Pros-Luxurious. Sporty. Fuel-stingy. Supple ride. Agile. Safety items. All-wheel drive.
Cons-Snug cockpit. Distracting infotainment system. Rather lazy in "Econ" drive mode.
Bottom Line-A top compact luxury/sport SUV.
The compact luxury/sport 2021 Lexus NX
300h F Sport Black Line SUV seems ideal for those in congested areas because it's luxurious, sporty and easy to maneuver when parking and in heavy traffic. It is also comfortable for long vacation drives that don't involve lots of gas station stops..
This all-wheel-drive Lexus is sportier than other NX models because the F Sport Black Line special edition has items including a sport-tuned suspension, 18-inch F Sport wheels, not to mention a more aggressive-looking version of the traditional Lexus grille, heated steering wheel, aluminum pedals, black headliner, active sound control, color-keyed "overfenders," blue interior stitching on black seats and black exterior mirrors.
Styling is rather dramatic, although the extra-large Lexus grille remains controversial.
As a bonus as part of the F Sport Black Line edition, you get a two-piece designer luggage set "shipped to the address of your choice." (Car buffs may recall that the legendary 1950s Mercedes-Benz 300SL with flip-up doors (now valued at $1.3 million) had special factory luggage.
Four tall adults fit comfortably in the NX 300h, and there's room for a fifth if he or she doesn't mind the stiff rear seat center. The cargo room of my test F Sport Black Line swallowed all groceries from a large overloaded shopping cart without the rear seat backs being flipped forward to enlarge the cargo area. Wide doorways make it easy to slide in and out of the power front seats, which provide more support in curves with their F Sport bolsters. However, a slightly higher step-up is needed to enter the car.
The quiet interior has premium materials throughout. It's got a leather-trimmed wheel, push-button starter, conveniently placed manual controls, dual-zone automatic climate control, a multimedia system with an 8-inch color display, power tilt-telescopic steering column, sunroof, and a Lexus 8-speaker premium sound system with a 4.2-inch color multi-information display. Optional is a Mark Levinson 17-speaker sound system. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard.
The car's hybrid system combines a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a high-torque electric motor for a total output of 194 horsepower. A responsive electronically controlled CVT transmission is used, and the F Sport has steering wheel paddles shifters for quick manual shifting. However, it was slightly annoying that the car didn't shift to first ("1") gear when the car was stopped in a higher gear, such as third gear ("3").
Estimated fuel economy is 33 miles per gallon in the city and 30 on highways. Only 87-octane fuel is required for the 14.8-gallon tank.
The NX 300h F Sport isn't especially light at 4,180 pounds, but acceleration is good, although it gets slower if driver switches via a console control to "Eco" mode. Best to leave the car in "Normal" mode, although "Sport" mode is available for quicker acceleration and a slightly stiffer suspension. I occasionally used Sport mode because it turned what's essentially a large economy mode gauge next to the speedometer into a tachometer.
A driver can also select "EV drive mode for electric power supplied by the hybrid battery (traction battery) and only the electric motor (traction motor) is used to drive the car quietly, but only for very short distances of less than a mile.
My test vehicle's steering was firm and accurate, and the ride was mostly smooth and supple. However, some sharp highway bumps could be felt with the sport suspension. No jolts, though. There was minimal body lean when streaking through curves, thanks partly to the standard all-wheel drive, 18-inch wheels with fairly wide tires and a nicely designed stiffer suspension. The brake pedal had a linear action, and the car had regenerative braking and smart-stop technology.
Still and all, the focus of the NX 300h F Sport Black Line is car is more on luxury than excitement, although the special NX 300F Sport Black Line is more on luxury than on excitement.
There's plenty of safety features. They include lane tracing and road sign assists, pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, all-speed dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, a SmartAccess entry system and a blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert, besides a backup camera with dynamic guidelines.
A look under the hood shows a truly impressive array of beautifully arranged components that make this vehicle go.
In fact, the whole car is impressively put together. No wonder it has a good resale value, which is an asset tor those who just want to lease it.