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First look: 2015 Lexus NX

The Lexus NX crossover offers bold styling, a comfortable interior and great technology features. It goes on sale later this year.
The Lexus NX crossover offers bold styling, a comfortable interior and great technology features. It goes on sale later this year.
Lexus

Lexus NX

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NASHVILLE -- Lexus has had years of success building luxury utility vehicles, with one of the most popular being the RX 350.
But something was missing.
It didn’t have a small crossover to compete in an increasingly popular field that includes the Acura RDX, Audi Q5 and Infiniti QX50.
Well, now it does.
The NX was first unveiled at this year’s Beijing Auto Show, but we got a look at it in the less exotic but very enjoyable locale of Nashville.
The NX is built on a platform similar to that of the Toyota RAV4 – so that should give you an idea about its size.
Like the RAV4, it actually seems larger on the inside than it appears from the outside, which is a good thing.
So if you have a small family, maybe with one or two little tots, this could be a good choice for you.
The NX200t is powered by a 2.0-liter four cylinder turbocharged engine that is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. It makes 235 horsepower and 258 pounds-feet of torque. Fuel economy is expected to be 22 mpg city, 28 highway with front-wheel drive and 21 and 28 with all-wheel drive.
The NX200t will also feature a version carrying Lexus’s F Sport tag, for an even more spirited driving dynamic.
And there’s a hybrid, the NX300h, that will feature the 2.5-liter Atkinson cycle four cylinder hybrid mechanism that is carried in the ES300h. The hybrid NX makes 194 horsepower and is expected to garner fuel economy numbers of 35 city, 31 highway with front drive and 33 and 30 with all-wheel.
The interior is surprisingly comfortable – surprising because we expected it to feel kind of cramped. Front seat head and leg room were both good, even for taller drivers and passengers. The rear seats are a little more confined, but still adequate for adult seating.
In addition to its comfort, the interior offers nice technology stuff, such as the remote touch interface that lets you use a touch pad to key in characters. There is also a wireless device charging system, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, radar cruise control and a head up display.
Exterior styling, thankfully, follows the bolder patterns that Lexus has favored in recent models.
The front is defined by the spindle grille that has become Lexus’s signature touch lately.
The sides have sweeping, dramatic creases that depict motion.
The rear juts out nicely and is accented by the arrowhead-like taillights.
There’s a subtle difference between the F Sport’s grille insert, which is a little more vertical, and the hybrid’s more horizontally oriented styling. But both are appealing.
Rear cargo space is a little cramped, at only 17.7 cubic feet when the back seats are in the upright position. That’s less than half of what the RAV4 offers.
But, seating in the NX is more comfortable than it is in the RAV4, so there are always tradeoffs, as they say.
Fold the seats down, though, and cargo space jumps to 54.6 cubic feet (a tad less in the hybrid).
On the road, the NX does a nice job of giving some road feel and being more nimble than its larger sibling, the RX.
However, we wouldn’t necessarily position this as a thrill-seeker’s vehicle, and it probably won’t be chosen by those who are in that category.
It’s better that Lexus would emphasize the NX’s other great attributes, such as its style, technology and comfort.
We did some highway and in-town driving around Nashville, and the NX proved to be perfectly suitable as an everyday driver.
It accelerates and brakes effectively and it parks quite easily, which are the main qualities that buyers in this segment will seek.
Pricing for the NX is expected to begin in the mid- to upper $30,000 range.
That will put it pretty squarely in the middle of the pack among its competition.
But for satisfaction among buyers, we predict that it will be near the top of the ranks – this is a well-done ride.