Last year, Lexus finally added a compact crossover to its lineup: the dramatically stylish turbo-powered NX 200t. Actually, they added a pair of NX models. Arriving at the same time was a hybrid-powertrain variant, the NX 300h, promising class-leading fuel efficiency along with the luxurious appeal that characterizes larger Lexus models. Available with front-drive or all-wheel drive, this NX is the sixth hybrid model to be produced under the Lexus badge.
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2016 Lexus NX 300h Overview
What's New for 2016
Launched for the 2015 model year, the NX 300h carries on into 2016 with little change, apart from new color choices. New Lexus Enform Service Connect lets you view vehicle information remotely, via a smartphone app or online. That data includes maintenance alerts and a vehicle health report.
Choosing Your Lexus NX 300h
Like its NX 200t sibling, the NX 300h looks very much like the younger, hipper brother of the brand's midsize RX crossover. Angular lines, prominent bulges and a sharply raked tailgate distinguish either NX from the crowd of similar-size, non-luxury crossovers. Inside are plenty of high-quality materials, as well as an impressive amount of rear legroom for this class.
Power comes from the combination of a 2.5-liter 154-horsepower four-cylinder gasoline engine, mated with a pair of electric motors. Together, they produce 194 horsepower. Front-drive models achieve an estimated 33 mpg in combined driving.
All-wheel drive models contain a third electric motor, which delivers power to the rear wheels. That extra available traction reduces the fuel economy estimate by a modest 1 mpg.
A continuously variable transmission (CVT) is standard, and it incorporates a “kickdown” feature to provide maximum power when needed to accelerate. Drive Mode Select has three settings: Eco, Normal, and Sport (for use when shifting manually). An EV button is next to the selection dial.
In base form, the NX 300h has a NuLuxe (premium vinyl) interior with power front seats, power driver’s lumbar support, and a 60/40 split-folding reclining rear seat. Standard amenities include a Smart Access key, Bluetooth phone and audio, numerous integrated smartphone apps, power tilt/telescopic steering column, dual-zone automatic climate control, and an eight-speaker sound system with HD and satellite radio. Standard wheels are 17-inch, with 18-inch available. Headlights, foglamps, and running lights are all LED.
The available Comfort package adds heated outside mirrors with reverse tilt and memory, and driver’s seat memory. The Premium package includes those features, plus 18-inch wheels, heated and ventilated front seats, and a moonroof. The Luxury package tops off the NX with leather seat upholstery, wood interior trim, a heated steering wheel, a power liftgate, and rain-sensing wipers. Some of these contents are available as individual options. So is a power-folding rear seat.
The Navigation package includes a navigation system, two additional speakers, Remote Touch infotainment control interface, and an expanded suite of smartphone apps. Available safety technology includes parking sensors, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and a Pre-Collision system with adaptive cruise control.
At over two tons, the NX 300h is no lightweight, so 33 mpg (combined) is an achievement even in this era of 40-mpg cars. In fact, that figure has made the NX 300h the most fuel-efficient luxury crossover model.
Simply because it's a Lexus, the NX 300h doesn't feel quite complete without the leather and wood interior offered in the Luxury package. We rate it as the most essential upgrade, though advanced-safety technology would be a prudent addition.