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Lexus NX 2020 review: 300 F Sport

The Lexus NX makes a strong value play against the Germans.

A lot has changed since Lexus first launched the NX six years ago, with the mid-size premium SUV category now packed with with rivals from the German marques, including the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes Benz GLC - all vying for buyer eyeballs in a hotly contested market.

For my family review this week I tested the NX 300 F Sport AWD. At $66,152, and positioned one rung down from the top spec Sports Luxury AWD, it looks to be well priced in comparison to its German rivals. 

So, does the NX make a compelling value for money proposition as your next mid-sized premium SUV family taxi? We had a week with the NX 300 F Sport to find out.    

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✅ What does it look like?

It might be small, but Lexus has still managed to incorporate a bit of drama into the design here, with plenty of distinctive touches.

Like most Lexus models, the bold design starts up front with boomerang-style LED daytime running lights, positioned below the wedge-like bi-LED headlights that bookend the large ‘Spindle’ grille.

Mid-sized SUVs make great family haulers, and the NX is no different. Mid-sized SUVs make great family haulers, and the NX is no different.

The side profile features some sharp styling of the sheet metal, too, with pumped-up wheel arches that house a set of smart-looking 18-inch alloy wheels with a twin-five-spoke design. The roof line tapers off slightly towards a rear highlighted by arrow-shaped LED tail lights and neatly framed exhaust pipes.  

The F Sport wears 18-inch alloy wheels. The F Sport wears 18-inch alloy wheels.

The dash is an interesting array of slightly outdated buttons and switches, most of which are positioned on a shelf which extends out from the centre console. There's also a 10.3-inch display which is operated by touchpad controller. More on this later.

A liberal dose of premium materials has been used to dress up the cabin space, with NuLux upholstery used for the seats, armrests, middle dashboard and front knee and palm rests.

✅ How does it drive?

Under the NX 300's bonnet is a 175kW/350Nm turbocharged 2.0-litre in-line four-cylinder engine. It’s paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT auto) which directs power to all four wheels. 

It’s a solid performer around the suburbs, with good ride comfort over suburban speed humps and potholes. The cabin maintains an air of quiet throughout, only punctured by the odd noise from the CVT. Acceleration at mid-speeds is decent rather than energetic, and the smooth gear shifts make for a capable and comfortable daily driver. 

The NX300 uses a continuously variable transmission (CVT auto). The NX300 uses a continuously variable transmission (CVT auto).

While not especially engaging, the steering is nice and light at slower speeds around the city, which is particularly handy for navigating small car parks.

During our week with the NX300 F Sport AWD, we averaged 10.1L/100km over 200km of suburban and city driving. Somewhat more than the claimed 7.9 litres/100km advertised by Lexus.

✅ How spacious is it?

The NX is a mid-size SUV that sits in the Goldilocks-zone for SUV buyers - big on space and practicality, yet small and nimble enough to navigate local streets and parking lots with minimal fuss.  

Boot capacity, at 500 litres, is decent, and provided more than enough space for the weekly shop and kid's gear throughout the week. With the 60/40 split-fold rear seat stowed flat, this space increases to a generous 1545L, enough for a couple of kid's bikes. It's worth noting there's six tie-down points available back there to secure them, too.

With the rear seats in place, boot space is rated at 500 litres. With the rear seats in place, boot space is rated at 500 litres.

In the cabin, there’s plenty of useful storage areas to make use of, including a glovebox, two cup holders, a large central storage bin and a hidey-hole under the adjacent palm rest that features a removable lid with a mirror on the underside.

My kids in the back made use of two more cupholders in the centre armrest, a bottle holder within each of the doors and map pockets on the front-seat backrests.

In the back it's surprisingly spacious for kids and adults alike. In the back it's surprisingly spacious for kids and adults alike.

Head- and leg-room is plentiful up front, and it's surprisingly spacious in the back for kids and adults alike, with more than hand-width of available knee space behind my driving position.

✅ How easy is it to use every day?

Mid-sized SUVs make great family haulers, and the NX is no different, and also has the added benefit of luxury touches to help make the daily drive more comfortable. Its size makes navigating the local shopping car park easy thanks to excellent visibility and parking aids, including a reversing camera and front and rear parking sensors.

The roof line tapers off slightly towards a rear highlighted by arrow-shaped LED tail lights and neatly framed exhaust pipes. The roof line tapers off slightly towards a rear highlighted by arrow-shaped LED tail lights and neatly framed exhaust pipes.

✅ How safe is it?

The NX was awarded the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating in 2017, with a strong list of passive and active safety equipment to help give parents peace of mind.

Advanced driver-assist systems included autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian (all day) and cyclist (daytime) detection, lane-keep and steering assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality, road-sign recognition, high-beam assist, hill-start assist, tyre-pressure monitoring, a reversing camera and front and rear parking sensors.

Other standard safety equipment includes eight airbags, electronic stability and traction control systems, anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), and brake assist (BA).

For parents using capsules or booster seats, the NX comes with two ISOFIX and three top-tether points.  

✅ What’s the tech like?

The NX comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, as well as sat nav with live traffic, digital radio and a 10-speaker sound system which can be operated via the 10.3-inch touchscreen perched on top of the dash.

The 10.3-inch multimedia system features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The 10.3-inch multimedia system features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Drivers have the option of navigating through direct inputs on the touchscreen or via the touchpad controller in the centre console. During the week I tended to favour the touchscreen as the finicky touchpad required far too much attention and effort for even the most simple of tasks.   

✅ How much does it cost to own?

The NX 300 F Sport we tested is $66,152 plus on-road costs, plus $1500 for premium Mercury Grey paint. Other standard features include a powered tailgate, 18-inch alloy wheels, smart entry and start, tyre-pressure warning sensors, 60:40 rear-fold seats, keyless entry and start, dual-zone climate control, a power-adjustable steering column and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror.

The F Sport extras include a 360-degree panoramic view monitor, wireless phone charger, performance dampers, unique exterior and interior styling and 10-way power seats (cooled and heated) with driver memory function.


The Wrap

Against practicality, safety and space criteria, the NX definitely makes a value-for-money case in this category.  While not a particularly engaging drive, it is both capable and comfortable in the city, and stacked with safety tech and other niceties. 

Likes

Comfortable ride
Space and practicality
Exterior styling

Dislikes

The touchpad
Starting to show its age
Doesn't get the heart beating faster

Scores

Dan:

3.8

The Kids:

3.5

$66,152

Based on new car retail price

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