Buyers have been clamoring for compact luxury crossovers for several years now. Unlike its Toyota corporate parent, with the long-lived RAV4, Lexus had been missing out on that trend and its potential profits. Then, the brand-new NX 200t arrived for the 2015 model year, carrying a turbocharged engine. A feisty five-passenger alternative to family-style crossovers, the NX delivers the high-level interior refinement and inherent smoothness of larger, more expensive Lexus vehicles.
What's New for 2017
Front-wheel drive is expected to be discontinued, making every NX 200t an all-wheel-drive model. Lexus Display Audio has added a Scout GPS Link. New optional 18-inch wheels are available.
Choosing Your Lexus NX 200t
The NX 200t looks a lot like the younger, considerably more dashing brother of the brand's familiar midsize RX crossover. Sharply angular lines and prominent bulges clearly differentiate an NX from the expansive crowd of non-luxury crossovers of similar compact size. In addition to being surrounded by high-quality materials, occupants get an impressive amount of rear legroom for this vehicle class.
Power comes from a 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that develops 235 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, driving a sequential six-speed automatic transmission. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel economy with all-wheel drive at 22 mpg in city driving and 28 mpg on the highway (24 mpg combined).
A Drive Mode Select dial on the console can select Normal, Eco, or Sport mode. Standard alloy wheels are 17-inch, but 18-inch wheels are available.
Base NX 200t
Each NX 200t contains NuLuxe (premium vinyl) interior upholstery, with power front seats and a split-folding reclining rear seat. Standard features include a rearview camera, dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, integrated smartphone apps, and an eight-speaker sound system with a CD player, HD radio, and satellite radio. Triple-beam LED headlights are optional. Pricing starts at $36,060 with front-drive (if available), and $37,460 with all-wheel drive.
The F Sport package piles on a group of performance upgrades, including a sport-tuned suspension, paddle shifters, aluminum pedals, specific 18-inch alloy wheels with machined or Superchrome finish, a more aggressive front bumper and mesh grille, and additional gauges. You also get sportier trim inside and out, including a perforated leather-wrapped steering wheel and metallic interior trim. A G-force Artificial Intelligence system, intended for more spirited driving, automatically chooses the optimum gear and downshift pattern, in response to G force. Enhanced engine sounds are meant to remind you of the F Sport option’s presence, even though it produces no more power than in a regular NX 200t. F Sport pricing starts at $38,160 with front-drive (if available), and $39,560 with all-wheel drive.
A number of options come in packages. The $565 Comfort package adds a power tilt/telescopic steering wheel, tilt-down mirrors, and driver’s memory functions. A Premium package includes those features, plus 18-inch wheels, heated/ventilated front seats, LED daytime running lights, and a moonroof. The $4,725 Luxury package for the base model brings perforated leather upholstery, Black Shadow wood interior trim, a heated steering wheel, power liftgate, automatic rain-sensing wipers, plus Comfort and Premium package features.
A Navigation package includes a navigation system with voice control, two additional speakers, a Remote Touchpad infotainment control interface, and an expanded suite of smartphone apps. Available safety technology includes a pre-collision system with radar-based adaptive cruise control, lane departure alert, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. Some of these items are available as individual options.
Because it's a Lexus, despite its compact dimensions, the NX 200t doesn't feel quite complete without the leather and wood interior offered in the Luxury package. Along with optional safety features, we consider it a worthy upgrade. On the other hand, basic standard equipment is substantial. Don’t expect a significant performance boost with the F Sport package, which focuses on the visual. Lexus also offers a NX 300h hybrid.