2017 Lexus NX 300h Review

2017 Lexus NX 300h - Lexus hybrid sport utility vehicle attains unique status

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 At the moment, the 2017 Lexus NX 300h stands apart from competition. There is none.

The NX 300h brings the brand’s number of hybrid offerings to six, and is the only vehicle in its compact luxury sport utility market to offer luxury accommodations with a hybrid powerplant.

Visually, the NX wears the boldest interpretation yet of the Lexus spindle grille and L-finesse design that envelops a platform engineered by active racers. The NX’s C-pillar is angled and wide to optimize internal storage width. A sharply raked tailgate and integrated spoiler are punctuated by Lexus’ signature L-shape light clusters featuring seamless LED, while the tailgate detailing echoes the spindle grille design.

A 2.5-liter, inline four-cylinder gasoline engine combines with a nickel-metal hydride battery pack for 194 horsepower. A continuously variable transmission moves the all-wheel-drive SUV along. One of the three electric motors feeding off the battery pack has been designated to drive the rear wheels. The other two motors work with the gasoline engine to provide favorable fuel usage of 30 miles per gallon on the highway, 33 in the city and 31 combined, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Regular unleaded fuel is recommended for the 14.8-gallon tank. During a testing period, the average was right on the EPA's mark with two adults and minimal luggage aboard.

There are three drive modes (Eco, Normal, Sport) from which to choose. Eco was chosen for most of the test week. That economical mode resulted in less energy and a lethargic acceleration of 0 to 60 miles per hour in 11 seconds.

Automotive media reports a 0 to 60 mph time of 8.3 and 8.4 to in the 'normal' mode. The manufacturer's conservative estimate is 9.1 seconds.

The electric motors take on the work load of running accessories, such as air conditioning, lights, sound system and more, reducing the work that the gasoline engine normally does. Hence, the improved fuel usage.

To make way for the battery pack, cargo space has been reduced from 17.7 cubic feet in a normal (gasoline only) NX to 16.8 in the hybrid. When the split rear seats are flattened the reduction is 54.6 to 53.7. The cargo area is lighted with tiedowns and has a power open and close liftgate. The rear seats can recline.

Looking more sports-car than sport-utility, the NX’s cabin is bristling with new, onboard, standard and available technology, including a Lexus-first wireless charging tray for compatible phones and devices; the new Lexus remote touch interface with a touch pad; and a comprehensive Multi-information Display that features a Lexus-first G-Force meter and boost gauge.

Power also includes tilt and telescoping steering wheel, front bucket seats, four express windows, heated and foldable exterior mirrors and door locks. Power rear shades and moonroof are options as are a navigation system, heated and ventilated front and rear seats, mudguards for the 17-inch standard alloy wheels and lighted door sills. Those options can cost as little as $155 (mudguards) or as must as $1,615 (nav package with upgrade sound system).


M.J. Frumkin and J.E. Kuyper

M. J. Frumkin and J. E. Kuyper covered the auto industry for decades. Frumkin was with Consumer Guide for 14 years, has authored four books and co-authored three more. He is also the historian/archivist for the Chicago Automobile Trade Association/Chicago Auto Show. Kuyper has been an automotive writer, editor and columnist for newspapers in the Chicago area the past 25 years. His reviews currently appear in the daily Northwest Herald newspaper. Frumkin and Kuyper are founding members of the Midwest Automotive Media Association.