There’s no lack of choice in the 2024 Lexus NX, with four versions to choose from including two that are gas-only, plus a conventional hybrid and a plug-in hybrid (PHEV).
It’s basically unchanged for the model year – the third since the second-generation version was introduced. The lineup starts with the NX 250, while the tester seen here is the turbocharged NX 350, which starts at $54,755 including a non-negotiable delivery fee of $2,205. It runs through eight trim levels from there, up to and including the top-of-the-line F Sport Series 3 that’s priced at $68,605 before tax.
I’ve never really been a fan of Lexus’s so-called “spindle grille,” and it overpowers the front of this compact crossover. The NX is much better looking around back, where the horizontal lights tie the design together. The interior is busy but interesting, with its asymmetrical centre stack cradling a big touchscreen. My tester’s F Sport Series 3 package came with a three-spoke steering wheel and 14-inch screen in place of the standard 9.8-inch screen, while exterior upgrades include an F Sport-specific grille and 20-inch black alloy wheels.
In crash testing, the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the 2024 Lexus NX four stars overall, one below the top five-star rating. The non-profit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) tested the 2023 version and gave it a Top Safety Pick+ award, with the top “Good” in all tests, including the updated side impact crash that better simulates being struck by a large SUV.
Standard driver-assist safety features on the NX 350 include driver’s knee airbag, emergency front braking including for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, whiplash-reducing head restraints, adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beam headlights, lane-keep assist, road sign recognition, and the rearview camera that’s mandatory on all new vehicles, which here includes a washer. Items included with some of the option packages, including the F Sport 3, are front cross-traffic alert, a panoramic-view monitor, and parking assist.
The NX 350 offers a lot of features, but many of the popular ones are part of option packages. The entry trim includes a power tailgate, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a power-adjustable heated steering wheel, heated front seats that are power-adjustable, rain-sensing wipers, and a power sunroof. But you’ll pay extra to get a wireless charger, larger centre touchscreen with navigation, head-up display, panoramic sunroof, hands-free functionality for the tailgate, heated rear seats, ventilated front seats, and leather upholstery.
While the NX’s centre stack looks high-tech, most of the controls are straightforward, including dials for the stereo volume and temperature, and icons for the seat temperature and heated steering wheel that are always on the glass, rather than requiring a tap to access their menu.
Even so, a few items could be easier to operate. The fan speed control is digital and finicky. The temperature dials click, but so subtly that it’s often hard to tell if you’re making progress when turning them. With my vehicle’s head-up display, the cruise control buttons on the steering wheel don’t operate that system directly. Instead, touching the wheel brings up the functions in the head-up display, and you slide your thumb to sort through and activate the one you want. It works, but I’d prefer a hard button for the “cruise cancel” for immediate response. Finally, the electric push-to-open door handles seem unnecessary, especially when pulling that same handle is the emergency override.
The Lexus NX offers 643 L of cargo space with the rear seats up, which is at the lower end of the segment. The Cadillac XT4 has slightly less, but the Acura RDX has 835 L, and the Infiniti QX50 gives you 880 L. The Lexus’s rear seats fold but also for less space than competitors, and the seats don’t fall entirely flat. However, the NX has grocery bag hooks – which a surprising number of vehicles do not – and there’s room for small items up front. It can also tow up to 907 kg (2,000 lb).
The NX 350 has comfortable front seats that stayed supportive on a longer drive, and in my F Sport Series 3 tester, they were heated and ventilated, and clad in faux leather. The ride is smooth and quiet as well.
But this vehicle’s low roofline, while stylish, means taller passengers may feel the squeeze. The tape measure shows the NX 350 with 942 mm (37.2 in) of front headroom, where most competitors top 1,000 mm (39.4 in). Front-seat legroom is 1,041 mm (41 in) in the NX, but that drops to 917 mm (36.1 in) in the rear, also tighter than most rivals.
The NX 350 is powered by a turbocharged 2.4L four-cylinder engine that makes 275 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive (AWD) is standard.
These output numbers are among the highest in the segment, where the Acura RDX comes close at 272 hp and the Infiniti QX50 at 268 hp. The Lexus is peppy from a stop and has enough power for highway passing, but overall, acceleration feels smooth and capable rather than quick.
Driving Feel: 8/10
The NX 350 is a well-mannered vehicle to drive. The steering is responsive but lacks feedback, and while it corners without drama, there’s no real reason to toss it around for a more compelling drive, even with the F Sport trims’ sportier-tuned adaptive suspension. This includes sport and sport+ settings, which generally just hang the transmission shifts up longer without any real reward, along with a trail mode for rougher cottage roads. If you want a sporty compact SUV along the lines of Audi or BMW, you will likely be disappointed; but if you’re about smooth and coddling for the commute, this Lexus should be right on point.
Fuel Economy: 8/10
Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) rates the NX 350 at 11.2 L/100 km in the city, 8.3 on the highway, and 9.7 in combined driving. In my week with it, I came in at 10.8 L/100 km; premium-grade fuel is the requirement. Those official figures are separated by decimals with its rivals, where the Cadillac XT4 comes in at 9.5 combined, and the Acura RDX and BMW X3 at 9.9.
The NX 350 comes in eight trims, starting with the Premium at $54,755 and finishing up with my F Sport Series 3 tester at $68,605. Its features list is substantial, but it seems a bit overpriced. Among its rivals, the Infiniti QX50 runs from $51,990 to $60,490, and the Cadillac XT4 goes only up to $47,898; but the BMW X3 starts at $58,990, while the Acura RDX starts at $56,725 and goes up to $64,025 in its highest trim (all prices including delivery).
The 2024 Lexus NX slips in between the brand’s smaller UX and larger RX sport-utilities. It’s not all that roomy inside, and you’ll want to consider the passengers you plan to carry, as well as the cargo you’ll be fitting into it. The F Sport trims also aren’t as sporty as that name might lead you to believe. But if the plan is for something city-sized that has the power when needed but with comfortable driving manners, this just might be it.
|Peak Horsepower||275 hp @ 6,000 rpm|
|Peak Torque||317 lb-ft @ 1,700 rpm|
|Fuel Economy||11.2 / 8.3 / 9.7 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb|
|Cargo Space||643 / 1,328 L seats up/down|
|Model Tested||2024 Lexus NX 350 F Sport Series 3|
|Price as Tested||$69,355|
$14,500 – F Sport Series 3 package, $13,850; Cadmium Orange paint, $650