It wasn't long ago that automakers realized that when it comes to upscale vehicles, it's not the size that counts, but the badge on the grille. And thus a market was born for "entry level" luxury models that carry the same cachet as their larger siblings but come with a smaller price tag.
Lexus was relatively late to that trend with its NX compact crossover, but this edgy little utility that shares its underpinnings with the Toyota RAV4 fits the bill nicely, wearing Lexus' extroverted styling as well as any vehicle in its lineup.
For 2019, the NX gets a new entry-level trim for its hybrid variant, while the rest of the range carries over unchanged.
The NX 300 uses a 2.0L turbo four-cylinder engine making 235 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, which is matched with a six-speed transmission and standard AWD. The gas-electric hybrid NX 300h pairs a 2.5L four-cylinder engine with an electric motor for a total of 194 hp, put to all four wheels through a continuously variable transmission.
With the NX, Lexus goes up against cars like the BMW X1, Porsche Macan and Mercedes-Benz GLC, vehicles designed to appeal to drivers who appreciate Germany's obsession with Autobahn-friendly handling. To stand up that criteria, Lexus offers the NX 300 in an F Sport Series 3 trim that includes an adaptive variable suspension to go with appearance upgrades that come with lesser Series 1 and Series 2 packages.
Basic kit in the NX 300 includes niceties like 17-inch wheels, 8.0-inch infotainment display, NuLuxe seat upholstery, heated front seats and LED headlights.
A Premium package adds a power-adjustable steering column, power tailgate, 18-inch wheels, sunroof, heated and ventilated front seats, auto-dimming side mirrors, blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert.
A Luxury package brings a 10.3-inch infotainment screen and rear cross traffic braking, and an executive package gets heated rear seats, head-up display, wireless smartphone charging and a hands-free tailgate.
The F Sport trims are based around an appearance package and their standard features lists largely echo those detailed above.
The new NX 300h hybrid base model comes with a few extras compared to the entry-level gas model (sunroof and hands-free tailgate) while Premium and Executive trims are equipped similarly to the gas-powered versions.
Fuel consumption estimates are 10.6/8.5 L/100 km (city/highway) for the NX 300 and 7.2/7.9 in the NX 300h.