($500), pre-collision system with adaptive cruise control ($900), cargo mat ($99), cargo net ($69)
|CG Report Card
|Room and Comfort
|Power and Performance
|Fit and Finish
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.
Price as tested: $52,013
The great: Impressive fuel economy
The Good: Upscale cabin
The not so good: Limited second-row headroom, pricey options
There’s an unavoidable linkage of the pertinent numbers for gas-electric hybrid vehicles. Compared to gas-only variants, their fuel-mileage figures increase, but so in almost all cases do their prices. (The Lincoln MKZ hybrid sedan starts at the same price as a front-wheel-drive gas-powered MKZ.) That’s the good news/bad news story to tell about the all-new Lexus NX 300h luxury-compact sport-utility.
The 300h is principally motivated by a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that provides 154 horsepower by itself but develops a total system rating of 194 horsepower with the electric motor pitching in. When this tester drove one for 209.5 miles—65 percent under city conditions and virtually all in the “Normal” mode—he averaged 33.8 mpg. That bested the EPA estimates of 33 mpg in the city, 30 on the highway, and 32 combined—and it utterly wiped out the 21.2 mpg he achieved while wheeling an F Sport NX with the 2.0-liter turbocharged gas engine, a figure that didn’t quite measure up to even the EPA city figure for that vehicle.
That bad news we mentioned? The all-wheel-drive 300h that Consumer Guide® tested starts at $41,310. That’s $1590 more than a front-wheel-drive NX hybrid, but $3330 more than an AWD 200t F Sport and $5430 beyond a base all-wheel 200t.
Having brought up the hybrid powertrain, we can say that it is not bad in the power-delivery department, with sufficient merging and highway cruising power. The crossovers from electric to full-gas operation and back are practically seamless. In place of the 200t’s 6-speed automatic, the 300h uses an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission. As in other NXs, a console dial allows for selection of “Normal,” “Sport,” or “Econ” modes. The system tailors throttle response and power-steering assist to the desired condition. In Econ, low-speed acceleration is more leisurely in normal operation, but should an emergency situation arise, a good tromp of the pedal will override the setting and the engine will respond in full.
The hybrid has a different AWD system than that found in the 200t models. Called “E-Four,” the system uses a separate electric motor to drive the rear wheels when necessary because there is no direct linkage between the front and rear drives. The rear motor also acts as a generator during regenerative braking, increasing the amount of recovered kinetic energy.
Apart from its engine and drivetrain distinctions, the 300h behaves pretty much like any other NX:
On the road, the 104.7-inch-wheelbase NX is pleasingly nimble, and ride displays good composure. It’s quiet, too, thanks to a unitized body structure of high-strength steel, and strategic use of adhesives, laser screw welding, and added spot welds in the body.
- An upscale interior features soft-touch materials on the dash top, around the glove box, and on the upper half of each door panel. The well-packed (and costly) Luxury Package option brought wood interior trim, comfortable heated and ventilated leather front seats, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, power moonroof, power liftgate, and more to the party.
- Front head room and straight-ahead leg room are very good but space for legs and knees between the console and door panels is a little dearer. Thick, sloping roof pillars crimp over-the-shoulder visibility, and the view directly to the rear is narrowed by rear head rests. Rear seats are positioned a little higher than those in front. Leg room is sufficient for adults and 3 children will fit across the rear seat. Head room can be a close fit for adults, but seat backs recline, which can provide a little more space.
- An ample rear cargo area loads at bumper height, and has tie-down hooks and a tray for incidentals under the floor pad. The rear seats are split 60/40 and fold nearly flat. CG’s test vehicle came with an extra-cost power-fold feature for the seats that’s the epitome of convenience with control buttons to the left of the steering column, on the right side wall of the cargo hold, and on the seats themselves (where they also control the seat recliners). The rear cargo cover folds and stows out of the way atop the spare tire.
- Interior storage features a good-sized glove box, and a modest covered console box with USB and power ports. Front-door pockets include room for a bottle; rear pockets are just bottle-sized. Pouches are attached to the backs of the front seats, and a pull-down center arm rest in the rear seat has twin cup holders. An optional tray for wireless charging of compatible mobile devices takes up some space in the console box but flips up to provide access to the space.
- The touchpad-directed Remote Touch Interface central controller in the navigation option package lets users “pinch,” double tap, or push to access info or change views as they would on a tablet or smart phone. The touchpad replaces the standard “joystick” system, but still has its quirks that demand
some attention from the driver. Climate and some radio settings can be set via buttons on the center stack, but they are displayed on the system’s 7-inch display screen at the top center of the dash. A programmable and easy-to-follow thin-film transistor display of vehicle information fits between the tachometer and speedometer dials.
Additional standard equipment encompasses items like LED daytime running lights; a tire-pressure monitor; power tilt/telescoping steering wheel; Enform Safety Connect with automatic collision notification, stolen-vehicle locator, and emergency-assist button; and a back-up camera. There’s plenty more to pick from—which is how the options-showcase 300h that CG sampled bottom-lined at a massive $52,013 delivered. Now, that is expensive for a compact SUV, hybrid or not.