Lexus NX (2014-present)

Sharp-edge design and hybrid power makes the Lexus NX a unique family SUV

Strengths & Weaknesses

Strengths 

Excellent reliability
Hybrid power is an alternative to diesel
Luxurious interior

Weaknesses 

Unsettled ride at slow speeds
Complex dashboard software
Batteries reduce boot size

There are plenty of luxury sport utility vehicles (SUVs) to choose from, including the BMW X3, Range Rover Velar, Jaguar F-Pace, Audi Q5 and Mercedes GLC

But if you want to avoid remortgaging your house to cover the fuel costs of one of those, then you'll need to opt for a diesel version, as the petrol variants use so much fuel.

If you buy a Lexus NX however, that problem of fuel effiiency goes away. Under the bonnet of this sharply-creased SUV is a petrol engine combined with batteries and an electric motor, which together provide comparable power with much improved efficiency. This hybrid set-up delivers diesel-like fuel economy in official tests, as well as low CO2 emissions of 121g/km, which makes the NX more affordable for business users. Starting at around £35,000 from new, it's also around the same price as the BMW X3.

But there's more to the NX than just a economical hybrid engine. It's also recognised as one of the most reliable cars in Britain and was awarded the maximum five star Euro NCAP safety rating in 2014.

On the outside, the car's jagged edges look futuristic and distinctive, while the NX's interior is high quality, if not entirely revoltionary. All trim levels (apart from the entry level SE trim) have leather upholstery and there’s a good-sized screen in the dashboard. This was 7-inches on earlier NX models but increased to 10.3-inches after an update in early 2018. The screen is controlled using a touchpad, similar to one you might find on a laptop computer. It's an improvement on the mouse that's used in other Lexus models, but not as simple to use as the rotary controls you'll find in a BMW, Mercedes or Audi. If all this futuristic tech seems a bit much then you may find a less-luxurious, and cheaper, SUV might be a better suit- such as the similarly-sized Nissan X-Trail, Ford Edge or Land Rover Discovery Sport

Those cosseting seats and spacious legroom do make the Lexus NX an pleasant place to tackle longer journeys, although boot space is slightly tighter thanks to the hybrid batteries stored underneath. The 475-litre capacity is 75l less than in a BMW X3 and 175l smaller than you'll find in a Jaguar F-Pace.

The batteries also add to the weight of the car, which tips the scales at around two tonnes when loaded up. This means that the NX is can feel a touch cumbersome to drive. It's hesitatant under hard acceleration, as the gearbox, electric motor and petrol engine co-ordinate to boost power. As a result, the Lexus is at its best when teated with a soft hand. For a more involving and sporty drive, we'd suggest opting for a Range Rover Velar or BMW X3.

The NX is best on long, straight motorways with a smooth surface, which unfortunately are relatively sparse in Britain. Over potholes and rutted surfaces, it feels curiously unsettled, something which is exacerbated worse at slower speeds.

For fuel economy, the opposite is true, the NX's hybrid system works extremely efficiently in stop-start traffic. Energy that's usually lost during braking is recovered and used to charge the batteries which then drive the motor during acceleration to reduce fuel consumption. One side affect of this is that it can make judging the pressure on you need to apply to the brake pedal more unpredictable, so stopping can feel a little too sudden at times. it's not particularly uncomfortable but it does reduce your confidence in the car's grip and stability.

The NX can also run for up to a mile on the electric power of the bateries alone. However, at steady motorway speeds, you're essentially just running on petrol power, which can result in fuel economy of less than 30mpg.

Even without hybrid power, the Lexus NX is a decent choice of premium family car. But as one of the few vehicles of its size to offer a genuine alternative to diesel, it's an SUV that's as up-to-date as its design.

Last Updated 

Wednesday, July 31, 2019 - 08:45

Key facts 

Warranty: 
3 years / 60,000 miles
Boot size: 
475 litres
Width: 
1845mm
Length: 
4640mm
Height: 
1645mm
Tax: 
£160 in first year, £140 thereafter