Lexus took their time joining the compact crossover party, but the 2018 Lexus NX remains a strong entrant. Available with either hybrid or gas power, the NX is one of the more affordable hybrid- and AWD-capable vehicles in Lexus’ lineup, which makes it practical in more ways than one.
What's New for 2018
The Lexus NX 200t is renamed the NX 300 for 2018, though the engine remains the same. Lexus retuned the suspension for a smoother ride, and adaptive dampers are a new option. The exterior sees a few aesthetic tweaks, like power-folding side mirrors and revised taillights. A major addition is standard active safety features, including collision warnings, pedestrian detection, lane departure warnings, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control.
Choosing Your Lexus NX
Of the two powertrains, the gas engine is the more powerful, producing 235 horsepower and 259 pound-feet of torque from a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine. The hybrid has to make do with 194 hp and 152 lb-ft from an electric motor pair with an 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle engine.
Those two engines delineate the two NX trims: 300 for the gas engine and 300h for the hybrid. All-wheel drive is a $1,400 option on the NX 300, but it’s standard on the 300h. Even so, the hybrid powertrain manages an estimated 33 mpg city, 30 mpg highway, and 31 combined. Estimates for a front-wheel drive NX 300 are 22/28/25 mpg, and adding all-wheel drive changes efficiency very little.
Though not as beefy as its big sibling Lexus RX, the NX still seats five and provides 16.8 cubic feet of storage space behind the seats. Putting down the second row boosts capacity to 53.7 cubic feet. Exterior features includes automatic headlights, power-folding side mirrors, and 17-inch alloy rims. On the interior are dual-zone automatic climate control, faux-leather upholstery and trim, push-button start, and an eight-inch multimedia screen with a nifty remote touch pad. A rearview camera complements assisted braking and Lexus’ roadside and collision assistance system.
Five packages dole out the rest of the features, though availability and price varies from model to model. The most basic is a Cold-Weather Package, which provides a wiper de-icer. On all trims except the F-Sport, a Comfort Package adds heated and ventilated seats, blind-spot monitoring, rear-cross traffic alerts, and auto-tilt side mirrors. Next up is a Navigation Package, which includes a fancier 10.3-inch infotainment display (with navigation, naturally), a 10-speaker sound system, an extra USB port, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
For more plush outfits, a Premium Package adds all the features of the Comfort Package plus a sliding moonroof, memory settings for the seats, 18-inch alloy wheels, upgraded LED running lights, and a power tilt-and-telescope wheel. If that’s still not enough, the Luxury Package includes all of that plus a blackwood-and-leather trimmed interior, rain-sensing wipers, and a leather-trimmed heated steering wheel.
No matter how hard it tries to look like one, the NX will never be a sports car. Stick to the hybrid or base models, where the all-wheel drive is a bargain on a luxury compact crossover. If you’re eyeing the package list, the Premium Package is a sweet spot for features.