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Lexus NX 2020 review: Crafted Edition

The Lexus NX 300 Crafted is a lovely car to drive and really does give you extra bang for your buck.

This week it was back to school and work after the holidays, which meant the usual cycle of school drop offs and activities, so it was essential to have a good sized car the whole family would fit into. Enter the Lexus NX 300 Crafted - not your ordinary Lexus NX either. 

The ‘Crafted’ name is reserved for a special edition of the mid-size five-seat SUV, and comes with a bunch of extras normally reserved for higher spec models, for the lower end of the range price.

This NX 300 AWD version costs $63,806 before on-road costs and includes things like keyless entry and a 360-degree camera among other extras (see below for the rest of the added goodies). There are four different versions of the NX Crafted - two turbo-petrol ones, and a pair of hybrid versions

The Lexus NX competes in a category with Audi’s Q5 and BMW’s X3. So can it hold its own? I test drove it with my family for seven days to find out.

How does it drive?

The Lexus NX 300 Crafted is very smooth, it glides along the road and like an ice-skater across the ice, and I can barely feel a bump as it goes. It has a quite cabin which adds to the luxury feel of the drive. 

The Lexus NX 300 Crafted is very smooth. The Lexus NX 300 Crafted is very smooth.

There is a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine which is very quick off the mark; for such a sizeable car it certainly goes when you press down on the accelerator. It handles really nicely, with no heaviness to the steering. 

This is the AWD version which gives better traction on slippery roads, or if you often go driving along dirt/gravel/snow. The 2WD is about $1000 less, which isn’t a huge saving at this price-point, so I would recommend the AWD - it will hold better whenever you’re driving in dodgy conditions.

Parking was surprisingly easy, even though it does have a large frame. Parking was surprisingly easy, even though it does have a large frame.

Parking was surprisingly easy, even though it does have a large frame. Once you know you’ll fit into a park it’s easy to manoeuvre as there are so many cameras, a forward camera, reverse camera and a 360-camera with ‘see through functionality’ which shows the image as though you are looking through the car. 

Visibility out the back ordinarily would be good, but with kids’ car seats in the back it got very cramped in the back window, so you may need new child car seats depending on how tall yours are.

How does it look?

The exterior of the Lexus NX 300 Crafted looks good. It is competing with some very well designed German cars, so the Lexus designers have gone for a good point of difference - a sportier feel, more angled top corners and snazzy tail-lights that snake onto the upper side of the Lexus give it a rather flashy, very Japanese anime-inspired finish. It’s not what you’ll see on a more classic Audi, BMW or Mercedes and is a personal thing as to whether you’ll like it or not.

The Lexus designers have gone for a good point of difference - a sportier feel. The Lexus designers have gone for a good point of difference - a sportier feel.

Inside feels quite luxe, thanks to the high quality leather seats and steering wheel, it’s the first thing you notice along with how comfortable the seats are - they hug in all the right places and they are also heated and power adjustable. The centre console and dash area is well designed, and while it’s not a huge standout, all looks good and is clearly functional to use. 

The extras you get as part of the Crafted edition mainly come into play in this category, and include: keyless entry, 360-degree view camera with "see-through function",  a tilt-and-slide moonroof, black 18-inch alloy wheels, select black-accented treatment exterior parts including the front grille and mirror caps, and illuminated "Lexus" front-door scuff plates which show up in the dark and make the whole thing very Batman-esque.

How spacious is it?

With a growing family of four, space is paramount, and the Lexus felt great in the front seats with plenty of leg and head room.

The Lexus felt great in the front seats with plenty of leg and head room. The Lexus felt great in the front seats with plenty of leg and head room.

The back was not as large as I was expecting, but that’s not to say there wasn’t plenty of room - there was, but given the proportions of the car I thought there’d be even more. It fit my two children easily and I had lots of room between my knees and the seat in front of me, so taller teenagers and other adults will be fine in there.

The back was not as large as I was expecting. The back was not as large as I was expecting.

You can fit three child seats across in the rear, but it is a tight fit and doing seatbelts up every day will be an effort, depending on the seats you have. Still, they do fit. 

The boot was a good size at 500 litres. The boot was a good size at 500 litres.

The boot was a good size. At 500 litres it’s smaller than the Q5 and X3, but only marginally, so still had lots of room. We fit the bulky CarsGuide pram in there, a double pram will fit and you’ll still have space left for groceries or school bags.

We fit the bulky CarsGuide pram in there, with space left for groceries or school bags. We fit the bulky CarsGuide pram in there, with space left for groceries or school bags.

How easy is it to use every day?

The Lexus NX 300 Crafted comes with my favourite feature, a boot that opens and closes with a touch of the button on the key which makes life (especially life with kids!) much easier when you are carrying their school bags every day, plus your own bag, plus possibly the children too. Why children have not yet evolved to carry their own school bags is beyond me. 

The Lexus NX 300 Crafted comes with a boot that opens and closes with a touch of the button. The Lexus NX 300 Crafted comes with a boot that opens and closes with a touch of the button.

There are two cupholders in the front, a large centre storage bin, a small hole that has a removable lid where you could fit phone or keys but it’s narrow and deep, not exactly the most convenient storage, plus a bottle holder in each door. Rear passengers get two cupholders in the centre storage bin and pockets on the back of the front seats. 

While this is the first time I’ve used the infamous Lexus mousepad for the multimedia screen with success, it’s still not as easy as a touchscreen.

How safe is it?

It comes with the Lexus Safety Sense pack which includes a comprehensive technology suite with auto emergency braking (AEB), forward collision warning with pedestrian and daytime cyclist protection, lane keep assistblind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

You’ll get eight airbags and there are two ISOFIX points and three top tether points to fit kids’ car seats in safely. 

The Lexus NX has a five-star ANCAP crash test rating, and it was put through its paces in 2017. The Lexus NX has a five-star ANCAP crash test rating, and it was put through its paces in 2017.

The Lexus NX has a five-star ANCAP crash test rating, and it was put through its paces in 2017.

What’s the tech like?

Here is where the Lexus is lacking, because it doesn’t come with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, and though the multimedia system comes with built-in sat nav and this Crafted edition even has voice control (so you can dictate the address and it will display on the screen), it’s not easy to use - or wasn’t for me - and if you are doing it manually it’s still a clunky process

The multimedia system comes with built-in sat nav and this Crafted edition has voice control. The multimedia system comes with built-in sat nav and this Crafted edition has voice control.

Good points are that there is a wide screen, digital radio, Bluetooth connectivity and a 10-speaker sound system.

How much does it cost to own?

The Lexus NX 300 Crafted comes in at $63,806 before on road costs for the AWD turbo-petrol model I had. There's also the 2WD model for less ($62,888 drive-away), or you might want to choose the 300h version, which is available in 2WD (at $61,806 plus on-road costs) or AWD ($66,306 plus on-roads).

Fuel economy for the NX 300 AWD is a claimed 7.9L/100km which isn’t bad for an engine this quick. This car also had special paint which costs an extra $1500.

It comes with Lexus’ four year/100,000km warranty. Lexus doesn't have a capped-price service plan.


The Wrap

The Lexus NX 300 Crafted is a lovely car to drive and really does give you extra bang for your buck with all of those extras on the car for a lower-spec model price. 

It drives really well, looks and feels luxe, has enough space both in the interiors and in the boot and has all the safety you’d be looking for for a family. 

I gave it a family rating of 8 out of 10, my children also gave it an 8 out of 10, they love a car where they can open the boot with the touch of a button.

Likes

Interior design
Smooth drive
Advanced safety

Dislikes

No Apple Carplay/Android Auto

Scores

Nedahl:

4

The Kids:

4

$63,806

Based on new car retail price