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2015 Lexus NX: a 2-liter turbo in an upscale car

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The Lexus PR team is describing the NX model as 'Beyond Utility.' The reference is to the obvious relationship to the Lexus RX utility vehicle which has been a best-seller for the car company. The new NX model was put out for automotive journalists to test-drive through a variety of roads and conditions during a July event held in the Seattle area.

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The Lexus NX is being made available in 80 world markets and the United States is just one of those. The Toyota family is hoping to attract new Lexus customers to the brand that are wanting more luxury in their everyday driving. Many of the designers and engineers for the Lexus NX have had racing-inspired backgrounds and that influence is evident in this new vehicle.

The interior is very intuitive for the driver and offers quite a bit of cargo space for those that maintain an active lifestyle. Again, the NX is not a utility vehicle, but it does offer a variety of flexibility. The rear seats can be folded flat and a full-sized bicycle can actually be carried in the back of the car. The interior is outfitted with premium and luxury touches everywhere. I heard one person actually comment, “It is like climbing inside of a fashion statement.”

The Lexus NX comes in several styles, the 200t being the primary. The 't' stands for the turbocharged 2.0-liter engine. The 300h model is a hybrid model that even offers all-wheel-drive. The F-Sport is powered by the 2.0-liter turbo engine, but includes paddle shifters for those wanting that sporty style of driving. It is anticipated that about 50% of NX sales will be the F-Sport model.

Special touches on the new Lexus NX are lighted door handles that are located on all four doors. The door handles also project puddle lamps for convenience purposes. The parking brake is electric and automatically shifts on when the vehicle is put into Park mode and goes off when the vehicle is started and is shifted out of Park.

Other features on the Lexus NX include such items as a wireless charger for cell phones and Remote Touch Interface. The wireless charger is located inside the arm rest divider and works like many of those magnetic charging pads available for home and office use. It is anticipated that the NX will achieve approximately 24 mpg average although the mileage has not yet been determined.

The F-Sport model, which was the most popular with the journalists attending the Seattle event, has a lot more specialty features that appeal to those who like putting the 'pedal to the metal'. For example, there is a lower lip under the front grill, cornering lamps, blacked out wheels, dimpled leather features, and Active Sound Control.

The Active Sound Control actually got a lot of attention because it is created sound projected into the cabin that simulates the roar of engine noise. There is a switch under the driving column that allows this feature to be turned off or on. During a question and answer session, the Active Sound Control was of great interest and generated questions. It was emphasized that although it is a synthetic sound, it is added 'on top' of the normal engine noise.

The use of a six-speed transmission was questioned in light of some competitor vehicles having 8 or even 10 speeds. It was noted that the Chief Engineer of the NX had determined that the six speeds were more than adequate for all that the NX was intended to accomplish and that additional speed modes would not reflect in additional sales. The new turbocharged engine is produced 'in-house' and is not out-sourced to another company.

An interesting sidelight on the trip for my driving partner and I was when we saw a freight train headed for the Boeing facility in Seattle. It was carrying those three wrecked green-colored 737 narrow body fuselages that had slid into a river in Montana recently.

Bottom Line: The new 2015 Lexus NX appears to be primed as a Best Seller for the brand. While the RX utility vehicle is designed for comfort, size, and oriented for family use, this new NX does not offer all that space. More importantly, it is not a racing car, either. Instead, it provides additional luxury and premium touches while still providing an exhilarating drive and fun experience, whether across town or across the country.

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