The 2019 Lexus NX is a boldly styled alternative in the compact crossover SUV segment. If you can get past its looks, or even find the exterior sheet metal attractive, the NX is a comfortable crossover with a healthy list of standard features. On the flipside, the NX manages to lag behind its American and German rivals with subpar handling and fuel economy, while Lexus' infotainment system, which now offers Apple CarPlay (sorry Android users, Android Auto still isn't available), is tricky to use.

Best Value

The Lexus NX lineup is offered in three trims: NX 300, NX 300 F Sport and NX 300h (hybrid). While the F Sport model is the best-looking of the family, making the step up to the F-branded model doesn't bring a large difference in performance with it. With that in mind, we'd recommend skipping all-wheel drive, unless you're in a northern part of the country, and going with the regular base trim.

Pricing for the NX 300 with front-wheel drive starts at $37,380. Power for the model comes from a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine that produces 235 horsepower. Fuel economy for the configuration is EPA-rated at up to 22 miles per gallon city, 28 mpg highway, and 25 combined.

Standard features on the NX 300 include dual-zone automatic climate control, power-folding exterior mirrors, an eight-inch display, an eight-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, a WiFi hot spot, Siri Eyes Free, Amazon Alexa compatibility, a rearview camera, and NuLuxe upholstery. The NX 300 also comes with Lexus Safety System Plus as standard, which adds automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high beams.

Here's how we'd spec our Lexus NX 300:

  • Model: 2019 Lexus NX 300
  • Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder
  • Output: 235 hp / 258 lb-ft
  • Transmission:Six-speed automatic
  • Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive
  • Fuel Economy:22 City / 28 Hwy
  • Options:Premium Package ($3,270, a power moonroof, heated and ventilated front seats, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, 18-inch alloy wheels, enhanced LED daytime running lights, a power-tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel), Navigation Package ($1,860, navigation, a 10.3-inch display, Lexus Enform Destination Assist, a 10-speaker audio system, an extra USB port, Lexus Enform Dynamic Navigation), Electrochromic inside mirror ($125, required with Navigation Package)
  • Base Price:$37,380 (including the $995 destination fee)
  • Best Value Price:$42,635

Performance

Lexus NX

With its sharp exterior design, the NX may fool some into thinking it's a razor-sharp crossover to drive. That's far from the case, as its engine is outshined by competitors and its suspension setup that leans toward being more of a comfortable daily-driver.

That's not to say the NX isn't comfortable. The standard trim's suspension set up does a great job of masking rough roads and the feedback being translated through the brakes is good for a vehicle in the segment. Those seeking something sportier will be better off opting for the F Sport trim, as it comes with all-wheel drive as standard, larger 18-inch wheels, different tires, and an updated suspension. The six-speed automatic transmission in the F Sport is also tuned for quicker shifts.

Even the NX F Sport, though, is far from sporty, as the most athletic model fails to feel quick or lively on a windy road.

Style

Now that we've all had time to get used to Lexus' polarizing spindle grille, the crossover's styling isn't as off-putting as it once was. The massive grille leads the overall design for the model, as it has a lot of sharp edges and dramatic design elements. The F Sport is a little more menacing with black exterior trim pieces, a more prominent chin spoiler, and unique fog lights. It may not appeal to everyone, but Lexus did something different than its competitors, which should be commended.

The NX's interior tells a different story, one that's more subdued. Soft-touch materials, high-end elements, and a conservative design highlight the crossover's cabin. The front seats are especially noteworthy, being comfortable for long trips. The F Sport trim gets special sport seats that come with more bolstering for a tighter hold when cornering.

While the crossover's interior is great for the luxury segment, the haptic touchpad is still cumbersome to use. Thankfully, Lexus has finally added Apple CarPlay capability to its infotainment system, but Android Auto is still absent.

The Best and Worst Things

The NX's exterior design lands somewhere between being good and bad – some will love it, while others will hate it. A relatively high price will have some consumers looking at other options, but the vehicle's large list of standard features makes it a good value proposition.

Performance, especially with the NX's sharp styling, is disappointing, as are the crossover's fuel economy numbers.

Right For? Wrong For?

Lexus NX

Couples and small families looking to get into a crossover that stands out in the crowd. If getting luxury, technology, comfort, and safety in a value-packed option is high up on the priority list, the NX won’t disappoint.

If you’re looking for a sporty ride, other options are a better choice.

The Bottom Line

Look past the unique styling and puzzling infotainment system and the 2019 Lexus NX brings value to a segment that's not known for it. Handling and fuel economy may not be on par with others in the segment, but the NX makes up for it with the latest safety features, a long list of standard equipment, and a comfortable demeanor, making it a good option for a lot of buyers.