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Honda CR-V
$34,970 - $51,990
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Honda CR-V VS Lexus NX

$57,500 - $89,900

Honda CR-V


Lexus NX

Summary

Honda CR-V

The Honda CR-V has been a long-time favourite in the CarsGuide offices, but there’s always been a bit of a caveat hanging over the mid-size SUV range - it all came down to a shortage of active safety technology.

With the 2021 Honda CR-V facelift that has been addressed - to a degree  - and in this review we’ll cover off the changes that have been made, from an expansion of the Honda Sensing suite of safety tech, to the styling changes inside and out for the updated model range. 

At the end we’ll try and sum up if the Honda CR-V 2021 range update has brought this model back into contention against the likes of the Subaru Forester, Mazda CX-5, VW Tiguan and Toyota RAV4. 

Safety rating
Engine Type1.5L turbo
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7.4L/100km
Seating5 seats

Lexus NX

For Lexus. a lot is riding on the new NX. It's one of the brand’s most important models, playing in the key mid-size SUV space, and it brings with it a lot of new technology and design elements for the historically conservative maker.

The key one we’re looking at here is the first ever Lexus plug-in hybrid, and the most expensive NX model ever, the 450h+.

The question is: Should you pick this one over the brand’s renowned 350h hybrid variant, and how does it compare to its luxury PHEV peers?

As it is perhaps Lexus’ most important car since the UX300e full-electric small SUV, we’ve taken the NX 450h+ for a full post-launch follow-up review to give it the attention it deserves.

Safety rating
Engine Type2.5L
Fuel TypeHybrid with Premium Unleaded
Fuel Efficiency1.3L/100km
Seating5 seats

Verdict

Honda CR-V7.5/10

The updated Honda CR-V range is certainly an improvement on the model it replaces, with the wider spread of safety tech now making it a more viable option for more potential customers.

But the fact of the matter is that the 2021 Honda CR-V update still doesn’t go far enough in expanding the safety spec of the midsize SUV, and multiple competitors better it in many ways. And if you’re a family buyer, then safety is surely a high priority, right? Well, if that’s you, maybe consider those aforementioned rivals - the Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-5, VW Tiguan and Subaru Forester - all of which best the CR-V in some way or another.

If you don’t think you need those additional safety items, or you’re just sold on the practical and thoughtful cabin design of the CR-V, there’s certainly something to be said for the 2021 version over the earlier models. And in this range, I’d say the pick would be the VTi 7 if you need three rows, or the VTi for those only needing five seats.


Lexus NX8.1/10

The NX 450h+ is a leading example for plug-in hybrid models. It’s a big ask for a buyer to switch to this technology at a correspondingly higher price, and others could follow the example set by this car as it nails the brief for core offerings.

It has a long range, charges relatively quickly, and the hybrid system is easy to use, yet is also customisable to allow keen users to extract the most out of the technology.

The NX does all of this whilst also being a big step forward for the brand in terms of its interior design, technology, and features. 

What remains to be seen is if there’s a big enough target market for PHEV tech when Lexus sells an even easier-to-use standard self-charging hybrid version.

Design

Honda CR-V8/10

The styling changes are pretty minimal compared to the pre-facelift model. Well, that’s certainly the case if you simply glance at the 2021 Honda CR-V.

But look a little closer and you realise there have actually been quite a few nips and tucks here and there, with the overall effect being subtle but worthwhile in terms of visual upgrades.

The front end has seen the adoption of a new bumper design that almost looks like there’s a silver moustache across the lower part of the bumper, and above it there’s a new blacked out grille treatment at the front, too.

In profile you’ll notice new alloy wheel designs - ranging from 17s on the base car through to 19s on the top-spec version - but otherwise the side-on view is pretty similar, aside from a bit of garnish work in the lower parts of the doors.

At the rear there are similar minor bumper changes with added accents at the bottom of the bar, and now there are darker tinted tail-lights and a dark chrome tailgate garnish, too. Models bearing the VTi prefix also get new shaped exhaust tips, which look a little more substantial than before.

Inside, there aren’t many big changes, but that’s no bad thing. The CR-V’s cabin has always been one of the most practical in the class, and that certainly hasn’t changed with this update. Check out the interior pictures below to see for yourself. 


Lexus NX

The design of the new NX is perhaps the thing I love the most about it. I was no fan of the prior model, which seemed a pretty average re-imagining of the previous Toyota RAV4 on which it was based. This new one, though, is a stratospheric leap into the future.

It thoroughly owns its appearance inside and out, leaving hardly a hint that it might share its underpinnings with the RAV4, and moving the Lexus brand forward in so many ways.

It has a newfound imposing stance thanks to its significantly expanded dimensions, with the signature Lexus descending roofline, massive wheels, and expansive grille.

While I wouldn’t call it ‘elegant’ it’s certainly contemporary, with the contours running down the bonnet, and particularly the ones surrounding the rear wheel arch cutting strong, post-modern lines.

It looks distinct, and importantly, far more resolved than its predecessor, to my eyes for the first time truly earning its place as a Lexus.

Interesting touches this time around also include the typeface across the rear, and sharp LED light clusters front and rear.

If you agree the exterior is an impressive step forward, wait until you see the inside. Lexus has clearly re-thought its entire approach to interior design, with the dash a clean slate exercise.

Immediately dominating the design is that massive touchscreen, which has an entirely new and much easier to use interface. Some clear thought has also been given to ergonomics, as, despite its size, even the furthest elements are easy to reach for the driver. And the clumsy touchpad interface which plagued the previous car has finally been consigned to the bin.

There’s also no doubt the NX reaches into the premium realm, with soft touch materials and tasteful grey finishes everywhere. There are even some clever elements, like a padded leather strip running alongside the centre stack for the driver’s knee, and largely tasteful application of piano black finishes.

The digital dash and wheel design is aesthetically pleasing, while maintaining a driver-oriented approach, which can sometimes feel a bit lost on some other new designs which replace an indented cluster with a single continuous panel for the dash and multimedia functions.

There’s also a distinct lack of buttons to clutter up the design, which ties into the practicality of the space which we’ll look at next.

Practicality

Honda CR-V9/10

One of the main reasons we’ve always been fans of the current gen Honda CR-V at CarsGuide is its practical cabin. It is, arguably, the best midsize SUV for young families in this part of the market.

That’s because it prioritises space and comfort, practicality and cabin smarts over things like excitement and wow factor. 

Sure, there’s a bit of a problem with that - rivals like the RAV4 prove you can do both things well. But the CR-V is unapologetically pleasant and well sorted in terms of practicality. It’s truly the pragmatic choice in this part of the market.

Up front there’s a clever centre console section that has been rethought for this update, and now scores easier-to-access USB ports, and in grades equipped with it, a wireless phone charger. There are still good sized cup holders, and the removable tray section that allows you to configure the console storage how you need it - see how much I fit in there in the video above.

There are also good sized door pockets with bottle holders, and a reasonable glovebox, too. It’s very cleverly designed, and the materials are good, too - the VTi LX model I drove had soft trim on the doors and dash, plus the leather seats are comfortable and offer good adjustment. I’ve driven CR-Vs with cloth seat trim too, and the quality is always top notch.

The shortfalls come in the ‘ooooh’ department. The CR-V still runs a small 7.0-inch media screen - some rivals have much larger displays - and while it does have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus a volume knob, it’s still a bit fidgety in terms of the operation. And it’s slow to react at times, too.

Plus, while there is a climate button and fan speed button, as well as dials for the temperature settings, you still have to go through the screen to control whether the air conditioner is on or off, and also which ventilation is active. Odd. 

In the back seat, there’s a really neat trick. The doors open up to almost 90 degrees, meaning parents loading their kids into child seats will be able to access the back row a lot easier than some rivals (we’re looking at you, Mr RAV4, with your narrow-hinged doors). Indeed, the apertures are huge, meaning access for people of all ages is pretty easy.

And the space in the second row is excellent, too. There is easily enough space for someone my size (182cm / 6’0”) to sit behind their own driving position with ample knee room, toe space and shoulder room to be comfortable. Only the head room is questionable if you get a CR-V with a sunroof, and even then, it’s not terrible.

If you do have kids, there are ISOFIX child seat anchor points in the outboard seats, and three top tether attachment points - but unlike most rivals, they actually mount in the ceiling above the boot, not the back of the second-row seat. Choose a seven-seater and you have the same issue, but the third-row seats add a pair of top-tether points mounted into the very back boot floor. 

The seven-seat versions of the CR-V have a sliding second-row seat, which makes head room even tighter. The five-seat CR-Vs have a 60:40 split fold second row. All models have a flip down armrest and cupholders fitted in the second row, plus door pockets large enough for big bottles, and map pockets on the front seat backs.

I tested the seven-seat CR-V pre-facelift, and found the third row space to be best left to smaller occupants. If you choose a three-row CR-V, you get rear row air vents and cupholders, too.

The boot space on offer for the CR-V also depends on the seating configuration. If you choose a five-seater like the VTi LX model here, you get a cargo capacity of 522 litres (VDA). Get the seven-seater, and the five-seats-up measurement is 50L less (472L VDA), while with all three rows of seats in use, there’s 150L (VDA) of boot space. 

If that’s not enough boot capacity - and it won't be if you’re heading away with all seven seats in use - you might want to consider checking out the accessories catalogue for roof rails, roof racks or a roof cargo box.

Happily, though, all CR-Vs come with a hidden full-size alloy spare wheel under the boot floor.


Lexus NX

The NX is much bigger than before, meaning it has a lot more cabin space, but what cabin space is on offer is also more efficiently used. 

A prime example is the centre stack and armrest console. The latter is simply huge and features the brand’s signature top with a trick hinge so it can be opened both ways. 

The lack of clumsy controls featured in previous cars, as well as a tidy fly-by-wire shifter, means a lot more space in the centre console for two huge bottle holders.

Under the climate controls is a neat, floating, wireless charger, which slides back into the dash to reveal yet another large storage area and 12V power outlet. Front passengers can also make use of a choice of USB 2.0 or USB-C for connecting to the multimedia suite. Nice.

Moving onto the touch panel itself, and the basic dual-zone climate functions are controlled via big shortcut touch units, as well as the smart inclusion of physical dials for temperature. There’s also a physical dial for audio volume in the centre, and shortcut buttons for instant de-fogging. Smart.

There are big bottle holders with a small bin in the doors, and the space on offer for front passengers is great. The seating position is quite high, but the excellent seat trim which Lexus has built a reputation for is still present. The F-Sport seats in this variant offer unexpectedly good side-bolstering, too.

The rear seat continues with the lovely seat trim, and the 60/40 split backing has two states of recline. 

The space offers plenty of room for my 182cm tall frame, featuring ample airspace for my knees and head. Oddly though, it doesn’t feel as big as its Toyota RAV4 relation. 

This could merely be perception, as the interior trim consists of dark leather with dark headlining and a deep tint for the rear windows.

For storage, pockets feature on the backs of the front seats, alongside a decent bottle holder in the doors and an armrest console with two more. 

Amenities include dual adjustable air vents with a lock-off (but no independent third climate zone), as well as dual USB-C outlets and a 12V socket.

Finally, there’s the boot. Volume is decent, with 520 litres on offer. The loading lip and floor is quite high, though, and it’s notable that 60 litres have been lost to this car’s design when compared with the RAV4. 

It fits the three-piece CarsGuide luggage set with a little space to spare, but the luggage cover had to be removed to accommodate the height.

Under the boot floor there is no room for a spare, but a small storage cutaway, perhaps for your charging cables, as well as a tyre repair kit and a compartment which houses the 12V battery.

Price and features

Honda CR-V7/10

As part of the 2021 updated range, the CR-V saw a number of name changes, but there are still seven variants available, ranging from five to seven-seaters, and with front-wheel drive (2WD) or all-wheel drive (AWD). Prices are up across the carryover models by between $2200 and $4500 - read our original pricing story to see why.

Opening the range is the Vi, which carries over as the only model in the range without the turbo engine (any CR-V with VTi as part of its name indicates turbocharging), while it’s also the only CR-V without the Honda Sensing safety suite. More on that in the safety section below.

The prices seen here are the Manufacturer’s List Price, also known as MSRP, RRP or MLP, and don’t include on-road costs. Shop around, we know there will be drive-away deals. 

The Vi model lists at $30,490 plus on-road costs (MSRP), which is more expensive than the pre-facelift model, but this version - which has 17-inch alloy wheels and cloth seat trim - now runs a 7.0-inch touchscreen media system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as dual-zone climate control. This version also has Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, 2x USB ports, a digital instrument cluster with digital speedometer, and a four speaker sound system. It has halogen headlights and LED daytime running lights, as well as LED tail-lights. There’s a reversing camera fitted, too.

Step up to the VTi for $33,490 (MSRP) and you gain the turbo engine (details below), as well as keyless entry and push-button start, an additional four speakers (eight total), an additional 2x USB ports (four total), a cargo cover, exhaust pipe finishers, adaptive cruise control and the Honda Sensing active safety suite (detailed below).

The VTi 7 is new to the range, and is essentially a more economy-focused version of the old VTi-E7, now costing $35,490 (MSRP). For context, the VTi-E7 used to have leather trim, power driver’s seat adjust and 18-inch alloys. The new VTi 7 costs $1000 more than the old car, misses all of those items (now cloth trim, 17-inch wheels, manual seat adjust) but has the safety suite. It adds third row seats with air vents, plus two additional cup holders and curtain airbag coverage, as well as third-row top tether hooks in the boot floor. It misses a cargo blind, though.

The next model up the pricing tree is the VTi X, which replaces the VTi-S. It is a $35,990 (MSRP) proposition, and adds the safety tech and a hands-free tailgate, as well as auto headlights, auto high beam lights, a leather steering wheel, and from this grade up you get Honda’s LaneWatch side camera system in lieu of a traditional blind-spot monitoring system, and in-built GPS Garmin sat nav. This is the first grade in the range to get 18-inch wheels, plus it has rear parking sensors standard, and front parking sensors, too.

The VTi L AWD is the first grade in the step-up with all-wheel drive. It essentially replaces our previous pick of the range, the VTi-S AWD, but costs more. The VTi L AWD is $40,490 (MSRP), but adds a few goodies over the models below, including leather-appointed seat trim, driver’s seat electric adjustment with two memory settings and heated front seats.

The VTi L7 ($43,490 MSRP) does away with AWD but gains the third-row seating, as well as the good stuff mentioned in the VTi L as well as privacy glass, a large panoramic glass sunroof, LED headlights and LED fog lights, and a wireless phone charger. It also gets auto wipers and roof rails, plus steering wheel paddle shifters. 

The top-of-the-range VTi LX AWD is a pretty pricey offering, at $47,490 (MSRP). In fact, that’s $3200 more than it used to cost. It’s a five-seater, and over the VTi L7 adds items like heated door mirrors, auto up/down windows for all four doors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, electric front passenger seat adjustment, a leather-wrapped shift knob, DAB digital radio, and it gets 19-inch alloy wheels.

It’s fair to say the grades are pretty confusing, but thankfully Honda doesn’t charge extra for the colours available in the CR-V range. There are two new hues available - Ignite Red metallic and Cosmic Blue metallic - and the selection on offer does vary based on the grade. 


Lexus NX

The NX 450h+ is the most expensive NX ever, wearing a before on-roads price-tag (MSRP) of $89,900. It’s some $6000 more than the well-received NX 350h 'self-charging' hybrid and offers a huge battery with an unusually long range for a PHEV.

We’ll look a little more closely at the detail behind that in a moment, but you should also know that in the context of its PHEV competition the value equation is not as alarming as it first seems.

The Mercedes-Benz GLC300e wears an MSRP of $95,700, and incoming new PHEV versions of the BMW X3 (xDrive 30e - $101,971) and Volvo XC60 (Recharge - $97,990) are significantly more expensive.

It seemingly takes a lot to convince a buyer to switch to PHEV technology, so Lexus has quite cleverly positioned the NX 450h+ under its rivals, while also playing to the brand’s hybrid history.

Standard equipment is also excellent, with the NX range a huge leap forward for Lexus, the 450h+ only being available in the top F-Sport trim.

This includes a brand new and enormous 14.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and built-in nav, an 8.0-inch digital instrument cluster, head-up display, wireless phone charger, 14-speaker premium audio system, full synthetic leather interior trim, dual-zone climate control, power adjustable front seats with heating and ventilation, keyless entry and push-start ignition, 20-inch alloy wheels, colour-matching F-Sport bodykit, fully adaptive LED headlights, and a power tailgate.

Adding further value on top of the standard F-Sport equipment mentioned above, Lexus throws in the sunroof, heated steering wheel, and digital rear-view mirror which are optional lesser variants.

It doesn’t end there, though, with the NX featuring the full suite of active safety items offered by Lexus, as well as a particularly large hybrid battery (18.1kW) which allows a claimed NEDC range of 87km. 

It also throws in the polite inclusion of a Type 2 to Type 2 charging cable, which you’ll need to charge up at public AC locations.

So yes, the 450h+ is the most expensive NX ever made and will still be too tall an order for many, but it’s actually a lot better value than it first seems in the context of its rivals.

Engine & trans

Honda CR-V7/10

There are two engines available in the Honda CR-V range - the one fitted to the base model Vi, and the one fitted to all models that have VTi as part of their badge. 

The Vi’s engine is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine producing 113kW of power (at 6500rpm) and 189Nm of torque (at 4300rpm). The transmission for the Vi is a continuously variable transmission (CVT) automatic, and it’s front-wheel drive (2WD/FWD) only.

The VTi models in the range get a turbo motor. According to Honda, that’s what the ‘T’ now stands for in CR-V land. 

That engine is a 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol unit producing 140kW of power (at 5600rpm) and 240Nm of torque (from 2000-5000rpm). It’s available mated to a CVT auto gearbox, and the choice of FWD/2WD or all-wheel drive (AWD).

If you’re after a diesel, hybrid or plug-in hybrid version of the CR-V, you’re out of luck. There’s no EV / electric model either. It’s purely a petrol affair here. 

Towing capacity for the CR-V is pegged at 600kg for unbraked trailers, while the braked towing capacity is 1000kg for the seven-seat versions and 1500kg for five-seat models.


Lexus NX

Okay, this is where it gets tricky. You ready? The Lexus NX 450h+ has a combustion engine up front. It’s a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine producing 136kW/227Nm which runs on the Atkinson cycle, meaning it sacrifices some power in favour of efficiency.

The idea is that the slack is taken up by the electric motors, of which this car has two. It has one more powerful unit on the front axle, producing 134kW/270Nm, and a second unit on the rear axle facilitating the all-wheel drive system, producing 40kW/121Nm.

The combustion engine, meanwhile, can only drive the front wheels via a continuously variable automatic transmission.

The electric motors are, in fact, the same ones used in the ‘regular’ 350h hybrid, however the higher voltage 18.1kWh battery pack in the 450h+ allows a full range of motion in the fully electric driving mode, up to 135km/h without any assistance from the combustion engine.

Combined power is rated at 227kW, but no system peak torque figure is given. Lexus claims the NX 450h+ will sprint from 0-100km/h in just 6.3 seconds.

Fuel consumption

Honda CR-V7/10

The combined cycle fuel consumption varies depending on the model you choose in the CR-V range.

The non-turbo 2.0L engine in the Vi is the thirsty one, using a claimed 7.6 litres per 100 kilometres.

The VTi engine’s fuel consumption varies depending on the model, seating and drivetrain (2WD or AWD). The entry grade VTi FWD uses a claimed 7.0L/100km, while the VTi 7, VTi X and VTi L7 use 7.3L/100km, and the VTi L AWD and VTi LX AWD claim 7.4L/100km.

On test in the top-spec VTi LX AWD - across a mix of urban, highway and open road driving - we saw an at the pump fuel use return of 10.3L/100km. 

All CR-V models come with a 57 litre fuel tank capacity. Even the turbo models can run on 91RON regular unleaded, too.


Lexus NX

The 18.1kWh battery pack which features in the NX 450h+ grants it an unusually long range for a PHEV, at a claimed 87km. This is to the more lenient NEDC testing cycle, however, and in our real-world driving the car reported around 62-65km of pure electric range at close to 100 per cent charge.

That’s still the longest real-world range of any PHEV I’ve tested, which bodes well for the usefulness of this system.

Unlike some PHEVs, the NX 450h+ has flexible options for controlling the drivetrain. The car defaults to EV mode, but with a flick of the switch it can be driven as a parallel hybrid (like any other Toyota or Lexus hybrid system) which does a great job of maintaining the battery level.

Or you can switch to charge mode, which constantly runs the engine using excess idle power to charge the battery.

The only thing I wish you could control here is the regenerative braking, which has a single mild state of tune. The ability to control it with the paddle-shifters would make for a more efficient EV.

Claimed fuel consumption for the 450h+ is just 1.3L/100km, and after my testing, covering several hundred kilometres in a few drive modes, on the freeway and around town, I came to a final figure of 3.9L/100km. 

That's pretty good, but if you were able to make more use of the EV drive mode, it could easily be less.

In terms of charging, the NX uses a European-standard Type 2 charging port. Importantly, the NX can charge at a rate of 6.6kW, double that of many PHEVs.

This means despite a relatively large battery you can get to 100 per cent charge on a public AC charger from the reserve level in just 2.5 hours. A more realistic proposition for those who only have on-street or apartment parking and cannot charge at home.

Total range can theoretically be in excess of 1000km with a full charge and tank of fuel. The NX takes 55L of fuel but notably requires mid-shelf 95RON premium.

Driving

Honda CR-V8/10

Fit for purpose. That summaries the drive experience of the Honda CR-V 2021 model, which is unashamedly a family car and drives how a family car should.

That is to say it’s not as exciting or powerful as some rivals. If you’re after driving thrills, you maybe shouldn’t even be looking in this segment, certainly not at this price point anyway. But I will say this - on balance, the CR-V offers a competitive midsize SUV drive experience if you value comfort and easy driving overall.

The CR-V’s turbo engine offers decent pulling power across a good span of revs, and while we often criticise CVT automatic transmissions, the auto used here makes good use of the turbo engine’s torque band, meaning it accelerates smoothly enough and responds with enough urgency when you plant your foot. There’s a very slight lag to contend with during rolling acceleration, but it takes off from a standstill pretty well.

The engine is a little vocal under hard acceleration, but generally the CR-V is quiet, refined and pleasant - there’s not too much road noise (even on the 19-inch wheels of the VTi LX AWD), and there’s minimal wind roar, too. 

The steering in the CR-V has always been a bit of a highlight - it has a really quick action that is well weighted and offers good accuracy, while not necessarily giving the driver a lot of feel and feedback. It’s great when you’re parking, because the wheel takes very little effort to turn.

There have been changes to the suspension for the 2021 Honda CR-V, but you’d be hard pressed to pick them - it still rides comfortable and hardly ever feels upset by bumps (only sharp edges at lower speeds cause some clunkiness, and that’s based on the drive in the VTi LX AWD with its large 19-inch wheels and low profile Michelin Latitude Sport 255/55/19 tyres).

Don’t get me wrong - the suspension is set for softness as a priority, so there is some body roll to contend with in corners. For family buyers, the drive experience is good, though anyone looking for a fun drive might be better served considering a Tiguan or RAV4.

Explore the Honda CR-V in 3D.

Check out the CR-V on a camping adventure.


Lexus NX

The NX feels entirely different from the previous model. The new car feels bigger, wider, heavier, almost as though you’re driving the previous-generation RX, a full size up.

It’s also a completely different beast from the RAV4 on which it is based. Visibility is still excellent with expansive glass on all but the rearmost window, while the refreshed cabin design feels spacious but more luxurious, too.

The steering is heavy, regardless of drive mode, making the NX feel substantial, but not inconvenient or artificial, with some organic feedback letting you connect with the road.

The hybrid drivetrain is the real star of the show, however, with Lexus putting its decades of experience on full show. 

The car defaults to EV priority mode, moving primarily as an electric car at up to freeway speeds without needing the combustion components. 

In hybrid vehicle mode, the components (which are the same as the standard hybrid, anyway) do an excellent job of mimicking the series/parallel drive of other Lexus and Toyota hybrid models.

The key brilliance of this system is how drive to the wheels is managed by the transmission, so it is imperceptible to the driver when the engine is assisting (aside from distant noise at higher loads). 

The mastery of this tech is such that it is still the leading hybrid drive on the market for smooth power transfer.

The NX also has a charge mode, where it will operate primarily as a combustion vehicle with less electrical assistance. The idle time from the engine is used to charge the battery via the transmission. 

While it’s not an efficient way to use the energy, it may be useful for where you want to maximise the amount of energy saved during a freeway trip in order to have a full charge for emissions free motoring at your destination.

The only area of drivetrain customisation I wish the NX had is in regeneration. The stock regen tune is quite mild, so I feel as though it could get even more range out of EV priority mode if you were able to maximise this.

The NX is also quite fast in a straight line, with Sport and Sport+ modes allowing you to eke otherwise hidden performance out of the electric motors. 

Raw acceleration does make the 6.3-second claimed 0-100km/h time feel like a realistic proposition, but I wouldn't put this SUV in amongst its performance rivals.

While its electrified straight-line performance is impressive, the each-way suspension tune and weight of 18.1kWh of batteries leaves a little to be desired on the handling front. 

This car feels its weight in the corners and comes with a fair bit of body-roll to keep it out of the same league as German sports machines like the GLC53 or BMW X3 M40i.

The suspension tune was another source of disappointment. For context, the ride is generally very good, but I found the large wheels, low profile tyres, and new adaptive suspension package give the NX a ride with a harsher edge than I was expecting. 

This is perhaps more notable because its RAV4 relation is particularly good for ride comfort. Seems odd that the relatively affordable Toyota-branded SUV rides with more grace than its Lexus luxury equivalent.

The same goes for road noise. Not bad, but it could be better on coarser chip surfaces, where you can hear the difference the big Lexus wheels and low-profile rubber makes.

Where does that leave us? This is a more luxury-oriented model when it comes to its ride and handling than some of its price-equivalent sporty rivals, but leans into its electric features to provide a customisable platform for energy-efficient adventures.

It’s silky smooth around town but leaves you with the confidence to have some battery left at the end of your trip without making it too complicated. I’d argue the ingredients on offer here are what more manufacturers should be combining to get people into PHEVs.

Safety

Honda CR-V7/10

The Honda CR-V was awarded a five-star ANCAP crash test rating in 2017, but given the rapid changes in protocols from the safety watchdog, it wouldn’t score that today - even with the broader application of the Honda Sensing suite of safety tech.

Models from the VTi variant up now score the Honda Sensing suite of active safety technologies. Previously, only five-seat AWD models were eligible for this tech, but now there’s been some level of democratisation of the safety spec, with 2WD models and seven seat CR-Vs now getting the tech. 

All CR-Vs with VTi as part of their name now get forward collision mitigation (FCW) with collision mitigation braking system (CMBS), which combines into a form of autonomous emergency braking (AEB) that operates at speeds above 5km/h and can detect pedestrians, too. The lane keeping assistance (LKA) system can help keep in the centre of the lane by using a camera to monitor road markings - it works between 72km/h and 180km/h. There’s also a lane departure warning (LDW) system that can vibrate the steering wheel if it thinks you’re leaving your lane, before steering the car back (mildly) and applying brakes - it works at the same speeds as the LKA system.

There’s also adaptive cruise control that works between 30km/h and 180km/h, but at speeds below 30km/h the brand’s ‘Low Speed Follow’ system will accelerate and brake while keeping a safe distance. It won’t automatically resume if you come to a complete stop, though.

While the list of safety gear is an improvement for the CR-V range more broadly, this upgrade still leaves it well and truly behind the best in the class for safety tech. It is not designed to include cyclist detection, and it misses out on a traditional blind spot monitoring system - instead, only some models in the line-up get the LaneWatch camera system (VTi X and above) that simply isn’t as good as a real blind-spot system. There’s also no rear cross-traffic alert, and no rear AEB. There is no surround view / 360 degree camera available on any grade, either.

The fact Honda hasn’t taken the opportunity to fit the safety tech system to all models in the CR-V range is both befuddling and disappointing. You were so close, Honda Australia. So close. 

At the very least, the CR-V has an array of airbags (dual front, front side and full length curtain) and yes, the seven seat models get proper third-row airbag coverage, too.


Lexus NX

As the top-spec car, the NX 450h+ comes with the full suite of modern active safety, including freeway speed auto emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, a new intersection assist feature, a new emergency steering feature, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning with lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, road sign assist, safe exit warning, and panoramic reversing camera.

It also packs a whopping 10 airbags alongside the standard array of brake, stability, and traction controls, as well as dual ISOFIX and three top-tether child seat mounting points across the rear row.

At the time of writing, the NX was yet to receive an ANCAP safety rating.

Ownership

Honda CR-V7/10

The Honda CR-V is backed by the brand’s five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, which is par for the course in the segment.

There is the option of an extended warranty plan out to seven years, which also bundles in roadside assistance for that period - but you have to pay for it. You don’t if you buy a Kia or SsangYong.

Honda asks for owners to have their cars serviced every 12 months/10,000km, which is shorter intervals than many rivals (annually or 15,000km). But the service costs are low, pegged at $312 per visit for the first 10 years/100,000km of ownership - just note, that figure doesn’t include some consumables. 

Worried about Honda CR-V problems - be it reliability, issues, complaints, transmission problems or engine concerns? Head to our Honda CR-V problems page.


Lexus NX

Lexus offers a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty but goes one step further for its hybrid and electric models to offer an industry-leading 10-year/unlimited kilometre warranty for the high-voltage battery components.

Service costs are very competitive for the luxury market, too, with every NX costing just $495 a year for the first three annual visits.

Good value considering the PHEV is more complicated compared to standard combustion variants.

Specific ownership boons offered to buyers of the PHEV model include complementary home installation of an AC charging terminal, alongside a three-year membership to the Lexus Encore Platinum service.

Benefits include invites to various events and discounts with partnered venues and fuel stations. But perhaps most importantly, access to the 'Lexus on Demand' service which lets users swap their car for another model for up to eight days at a time.

This is a fairly generous ownership initiative which keeps Lexus ahead of its luxury rivals.